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INTRODUCTION

Art of Knife Making

Welcome to another addition of CRATEX metalsmith chapters. In this chapter, we’ll talk about knives, blades, knifemakers, knifemaking tools, CRATEX abrasives used for cleaning, polishing and finishing blades. As always, we prepared an interview with an expert in this field. This time we had an opportunity to speak with Kris Stevens from KS Bladeworks. At the end we’ll help you to make your first camper knife with few DIY tutorials.

Before we jump to files, hummers, abrasives, forging and grinding will introduce the most used steel for making blades. After all, steel is the essence of every knife and thus can’t be avoided in this chapter.  

If you would like us to explore and cover some other topics related to making knives feel free to contact our team at social(at)cratex(dot)com.

To quickly jump to the desired chapter, click on chapter icon.

Art of Knife Making

CHAPTERS

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 1

People & Knives

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 2

Knifemaking Tools

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 3

CRATEX Tools For Knife Making

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 4

Interview With Kris Stevens Custom Knife Maker

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 5

How to Make a Knife

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 6

Best Steel For Knives

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 7

How to Remove Rust from Knives

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 8

Knife Blade Design

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 9

Knife Patterns and Templates

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 10

Knife Handle Design Makes

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 11

How to Make a Knife Handle

People & Knives

CHAPTER 1

People and Knives

Knife – Oldest Tool Used by Man

We use knives every day, at least in the kitchen, but how many times have you asked yourself if it was possible for people of early civilizations to survive without a knife. Today we use all kinds of knives - paper knives, pocket knives, bread knives, camper and hunting knives, etc. However, a knife made of flint provided food and was a tool for making shelter in the Stone Age. Some say that the invention of the wheel was the most important invention in history, but how did they manage to build the wheel without a cutting tool? The knife was the first handmaking tool that we used to manipulate the world around us.

People used different materials for making knives. At the beginning, it was flint, copper, bronze, iron and, finally, steel. Techniques for making knives also evolved along with the new tools used for knifemaking.

We still have knives with fixed blades and folding knives as before. So, what has changed the most over the years? The material is what changed the most! These days we use sophisticated materials for knife making, like stainless steel, titanium, carbon or ceramics.

Centuries after, a knife is more than just a weapon for hunting animals and plant cultivation. Knife found its way to our tables, we use them daily. Knifemaking became a true art. Knife customization, engraving and adding gemstones is not so rare anymore.

Knifemakers & Making Process

Knifemakers are custom knife manufacturers. Some call them bladesmiths. They build knives out of blade material, usually from steel. This is done by forging. Blade material is heated over high temperature and then shaped with a hammer. After shaping comes grinding, polishing and other blade finishing processes. When the blade is done, it is time to make handles. They are usually made of wood, leather, ivory, micarta, stone etc. which is a harder way to make knives. Hobby knife makers and enthusiasts rarely do forging - instead, they do a stock removal. Below is just a baseline that will give you a clue on how to make a knife. 

Basic Knifemaking Process

  1. The most common process of making a knife starts with a knife design. You can draw a knife on a paper or design a full 3D model in CAD. It is up to you. 
  2. After designing, you must choose a blade material. It is also important to choose material thickness. You'll find more about choosing blade material in the chapter dedicated to tools.
  3. The next step is cutting the steel bar to achieve a knife shape per design. Here you will need vise, drill, grinder, file and saw with blades. Put the drawing onto the steel sheet to make a model. You can do this with a permanent pen. Now place steel into the vise and start cutting the steel according to the model with a hacksaw. If you are skilled enough, you can do this with a grinder or cutting wheel.
  4. Afterwards comes grinding to remove excess metal from the blade model. You can do this with a standard file or a belt grinder.
  5. Now it is time to finish the edge and make bevel. This is the most important step and a very delicate one, so be patient. Simply draw a line down the middle of the steel where the edge of the blade is going to be, so you can create symmetrical bevels. You can make bevels using a file or a belt grinder. Watch this tutorial if you want to learn how to do it with a belt grinder. YouTube is full of video tutorials like this one. If you are using files, like most hobby knifemakers, try to grind at the same angle between the steel and the file. Be careful not to remove more metal then you should. Once you finish one side, turn the blade and do the same on the other. Most people ruin their previous work in this stage, so take your time. 
  6. Drill holes for handle pins. Use a hand or bench drill.
  7. Heat treatment – hardening & tempering. Steel needs to be heat treated. You need to harden the blade by heating it on a high temperature and then quench it in the oil to cause a molecular change in the structure. Heat treatment depends on the material and it is technically very demanding. That is the reason many knife makers use services from professional heat treaters.
  8. Blade finishing - remove tarnish from heating treatment and other impurities. You can use sandpaper or rubber abrasives to achieve a mirror finish. CRATEX abrasives are the perfect choice for finishing and final touches.
  9. Make and attach the handles -  Handles should not just look nice, they must be durable regardless of the temperature, and water resistant. Most used material for handles is wood. First, you'll need to do is to drill pin holes (if you didn’t in step 6). Protect blade with a tape so you don’t cut on it. Clean surface. Attach and glue handles to a knife using epoxy and pins. Cut pins to the right size and put two clamps and let it sit for 12 hours. After that, shape handles using drum sender. In the end, finish and protect wooden handles with gunstock oil.
  10. Sharpening the blade –use whetstone or diamond stone. Put the stone on the table and lubricate it with mineral oil. Hold a knife at 17°-20° angle to the stone and start dragging the knife down to the stone with a light pressure.  

