Introduction: Hand Made Camp Knife

In this Instructable I show you how I make a knife. There are many ways to do this, and currently this is my preferred method. Keep in mind my way requires a lot of equipment, but not as much as some ways. Also keep in mind that everyone does things a little differently, and there's more than one way to make a blade. I also make a sheath for my knife, but I won't be covering that in this instructible. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to comment! Happy learning.

Step 1: Design

I start with a blank billet of steel, and simply draw the pattern out with a sharpie. This way, as I shape and remove steel I have a guideline to go by.

Step 2: Rough Shapping

At this phase I use just an angle grinder with a cut off wheel and a grinding wheel to get the rough patter/outline of the knife. Just go slow, you can always take a little more steel off. I remove the majority of the steel, but not all the way to my sharpie line. For the finger grooves, I use a rotary sander (one brand is dremmel) with a 1/2 inch drum sander. I use 80 grit drums, but you can use 36 if you want go faster. I prefer a slower approach as a mistake with a rough grit can cost you your shape or design... for the larger curves in the spine and handle I use a belt sander with a 4" contact wheel. This give me a nice round shape. Not the contact wheel is rubber so it doesn't cause the knife to hop as I sand it.

Step 3: Grinding the Blade Profile

In this phase I use the same belt sander as before to grind the angle of the blade profile. On my grinder (aka, belt sander) I have a flat platter which allows me to place the blade right up against it. This creates a hard surface for the sanding belt to press up against as I grind the blade profile in. It's important to note, I set the angle all by hand, no jigs or secondary tool rests. This allows for the most amount of versatility, so I'm not locked into one angle or another. If I don't like something, I change it. It's also critical to not grind too much material off. If the edge is too thin (below 1/8" thick) when you temper the steel it can warp very badly. My initial material was 1/4" thick.

Step 4: Into the Flame

Now it's time for tempering/heat treating. This is a very important step. Once the blade reaches that bright orange color, I quench it in vegetable oil. I quench it with the cutting edge into the oil first, and then continue to submerge it completely. This is what I call a variable quench. It get the edge as hard as possible while leaving the spine softer so it can withstand abuse.

Step 5: Finish Grind and Sand

After the tempering/heat treat, I head back to grinder (belt sander) and countinue to shape and grind the blade profile. It's time consuming but very important. The blade profile must be thin enough towards the edge that the blade geometry allows for a low profile cutting tool, but the spine must be thick enough to hold up to abuse. These proportions are relative to the overall blade size. My advice, find a design you like and take some measurements. I'm also pretty sure cutting yourself

Step 6: Sand Blasting for a Matte Finish.

For this blade, I chose a mat finish. I wanted it to be un-coated, so that I didn't have to worry about a coating failure, and decided to go with sandblasting. You'll need a sand blasting cabinet a blaster (with sand) and a compressor to run it. The cabinet is not required, but keeps the process much cleaner.

Step 7: Handle Shaping

For this knife I selected linen based micarta. This material is layered and extremely durable. I lay the knife handle down on top of the blank sheet, which measures, 12"x5"x 1/4 thick. I scratch the outline with a tool so that I have a guide to cut to. Then I cut with a scroll saw till I get the shape approximately 1/16th away from the scoring line. Then drill my pin holes in the handle material (holes previously made in tang before tempering) and set the pins loosely. Then I go to the belt sander and continue to shape. I also use a drum sander on a rotary tool for the finger grooves.

Step 8: Finish Blast, Epoxy and Pin

After I finish fitting and shapping the edge of the handle material, I sand blast the tang to make the finish even (during shaping the tang gets sanded and looses the matte look) then get out the 5 minute epoxy and adhere the handle to the tang with the pins set. I then clamp the Handel down with a series of "C" clamps, and let thebepoxy set. Make sure to remove as much of the loose epoxy from the edge as you can. That'll make clean up easier for the finish product.

Step 9: Shape That Handle!

Back to the belt sander. After the epoxy dries, head back to the sander and shape the face of the handle material. Once I had it brought down to the thickness I needed (pay close attention to weight and balance. You can always take some more off, but not add any back on) I add some grooves with the rotary tool and a barrel sander. This adds more purchase area for the fingers to grab on to. Also I cut the pins down low and sand them at the same time as the handle material. Once the handle is finish shapped, finish you cutting edge.

Step 10: Final Test.

Now I see if my blade geometry is good. I suspend a piece of 1" thick Manila rope that hangs loose at the bottom. I don't secure the bottom end, it just hangs. Then in one slice I see if the knife will cut through the rope. As you can see by my pictures.... it works. This is not just about how sharp the blade is, but it's weight and shape take on critical roles in this test.

Step 11: Laser Engraving.

Now I take the blade into my laser engraver for the logo. A logo is just as important as the blade. Every artis should sign their work, so that it can be identified as an original piece by that artist. I also add a kydex sheath, but that's for another Instructable.

Step 12: Finished Product

Now it's time to display your work. Take pictures and have fun.thanks for reading!!

Knives and Blades Challenge

Runner Up in the
Knives and Blades Challenge