Introduction: My First Knife

Picture of My First Knife

First read this instructable.

Seriously. If I hadn't I would have never tried this.


Grinder with cut off wheel

Belt sander with 60 and 80 grit

Sand paper

Band Saw


Dremel tool






Finishing oil

Step 1: So I Had This Chunk of Steel...

Picture of So I Had This Chunk of Steel...

I read that instructable, and knew what I had to do. This piece of steel had been hanging around my office for 5 years. It was thick on one edge, thinner on the other, and made a nice metallic ring when you struck it. Nothing flimsy.

The first step is to make a mockup. I took some paper, drew a knife. Glued it to a small scrap of Luan plywood and cut it out.

And I rested.

I played with this design for a day or so. See how it looked. And decided it was ok. I was limited by the width of the steel I had, so it couldn't be some sort of monster blade. The goal was to be a new sgian-dubh for my formal kilt.

Step 2: I Drew Out the Design on the Steel...

Picture of I Drew Out the Design on the Steel...

I traced the design onto the steel and cut it out with the help of the cutoff wheel, then a grinding wheel. Then over to the belt sander and spent some time on it.

Have a cup of water nearby to cool it off so you can keep holding it.

Wear safety glasses and hearing protection. Don't be an idiot.

You'll notice that the knife is smaller than the design. Yes, this was a mistake. Sort of. The blade felt to long, so I shortened it. Mainly because the handle came out short. Hey, it's my first knife...

Step 3: Grind, Grind, Grind, Sand, Sand, Sand...

Picture of Grind, Grind, Grind, Sand, Sand, Sand...

This is the time to really get things right.

When I do my second knife, and that's going to happen. I'm going to start with a piece of steel that is flat. The angle on the steel was a lot of work.

A benchtop belt sander is my friend.

The knife should look right, it should have a nice visual balance.

Step 4: That Looks About Right

Picture of That Looks About Right

So far so good.

Before you move on to heat treating, be 100% happy with it. Remove all scratches and gouges.

Step 5: Heat Treating

Picture of Heat Treating

I have a fireplace. So this was easy and it took no time at all.

I got the fire going with a good bed of coals and stuck the knife in the coals. I left the door open a crack to create a good draft and high heat.

The blade heated to a bright orange in minutes. I tested it with a magnet, and it was non-magnetic as it was orange. I took the blade out and quenched it in a to-go cup full of vegetable oil. The to-go cup was stainless steel, and I secured it in the ash bucket to keep it from tipping.

I let it cool in the oil.

Then to the oven. I put the blade in the cold oven and brought the oven up to 375 degrees. Let it sit there for an hour then turned the oven off.

The next day, I repeated that, let it sit in the oven for an hour at 375, turned the oven off, and left it there till it cooled.

Step 6: Handle

Picture of Handle

I'm lucky, there's a place nearby that has all kinds of specialty woods.

For $10 I got this piece of wood for the knife handle scales. I believe it was red oak.

I traced the handle onto the wood, cut them out on the bandsaw and drilled through the knife into the handle to get the holes to align. Go ahead and oversize the handles at this point. The belt sander will make quick work of the wood and make it flush.

Using 30 minute epoxy, and tapped in the brass rod, and lightly clamped it overnight in the vice. Don't clamp to hard, you don't want to split the wood.

Step 7: Sand and Shape

Picture of Sand and Shape

Starting with the belt sander, then hand sanding with 150 grit, to 200 then 400.

Notice the tape on the edge. No hands were injured in the making of this knife.

Step 8: Finishing Oil

Picture of Finishing Oil

I used boiled linseed oil. It's what I have around.

The wood was VERY dry, it soaked up a lot of oil. I did a final finish with some butchers wax.

Step 9: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

This was a fun and satisfying project, again huge thanks to Phiske and his instructable.

Some final notes. Take your time with the shaping. Don't rush.

When making the handle, go the extra mile to really sand it smooth, it makes a difference.

Don't stop at one knife. Once you make one, go ahead and get some more steel and make the second one better..

I did a final polish of the blade with 1500 grit sandpaper and it looks amazing. Seriously, this was a great project.

