Introduction: Knife With Burl Handle

This knife was made out of 1075 carbon steel with a coolabah burl handle.

Step 1: Cutting

I found a design that i liked and i fist copied it onto some cardboard to get the feel of the knife. After that i made some small adjustments to the design so the handle would fit my hand. When i was happy with my design i traced it onto my steel which is a 1075 carbon steel. I cut it out using a hacksaw and refined its shape with files. I also drilled holes in the handle at this stage so i can rivet my handle on later.

Step 2: Filework

This step is optional and is purely for design and appearance. I had as little search on google to see what kinds of file work there is and there are heaps. you can design your own pattern or find one you like. i decided to use the vine and thorn pattern as there were many tutorials on it. I practiced first on some spare steel i had that was the same thickness as my blade so i wouldn't stuff it up on my knife.Unfortunately i don't have any picture of those steps as i forgot to take them. There are many tutorials on this site for the same kind of pattern or you could google it. I think it turned out pretty well but in hindsight i wish i made it extend from the handle to about halfway on the blade as it would look pretty cool.

Step 3: Grinding Bevels

To grind the bevels onto the blade i marked out where i wanted them and i clamped the knife down onto my workbench. I use the angle grinder for this and went slowly and carefully, checking regularly to see whereabouts i was and how it was looking. It is really important to pay attention to this step because if you stuff it up here then it basically ruins you knife unless you want to completely change the design. to just take your time really. I ground to about 80% and the used files to do the rest. When cleaning up the bevels with a file use a draw filing technique, which involves drawing the knife perpendicular to the edge of the blade , it helps to get rid of deep scratches left by the grinder and also to keep a nice straight edge.

Step 4: Heat Treating

Heat treating your knife is one of the most important steps of making a knife as it actually makes your blade useful. There are a wide variety of types of heat treating methods. To start of i heated up my small brake drum forge and i placed the blade in until it lost its magnetism, i tested this with a bar magnet and ran it across the knife, i then let it air cool until it returned to room temperature. I repeated this process 3 times. This process is called normalizing it basically stabilizes the entire structure of the knife, because some areas may have experienced more heat when grinding which will effect the actual quench when we get up to it. It is key to do the quenching step quickly but carefully because if the temperature inst right it can make your knife warp or do other stuff. Once again i put my knife back into the forge and heated it up again to its critical temp (when it loses its magnetism) and then i placed it back in the forge to regain the lost heat while i checked the magnet, the i swiftly removed it after about a minute and moved it into my quench which consisted of motor oil. You can use different types of oil to quench but i only had access to motor oil but it works fine. Unfortunately mine came out only slightly bent and had a fair bit of scale on it, i'm not sure why, maybe because of the oil.

Step 5: Tempering

A quenched knife is useless if you want to use it because it so brittle and will break if dropped. this step will need to be done with a touch of care because of this. To make the knife flexible, sharp and not brittle you need temper it. To do this you heat the knife up to a sub critical temperature usually around 220 C for me anyways. I heated up our kitchen oven to 220 C and put my knife on a rack AFTER i cleaned it up (trust me you don't want the oven to smell of oil). I left the knife in there for 1 hour and then took it out and and let it air cool. I repeated this 3 times until it was a nice straw colour.

Step 6: Cleaning/sanding

There isn't a lot to this next step all we really do is get rid of any scratches and other imperfection left by the heat treating or form the grinding several steps earlier. I found a useful thing on the internet it helps with sanding. I got a section of angle and glued a piece of leather onto one side. the other side i left bare metal. you tape some sandpaper to each side and you use the metal side to sand with rough grits and the leather side for the finer grits. I sanded to 1200 grit and i would have polished it if i had a buffer but i don't. I didn't bother sanding the handle because i would be making a timber handle for it.

Step 7: Handle

I purchased some coolabah burl of eBay and it came cut into scales which was perfect. I marked out whereabouts i wanted the handle and how it was going to look. I traced around the handle of the knife to do this. I did this on one scale then on the other. I drilled holes in both the scales by clamping them both to the tang of the knife and aligning the holes in the tang and drilled through them. The i rough cut the scales to the shape i wanted, i roughly did this because the majority of the shaping will be done after the handle is glued. I did some research on the internet about good ways to rivet the handle to the tang and i came across some cool rivets called corby bolts. they consist of a male and female end which attach together. I used three of them to attach my handle. I mixed up some epoxy and put some on one side of the tang and glued one of the scales to that side, then repeated it for the other side and inserted the rivets and tightened them up. I clamped it and let it set overnight and returned to it in the morning. Next step was to refine the shape of the handle back to the tang. I did this using files and sandpaper, i think i will invest in a belt sander for this kind of job as you get a much better wood to metal finish. I'm sorry i don't have many photos of the handle making process. I if you look at my second picture i really wanted to fill in the file work edges to bring out the pattern, you can do this with coloured epoxy but i don't want to do that yet as i don't want to stuff up my knife. if anyone knows how to do this can you please tell me!!!

Step 8: Oiling/finishing

I sanded the handle to 600 grit and used a damp cloth to bring out the grain of the burl before i oiled it. I oiled the handle with Cedar oil and it looked pretty nice.I also oiled the blade with sewing machine oil to stop moisture and to prevent rust.

Step 9: Thanks

Thank you for reading my instructable. I will make more eventually as i have made more knives since this one and i am in the process of making another now. Any tips, tricks or constructive criticism is welcomed.


Metal Contest

Participated in the
Metal Contest

Outside Contest

Participated in the
Outside Contest