Introduction: 1st Homemade Knife (W/ Limited Tools)
This is my first homemade knife. I had some 16 gauge carbon steel laying around and decided to try my hand at making a small knife over the coarse of two days. Though it is thin it still works fine for its size. I'd like to mention that I hadn't done any knife making research prior to trying to make this (other than how to harden and temper a blade after I had made all my parts and realized that was a thing that needed to be done). Anyone with the tools and parts laying around could easily make a similar functional knife in a couple days (maybe less if you have a grinder and belt sander around, I dont). So here is what I did with my very limited selection of tools...
Dremel with metal cut off attachments and sanding wheels
Drill with 1/8" drill bit
150 grit sand paper
Eye Protection (I used a riot helmet, but anything to protect your eyes from little bits of flying metal would be good)
Respirator (Because I care about my air quality and don't like inhaling wood and metal particles)
Work gloves (to avoid getting cut)
Other Materials Used:
16 gauge carbon steel sheet
Fretboard of old guitar (though any thin wood you have laying around could be used)
I laid it out with a sharpie and cut it out using a dremel with metal cut off attachment (Same for the finger guard). I made the blade 3" long and the handle 3 1/2". The blade width was 1 1/2" at the base and the handle is 1" wide. Wear your eye protection, respirator, and gloves. There will be sparks so don't do this near anything flammable.
After cutting everything out I de-bured them with the bastard file and then drilled all my holes. I put 4 in the handle and one in the center of the guard where I filed out a whole for the handle to fit through. Filed that out with the needle files. To bend the finger guard I clamped it to the table and used a hammer and hit it a few times to get the curve I liked. Then I clamped the handle down the the edge of a table with the blade facing out and used my files and a lot of elbow grease to file a nice cutting edge and shape into the blade. Start with the bastard file then needle files.
Next I laid the blade down on my handling material (fret board) and traced the knife twice (1 for each side of the handle) and market out the holes that needed to be drilled for the rivets. Then I lightly clamped the wood to a piece of scrap wood and used a cutting wheel on the dremel to cut out my handle wood. It is important to do this in a place with good ventilation or least without smoke alarms because even on low power the cutting tools for the dremel can burn wood and create a lot of smoke. Also wear your face mask and eye protection. After cutting, drill your holes.
After all my parts where ready to be attached I realized I needed to temper my blade otherwise it wouldn't hold an edge. I didn't know how to do this so I ran to the computer and did a little research. I found out that tempering is actually a softening of the blade that is done after hardening it (so it keeps an edge) but allowing it to be flexible and not so brittle that the blade snaps. To harden you need the blade to get red hot and then quench it straight up and down in some oil. I did this in the center of a raised metal fire pit that has holes in the bottom to allow airflow (I had this laying around but if you need to just dig a whole you can, or use a bbq grill, or if you have one a propane torch). I read that its best to use fresh motor oil opposed to used because of the heavy metals that accumulate in the oil through use. So I put some fresh motor oil in a metal can and dipped the knife in it when it was red hot. I dripped it in tip first and held it as straight as possible. When the fire went out and it was done smoking I pulled the blade out and dipped it in some water to finish cooling it. (Make sure you grab i with pliers or tongs and wear gloves. Have a fire extinguisher/some kind of fire plan before doing this. Be prepared for the motor oil to ignite cause it will.)
Then I cleaned off all the oil and gunk on the blade and placed it in my oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minuets and then allowed it to cool. I did this 3 times. When done I sanded off all the black stuff off the blade so i was a nice metal color again.
After all of this was done I slid the finger guard on and riveted the handles on and ground down any rough spots on the rivets. Then I used a sanding wheel on the dremel to sand down the sides of my handles. Then I clamped the blade to the table and and rolled my sandpaper into a thin strip and continued sanding the handles down two edges at a time by warping the sandpaper around the top and bottom edges of one side and dragging it back and forth.
After I had sanded the handle it was pretty much done. I used some polishing wheels on the blade and used a knife sharpener to get the blade good and sharp, but thats it. Done.
My only major complaint is that the finger guard wobbles but maybe I should have tried making a straight guard with a straight handle for my first knife. Otherwise the cutting edge stays sharp after a good amount of use. Its even sharp enough to cut some leather scraps I had around.
Over all it took me about 8 hours.