What I Learned Making My First Knife

About: I'm a maker by nature but not by profession. I do all sorts of creative stuff and I want to share these things with you. I will mainly be posting all sorts of crafts on instructables for now but maybe I'll d...

I had had this idea of of a certain type of knife I wanted to make for at least a year now and I never really got around to it, until now. My idea was to make this japan inspired kitchen knife. I really love the sharp corner on the blade of this design, but I'm affraid the corner will go blunt really fast if compared to a more curved blade.

In this instructable I'm not teaching how to make a knife since I've made only one knife, but I'm sharing what I learned making my first knife. It turns out making a knife is a lot easier than I expected after watching a lot of knife making tutorials. I used to tools I had and the knife looks good and works well. Making a very good knife on the other hand will require a lot of skill, experties and right tools. Next time I will be doing some things in a different way.

Step 1: The Design

Designing the knife you are about to build is more than just thinking what kind of look you want and what are you going to use it for. These are important factors but it's also important to consider what kind of tools you have access to. On my design for example I have a finger guard which my belt sander was not capable of doing. I did not realize that until I was grinding the edge and encoutered the problem. Next time I will propably think a few steps ahead and make sure I have the means to make all the details I want because that kind of mistakes can easily ruin the look of the whole project.

Step 2: Tools

Knives can be made with really just minimal tools. All you need is:

-Something to cut steel with

-Something(s) to grind steel with

-Way to heat up the blade (if you want to heat treat the blade)

What you need is more about what kind of design your knife has and what tools you have access to.

Step 3: Making the Blade

I used a angle grinder to cut the rough shape of my blade
out. I thing angle grinder is very affordable tool and everyone should have one of those. If you're a man of patience you can choose to use a metal saw. At this point you should cut very close to your design, because sanding down a lot of excess steel will be a lot of work.

I used two different belt sanders and a power file to grind the form of the blade I wanted and bunch of sandpapers (up to grit 2000) to sharpen the edge. Even at grit 1200 grit the blade passed the paper test easily so there is no need to go higher if you are making a basic knife just for fun. Higher grit will give you smoother look. On my blade I decided to leave some of the sanding marks showing for rougher look. And I did not to polish the blade to mirror finish. My experince with sanding other stuff tells me 2000 grit won't be enough for a mirror finish. Also in this case you can go this whole process with just regular file and some different grit sandpapers if you are not in rush to finish the knife. I also used regular file right next to the finger guard because my belt sander is constructed in the way that I could sand the blade in a low enough angle on the other side only if I sanded off the finger guard. The sander had a flat area next to the belt and the finger guard hit that making it impossible to grind the blade in low enough angle.

I have access to a terrible DIY gas forge. the forge was hot enough to quench the blade (not shown in the video). Also I think the blade is made of such cheap steel that heat treating propably doesn't help much. If your knife design is small you can get the blade hot enough with just a torch without a forge. Also I've heard people using regular charcoal grills with blowers to heat treat their blades.

Step 4: Making the Handle

Making the handle was rather simple process, but filing the hole for the blade in the aluminum took way too long for my patience. Next time I will propably make the section right next to the blade from wood and then have a ring of aluminum in the handle the handle. That way I can leave a larger hole in the aluminum plate.

Also I definitely would glue the handle together first and then sand the handle to the shape I want and last I would insert the blade with a lot of glue because I had to use a lot of regular file on the handle next to the blade because even the power file would not sand the area right next to the blade. I almost ruined the handle trying to use powertools there.

I hope some of my mistakes and successes help you with you knife making.

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