Introduction: Skinning Knife

This knife was made out of a previous knife that i made, which melted partially during the heat treatment process. In this instructable I will show you how to turn around a ruined knife and turn it into something completely different, that works well and looks great .

Step 1: Materials/tools

use the ruined knife to draw your new design on.
to cut out your design and to grind the bevels on your knife
to do most of the final shaping of the profile.
to clean up and polish your blade
to heat treat your knife
to quench the knife in to make it harden.
to temper the blade to make it useable
Bone, wood, g10, micarta
stainless steel for mine
stainless steel, brass, timber
for shaping the handle
for final polishing of the handle

Step 2:

Step 3: Design It!

Trace out the design of you ruined knife onto some paper and draw your design within the lines of your drawing. The design of the knife will be quite limited becasue you have to keep within a set shape. Then draw the design onto your knife when your happy. If you are just using a blank peice of steel just copy a design right onto the steel blank.

Step 4: Bevels

My ruined knife still had a useable bevel and edge to it so I just touched up the ugly areas with the angle grinder and files. But to start from scratch I have built a bevel filing jig that is very useful as you can get a very defined flat grind. The procedure on how to make this jig can be found on instructables or with a quick google search.

Step 5: First Polishing

This is the fisrt of two polishing steps that you will complete before the knife is finished. One before heat treating and one after. I went for a satin finish becasue it is quick and leaves a nice finish when done properly. A satin finish involves doing all your sandpaper strokes in one direction, usually up and down the length of the blade. I went from 150 to 800 grit sandpaper.

Step 6: Drilling Holes

This step is important not to forget as I almost did. Before you heat treat holes must be drilled to suit the size of your pins. Make sure you either have your pins or you know the size of your pins. If the hole is drilled to large then the pins will wobble and come loose which defeats the purpose of having pins. I drilled 3 holes one for the guard and two for the handle

Step 7: Heat Treatment

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. I made sure that the forge was truly hot enough before i put the blade in. I then heated up the blade until it lost its magnetism, i tested this with a bar magnet and ran it across only the blade because i didnt need the handle to be hardened in the quench, 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. Knives must be normalized 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 isn't right it can make your knife warp or do other stuff like crack or chip. 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, then i swiftly removed it after about a minute and moved it into my quench which consisted of canola oil. I aslo hung some wire through the holes i drilled in my handle to hold the knife up above the tin. You can use different types of oil for the quench i used canola oil becasue i found it is easier to clean off then motor oil. To my surprise and excitement, when i went to remove any scale on the blade it came right off without any effort. I dont know why this happened because it is usually another full day of sanding to get rid of the scale.

Step 8: Tempering

Tempering is done to bring the hard brittle and useless knife that has been heat treated, into something that has a bit of spring and flex so it can be used. This step should be done immediately after quenching. It is a good idea to have a small oven like a pizza oven in your workshop so you dont have to run inside and ruin your proper oven. For this step i heated the oven up to 210 degrees celcius then i stuck my knife on a rack and left it in there for an hour. then i took it out and let it air cool and then repeated the processes another two times. By the time tempering is finished you should have a nice straw coloured knife.

Step 9: Second and Final Polishing

Unless you want a straw coloured knife, you will need to sand the blade again. Just repeat step 5 to get your blade nice and shiny, it will be slightly tougher this time becasue the knife is not in its annealed state and has been hardened and tempered

Step 10: Guards

I am using stainless steel for my guards, mainly because it looks great and it has more corrosion resistance than mild steel. stainless is a bit of a pain to use as it is pretty tough. Before you start working on your handle cover your blade in some paper towel so you dont damage it or yourself. just mark out the shape of your guard and cut out the shape onto two peices. Drill the holes in the guard so you can try them on your blade and test their fit. I then glued the two guard peices on and clanped them in the vice and let them set overnight. I found that is was much easier to do the final shaping after i glued them on. A orevious mistake i made with another knife was gluing the guard and timber on at the same time, it was impossible to make the guard the right shape without destroying the timber. So just shape the guard without the handle on it yet its much easier.

Step 11: Timber Handle

After your guard has been shaped and polished, you can assmeble the handle. I decided to buy some figured Australian woolly butt for the handle, it had a nice brown colour and had nice grains. My timber came precut into scales, I flattened out the sides which would be touching the tang so it would lie flat against it. I clamped one scale to the tang and drilled holes in the timber through the holes i had drilled in the tang, the i did the same for the other scale. Then i glued both the scales an inserted the pin stock and let it set overnight.

Step 12: Shaping and Finishing

Use some rasps and files to get the final shape of youre handle. Take youre time when using a rasp because you can really take away some territory with the tool and you dont want to destroy your handle. Shape it to your desired fit and then sand it to 400 grit. Before you oil the handle wet the timber to reveal and bring out the grain of your timber, it adds a nice touch.

Step 13: Conclusions

Altogether this is probably one of my favorite knives. I know you're probably wondering where all the photos are, i decided to make this an instructable after I completed the knife so unfortunately i didnt take many photos at all and i know it might make it hard to understand what I'm saying so please forgive me. Please do provide me with some thoughts or constructive criticism in the comments section. Thankyou for reading.