Introduction: Outdoors Camping/ Bushcraft Knife From Sawblade!

Every camping, hiking, bushcraft, or outdoors trip requires a good Outdoors knife. So in this Insructable, I'm going to show you how to make a simple Camping knife from salvaged materials, with common and low cost equipment! This is a relatively easy project, and almost anybody can do it.

So without further ado, let's get started!

Materials/ Tools for this project.

  • Template (step 1.)
  • Saw Blade
  • Wood Block (2 x 3/4 x 20)
  • Bar Clamp
  • Angle Grinder w/ cutting disc
  • Eye Glasses and Protective Ear Wear
  • Belt Grinder w/ belts
  • Scrap Wood (step 5)
  • Sandpaper (100-150-200-400-1000-2000 grit)
  • Vise File Block of wood (step 7.)
  • Bolt (step 7.)
  • Drill / drill press (1/4, and 1/8 bits)
  • Masking Tape
  • Canola Oil
  • Plastic Cup
  • Torch MAP gas
  • Pliers
  • Dremel (rotary engraver)
  • Wenge ( or any wood)
  • Hollow Pin, and 1/8in. pin, and Mosaic Pin.
  • Scroll saw and/ or Coping Saw
  • 5 minute Epoxy
  • Hack Saw
  • Rejuvenating Oil
  • Sharpening Jig
  • Window Cleaner (non-vinegar solution)
  • Masking Tape

Step 1: Trace Your Template

To start we're going to find a Knife Template. The template I used was something I sketched, but there are plenty on the internet that you could use as well. I started by finding a Saw Blade, the saw blade I used has a 8 in. Diameter, so anything the same size or larger than this would work well. Next, I took a marker and traced the template unto the Saw Blade. (see images above)

Once done, you're ready for the next step.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Template
  • SawBlade
  • Marker

Step 2: Cutting Jig

Now it's time to cut out your knife. To cut it out, I'm using an Angle Grinder. To safely cut it out, I'm going to take a Bar Clamp and clamp the Saw Blade to a wood block. The wood block I'm using is 2 ft • 1/2 in. • 2 in.. Clamp the Saw blade to the tip of the block, ensuring it's as far away from the other end as possible. (see images above) Once done, you're ready for the next step!

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Bar clamp
  • Wood block (2 ft • 1/2 in. • 2 in.)
  • Saw Blade

Step 3: Cut Out the Blade

Now it's time to cut out the blade! To cut it out I'm using an Angle Grinder w/ cut off wheel. And using the jig we made in the previous step, we're going to use that to help cut it out easier. So, place your foot on the opposite end of the block where the Saw Blade isn't. Then, take your Angle Grinder and cut directly down the back of the blade. (see images above) Then, cut out the blade where the cutting edge will be, and continue afterwards by cutting out the handle shape.

NOTE: Try to stay away from the line you marked as much as possible. You want to cut along the line, but you still want to cut outside the line so you don't go too far where the blade is.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Angle Grinder
  • Saw Blade
  • Cutting Jig (step 2.)

Step 4: Final Shaping

Now that your blade is cut out, it's time to shape it according to your template. When you cut it out on the angle grinder, it isn't going to be perfect according to the template shape. So, you're going to shape the rest of it by hand. Here I shaped it on a 1x30 Belt Grinder, but anything else would work such as a file, belt sander, disc sander, bench grinder, etc... To start, trace the template back unto the blade. (as seen in images above) Then, start grinding or filing off the excess material from the blade. You want to get as close to the line that you traced as possible, because you want the blade to be fairly symmetrical when you put the handle on. Continue removing material from the butt of the handle, including the handle grooves and cutting edge. Once done, you can move on to the next step.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Belt grinder (or a file, belt sander, disc sander, bench grinder, etc...)
  • Blade

Step 5: Clean Up the Blade

Now that your blade is shaped according to your template, you need to clean up the surface of the metal. To start, you are going to take a small piece of wood (1/2" • 3/8" x 2") and some sandpaper (120 grit), and lay the sandpaper over the wood. (see images above) Then, take some non-vinegar solution Window cleaner, and spray the blade, and sandpaper before sanding. Once done, sand the surface of the blade until there are no minor scratches, scrapes, or dents. (see images above) Repeat with the other side.

