So here's how the situation stood: Me sis turned 9 this year. Normally I have no clue how old they are, but 9 is the year they get their very first at our house. Being the knife nut that I am, I was all over that.
She got a knife on her birthday, yes, but that was only a pocket knife. A folding knife. Not a real knife, you know. Obviously, she needed a good fixed blade. And what sort of an amazingly awesome (the words handsome and brilliant also come to mind) knifemaking brother would I be if I didn't make my sister a fixed blade knife when she so desperately needed one?
Come now, don't look at me that way. What? You really think i'd make the situation sound far more desperate than it really was just because I wanted an excuse to make my sister a knife? Shame on you.
I am entering this in the Homemade Gifts Contest. Vote for me. Now.
Step 1: Materials
Materials I used:
- 1 bar of 1080 high carbon knife steel. 1" x 1/8" x longer than the knife you want.
- Pink G10
- White fiber handle spacing material
- 2 nickel silver pins
- JB Weld
- A sister who wants a knife. (optional, but makes it way better)
- A brain. Very helpful, especially in this day of political correctness and stupid-heads.
Step 2: Tools
Here's where it can get interesting, as you certainly can get away with fewer (and simpler) tools than I used. You could make this knife with not much more than a hacksaw, files, and sandpaper. No way i'm going to though :)
Tools I used:
- Bench Grinder
- 1x30 Belt Sander
- Drill Press
- 4x36 Belt Sander
- Angle Grinder
- Table saw
- Bolt Cutters (you'll never guess what for)
- Paint can propane forge (there are innumerable excellent instructables on how to make them)
- Smithing tongs (Fine. They were just ordinary pliers)
I think that's all. I think.
Step 3: Video
For those who can't read.
And a shameless plug for my YouTube channel. Which you should subscribe to.
If you feel like it.
Step 4: Forging Out the Blade
Fire up the sink you rednecks, it's time to move some metal. For some reason I decided to forge out this knife, rather than use the stock removal method. Not sure why; due to my poor hammering skills and a not-flat anvil it only made more work for myself later.
The first step to forging out a knife is to draw out the blade and form the tip. Very simple, really. Heat the metal.
Strike the corner of the bar. It scrunches. Flip over. Strike the other corner. It scrunches. Flatten. Repeat. Keep drawing out the blade until it is the appropriate size, and the same thickness as the rest of the stock.
See pictures to lessen the confusion caused by my description.
Step 5: Forging Handle (most of It, Anyway)
Heat up the middle section of the steel. You want to strike with the hammer just below where you want the beginning of the blade, pulling the material back toward the bottom of the tang. Flip the bar flat, straighten it out and flatten it. You want the whole knife to be roughly the same thickness.
Here is where it would be nice to have plenty of practice and precise hammer strokes. Not me. I did manage to get the shape to roughly what I wanted though.
Step 6: No Clue What to Title This Step
I had originally planned to completely shape the knife with the forge, but alas: tragedy struck and my blow dryer up and decided it no longer wanted to be merely a blow dryer but also a screeching noisemaker.
It was also getting dark.
So I opted to skip the rest of the forging and finish it up using the stock removal method. All for the best. With my luck forging I'd probably have melted the blade off in the next heat anyway.
To get to the point: I moved inside, cut off excess metal with the angle grinder, and marked out my finished design on the steel for stock removal.
Step 7: Rough Shaping
I find my bench grinder the most effective tool for the rough shaping. The other two tools you could use would be the angle grinder (with grinding wheel of course) or the belt sander. They both work well.
Now for my detailed explanation of this step:
Step 8: Grinding Flat, Making It Purty. Purtier, at Least.
Because my anvil is not flat and I suck at forging, my knife blank is equally un-flat. The blank is also understandably covered with a healthy amount of scale. Time to grind until you forget your second cousin's middle name.
If you are smart you will use a 4x36 belt sander with fresh belts. If you are like me you will use a 4x36 belt sander with worn out belts.
You might forget your brother's name as well.
Step 9: Drilling Pin Holes in Tang
Self explanatory. Mainly.
The big thing is to take your time, be sure the knife is secured securely (who'd a guessed?), and make sure everything is lined up correctly. Can't fix a pin hole in the wrong spot :) I clamp the blank to down to my drill press, with a block of wood between.
Carbide bits would make it easier, but not absolutely necessary.
Step 10: We Interrupt This Presentation to Bring You a BEVEL JIG
Up until this knife, I had free ground all my edge grinds. There's nothing wrong with freehanding, but it takes a boatload of practice, and you simply can't get a perfect bevel. I'd been wanting to try using a bevel jig, and I figured this was as good a time as any.