IMPORTANT: Protect your eyes, hands and lungs. Always use protective gear. 

Knifemaking Tools

CHAPTER 2

Knifemaking Tools

13 Best Knifemaking Tools for the Newbie

 

Making a knife demands design, adequate materials, and the right equipment. The proper tools will contribute to creating a durable handle and blade. It can be made at a small warehouse are at home with homemade or heavy equipment.

We have made a list of the top 13 tools that you need for knifemaking and a description of what they're used for.

Order Points

SKU Shape Length Diameter Arbor Hole
Q8 Bullet Point 1" 9/32" 1/16"
Q10 Bullet Point 5/8" 3/8" 1/16"
Q11 Bullet Point 1" 3/8" 1/8"
Q15 Bullet Point 7/8" 1/2" 1/8"
Q4 Cylinder 1/2" 1/4" 1/16"
Q6 Cylinder 7/8" 1/4" 1/16"
Q12 Tapered 7/8" 3/8" to 5/16" 1/8"
Q14 Tapered 7/8" 5/8" to 1/8" 1/8"
SKU Price Quantity
sku $price
Quantity Price per piece

1. Safety Equipment

The knives are sharp. Use heavy working gloves to protect the hands from getting cut or burnt. Wear the safety glasses to guard the eyes against steel dust and debris. Also, use a dust respirator that will keep you from inhaling harmful steel dust into the lungs. Plus, a work apron will protect the skin and clothes from being damaged by a tool.

2. Metal Files

They’re used to sand off any rough surfaces of metal once you’re done shaping it.

3. Bench Vise

A bench vise works as a third hand to hold the material that you're working on a place where you form it. The vise’s mouth faces upwards so that it’ll hold the blade up in the air, where it’s easy to get to.

4. Clamps

Like a bench vise, clamps are employed to hold your knife in place while you utilize it. The difference with clamps is that the blade is held out to the side, rather than up in the air. 

5. Hacksaw

The hacksaw is used to grind away steel to make the sharp side of the knife.

6. Grinding Abrasives

Rubber abrasive wheels, cones, points, and sticks all come handy when it comes to finishing work - blade fine grinding and polishing. A lineup of CRATEX rubber abrasives is imperative for knifemakers that want to add a final touch to their piece of art.

@osborne_knives

Loving me some @cratexsandiego today a tool maker can't live without this stuff.

7. Sand Paper

You'll need a variety of sandpapers' grits to shape the handle and to get the knife smooth, so that is comfy in hand.

 

8. Drill Press

The knife is held together with the pins. The drill press is used to drill the correct size of the hole for the bolts to fit securely inside.

9. Dremel

Dremel isn’t an essential tool but can be handy for cutting material, detail grinding, rust cleaning, jeweling, or customizing with mounted abrasive cones, small rubber or cut-off wheels, points and bits.

10. Forge

A forge is used to heat the steel so you can shape the knife the way you need it.

11. Angle Grinder

Angle grinder with right abrasive wheel is used to grind away the sharp side of the knife.

