My First Knife




Introduction: My First Knife

About: I enjoy building things and being creative.

I thoroughly enjoy building useful things and about 2 years ago I found myself determined to start making knives. After practicing some of the skills on full tang bottle openers and other various project, I finally finished my first blade. There are certainly many different methods to constructing such a useful tool, this is the route I took. I am by no means an expert on the subject, this is just what I have learned and the knowledge I aquired.

A book I found very useful was "step-by-step knife making; by David Boye"

Step 1: Tools and Materials


drill press and various drill bits
belt sander
various files
band saw (for wood)
lansky sharpening kit
a sharpeneing steel/ strop
steel wool
masking tape
drum sander


high carbon steel
hard wood (oak, walnut, mahogany etc.)
1/8" brass pins
two part epoxy
sand paper
danish oil
polishing compound for steel

safety equipment

Step 2: Finding the Proper Steel and Treating It.

High carbon steel is the best stuff to use for making a quality blade. Used files, leaf spring or saw blades are a great place to start for your first blade. Most of these sources, however, are already tempered and very hard to work. Constructing a simple forge will take the temper out of the steel and make it workable. I used bricks, an old pipe, an old blow dryer, some metal tape and some char coal.
This got hot enough to heat the steel, and let cool properly.  The steel needs to get a dark red (before cherry red) and cool in the open air slowly.

The steel I used on this knife, was a old concrete cutting saw blade

I used a Template I made to out line on the saw blade, drilled the perimeter and hack sawed through the holes.

Then did the proper heating procedure.

took the newly softened steel to a bench grinder to refine its shape.

Step 3: Tapering the Blade

This is by far the most challenging step; the steel I used was fairly thin so I went with a convex blade shape to help maintain strength (number 6 on the photo). I used a 4"x36" bench top belt sander for this step, I held the blade at a slight angle (not sure what angle exactly) and checked constantly to make sure I was staying even and centering the edge.  You want to make sure that the grinding line stay even and flush with the other side. Keep a cup of water around, dip the blade in if it get to hot.
A word of caution, spends equal time grinding all parts of the blade, be mindful of the tip and do not over work or over heat it.

Sand and polish and tooling mark off of the blade surface, you want a good clean surface. not only will this look good but it will help keep rust away.

After you have a good blade shape (make sure it is dull) it is time to temper and anneal the spine. Heat up the forge again and get the blade that nice dark red. After the blade is hot enough dip it in some old motor oil. This will temper the steel.

Clean the gunk off the blade, its time to anneal the spine.
With gloves and vice grips put the blade in a pan of water, so that the butt of it is sticking out. Apply heat with a torch to the spine and handle part of the knife evenly. Do this until it is glowing that dark red. Make sure the blade is in the water and not getting too hot (you want the blade to retain its temper and give flex to the handle). Then let it cool while holding it in the water the same as before.

Step 4: Sharpening and Adding the Handle

The handle,
I used mahogany as my choice for the handle material of this knife.

Cut two strips about 3/8" thick. These strips need to be 2"x5" (depending on your handle length)

Clamp and drill the holes into one piece of wood, using the holes in the blade as pilot holes. It’s a good idea to put pins in as you go so you do not misalign the holes.

Then I tape the wood I just drilled to the undrilled piece of wood and repeat the process.

Keeping the wood taped, draw an outline of the shape of the handle (using the knife as a template)

use a band saw to cut the shape of the handle out.

sand down the upper part of the grip to the proper shape and curve (as this will be hard to do once the epoxy has set)

Polish the blade to a near mirror finish

mix the two part epoxy (make sure the wood and metal are roughed up and clean of any oils or grease)

apply the epoxy and insert the brass pins, then add clamps once everything is set properly. Clean off any epoxy squeezing out from the upper part of the handle. You dont want any epoxy showing on your newly polished blade!