So I made a very very simple jig using nothing but a block of wood, a tablesaw, a couple screws, and a nifty grind angle calculator. Here's how:
First, find the angle you need using the grind calculator (http://dcknives.com/public/grind_angle.php). Set the table saw blade to that angle, which in my case was 5.7 degrees. Run the block of wood through the saw. Cut off at the appropriate length. Screw the knife to the block of wood.
Wow, that was simple. Not exactly designed to be reusable, or very durable, but you can make a new one in about 2 minutes.
Step 11: Bevel Jig-ering
I'll say, I don't think I'm gonna be able to go back to free handing. Not only were the grinds dead flat, but it was WAY easier. No worries about messing up the knife by accidentally slipping, just slap the thing up against the belt and grind away.
I think I'll have to make a real bevel jig before my next knife.
Step 12: Heat Treat: Quench
After the bevels are ground, we should be ready for the heat treat. The knife should be fairly finished, cleaned up, and sanded to a pretty high grit. The higher the grit, the less there will be for the scale to stick to, and the less work cleaning up afterward.
Now for the heat treat.
The blade needs to be heated to approximately 1475 degrees fahrenheit, and quenched in oil. That hardens the steel. You then need to heat the blade up again to 400 degrees, which softens the steel back down a tad, as after quench it is too brittle for a good knife. That will leave you with a decently hardened blade.
(I explain in layman's terms. If you want the science, ask Wikipedia.)
First step, the quench. I heated the steel up to non-magnetic (austenite temp is about 1345) in my paint can forge, waited a few seconds longer to bring the temp about hundred degrees hotter (watching the steel's color), then quenched in a container of veg oil. Lucky me, there was no warping or cracks. I tested with a file, and it skated across without biting in. Success!
Step 13: Heat Treat: Tempering
As said in the last step, after the quench you need to heat the steel up to 400 degrees. You can do that in numerous ways, from using a propane torch, holding it above the forge, or just stickin it in the oven. I had a toaster oven handy, and used that.
The main thing here is to watch the color and be careful of overheating it. If you overheat, you'll have to redo the quench. And that ain't no fun.
Steel changes color as it is heated. A light brown/straw color indicates four hundred degrees. When the metal turns to that color, you know you have hit it. You will want to sand some of the scale off beforehand so you can see the color of the steel.
Funny when you set the temperature to 400 degrees on the toaster oven and leave for only thirty minutes and come back and the metal is purple. Not funny at all, actually. Thanks to that darn toaster oven I had to redo the quench.
Step 14: Doin It Over Again
Time to clean up everything over again. Some smart fella got in fresh belts, so grinding off the scale went much faster than before. This time around, remember it is extremely important not to let the metal overheat. Dunk in water every few seconds.
Hand sand wet. It keeps the metal powder from clogging the sandpaper. Much more efficient.
Step 15: Clean Up Bevels (bevel Jig-ering Episode 2)
The same as before.
I only hand sand the sides of the knife, not the bevels, because hand sanding the bevel causes the lines to be less sharp. Instead, I just go up to higher grits on the 1x30 belt sander. It looks a lot nicer.
Step 16: Rough Cutting G10
G10 is hard stuff. Pretty much the same thing as fiberglass, actually. It will laugh at any toothed saw you own. Surprisingly, it isn't very difficult to sand or grind, but it will destroy your toothed saws. I've read the best way to cut it is with a wet tile saw. That should give you an idea of the sort of material it is.
Being a redneck-y improviser, I used a pair of bolt cutters to chop the piece in half, and ground it down closer to the shape I needed with the belt sander.
Before you buy some G10 and start working it though, you should know some of the safety stuff that comes along with this material. G10 is pretty much glass embedded in epoxy. Epoxy isn't good stuff to grind on its own (overheating it can create toxic fumes), and putting microscopic shards of glass into the air as well doesn't help any. Human lungs really don't like microscopic shards of glass. Very bad for you. G10 is also an eye and skin irritant (turns out eyes also don't appreciate glass dust). You must wear a face mask (at the very least a dust mask, but a full respirator is highly recommended), something to cover your eyes, and if your skin is sensitive; gloves, long sleeves, etc. Also remember the dust hangs in the air for a very long time, and will get airborne again when you sweep out the shop. All in all, it's a really nasty handle material, and I honestly doubt i'll ever use it again. Even with a respirator my throat was sore for a couple days, and after only a little grinding in the shop I decided to move outside. Much better idea. With only the few minutes grinding that I did in the shop it was days before all the dust settled. If you can't tell, I hate the stuff. Don't recommend it.
