Restore an Old Hunting Pocket Knife




About: I like to do electronics, metalworking, woodworking, fixing things and all sort of cool and stupid things :)

Some time ago, I was walking in the woods, when something on the ground caught my eye.
It was half burried in the ground.

I started to dig and found a pocket knife! But not any pocket knife. It was a very old pocket knife with a shotgun cartrige puller!

Judging from its condition, it was sitting there for quite some time. Probably a hunter lost it when he was hunting.

A few parts were all over the dirt. I dug out all the parts and carried all of it home.

I liked it very much and I decided to give it new life.

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Step 1: The Initial Condition of the Knife

All those years of sitting in the woods have clearly left its mark on the knife.

The wood handle was completely rotten.

Cartrige ejector parts were very rusty, but the knife and the saw were made from quality stainless steel and were just dirty. The rust on the surface came from other rusted parts.

The worst part was the blade spring on the back side. It stops the blade in the extended position and prevents the blade fron unfolding on its own weight.

It was broken on both the saw and the knife part and that caused the blades to rotate all around the pivot point which made the knife useless for any work.

Step 2: Disassembling and Cleaning

The wood came off almost just by looking at it.

There was a bit more work for fully disassembling the unit, because there were no screws, everything was riveted together with brass rivets.

I also scratched off some of the surface rust from cartridge puller with a steel brush.

Step 3: De-rusting

The rust on the cartridge puller was quite deep, so I decided to remove it with electrolysis rust removal method.

The idea is that you take a bucket of water and mix in some cleaning soda or washing soda, so that the water becomes more electrically conductive. The more you use, the less voltage you will need. But don't exaggerate.

Then you take a power supply and you hook the part that you want to clean from rust on the negative pole and some scrap metal on the positive pole. And you put everything inside the prepared water. Watch so that the metal parts don't touch inside.

Then you put a few amps through. The more current you use, the faster it works. But don't exaggerate.

The electricity then "carries" the rust from the negative pole towards the positive one. Check the progress every 10 minutes. You will notice that your parts on the negative side are becoming cleaner, and the scrap metal on the positive side is getting heavily rusted.

Do this process outside, because it releases hydrogen and oxygen gas which are explosive!

It usually takes from 20 minutes to a few hours. it depends on your setup.

Don't leave it working for too long, or it will start to dissolve the metal aswell!

It is the best way to clean complicated rusted parts.

Step 4: Repairing the Broken Spring

Sadly I lost the images of the process of repairing the spring, because the cameras SD card died and took casualties.(pictures) with it. :(

This was the hardest part, because it needed precise welding. And all I had was an old stick welder which is not appropriate for such fine welding.

But I decided to give it a go. I disassembled everything and I aligned the pieces that needed welding together and clamped them on some thicker metal plate, to better remove heat from the piece. I used 2.5mm electrodes for stainless steel and 80A of current.

I managed to make a nice blob and then I just sanded it flat and it was good like new! I was really happy.

I did the same for the other spring.

It turned out great and it gave some character to the knife.

Step 5: Shaping New Wood and Sharpening the Blade

Sadly I also lost the images of making the handle :(

But shaping the wood is easy.

I took a mahogany stick I had lying around. And I cut out 2 square tiles and mounted them on the brass rivets on the side of the knife. Not all rivets were good any more, so I replaced the bad ones with screws, since I had no rivets like this available.

When the wooden tiles were mounted, I used belt sander,hand file and sanding paper to shape them. I made the handle a little bit thicker than it used to be, because it feels much nicer in the hand.

Then I finished it with oil finish. Because it is a hunting knife, I choose Tru-Oil gunstock finish which is very nice, durable and it cures very fast, so it is easy to apply many coats in short ammount of time.

Then I sharpened the blade with diamond sharpening stone from ebay. I gave it a nice edge.

Saw was still very sharp and was good as it was.

Step 6: Done

In all of its glory!

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    15 Discussions


    11 months ago

    what did the words on the side say? It says David something...
    thanks. you did an amazing job. My grandad just gave me a hand made machete from 1957, I got most the rust off, but it still has that dirty look to it. Tips?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 months ago

    Sorry for the very late reply, I totaly missed the comment.

    It says David rostfrei Italy. It is the brand of the knife.

    For the rust on the machette, I recommend sanding first and then you could either use some rust remover liquid you can buy in store or you can use electrolysis if you want. the second one is a bit more complicated, but it does the job great.


    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    Hello Jule, I was wondering if you did the same way to remove dust on the blade. Thanks!

    2 answers

    Answer 1 year ago

    No, the blade is quality stainless steel and it had no rust. It was just dirty from other rusty parts. I just cleaned it in soapy water and dish cleaning sponge with steel wool. And then I sharpened it.


    Answer 1 year ago

    sorry rust not dust...and I was talking about step 3


    1 year ago

    Nice job! I have an old knife that my wife's grandfather was issues during WWII. It has that old stacked leather handle, so I'm hesitate to mess with it, but it needs TLC... so much respect for the work you did!

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago


    I can bet you can make your knife shine aswell!


    1 year ago

    This is really awesome! You are right about having character! Congratulations on a restoration job well done and a family heighloom is born!

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    Nice project and it looks good to me. I love it when people refurbish old items like this and make them near new and usable again. Bravo sir, Bravo.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you! It is truly satisfiying to restore some old rusty "junk".