This instructable explains how I built a custom Push Dagger knife step by step. I recently found an old metal pipe in the woods behind my house during a hike. I originally didn't know what to do with it, but after cleaning it up I had a crazy idea to make a knife out of it. After about four days of work, this is how it turned out. Surprisingly, I only spent $4 in total building this knife. Also, many of the tools required are already found in the average home.
I hope you are inspired to build something like this after reading this tutorial. If you would, please vote for me in the current contests, I would really appreciate it. Thank you and I hope you enjoy reading my Instructable! :)
Knives & Push Daggers are illegal in certain states. Please check your local state and city laws on what knives are legal to own. I am also not responsible for any personal injury or harm caused by knives built following this tutorial. Always wear adequate eye protection and follow proper safety precautions when building this knife.
Step 1: Materials: What You Will Need
Here is a list of materials I used to make this knife. I used a pipe for the blade, however any source of mild or hardened steel will work. The only material I needed to buy was the Maple board which cost me $4 at Lowes.
*Maple Wood Board for Handle (there is many other alternatives you can use instead)
*Roofing Nails for Handle Pins
*Metal and Wood Files
*Bench Grinder (not required but very helpful)
*Forge (check this website for tutorials)
You could possibly use even less tools. If you do not have a forge, check this website for many tutorials. A bench grinder is very handy to have, but you could make do with metal files and sandpaper.
Step 2: Cutting Out the Pipe
Cutting and Annealing Pipe
After cleaning your pipe (if necessary), the first step is to cut off a piece which will become your knife.. Cut off a piece off about 4-5 inches long using your hacksaw. At this point, the steel is still hardened and is extremely difficult to cut through. After you have a 4-5 inch pipe section, it is time to soften the metal in the forge. Place the pipe into the forge and heat up the metal to the point where it is cherry red (about 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit). Turn off the forge and use a pair of tongs to remove the pipe from the fire. Let it cool until it is room temperature. The purpose of "annealing" is to soften the steel to make it much easier to work on.
Cutting Pipe in Half
Now that the pipe is softened and cooled down, place it in the bench vice. Using a hacksaw, cut the pipe in half. It should be much easier to cut now that the metal has softened. I used a drill to make holes down the side of the pipe to make it easier to cut (see pictures). Once the pipe has been cut, remove if from the vice and turn it over so that the cut side is facing the ground. Put it back in the vice and saw the opposite side. You should now have two separate pieces of curved metal. The wider the diameter of your pipe was, the more metal you should have to work with.
Select one side of the pipe and using a hammer, hit the pipe until the metal starts to bend over itself (I am using the back of my vice as the surface to hammer on. You could also use an anvil, steel weight, sad iron, or any other hard flat surface). Keep hammering until the pipe section starts to flatten. At this point your pipe should start forming into a flat sheet of metal. You will need to turn the metal over and hammer until both sides are equally flat.
Step 3: Creating the Design Template
To make a template, first measure the dimensions of your piece of metal. My metal sheet was 1.6 inches wide by 4.4 inches long. I created a template in Photoshop using the same size canvas as my steel was. If you do not have Photoshop you could always download free editing software like Gimp. My knife template was based off of a Push Dagger made by "Cold Steel". I downloaded a reference picture of the knife, then I resized it in Photoshop and tweaked the dimensions of the blade. I decided to give my knife a wider blade and tang as well as making it a bit shorter. Make sure you are using a grid to make sure your knife template is symmetrical.
I ended up making three slightly different templates and printed them all out as life size copies. I then decided which template was my favorite and cut it out using scissors. Make sure your template is flat or it will not trace correctly onto the steel. Now simply place the paper template over your steel sheet and trace it using a pencil. After you have traced the design, make sure it is correct before you copy the pencil markings with a Sharpie or permanent marker to make it permanent.
Step 4: Cutting Out the Knife
Now that you have the template traced onto your steel, you are now ready to begin cutting. As you can see in the pictures, I drilled some holes along the outline of the template to make cutting the blade out easier. I started at the bottom of the knife and cut out the thinnest section of the knife first. I then worked my way out the template until I had finished cutting out one side. Each time I need to cut at a different angle I simply repositioned the knife in the vice. For the most part, this step is self-explanatory. I hope the pictures help you understand what I'm doing.
Step 5: Cleaning Up the Blade
After you have completely cut out the knife, it is time to file and sand it into the shape you want. I used a bench grinder to clean up the sharp jagged edges of the blade. Some of the parts of the knife were too delicate to use with the grinder so I used steel files instead. I noticed at about this point that I had done a bad job of sawing and that my knife was not symmetrical. I fixed this by gradually grinding that side until I used a ruler and made completely sure the knife was even on both sides.
After the blade was even and all of the edges were flat, I then added a bezel on both edges of the knife with the bench grinder. This part is very hard and requires constant readjusting to make sure the bevel is even on both sides. My advice is to work as slow and steady as you can. Unfortunately, I could not do this and take pictures at the same time.
Sharpening and Drilling
After you have added the bezel, you can use steel files and a knife sharpening stick to get a nice hone on the blade. At this point you can get the knife pretty sharp, but keep in mind that this will not last through heat treating. Also, if you plan to use pins with your handle, I suggest you drill the holes in the tang now before you heat treat. Otherwise you will have a very hard time drilling later on.
Step 6: Heat Treating the Blade
Now that you have finished your knife, it needs to be heat treated to harden it.