12. Belt Grinders

Reliable and heavy-duty belt grinders are a must in the artistic planet of knife making. Having a high-quality belt grinder for consistent output is the difference between a trash knife and a beautiful one.

The ideal belt grinder will also serve for sharpening other things, like axes, circular saw blades, and gardening trowels.

13. Whetstones

They are the best way to sharpen the knife once you have it made. There is variety of designs, grit ranges, and materials. Choose according to needs and knife material.

CRATEX Tools For Knife Making

CHAPTER 3

CRATEX Tools for Knifemaking

CRATEX is the leading US manufacturer of rubber abrasives. Many products from CRATEX assortment found use in knifemaking. Rubber abrasive wheels, cones and points are an inevitable part of knifemaking supplies. Rubber abrasives are especially convenient in the finishing process: for fine grinding and blade polishing, although many knife makers use them for handle finishing as well.

@g.flato.knives

When you're as fussy as I am about details, Cratex is a huge time saver. Spotted a flaw in one of the plunges. Instead of going back to the contact wheel and refinishing the whole blade, an XF knife edge wheel on the Foredom let's meet do a spot touchup #knifemaker #customknives #handmade#cratex

CRATEX abrasives are capable of: removing rust from old blades, initial blade deburring, removing scratches on blades, cleaning up and smoothing solder joints between guard and blade, cleaning plunge lines, blade polishing, knife engine turning – jeweling, all kinds of blade smoothing and rounding, blade mirror polishing, etc.

Grit Grades & Colors

When it comes to grit texture, all CRATEX rubber abrasives are divided into 4 groups:

  • COARSE (C) - Green - 46 grit,
  • MEDIUM (M) - Dark Brown - 90 grit,
  • FINE (F) - Reddish Brown - 120 grit,
  • EXTRA FINE (XF) - Gray Green -  240 grit.


1. Polishing Points

For polishing knife's hard-to-reach areas, you’ll need CRATEX points. Choose between three shapes depending on your work scope: bullet point, cylinder and tapered.

If you have a blade with grooves that need to be polished, or guard corners that must be smoothen, spirals on handles that need micro-deburring, look no further! CRATEX rubber points will get into places the sandpaper can’t. CRATEX Points are real time-savers for many knifemakers.

Depending on a blade size, choose a pin length and a diameter. Attach them to your favorite power tool, Dremel, CRATEX Rotary tool or a Foredom and get into every groove. Pins are flexible and can be re-shaped to suit the needs, so you can polish the file work on a knife blade in a few minutes. Depending on the shape, length, diameter and arbor hole, there are eight pin combinations. Along with the polishing point, you can order rotary tool mandrels in two dimensions. Get full info and order polishing points here.

CRATEX rubber polishers are imbedded with the silicon carbide, so they won’t heat up the steel, and you won't need to use anything to cool it down while working. Use them dry and forget about tripoli and rouge.



2. Small Polishing Wheels

Same as polishing points, small CRATEX wheels can be mounted on your rotary tool and used to cut and blend scratches, all in one operation. Small wheels are produced in 4 grit textures: coarse, medium, fine and extra fine. You can choose between two edge shapes: tapered and straight. Size from 3/8" to 1" and special cushioning can guarantee a smooth and soft metal removal without the loss of dimensional tolerances. Depending on the diameter, edge shape and thickness, you can order more than 10 wheels variations.

They offer a superior control over the knife blade and will ease your job when polishing knife edges and flat surfaces. Small rubber wheels are used by many knife makers since they are softer than other types of bonded abrasives. This means that even hobby knife makers can use them without the fear of grinding too much of the knife material.

Visit this page and see small wheels detailed specification.



3. Large Polishing Wheels

@1nebrkid

I am retired bridge builder, machinist/millwright. I restore fine old knives and tools. I use three inch wheels on my Sherline lathe, small wheels on Foredom and die grinders. Round and square sticks for cleaning corrosion on most everything I work on . CRATEX products are indispensable in my work.
#knifecraft #knifemaker #knives #oldknife #oldknives #restauration #cratextools #cratexwheels #rubberabrasives #craftsman #toollover #machining #craftholic #craftlover #knifelover #mycratex #abrasive #abrasivewheels #cratexsandiego

For removing and leaning corrosion from long and tick blades, removing heat-treating marks on blades, smoothing swords edges, blade restoration, fine grinding after stock removal or sharpening other knifemaking tools in your shop, there are CRATEX large wheels.

