This instructable will focus on adding a simple decorative filework design on the spine of a knifeblade. Filework, for those of you who don't know, can be meant either as primarily aesthetic rather than functional or vice versa. In this case, we will be focusing primarily on improving the aesthetics of the blade in question.  

There are many different filework designs, and those designs can be as simple and basic or as complicated and difficult as you wish.

I prefer to do my basic filework before I have heat treated, and then clean it up after I have hand rubbed the blade up to approximately 400 grit. Since I don't differentially heat treat the back edge, this is a necessity, as you need the spine to be pretty soft. Note: if you are using stainless you will have to do this before you heat treat. 

While you can definitely do this at home using nothing but some round and triangle chainsaw files, I prefer to use power tools to reduce the work time and the wear and tear on my hands. This project was made at Techshop. Why Techshop? Simple. They have lots of great tools, lots of clean workspace, and great light. You will need all of that, and ESPECIALLY the light, to do this properly, regardless of the approach you take. 

Step 1: Equipment, Tool, and Materials List


So, clearly, in order to do this you need a blade upon which to put put your design. In this case, I am putting the filework on a pretty aggressive machete/chopper-style blade, based around a parang design. For those of you who are unaware of what that is, the short version is that it's a big hacking blade that incorporates a rounding swell toward the end of the blade. This allows for greater chopping power while not sacrificing too much balance. In my opinion, the parang is one of the absolute best blade designs for such a blade.


Dykem/Sharpie marker
Dremel with drum grinder tool
Chainsaw files
Eye protection


Wood, two pieces (1/4 - 1/2" thick x length of knife)
<p>Thanks, Richard!</p>
could this be done in a store bought knife and folding pocket knives?
It could, but it would be slower going because the knife would be fully tempered and hard.
<p>Precisely so. That being said, if you're patient, and willing to eat up a couple of files, you could do it. Ideally, as Jake implied above, you want to do all file work when the blade is in the annealed state, meaning the steel is as soft as you can get it. Annealed carbon steel is usually around Rockwell C 42-45 (or even slightly lower), whereas a properly heat-treated knife is somewhere between Rockwell C 58-61. Choppers and machetes can go as low as 51-54, and tomahawks can go as low as 50-52. </p>

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