Once done, you're ready for the next step!

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Wood (1/2" • 3/8" x 2")
  • Window Cleaner (non-vinegar solution)
  • Sandpaper (120 grit)

Step 6: Bevel Jig

The most important component of a knife is it's Bevel. The bevel on a knife is the horizontal slant that leads to the cutting edge of the blade. To make the bevel, you're going to make a Bevel Jig. This bevel jig is not required unless you have a Belt Grinder, so if you do not have a Belt Grinder yet and you want to get into knifemaking; I advise that you get one. So to start, you're going to need a wood block (3" x 4" x 3"), a bolt (longer than 3 inches), and a bar clamp. To make it, you're going to drill a hole into one end of the wood, about 1 in. from the end (see images above). Then, screw the bolt into it so it sticks out of the other end about 1/4 in..(see images above) Then, clamp you blade to the block. And just like that, your jig is done!

Materials/ Tools used in this step:

  • Wood block (3" x 4" x 3")
  • Bolt (longer than 3 inches"
  • Bar Clamp
  • Blade

Step 7: Make the Bevel

Now that your jig is made, it's time to start grinding the bevel. Here I am grinding the bevel on my 1x30 Belt Grinder; which is what most knifemakers mainly use for this step. If you don't have a belt grinder, I suggest to get one at some point. But this step can be done with a File Jig as well. To start, I took the jig we made in the previous step; and started from the Plunge Line, down to the tip of the blade. Your bevel may not be grinding perfect the first time, to you will need to take the bolt that's threaded through the jig, and tighten it up or down and try to get the jig to sit at about a 20° angle. Take your time, this step can take about 30-45 minutes depending on your skill level. Try to stay as steady, and even as possible when grinding. If you are comfortable without the Jig, you can grind the bevel free-hand if you'd like. But it's more vulnerable to get a un-perfect bevel doing it this way depending on how good you are with a grinder. When the steel gets hot and some times, dunk it into some warm water and continue working. This will ensure that you will get a good heat treat later on without any cracks, stress, or the possibility of that spot not being hardened. Once done with one side of the blade, continue with the other. Once both sides are ground, you're ready for the next step.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Belt Grinder
  • Bevel Jig (step 6.)
  • Blade
  • Bucket/ container of warm water.

Step 8: Hand-sanding

Now that your bevel is ground, it's time for hand-sanding. To start, you are going to take the materials from step 5., and sand the blade clean. [piece of wood (1/2" • 3/8" x 2") and some sandpaper (120 grit)] (see images above) Put the blade into a vise grip. Then, take some non-vinegar solution Window cleaner, and spray the blade, and sandpaper before sanding. Once done, sand the surface of the blade until there are no minor scratches, scrapes, or dents. (see images above) Repeat with the other side.

NOTE: Because when we ground the bevel, the scratches will be going the opposite direct as to how we are sanding right now. So it's very important that you sand every minor scratch from the bevel you made previously, because this will look very un-professional in the end result.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Sand paper (120 grit)
  • Blade
  • Vise
  • Wood block (1/2" • 3/8" x 2")

Step 9: Clean Up the Handle

Now that the blade has a bevel, you're going to drill holes into the handle. But before you do that, tape the blade with Masking Tape, place the blade into a Vise grip, and use a File to clean up and remove any scratches from the metal. (see images above) Try not to change the shape, the only thing you're doing right now is removing any harsh scratches or dents that might have taken place. Once done, you're ready to move on.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Vise grip
  • Masking Tape
  • File (round)

Step 10: Drill the Pin Holes

Now that your blade's bevel is made, it's time to drill the holes into the handle for the pins. To do this I used a Drill Press, but if you don't have one; any other drill would work. You're going to need a 1/4 in. Drill Bit, and a 1/8 in. Drill Bit. To start, use a marker and mark everywhere you will drill a hole. The places you will mark will be in the middle of the handle, a 1/2 in. behind the plunge line in the middle, and at the butt of the handle. (see images above) You will drill a 1/8 in. hole 1/2 in. from the Plunge line. Then, drill a 1/4 in. hole into the middle of the handle. Finally, drill a 1/4 in. hole into the butt of the handle. (see images above) Once done, you're ready to move on.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Drill bit (1/4 in.)
  • Drill bit (1/8 in.)
  • Drill press and/ or drill