They can be used on all conventional electric motors and bench grinders. Large wheels come in 1"-1/2", 2", 3", 5" and 6" size depending on the thickness and arbor hole. All CRATEX grits are available.

To check the prices and detailed specifications, visit Large Wheel page.



4. Polishing Rods & Sticks

The easiest way to make your knife unique and is to add fine patterns to a knife steel. Knife engine turning has been one of the favorite decoration technique for centuries. CRATEX polishing rods are the perfect solution for knife engine turning if you have a small drill mill. To learn more about length and cross-section on this link.

Watch the video below to see CRATEX polishing sticks in action. Video credit: @glennarehovinknives

Protect your nose and lungs from harmful dust when buffing. Always use a dust mask and a respirator. To avoid sparks and dust particles, wear eye protection – safety glasses or face shield. 

Interview With Custom Knifemaker

CHAPTER 4

Our guest is the custom knife maker - Kris Stevens from KS Bladeworks. We asked him 19 questions and this is what he told us. Enjoy this wonderful interview. If you want to find out more about Kris visit KS Bladework Instagram or YouTube Channel

Interview With Knifemaker

Welcome, Kris! And thanks for accepting to do interview with us. Could you please tell us a bit about yourself? How long have you been working as knifemaker? Can you let us know about your beginnings and KSBladeworks?

- I was born in Denver Co. and was moved out to San Diego Ca. in 1976 when I was a bit over a year old. Graduated from Valhalla High School in 1993. I have always loved knives and up until 2014 just thought it was just brands like Kershaw and Buck and such.

Now, How I got into making is a fun story in itself. Back in about 2007 or so my fiancé and I used to watch a lot of shopping network shows and one that we always made a point to watch was watches and Jim Skelton. So, every Sunday we would watch him showcase watches and became somewhat of a collector. Then one-day Jim said that he was moving on to something different and he was gone. A few years later I stumbled across his YouTube channel and found he was now reviewing top end knives so of course I was interested. After watching his reviews, I would read some comments and start to follow some of the makers.

Gavko and Jesse Jarosz really got me to want to make a blade. So, one Saturday (March 2014) I bought a CHEEP Harbor Freight 4-36 grinder, went to Home Depot and grabbed a piece of oak and a bar of carbon steel and made my first fixed blade Even though I couldn’t heat treat it HA-HA. THEN I found Instagram after Jim, Mikel and Jesse were talking about it on YT and created an account and posted it. For the longest time I had less than 100 followers. That was until I figured out what hashtags were! I got into making knives wanting to make a folding knife (frame lock). That is where it started. I posted the builds and not just finished products. And people loved that. Not just a pretty piece but the process of what it takes to get to a pretty piece!
 
Then the orders started, and it scared me a bit. So, I started making customs from a sketch that I would send to a customer and update throughout the entire process. Had to close my books and now I only make when I like to and post for sale. I never went full time even though people asked ma all the time when I was. This is my hobby, I felt/feel that if I went full time it would feel like work and I would lose the enjoyment. I have a 6-5 job and this hobby is relaxing to me.

Can you describe your day on the job as a knife maker? Or your typical work week if more suitable?

-  Like I said above, this is a hobby for me, I build when I like. Sometimes I get so far in the Zone that I’d be up until 2-3 AM and then go back to the day job at 6 am. My shop is at home, so I could be watching TV and get an idea and BOOM! OUT TO THE SHOP! Weekends for me are for knife making mostly. I draw out my design and research to ensure that I’m not copying someone’s design and then lay out my materials. Choose my blade stock, handle materials, pivots and hardware and get to cutting. Then I got my mill. This just made thing SO much better and tolerances where I wanted them. Also got into making titanium tings and other goodies. I would have a piece of scrap left over from making a knife and make a ring and post it. Then I would get orders for those.

What's the last knife making project that you did that was especially challenging?

- My favorite knife I did (And totally jumped into that way early in making) was a Damascus/titanium liner lock, 34 individual hand-made pieces that had to fit together perfectly so it would work. I did a final assembly video on my YouTube channel. Everyone loved that knife. (Actually have another one in the works now).