I have some scrap leather to make a blade sheath, so it will tuck in nicely to my kilt hose. Pictures upon request lassies... ;)


mikefromspace (author)2015-04-19

Prof. John Milewski nearing the end of his government contract, discovered how to use gold nickel eutectic with super heated co2 gas to coat anything capable of withstanding 1800f for a few moments with diamond, as thick as you need it. One could produce swords far superior to the best folded Japanese swords in existence using this technology. It doesn't naturally add the gold nickel, but I suppose it can if the process is done differently, which would allow the sword to bend some. The same guy found how to get $180 of gold from a beer bottle in a microwave. Most glass contains lots of monoatomic gold. It's just a matter of getting it out in making the eutectic alloy can be cheap after all. I think the process of refinement takes just a few cents of energy and a few hundred bucks to buy all the materials used to modify a microwave oven for the controlled process.

monkeywork (author)mikefromspace2015-04-19

Hmmmm is there a source for this information? Would make a decent Instructable!

mikefromspace (author)monkeywork2016-02-08

Yes. Youtube "John Milewski microwave gold".
John shared this in 2007 but was already growing weak, old. His kids take care of him now and he's had to move out of his home in NM to a small apartment out east in Jersey or something so he has no space to continue the work. I contacted Martin Burgess of Blue Eagle Mining Co. out of B.C. who eventually refused to speak with me after I explained how I'd be making lots of gold (he's nuts and wants no competition) , but before he did he explained his secrets to fine tuning Milewski's process. Most of all you need to run the temp up to 2700F after the regular run so the gold forms larger beads/wires.

mikefromspace (author)monkeywork2015-04-20

Yes sure would... yet, would you really want to do such a thing?

micahd02 (author)mikefromspace2015-04-19

I, too, would like to see a source for the process. Shoot, I'd like to see how to DO the process. I have a nephew who works in steel, and LOVES Katana's, and he'd use this process in a heartbeat.

So would I. Gotta be SOME good use for the beer bottles kids around here keep throwing out alongside the road. And we don't have a bottle tax, or deposit, so they have no incentive. But this process would sure help mine!

kalboon (author)2015-12-13

So id like to ask a question on anyone that knows about black smithing, and forge welding, I have looked around on google and such and have only found vague answers from people that weren't totally sure, so here goes its pretty simple, does anyone know if I can forge weld stainless to any other type of metal, I know its sort of a vague question, but I just want to know if it is possible, thank you for any info you can give me =)

monkeywork (author)kalboon2015-12-14

I'm no expert. So to be honest, I don't know. Stainless steel is softer than high carbon steel but I would be curious to know the answer as well.

kalboon (author)monkeywork2015-12-14

Well I have some stainless if I discover the answer I will let you know =)

Bohemia Rustica (author)2015-10-19

Wow! That's impressive. I came into the Knives area just to see some nice work and (besides not being disappointed) I think I might be even a little inspired to try some day.

Thank you! It was a lot easier than I expected, just some time on the grinder and sander.

It's now my sgian dubh for my hunting tartan kilt.

Bohemia Rustica (author)2015-10-19

Wow! That's impressive. I came into the Knives area just to see some nice work and (besides not being disappointed) I think I might be even a little inspired to try some day.

This is really cool! I hope to make this very soon!

It's a worthwhile project! I dove in and am quite pleased with the results.

I already started! Could you make a more in-depth instructable about heat treating? Thanks!

In depth? There's really not much to it. I started a fire in the fireplace, got a bed of coals going, added more wood, stuck the knife in the coals, then kept the door to the fireplace open a crack to create a good draft.

The knife got glowing to a bright orange within 5 minutes, I took it out with the fireplace poker, and tried to pick up a magnet. It wouldn't. So I doused it in the vegetable oil.

Then two sessions in the oven at 375F, an hour each time, then let it cool on its own. Simple.

Could you heat the oil to further lengthen the cooling process, I am a chef and different oils have different smoke points, that is the point that oil will combust, and smoke on the surface. So like butter burns at the lowest temp. Olive and nut oils at like 300 F or something, and deep fryer canola and the like has chemical additives and can go to like 375 or more. I'm sure motor oils have an even higher point.

That's a darn good question. I'm no expert on forging blades by any stretch. I have always believed that the quench was to quickly cool the blade without stressing it. So you wouldn't want ice water, the oil absorbs the heat without creating dangerous steam that could burn your hands.

I simply used some old past date canola oil, and so far so good!

thesuperninja2 (author)2015-06-10

Could you just stick it water after heat treatment?

Kinkhoss (author)thesuperninja22015-06-11

from a metallurgical standpoint quenching with water is the best way to make your work brittle

thesuperninja2 (author)Kinkhoss2015-06-13


You can, water will steam and do a boil, whereas oil dissipates the heat slower. But quenching in water is perfectly acceptable!

globalgear (author)2015-04-28

Looking extremely sharp. Done well

Patoad (author)2015-04-20

Nice knife !!

Have you considered using an old saw blade as your material ? I use worn out

circular saw blades. They are especially good if you are making an ulu..

Woodworkers and cabinet shops would be a good source if you don't have

any laying around.

monkeywork (author)Patoad2015-04-20

Do you still do the heat treat and hardening of them?

