Introduction: Knife Making - Make an Heirloom!

About: A maker of things.

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I've always loved tools, specifically knives. I have a few old tools from my dad and even a few from his dad. The kind of old stuff that is still around and is just as good now as it was day one. Really cool history there. Not to mention it's still a usable tool.

No, I don't think you should give young children large fixed blade knives :)

I wanted to see if I could make a heirloom quality blade from start to finish.

Here we go.

Step 1: Build the Grinder

After much reading I chose to build a 2x72 grinder. This is the holy grail of grinders/sanders in the knife making and artist's workshop. They are fairly expensive, but I was sure I could build one on a budget. I was right. Go big or go home right?

This build is a complete instructable in itself, however I documented the build poorly - Maybe I'll have to build a better one, just so I can share it here :)

Here is a couple photos of the grinder and it's first test grind.

Step 2: Design the Blade

I drew up 30-40 designs. I chose the most utilitarian profile I had and gave it a go on scrap steel.

I did not know the properties of the steel at the time, so I knew it probably would not harden during heat treat, but oh well, I wanted to play with my new grinder. More photos on Instagram: @themak5

The design was cool, but the material was very low carbon and would not harden.

Step 3: Better Material

I was confident in my tooling and the process now, so I ordered some better steel and gave it a go again.

I bought a foot each of 01 and D2 - Tool Steel. Both materials should yield excellent knifes.

Cut, Grind, Cut, Grind... Sand, Sand, Sand...

Step 4: Harden the Blade

Heat Treating a knife is an art, the medium for that art is science.

It's a fascinating craft that will be debated for decades to come. There are entire college textbooks on the subject. I read all I could stand and went for it.

Here's the recipe I used for the 01 - Tool Steel:

Normalize 3 times at: 1300 degrees F (10 minutes each soak)

Harden once at: 1500 degrees F ( 4-5 minute soak)

Immediately quench in 125 degree vegetable oil. (untill cool)

Temper twice at: 400 degrees F ( 4 hours each soak)

I don't have a method to test hardness so I'm not sure of the final numerical hardness, but I do know it is harder that most of the files in my shop.

I'll take it.

Step 5: Handles

I cleaned up the blades and added some handles...

I bought various materials and used epoxy and stainless steel pins to connect everything together.

The resin looking stuff is Kirinite, the wood is Stabilized Desert Ironwood.

Once I had the handles glued up and the rough shape cut in, I took them back to the grinder and shaped them until they felt nice in the hand.

Step 6: Knife Test - 01 Tool Steel


So it looks cool, but how do I know if it is a good knife? A knife I'd carry in the mountains? A knife that my grandkids will be able to use? Time to test it...Watch the video and let me know what you think. What else would you have done in the test?

Follow me on instagram @themak5 for work in progress and other projects. Subscribe on Youtube too! Not much yet, but I'll have more project videos out soon!

Guess now I'll need to make a sheath... stay tuned!



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