Introduction: Making a Stonewashed Kitchen Knife Out of 1095 Steel
In this Instructable, I'm going to show you how to make an acid/stonewashed kitchen knife!
Things you'll need:
2' x 1/8'th piece of 1095 steel
Metal cutting Bandsaw
a knife sharpener of your choice
knife scale of your choice of material (I went with burl wood)
Safety Gear (eye protection, respirator, latex gloves)
a small forge (in this video I use a propane forge)
a belt grinder
wood finish of your choice
And one postive mental attitude.
Knife making is tough and the first few knives you're going to make are not gonna be great. I hope with these instructions and video, it'll help you get to better looking knives faster!
Step 1: Selecting Your Steel
I like to use either 1095 or 1084 steel due to its ease of heat treatment.
here, I grab 2 inch wide and 1/8th thick steel for the blade.
Step 2: Drawing the Shape of the Blade.
Now that we have the steel chosen, now we need to figure out what the blade is going to look like!
for this blade, I grabbed a template I've used for other blade that I like. It feels good in the hand!
Step 3: Cutting the Steal
Now I move over to my metal cutting bandsaw and cut just wide of the lines.
Take it slow and with steady pressure and follow the line. Make sure you know where your fingers are and where they are going, they can easily hit the blade once the metal is cut and nobody wants that.
Step 4: Grinding the Steel.
In my shop, I have a 2x72 inch belt grinder. yes its fancy, but I first started with an inexpensive 1x30 inch belt grinder that did the trick as well. let's get grinding!
I chose to use a 36 grit sanding belt because it keeps the blade cool and hogs of material quickly.
Remember that you can use any part of the grinder to help shape your knife (if you do it safely!)
Step 5: Keeping the Blade Cool.
Have a container of water near by. The more you grind, the hotter the blade gets. dunk it in the water anytime it starts getting hot. blisters suck.
Step 6: Grinding in Some Curves
The next step is using a small wheel set to refine the rounded areas of the blade. If you don't have one, you can try to use the current wheels on your grinder.
here, you can really see how the wheel set works. it really makes grinding round areas a breeze.
Step 7: Refining the Shape
Now I move up to 120 grit on my sanding belt to refine the shape before we heat treat the metal.
this step removes any remaining rough spots and burrs from the blade.
Step 8: Marking the Edge.
The next step is to take a marker and color the edge in completely.
once the edge is totally colored in, take a drill bit thats the same thickness as your steel. (in this case it was an 1/8th inch drill bit)
find a flat surface and run the drill bit up and down the area you colored in. make sure you do this for each side of the blade. We do this to so we'll have a visual guide of where the edge will eventually be. I grind to about 80 percent of the final thickness of the edge. if you make it too thin, it will almost certainly warp during the heat treat.
Step 9: Using the Bevel Grinder.
Some people say that using a bevel grinding jig is cheat and not really knife making. if that's the case, call me Lance Armstrong.
I like the consistency that a bevel grinder gives you. if you want to know how to make one, here is the link on how I made this one...
Step 10: Marking the Bevel Line
Next I use dykem and paint both sides of the blade. Once its dry, I then use a set of calipers to mark where I want the main bevel with be.
Step 11: Grinding the Bevel.
It's bevel grinding time!
For grinding the bevel I use 120 grit sanding belts. I use slow and steady pressure while sliding the jig on the platen on the grinder. The jig I made is aluminum and acts like a heat sync, but after awhile the blade will heat up. again, make sure you have water near by to cool the blade down every so often.
Step 12: Drawing the Pin Holes
now that the bevels are grounded, now its time time figure out where the pins are going to go!
there's really isn't any science here, I just put them where they look good.
Step 13: Drilling the Holes for the Pins
now I move over to my drill press and prep the blade for drilling.
I grab my center punch and use it on the two spots where we will be drilling.
after using the center punch, I make sure the blade is securely clamped down to the drill press table.
I drill slowly with steady pressure to make both holes.