Kris Stevens - KS Bladeworks

Do you make knifes by stock removal or forging? How do you choose steel for new project?

- I use the stock removal method. I get asked if I will ever forge a knife. I really don’t think I will at this point. Maybe when I retire. For steels I generally use AEB-L stainless steel or carbon Damascus. In choosing, I see what makers are using and how steels work and heat treat.

You make folding knives as well. Are they harder to make then knives with fixed blade? Why?

- I do. Folding knives are much harder to make than fixed blades, not knocking fixed blades in any way but they weren’t challenging enough for me. And there are a ton of fixed makers that build an awesome fixed blade! Reasons why a folder is more difficult to make is… Everything has to be precise, square and centered for it to function correctly. This comes down to good tooling, materials and finishing. I started with cheap tools abrasives and fought builds all the time trying to get them to work. Once I stepped up the tool game it was like day and night (Talking about minimizing process times with quality belts and good drill bits and endmills. Everything just started to fall together and it became easy to make a folding knife for me.

What is single the most important step when making a knife?

- Do your homework! Watch and follow makers that post builds and videos to see how things are done. Be able to vision what you want the finished product to be.

Do you find anything annoying or do you hate something in knifemaking?

- Not at all. Well I shouldn’t say that. Don’t bite off more than you can chew… I took on a large run of micro frame lock folders too early in the game and it almost turned me away from making completely.

What tools are essential in your shop? Belt grinder, heat-treating oven, etc.?

- This is a deep question. But the most important for most is a good grinder. Be it a 2-72 or a 1-30, Everyone has their own niche and work with what is comfortable for them. A good sturdy drill-press and quality bits. And yes, a heat treat oven for me. Most send their blades out for heat treat and that is great but for one-off’s, I keep it all in-house. I LOVE my mill and lathe. I can make parts that I no longer need to search for and buy.

What are the most important factors to become a successful knifemaker? Do you have any advice for those who just started as knifemakers and want to achieve great career in this field?

- I would say stay humble and do what you love. There are a lot of great makers that would offer to call and talk to a new maker and give advice. I have done that several times and makes the knife community that much tighter and builds great friendships. Don’t go into a build thinking it’s crap! Everyone starts somewhere, and this is just the beginning. Take criticism with a grain of salt. Make what you like and build from there. You will always improve with practice.

What type of abrasives except sending belts for belt grinder you use in your shop: rubber wheels, points, cones, etc.? Please describe purpose of use: blade or handles polishing, blade grinding, finishing, cutting metal, blade mirror polishing, etc. Why do you need abrasives and in what phases do you use them?

- Not a whole lot actually. I use my belts for almost every process. CRATEX points, cones and sticks come in for the finishing processes. Cones for polishing reamed holes. Sticks for engine turning the inside of the frames. I do use a buffer with a loose wheel and compound for mirror polishing my Damascus for a better etch after heat treating as well as to polish handle scales.

Depending on application and abrasive shape, what size (diameter) and grit type are mostly used by knifemakers?

- The most common for me are 36, 60, 80, 120, 240, 400, 600 and 1000 grits. 36 to rip the steels down to profile quickly. And then step up from there to remove the previous grind lines.

How did you learn about CRATEX products? Official website, forum/blog, recommended by another knife maker?

- I found you on the explore page on Instagram.

When did you start using CRATEX abrasives in your shop?

- You were the ONLY one that offered individual pieces. I had never used them before due to the fact that everyone made you purchase an entire kit. I didn’t want to invest into something like that if I wasn’t going to like it. You provided the opportunity for me to try it!

Why did you choose our products instead of some other manufacturer?

- As stated above. You were the only manufacture that I could find that offered smaller (individual) purchases.

What do you like the most?

  1. Quality & Material
  2. Price
  3. Customer service
  4. Other

-   All the above! The quality is great. The material lasts. Pricing is awesome and the customer service is wonderful, Easy to talk to and turnaround times are great.

Is there anything we could do to make you a more satisfied customer? (product improvement/online store/website/other)

- I wouldn’t change a thing. For me it was a great experience.

Would you recommend CRATEX products to others, and if yes, how would the recommendation sound?