Step 11: Materials for Heat Treating

Now that the blade is finalized in shape and functionality; it's time to heat treat the blade. This step is required for all knives because in order to get your knife to keep a sharp edge, and with-stand daily use; it has to be hardened. And that's what the main purpose of Heat treatment is; to harden the blade. To do so, you will need a torch or forge. The torch I use is a MAP Gas torch, which has the capacity to heat the steel to a hardening point. Secondly, you're going to need a oil to quench the blade in. The oil I use is Canola Oil, but Parks 50 and Motor oil is what most Knifemakers use. Put your quench oil into a container that is open. And finally, you need some Pliers. When you get the steel hot enough, you need to be able to hold the blade and quench it into the oil. So I used some regular pliers to do this, but tongs would work just as well. Once all these materials are gathered, you're ready for the next step.

NOTE: Do not EVER quench your steel in water. Water cools down the steel too quickly, that it goes past the hardened point; and causes the steel to warp, crack, and split much easier than quenching in oil. So it is very important to remember this when heat treating.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

Canola Oil

Container (preferably metal)

MAP Gas tank + Torch Head (or source of heat that you might have)

Pliers (or tongs)

Step 12: Heat Treating.

Now that your materials are gathered, it's time for heat treatment. What you're going to do is torch and heat the metal evenly, until it is a bright cherry red color. To see if it's hot enough, take a magnet and stick it to the blade when it is hot; when it gets so hot that the magnet will not stick, then it's ready to quench. The goal is to get it to about 2000° F. Once hot enough, dunk it into the oil, pull it back out after 3 seconds, and dunk it back in again and hold it there until cooled. Now your blade is hardened, and tempered. To ensure it hardened properly, wipe it off with a Paper Towel and then use a file to scrape the surface of the metal. If it 'skates' across the steel, then it's hardened. Now you're ready for the next step, which is tempering it completely. To do this, wipe off the oil from the heat treatment and put it into the oven at 400 degrees, and let sit for about 45-60 min.. Once done, you're ready to move on.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Torch/ heat source
  • Pliers
  • Canola Oil in Container
  • Paper Towel
  • File

Step 13: Final Clean Up.

Now that your blade is heat treated, it's time to remove the scale. To start, you are going to take the materials from step 5., and sand the blade clean. [piece of wood (1/2" • 3/8" x 2") and some sandpaper (120 grit)] (see images above) Put the blade into a vise grip. Then, take some non-vinegar solution Window cleaner, and spray the blade, and sandpaper before sanding. Once done, sand the surface of the blade until there is no scale left. (see images above) Repeat with the other side. Then, finish it off with some 400 grit sandpaper on both sides.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.


  • Sand paper (120 grit)
  • Blade
  • Vise
  • Wood block (1/2" • 3/8" x 2")

Step 14: Cutting Choil

Now that the blade is sanded clean, it's time to make the choil. The choil is the the end of a knife's cutting edge that is nearest to the handle. These are important for knives because it helps sharpen the blade easier. To do this, I took a Dremel 200 and a small engraving cylinder, placed the blade into a Vise Grip and started grinding down the end of the plunge line. (see images above) Grind it down until it reaches about 1/8 in., and then round the inner edges of the choil. Once done, wrap the blade in masking tape. Now, you're ready to put a handle on this knife!