Step 14: Using a Forge
Now its time to use the forge!
There are a few different types of forges you can use for this. Propane, coal, charcoal...
This is a small propane forge. This has done the trick for all the knives I've made so far.
pPe-heat the forge like you'd heat treat an oven. Once its nice and hot, its on to the next step.
Step 15: Normalizing the Blade
Before we properly heat treat the blade, there is a step most people forget called "normalizing". There's a lot science involved here and frankly, I'm not smart enough to properly explain it.
Basically put the blade in the forge until its cherry red (keep the blade moving in there, you don't want to burn the tip) Once its red, take it out of the forge and put it on a surface that won't burn and let it cool to room temperature.
Step 16: Time to Heat Treat!
Now that the blade is cooled down, its time to put it back in the hot forge.
Again, heat the blade up so its cherry red. Once it's the proper color, pull it out of the forge quickly and dunk it in a container of corn oil. Be very careful during this step! you can see me using welding gloves so I don't burn my hands in case there is a flair-up. I also have a fire extinguisher right outside of the frame for safety.
once the blade is quench, a way to find if it's properly heat treated is to take a file and run it down the edge of the blade. if it "skates" and doesn't bite into the metal you have successfully heat treated the blade.
Step 17: Tempering the Blade.
Now that we have successfully heat treated the blade, its super brittle. Too brittle in fact.
We need to soften the metal up slightly through the science of tempering.
It's pretty easy, for 1095 steel, you can use the oven you have at home.
I like to put it in for 2 hours at 400 degrees.
If done properly, after the two hours, the blade should have a yellowish/straw coloring.
Step 18: Sanding Time!
Ok now its time to sand the hardened blade.
This is not a fun, or fast step in the knife making process. I made a small sanding block to help speed this portion of the build up.
I like to put the knife on a piece of wood slightly larger than the blade itself and clamp both down on my workbench. Again, this is a subjective step as you can keep going up finer grits of sandpaper until you like the finish. For me, Im starting at 100 grit and stopping at 200 (because I'm going to be stone washing this blade and doesnt need anything about a 220 finish)
Step 19: Cleaning the Blade Before the Acid Bath
Now I put some latex gloves on and give the blade a wipe down with alcohol. This will get rid of any dirt or oil that might be on the blade. If we dip the blade in the acid with any oil or dirt on it, it will come out really uneven and splotchy.
Step 20: Now Its Time for the Acid Bath!
For the acid bath, I fill a small PVC tube with ferric chloride. Ferric chloride is usually used to etching electronics like motherboards, but it always works really well in blackening a hardened blade.
I dip the blade for about 2 minutes and then take it and use ammonia based window cleaner to neutralize the ferric chloride.
while doing this step, make sure you wear all proper safety gear (eyes protection, latex gloves and a respirator)
Step 21: Stone Washing Time!
We now have a cool looking blackened blade!
Next thing we need to do is find some small rocks and a small container that's at least three quarters the height of the blade.
fill the contain about three quarters full of rocks and then slide the blade in. after that, put your hand over the top and shake the container like you were shaking a mixed drink. I like my blades shaken, not stirred.
Step 22: Prepping the Handles (or "scales" for the Knife Nerds)
Time to prep the handles for shaping!
for this step, I use a hot glue gun and glue both pieces together.
Step 23: Drawing the Handle Shape on the Wood
Now I place the knife on the top of the glues pieces of wood and trace out the handle shape.
Step 24: Drilling the Pin Holes
I move over to the drill press and clamp down the knife and glued wood pieces to the drill press table.
Once I've aligned the holes that have been drills on the knife with the drill bit, I slowly drill through both pieces of the wood.
Step 25: Rough Cutting the Handle Pieces
If everything fits properly, head over to the bandsaw and roughly cut around the outline of the knife you drew earlier. I like to leave plenty of space from the line, in case I screw something up.
Step 26: Gluing Any Imperfection in the Handle
At this stage, I like to use some CA glue and fill in any holes or imperfections in the handle.