The first step in this process is called "quenching". Quenching is when you bring the steel from a very high temperature to a suddenly much lower temperature. The first step is to get a container filled with olive oil. Heat up your forge and place the knife into the coals like you did for annealing. Leave the blade in the forge and wait for the blade to turn cherry red. The best way to tell if it is hot enough is to use a magnet. If a magnet does not stick to your knife, it has reached the correct temperature. Pull the blade out of the coals and while it is still red hot plunge it into the olive oil filled container. There will be smoke and possibly flames, so make sure you are wearing the correct safety equipment. Now that you have quenched the blade, your knife will be very brittle. It's for this reason that you need to "temper" the blade.
Tempering releases tension in the steel and allows the knife to be slightly softer and much more flexible. To temper your blade, simply leave it in your kitchen oven for an hour at 400-50°Fahrenheit. If your oven is older, it is better to adjust the temperature to slightly higher than what it reads on the dial. After 1 hour has ended, let it cool and repeat the process one more time. Now that you have finished heat treating your blade, it is time to clean it up once again.
Step 7: Finishing Up the Blade
This is basically repeating the cleaning you did earlier in Step 3. Use steel wool and sandpaper to get the steel to a shiny metal finish. Start at high grit sandpaper and continue down until you reach a very fine grit. Also, now is the time when you can sharpen your knife to a fine edge with a sharpening stone or stick. Do not attempt to sharpen your knife with files or a grinder. Once your knife is shiny and sharp, you can now move on to Step 9 to add a handle to your knife.
Step 8: Adding a Handle to Your Knife: Intro
Now that you have finished sharpening and polishing your knife, you can now add a handle to it. I originally made a simple handle out of electrical tape, however I wasn't satisfied with how it looked. I ended up deciding on making a wooden maple handle.
If you don't want to make a wooden handle, here are some other knife handle materials and ideas:
Also, it is possible to buy premade handle slabs if you choose to go that route.
Step 9: Adding a Handle to Your Knife: Cutting Handles
Cutting out Wood Handles
I bought a maple wood board at Lowes for $4. I measured the dimensions of my knife and decided how big my handle needed to be. Using a hand saw, I then cut off a small slab off of the board and then cut this piece in half. The finished two pieces of wood had jagged marks on the inside from my hand saw. I decided to keep these roughly cut pieces on the outside of the knife because I like the rugged appearance they had. I sanded the two pieces with sandpaper and files unil they reached a little larger than the size of my knife tang. When I was satisfied with the rough shape, I then use a clamp to secure the one of the pieces to one side of my knife. Once I made sure the handle piece was lined up correctly, I then drilled through the pin holes I had made earlier. Make sure you are using the correct size drill bit (try to use as small of a bit as possible at first - you can always widen the hole). Repeat this process on the other side of the knife (flip the knife over and line up the other handle piece). Now that you have two drilled handles, it is time to attach them to the knife itself.
Step 10: Adding a Handle to Your Knife: Attaching Handles
I used roofing nails to make pins for the handle. I measured the distance I needed and then cut off the ends of the nails to finish the pins.
Lining up and Gluing
Next I lined up the two handles and made sure they were each on correct sides (it helps to mark each side). I then wet the wood and metal with water to ensure proper bonding with the glue. I put glue on the first handle and placed it on the blade. Then I put glue on the pins and pushed them through the proper holes. I applied glue on the second handle and aligned it properly with the pins. It is OK if the pins are sticking out of the knife at this point, you can sand them down later. After this was done I placed the knife in the vice and clamped it down very tight. I used two small clamps to secure the top part of the handle that was left sticking out. Wipe any excess glue off the handle with a rag. Let the knife sit in this state for a couple hour until the glue dries completely. Check on the knife several times during this process and clean any excess glue that has seeped onto the outside handle.
Step 11: Adding a Handle to Your Knife: Sanding Handle
After a couple hours have passed the glue should be dry. Remove the knife from the clamps and make sure everything is solid. If you used Gorilla Glue, you will probably have excess glue all over the seams of the handle. Using wood files, sand the excess glue away. At this point it is now time to sand your handles. Use sandpaper and work your way down to a lower grit. Also, if your handles did not match up perfectly (like mine), you can use a wood file to get everything sanded down symmetrical. As you can tell in the pictures, I kept sanding with files until everything was smooth and even. I softened the edges and corners and I smoothed out the ends of the handle pins.When you get to your finest grit sandpaper, make sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain.
Step 12: Adding a Handle to Your Knife: Staining
Once you have your handle sanded down to perfection, it is time to apply a wood stain. A wood stain brings out the beauty from your chosen wood and really improves the appearance of the entire knife. I used cabinet stain that I already had available, however there are many different colors and types of stains available. Make sure your handle is completely dry before you apply the stain. Also, taping electrical or painting tape to the knife blade will keep your blade clean. I used an old rag to gently apply the stain. Do not rush, and make sure you do not overapply. Once you are satisfied with the color of the handle, wipe off any excess liquid and let the handle dry. Remove the tape from your blade.
Step 13: Ending
Your knife is now complete! Thanks so much for reading and I hope this was helpful. I tried to make it as detailed as possible. If anyone has any questions about the knife, please let me know in the comments below.
Also, I would really appreciate your vote in the Reuse Contest and the Metal Contest!
Thanks again for reading! Looking forward to hear feedback