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Dremel 200
  • Vise Grip
  • Dremel bit (engraving cylinder)

Step 15: Choose, and Drill Your Handle Material

Now that your blade is done, it's time to put a handle on it. For the handle material, you can use wood, acrylic, G10, micarta, or anything you like... The handle material I decided to use is a wood called Wenge. It is known for being very dark colored, so it would give a good transition between the steel. So, with the handle material chosen, we're going to start by drilling the holes for the pins. To drill it, I used a Drill Press, but any other drill would work as well. I started by placing the blank (another word for blade) unto the handle material. I then took it to the drill press, and drilled the first hole; the Lanyard hole by the butt of the handle. Then, insert a 1/4 in. pin through the blade, and into that hole. Then, drill the center hole of the handle material; while still having the blank attached to the material. Then, place another pin into that new hole that you drilled; and drill the 1/8 in. hole under the Choil. Once done, repeat with the other handle material. Now, trace the blank unto both sides of the material labeling R, and L. Maker sure to have it traced on the opposite sidde of the other handle material. (see images above) Once done, you're ready to move on!

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Handle Material (wenge)
  • Drill bit (1/4 in., and 1/8 in.)
  • Mosaic Pin (1/4 in. diameter)
  • Lanyard pin (1/4 in. diameter)
  • Pencil

Step 16: Cut Out the Handle

Now that your handle material is drilled, you can now cut out the shape of the handle. To do this I used my Scroll saw, but a bandsaw and/ or hand-saw would work just was well. I started by using a pencil, and tracing a line from the black of the handle, to the finger grips. (see image above) Next, place all the pins into the handle material so that they're stuck to each other (see images above) Then, I took it to the scroll saw and cut along that line. After that cut along the outside of the line that we traced in the previous step. Once done, you're ready for the next step.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Handle Material (wenge)
  • Pins (see step 15)
  • ScrollSaw (or any saw of choice)

Step 17: Glue the Handle Material

Now it's time to glue on the handle material. To do this we will use 5 minute epoxy, preferably epoxy for metal and wood. To start, you need to gather all your materials before-hand. You will need the epoxy, a bar clamp, the pins (mosaic, lanyard, and 1/8" brass), and paper towels. Once your materials are gathered, it's time to start glueing the handle material to the blade. To start, squeeze and mix your epoxy together. You don't want too much, but you don't want too little; so make about 3 tsp. of epoxy (about 1.5 tsp. of both mixtures). Then, apply half of that to one side of blank of the knife. Then, put the scales (another reference for handle material) unto the side you put the epoxy on. Then, insert the pins through the scales and into the blank. (see images above) Repeat with the other side of the blank. Once done, clamp the handle together using a Bar Clamp, and then put it into the vice. After that, wipe the excess epoxy off of the blade and let sit for 20 min. (it says 5 minute epoxy, but leaving it sit for 20 min will let it fully cure before working with it again)

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • 5-minute Epoxy (for boding metal and wood)
  • Pins (mosaic, lanyard, and 1/8" brass)
  • Handle material (see previous steps)
  • Bar Clamp
  • Vice

Step 18: Cut, and File Flush.

Now that your knife handle as been curing for about 20-30 min, it's time to start shaping the handle. Before we do that, you need to cut off and remove the excess material from the pins. Start by placing the knife into a vise, and then using a Hack-saw to cut off the excess material of the pins. Then, us a file and remove the left-over material until the pins are flush with the handle material.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Hack-saw
  • File (flat/ round)

Step 19: Shaping the Handle

Now it's time to shape the handle, and remove any excess material on the blade. To start, we're going to be using round files, flat/ rounds, and rasps. To begin, start by removing material on the back of the handle, and finger grips (see images above). Then, start by removing material on the handle, and slowly starting to round the handle and finger grips. (see images above) Soon, you should be getting a very nice look, and the handle should be fairly round and clean. Once done, repeat with the other side of the handle.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Files (round file, flat/ round, and rasp)

Step 20: Shaping, and Sanding

Now that both sides of your handle is round, take a file and round the rest of the handle just so that there's no more sharp points, or corners. Then, take some 150 grit sandpaper and start sanding down the surface of the handle; removing all the scratches from the files and rasps. Then, move to 200 grit sandpaper, removing all the scratches from 150 grit. Then, move to 400 grit removing all the scratches from 200 grit. After that, move to 1000 grit sandpaper, and finally move to 2000 grit. Once done, you should have a nice polished handle with no minor scratches.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Files (round)
  • Sandpaper (150, 200, 400, 1000, and 2000 grit)

Step 21: Finishing

Now it's time to finish the handle. To do this, you will need a oil, assuming you used wood for your handle material. I decided to use Rejuvenating Oil, but if you have another oil you like to use then feel free to use it instead. Apply about 5 coats, wiping some on and then wiping it back off. Once done, wipe the handle clean with a paper towel. Now your knife is practically done!