Although it does make truly great handles when all finished up.
Step 17: Cutting Spacer Material
I decided to use some white fiber spacer material to set off the pink scales better. Not much to this stuff, it's pretty much like extra thick card stock. I was able to cut it with regular ol' scissors.
I'll slap this stuff between the tang and the G10.
Step 18: Drilling Pin Holes in Handle Material
An easy way to hold the handle scales to the tang is to tape em up together with electrical tape. Quick, easy, and it works.
Step 19: Finishing Top of Handle Scales
The top of the handle cannot be shaped once the knife is glued up. Thus, we must shape it beforehand. (Not obvious. At all)
I went simple, just the round handle-top-thing. Sanded up to high grit. Polished.
You also want to scuff sand the back sides of the scales, so that the epoxy has something extra to grip to.
Step 20: Glue Up Time!
I use JB weld. It is easily accessible and works well.
Assemble jigsaw puzzle.
Wipe any excess epoxy off the blade. Can't get that off once it's cured.....
Step 21: Let Cure for Several Years.
Step 22: Cut and Peen Pins
Cut pins. Hammer on pins. Pins tremble with fear and scrunch down as far as possible in an effort to hide.
In doing so, they unknowingly grip down on the scales very tightly, playing right into your hands. Wave the hammer around a few extra times. That'll petrify em' in place permanently.
Step 23: Shaping Handle
Like I said, I moved outside.
I did all the shaping on the 4x36 belt sander with an 80 grit belt. Not complicated.
First grind all excess material off of the sides until you are down to the tang. (Grinding with the knife in a vertical position. I alway grind in only one direction, because it is very difficult to get rid of opposing grind lines.) Grind down pins flush to scales. Next tackle the edges. Knife handles should be well rounded, fitting the hand perfectly. Not square with sanded edges, round. I can't stand square-y knife handles. At all.
You want to make sure all the grind lines are consistent and all scratches are gone before moving to hand sanding. It is far easier to get rid of material on the sander than by hand.
Step 24: Finish Sanding
G10 is like micarta. You can leave it at a lower grit for a nice grippy tactical handle, or you can go up to a nice polish. For this sort of knife, anything tactical-y is out of place.
So sand up to high grit, then move to a VERY high grit (several thousand), to polish it up. Go slow and take your time. Make sure to erase the deeper marks of the previous grit before moving forward. I am a bad example of this, not being an extremely patient person. I generally find myself cutting corners whenever possible, and always regret it later. You'll never regret taking too much time sanding. You will regret taking too little.
Step 25: Ta-da!
Here we are, all finished up. While you are admiring the pictures, I'll give you my opinion on the finished product.
I am pretty happy with this knife. It turned out very good in my opinion. That being said, here are the mistakes:
1. Design is decent, but could be better. I know it's nitpicking, but I'm a knife connoisseur. I critique every knife my eyes land on, my own included. The handle should have been smaller. Or the blade longer. The scales shouldn't have ended that low. It doesn't feel quite right in the hand.
2. The blade bevels aren't quite even with each other. Compliments of the not-quite-professional bevel jig.
3. Common to all of my knives, the knife should have been sanded more. Hard to see in the pictures, but there are rough spots from the previous grits showing through the handle. The pins have scratches. The blade bevels have scratches.
4. The tang isn't flat. You can see this in the fifth image. Forging errors and poor grinding are to blame.
Other than those issues, I must say I am pleased with how it turned out.
Step 26: Give De Gift
Step 1: Stick knife in priority mail box. Only works in priority mail box. Or cereal box. Some box which cover totally distracts from the actual gift. If you are smart, you will wrap knife in dirty undershirt first, then stick in box.
Step 2 (optional): Completely wrap box in an inch of gorilla tape.
Step 3: Wrap in Christmas wrapping paper, taking extra care that wrapping is as messy as expected from the likes of you.
Step 4: Forget all about bows and ribbon.
Step 5: Stick under tree.
Step 6: Wait for Christmas day. Only several hours in my case. (I have incredible timing)
She loved it. Amply proved by the fact that she absolutely did cut herself badly within two days (I don't make dull knives), for some reason got in trouble and is currently on restriction from it :)
But she loved it. So i'm happy.
Anyway. Hope you learned something, and I'll see ya' in the next project.
My Website: http://www.jakemakes.net/
I entered this in the Handmade Gifts Contest. Vote if you think it worthy.