Step 27: Rounding the Front of the Handles
Grab something that has a nice radius. for me, I used a small wooden shot glass.
place it in the front of the handle area and trace a round line. We'll be using this as a guide for the next step.
Step 28: Rounding the Handle
I move over to the belt grinder again and slowly grind off and round the front of the handle.
TIP: if you can, turn the speed of your grinder way down so you don't burn harder woods.
Step 29: Grinding a 45 Degree Bevel on the Handles
Ok the handle looks great now but it has a hard edge and that just doesn't look good.
To fix this problem, I use my small disk sander and set it so that I'll be grinding 45 degree bevels on both sides of the handles.
Now that looks a lot better.
Step 30: Gluing Everything Up!
Time for the glue up!!
make sure you arrange everything you'll need out on your table before mixing the epoxy. This includes all the parts of the knife, both parts of the epoxy, paper towels, alcohol and q-tips.
this part is simple but stressful. Start by mixing both parts of the epoxy together. Next up is covering the inside of the handles and laying it flat on your table, now cover the pins in epoxy and stick them in the holes of the piece thats facing up. Now place the knife through the holes that we drilled earlier. next is to add more epoxy to the exposed side of the blade. Finally repeat application for the other piece of the handle and slide it all together.
Step 31: Be a Clamp Champ.
Now grab some clamps (at least three) and clamp everything together!
Make sure its tight, but so tight that all the epoxy gets squeezed out of the handle.
If some epoxy does squeeze out, grab some alcohol soaked q-tips and wipes any excess epoxy that's on the blade.
Step 32: Wait for the Epoxy to Harden.
Now that everything is clamped up, we now have to wait at least three hours for the epoxy to harden. Go make yourself a coffee, you deserve it.
Step 33: Unclamping Everything.
Now three hours have past, its time to unclamp everything and make sure the epoxy set correctly.
Step 34: Cutting Off the Excess Pins
I quickly move to my metal cutting bandsaw and cut the excess pins that are sticking out to save time instead of sanding them down.
Step 35: Shaping the Handle
Time to shape the handle!
using the belt grinder, I shape the handle to my personal liking. I'm going for something basic because this will be any everyday used kitchen knife.
Step 36: Using the Wheel Set for Fine Shaping
Now we are at the point where we need to round off all the hard angles.
I put the wheel set back on the grinder, and start rounding off all the angles.
Once I feel I've rounded everything I can on the grinder its time for some hand sanding to finish the handle!
Step 37: Sanding Tip!
to help speed up the sanding process, I like to cut some sanding paper in 1 inch strips and then use 1 inch postal tape (the fiberglass kind) and cut the tape slightly longer than the sandpaper strips. this makes the sandpaper easy to hold and super tough.
by doing this, it also contours around the handle without the sandpaper ripping.
trust me, you'll thank me later.
I work all the way up to 320 grit so the handle is like glass. Run your fingers over the handle to feel how smooth you want it, once you're happy, its ready for the next step
Step 38: Time for Sharpening the Blade!
You can use many different types of sharpeners. For me, I like this wet/dry sharpener.
for the speed and sharpness, you can't beat it.
so I set the angle of the secondary bevel at 20 degrees and grind the bevel down on both sides. Once I feels some "teeth" on the burr, I move over to the leather stropping side. I use some included stopping compound and slide the edge 5-10 times of each side of the blade making it scary sharp!
Step 39: Finishing With Finish!
Much like sharpening a knife, there are many finish options for using on the handle of your knife.
My favorite finish for knife handles is "Tru-oil gunstock finish" it adds a nice gloss while protecting the blade.
Step 40: And You're Done!!!
There you have it!
if you've followed all these steps, you should have a pretty badass knife in front of you!!
I hope you like this project! if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments in the youtube link and I will try to answer them!
I hope you liked this project! if you did, check some more of my stuff at www.grazmakes.com
Participated in the
Trash to Treasure Contest