Patoad (author)monkeywork2015-04-20

No, the steel is already treated... I use a sander to shape the knife.
It takes a while to get it done but I watch TV while I'm sanding and it
relieves the boredom of just sanding.
Some of those circular saw blades are as big as 14 inches for chop
saws and then you get into the sawmill blades (I have not found a
knife I wanted to build with more than the 14 in blades).

Jake_Makes (author)Patoad2015-04-24

Actually, only some of them are already heat treated. The ones with carbide tips are not, because the tips are treated but not the rest of the blade. The ones without the tips are heat treated because the metal is doing the cutting and not the carbide tips.

Patoad (author)Jake_Makes2015-04-25

Looks like I've been lucky ... I buy the saw blades to cut up for the knives so

I don't want to spend the extra money on a blade with carbide tips, can't use the tips for anything knife related ...

I tried using a file to remove unwanted metal but it didn't work out well. Now

I use sandpaper and it cuts the steel away nicely ... The different grits make

it easy to get a nice shine by stepping down to a finer grit. Usually end at

400 grit..

xarlock667 (author)2015-04-19

Not too shabby at all! I have found that there is not too much you can do on a piece of steel that small to ruin it for temper purposes. Mostly you only have to worry about that with swords. So long as you hardened it, you are good to go. I like the level of polish you were able to achieve. Good craftsmanship.

monkeywork (author)xarlock6672015-04-20

Thank you, it has certainly inspired me to try another.

xarlock667 (author)monkeywork2015-04-20

Great!... So, now you can send me this one! Hahaha! Just kidding, I only carry folders anymore. I want to make one and do an instructable about it.

92YJ (author)2015-04-20

Thats looks great, thanks for sharing!

Bongmaster (author)2015-04-16

nice make :)

monkeywork (author)Bongmaster2015-04-20

Thank you oh great Bongmaster.

Biodynamic (author)2015-04-19

I'm in the process of making my first. I went with a sebenza template because I love the shape of that brand of knives. I'm still grinding, but I appreciate the advice given for the handle. Thanks for posting!

monkeywork (author)Biodynamic2015-04-20

Take pictures of each step and share!

Kuffar (author)2015-04-19

Great looking knife. Somewhere, somehow I'd love to try this. I have plenty of material, just need a bit of time. Thanks for the inspiration.

Dastan1996 (author)2015-04-19

Just to be sure, when you say 375°, you mean Farenheit, right? I live in Italy, and of course the temperature is in Celsius.

monkeywork (author)Dastan19962015-04-19

Farenheit, yes sorry, we're a little behind the rest of the world in switching to metric, no matter how hard I try.

Dastan1996 (author)monkeywork2015-04-19

Thank you for the quick response. Great Instructable, BTW. Between yours and Phiske's I shouldn't have any problems making this!

sherwoodjds (author)2015-04-19

If you have a friendly local neighborhood Ferrier (horse shoe guy), that will give you some of his old, worn out horse shoe rasps, they make GREAT knives. The steel is awesome, and not too thick.

monkeywork (author)sherwoodjds2015-04-19

Oh man that's a great idea, one of my neighbors is a Ferrier! I walk past his house all the time. I am totally going to bug him, and see what he has.

Meticularius (author)2015-04-19

Thank you for your humor and photo of your face and deranged triumphant glee behind the knife. You reminded me of myself and gave me the best laugh I have had in weeks.

monkeywork (author)Meticularius2015-04-19

Deranged? That's just the normal face, ask my wife. :)

rgmarti (author)2015-04-19

Great looking knife. Thanx for sharing.

Hallofo (author)2015-04-19

A most excellent build! I have a couple of leaf springs off a truck that are begging to be turned into Sharp Things.

monkeywork (author)Hallofo2015-04-19

Truck springs are THICK! would make some decent sword or large sharp things for sure. You're also contending with the bend, G10 or high carbon steel that's 1/8" thick isn't that expensive, and may save you a lot of valuable time.

BUT, taking what you have, and having a good time making something can be totally worth it.

Hallofo (author)monkeywork2015-04-19

Indeed! I have a brake drum forge and a belt sander to thin down those beastly springs a bit. A friend gave them to me, so I figure a few hours playing with fire and beating steel would be a good trade.

tkjtkj (author)2015-04-19

you SHOULD be proud of that knife! you did a very good job .. although your eyes suggest you are in a state of 'stunned disbelief' ... Be assured, it really is nice ... and yoU really did do it !


stupidname (author)2015-04-17

You don't look like you can be trusted with that knife....jk

monkeywork (author)stupidname2015-04-18

I keep the pointy-stabby part away from soft and fleshy. Don't want to put an eye out. :)

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an actor/tech/IT/graphics/editor/writer kind of guy. I do a fair share of voice over work and have the full ... More »
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