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Paper Towels
  • Rejuvenating Oil

Step 22: Sharpening

Now that your knife is practically done, you need to sharpen it. To do this, I used a Sharpening jig. If you don't have one of these, a wet-stone would work just as well. For this jig, you will start by getting a medium-grit stone, and start grinding in a circular motion across the blade. Then, repeat with the fine stone, and the extra fine stone until you feel you've sharpened it enough. Once done, take it to a leather strop and rub the blade against the leather. You can also do this with a leather belt.

Materials/ Tools used in this step.

  • Sharpening Jig (or sharpening stone)
  • Leather Strop (or leather belt)

Step 23: Finished!

Now your knife is finished! This was a very fun, and inspiring project and I hope you found this helpful! Now that your knife is done, it's time to go and use it! This knife can be used when camping, hiking, bushcrafting, or taking an outdoors trip into the woods, and is perfect for any job on-hand! Not only is this knife made from 99% salvaged materials, but it has a great and elegant look that will catch the eye of any knifemaker.

So as always, thanks for building and until next time... 'Create Something'.

Want to see more? Visit my Youtube Channel and Website for more!

Comments

author
mocinoz (author)2017-08-31

A very good instructable. Clear and well laid out. Excellent job and the knife is great as well :)

author

Thank you very much!

author
sgbotsford (author)2017-08-31

If this is a bush knife you may want to stop the sanding earlier, as it will give better grip. The professional kitchen knives I've seen with plastic handles have a pebbled surface to them.

Test your handle with soap, blood, and fat on it. Remember that some of the time you will be holding it with cold fingers, or in a mitten or glove.

Why wouldn't you grind the choil before hardening/tempering?

author

Hello! Right. I didn't grind the choil until after hardening because i didn't want to take the dremel and clean up that area from scale. I've done it before and it's just extra work that doesn't need to be done before. Thanks for the question and advice!

author
maint1 (author)2017-08-31

Very impressed with your attention to detail & the level of finish on your blade. Well done :)

author

Thank you very much! For 14 yrs old, i'm getting there :-)

author
jessyratfink (author)2017-08-30

The wood you chose for the handle is 100% gorgeous! Love this knife. :D

author

Thank you very much! This is one of my favorite woods i've worked with :)

author
UnCivilEngineer (author)2017-08-29

I believe that you have a critical flaw in your procedure. The "Heat Treatment" that you have described is only the "Hardening" portion of the accepted process. This process by itself will produce a blank which far to brittle and "glass-like" for use as a knife. In fact, if your were to drop the blank on a hard surface or strike it with, say a hammer, it would likely shatter into a multitude of pieces due to the highly crystallized formation of the steel and the extensive internal stresses created as a result of the heat and quench process that you have described. In order to be made usable and serviceable as a knife blade, the blank MUST be "tempered" or "annealed" to largely eliminate the brittleness, relieve the internal stresses and somewhat
reduce the hardness. This is accomplished by simply placing the blank in a kitchen oven heat to between 350-500 degrees F for approximately an hour and then turning off the oven and allowing the oven and blank to slowly air cool on its on.
While by no means do I wish to be critical or derogatory in any way whatsoever to your great effort in the preparation of this "Instructable". However, I simply wish to point out this oversight so that your end product can be the best possible to guide others.
I wish you the best in all endeavors and "Keep On Making!"
Sincerely Yours,
The UnCivil Engineer

author

Hello! Actually, thanks for reminding me of this! I had tempered this blade in the oven, but i didn't record any images of that step. So i'll have to include that now into the heat treating step to temper it. So i did actually temper, just forgot to include that. Thanks for the info, cheers!

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Bio: 14 yrs old, Woodworking, woodcarving, knifemaking, DIY how to, and much more are just what I do everyday! Stay tuned and find out what I ... More »
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