After the epoxy has had time to dry, take the knife (wrap the blade with tape) and clean the profile of the handle and round off the grip. Test frequently to see how it feels in your hand. For this I used a belt sander and drum sander attached to my drill press.

Step 5: Adding the Edge and Finishing the Wood

Now that the handle is comfortable, finish by hand sanding with light sand paper 150-200 grit. Then use your choice of finish, I used Danish oil.

This is where it all comes together, adding that final sharp edge! The lansky sharpening kit is awesome, start by using the coarse stone. This will start that nice edge, then work your way through the other stones, till you get to the super fine stone. This will put a razor edge on your blade; you can literally shave with it. You can either use a strop or sharpening steel to get rid of any burrs.

Congratulations! You just completed a very useful and beautiful knife that will last a life time.

Step 6: Sheath Intro

Leather working in its self is a very hard skill to master; this is only the second leather working craft I have completed. This is how I did it.
I went with a boot sheath design and left out the belt strap.

6-7 oz tooling leather
needle and thread
black leather dye
leather finish
leather strips

leather punch
grommet setter

Step 7: Sheath Part Two

Start by soaking the leather in a pan of water for 10-15 min. It’s best to work on a hard surface; I have a granite cutting board that works well.

trace the out line of your sheath with a pencil (you should be able to put your knife in the center of the outline and roll to either side and stay in the area with room to spare)

cut out your design and punch the needed holes

place and set the grommets

using an awl sew the leather together and add leather strips through the grommets,

wrap your knife with saran wrap and tin foil (to keep out moisture) use masking tape to secure and help conform the leather to the shape of the knife and let dry over night.

After the leather is dry, untape and remove the knife, if there is any rust spot, use steel wool to remove them.

Apply a few coats of the leather dye after drying applies leather finish.

That’s about sums up my knowledge of leather working.

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    14 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Amazing! I had no idea you could use stuff like old saw blades to make knives...only on Instructables! :) This is awesome!

    For a first knife that is great. personally though i prefer to use 1/4 brass...i mean it doesnt really matter i just think it gives it a warmer feel. Other than that i dont see anything really wrong.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    On other projects I do use 1/4" pins and mosaic pins. For this one I wanted to wood to stand out more. Thanks for the complements though!

    @triumphman-The major difference between the two knives you describe is that one has a fantastic steel and heat-treat (1095 H/T-ed by Rowen) and has superb fit & finish, and the other is made in China of an unknown steel by child laborers.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Oops I meant "Tom" Brown! His knife "The Sweeper" from the movie is made by Tops and cost anywhere from $50.for the "Tracker model , to the T- 3 model for $260. There is also a "mini" for $109. A copy of the sweeper can be had on ebay for a mere $15. If I purchased one, I would get the Paratrax Bowie Knife from . It is ony $16.99 plus $7.99 shipping. Total of $24.98. A good deal! Its a copy but looks cool. Enjoy, be safe, as ever Triumphman


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Nice job for a first knife! Now make a Bowie! Or a knife like the one used in the movie "The Hunted" with Tommy Lee Jones. Very cool!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Alot of folks want a knife like in the movie "The hunted" I need to make a few. It is a pretty bad A$% knife.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, the knife has some good applications, but it can never be used like the movie does! Being a Gil Hibben throwing knife and axe/hatchet thrower, I know the knife has a very limited throwing range. Look at the shape & weight. I have made a few of these to avoid paying the outrageous price that Joe Brown wants for his knives. The movie was a real promotional effort on his part and he sold quite a few knives because of it. But watch the movie and see some of the outrageous stunts with that knife. In the real world that knife can not be thrown like that. Through a tree, no way! Take a look. See what I mean.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I will have to watch it again! have not seen it in years.

    handful of dust
    handful of dust

    8 years ago on Step 6

    Would you mind adding some pictures of annealing the spine and handle? I'm having difficulty picturing it and that would really help me out.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 6

    yeah, i will get to that today!