Introduction: Copy the Canadian Belt Knife

About: Careers: documentary filmmaker, DOP, engineering student, practical environmentalist, idealist. Loves: bicycles and when weeds grow in the city. I'm from western Canada, Yukon, Japan and Montreal.

Again it's the night before christmas and I'm scrambling to do up a nice present.

I've been thinking of giving a "Canadian Belt Knife" This knife is pretty famous. It's also a bit expensive so I tried to duplicate it for $0. Here is the sordid tale of how I threw one together.

***Note: to the blade purists out there, please avert your eyes from my lack of proper heat treating etc. This is just a quick first try to dip my toe in the kiddie pool.***

Step 1: Needs


-Stuff to make rivets (copper pipe, thick sheet, nails, etc.)
-Hardwood for scales.
-Bed frame angle iron (or other 1/8" high carbon steel)
-A whole lotta love.


-Angle grinder with cut-off wheel (flap disk would be good too!)
-Personal protective equipment (ears, eyes, lungs, hands...)
-Utility knife
-More love

Step 2: Print Out Template, Glue On

Use this picture as a template. Print it out and make sure it's 8.5 inches overall.

Glue it to your metal stock.

You may want to glue the blank side out since the black border can be hard to see if your metal stock is darkly coloured.

Step 3: Chopa Chopa Chop Chop

Angle grinder out the basic shape with a cut-off wheel. A bench grinder or flap disk would be better for fine tuning but I used the cut-off wheel because that's all I had.

Leave a bit of extra material at the blade since that's where the worst mistakes could happen.

Step 4: Grind the Basic Taper

I used a grinding wheel on a drill. This is the wrong tool.

A belt sander is the right tool. A bench grinder would be ok.

I found a grinding disk for an angle grinder. That worked fine.

With an angle grinder be careful to use smooth even pressure in sweeping strokes to gradually work the taper down to your desired profile. Check for symmetry regularly.

Step 5: Cut Scales and Sand Flat

I used a length of hard wood dowel from a mop handle or something.

A fine toothed saw cuts hard wood more cleanly. That said, I ended up with rough cuts that I needed to sand flat so they'd sit flush to the tang.

Step 6: Drill Rivit Holes

I used a smaller hole in the thin spot because I figured it would be stronger to leave more tang metal.

Pro tip: use a centre punch before you drill. This keeps the bit from skating off to the side.

I drilled the metal first and then clamped on one scale, drilled that, then clamped and drilled the other one. Super precise alignment isn't critical since we're carving the scales down later.

Step 7: Heat Treat

I didn't do this but this is where you would if so inclined.

Step 8: Make Rivets

I didn't have a particular rivet size in mind. I cut a bit of copper pipe, hammered it flat and rolled it up to fit the holes. This worked fine for me, purists might cringe though ;)

For the smaller hole, I did measure the width of some thick wire I had and drilled to match this diameter.

Step 9: Peen Rivets

Remember when Peter Gabriel wanted to be a Sledgehammer?
Remember when Miley Cyrus wanted to be a Wrecking Ball?
This step is kind of like that.

Hammer a slight taper into the rivets to get them started if need be.

Feed the rivets through the scales and tang and baf them in till they widen.

Step 10: Shape Scales

I just carved them with a utility knife and sanded smooth.

You may want to file down the rivets such that they fit flush.

Step 11: Apply Finish and You're Finished

I rubbed on olive oil. A proper finish might be better.

Sharpen on a whetstone to finalize the grind and polish up the blade.

Brave the Elements Contest

Participated in the
Brave the Elements Contest

Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2015