- Definitely!!! “Have you tried engine turning your parts? Check out the CRATEX website! You can order only the items you want to try for a great price and not be forced to buy full high dollar kits”

What would you Google to find a business like CRATEX online?

- I originally Googled looking for other sites but all wanted to sell me 50 pieces or more or full sets.

Do you have any questions for us?

- At the moment, I do not. So far you guys are great and love the products and support.

How to Make a Knife Step By Step

CHAPTER 5

How to Make a Knife Step By Step – Homemade Knives

Step #1 Knife Sketching 

Use paper to design the blade’s shape. Hold it at 1:1 scale size for easy construction. The length of the blade is your choice. Large knives can be bulky and require a lot of steel.

Then, design the tang (a piece of the blade that attaches to the handle). The simplest technique is full tang. The tang will have the same thickness as the knife, and the handle is shaped by hooking a wood piece to each side with rivets. 

Step #2 Pick Tools and Steel

carbon-steel-MAKING-KNIVES

Skip stainless steel, since it must be sub-zero tempered and doesn't produce the fine blade. 1/8" thick carbon steel (01) is a fantastic knife making steel for creating a blade because it’s easy for drenching.

Wood is the perfect material for making a handle. But, you can create a handle with kirinite, G10, and micarta, also. These materials are ideal for knife making since they're waterproof.

Trace blade onto the slab with a marker. It’ll be the guide for cutting the steel. Ensure to outline the tang correctly, because the blade and tang are connected in one piece.

You can use a hacksaw, an angle grinder with CRATEX coarse abrasive, large wheel , grinder, vise, bandsaw, and drill.

Step #3 Cut the Steel

Take a hacksaw to cut a rectangle about the traced blade to separate it from the main slab. Use a stiffer hacksaw for thicker steel. Then, grind down the box to create the blade profile. 

Put the rough-cut blade into a vise and grind away excess steel. Employ the grinder to finish the blade shape. Now, smoothly grind the edge into a slope with the rubber abrasive wheels . Make the slope on each side of the blade, and you'll get the desired blade edge. 

Apply the same size drill bit as the rivets that you’re going to use. Put the holes in the tang. Sand the blade with finer grits of sandpaper. Sand out any scratches and all surfaces of the blade. It’ll increase its quality and shine.

Order Small Wheels

SKU Diameter Thickness Arbor Hole Edge
Q1 3/8" 3/32" 1/16" Tapered
Q53 5/8" 3/32" 1/16" Straight
Q54 5/8" 1/8" 1/16" Straight
Q59 5/8" 1/4" 1/16" Straight
Q74 7/8" 1/8" 1/16" Straight
Q80 1" 1/8" 1/16" Straight
Q80-2 1" 1/8" 1/8" Straight
Q86 1" 3/16" 1/16" Straight
Q88 1" 1/4" 1/16" Straight
Q88-2 1" 1/4" 1/8" Straight
Q2 5/8" 3/32" 1/16" Tapered
Q5 1" 1/8" 1/16" Tapered
SKU Price Quantity
sku $price
Quantity Price per piece

Step #4 Blade Heat Treating

Keep it heating until the steel becomes orange. Hit lightly it against magnet to see if it's hot enough When the steel attains the right temp, it loses magnetic properties. Once it doesn't stick, let it cool by air.

Rerun this 3 times. Then drench it in the oil bath. Be cautious since there will be fire, so you must be protected appropriately. Once the blade is solidified, it can break if dropped, so be careful.

Blade Heat Treating

Set oven at 800 °F. Lay the blade on the middle rack and cook it for 60 minutes. When the time is up, a heat process is finished. Sand the blade using finer grits of paper and polish the blade for extra gleam.

Step #5 Make a Knife Handle

There are two components of a handle, one on each side. Cut and sand the parts synchronal to ensure that both sides are symmetrical.

Drill the holes for rivets. Put it in a vise and let it dry overnight. Place the rivets, leave about 0.125 inches and peen them using a ball-peen hammer and file them down. Finally, sand the handle.

Step #6 Testing

Cut down the paper. A properly sharpened blade should easily slice the paper into ribbons.

Best Steel for Knives

CHAPTER 6

What is Best Knife Making Steel?

 

When choosing the knife, you should pay special attention to the type of steel used in the blade. Alongside edge geometry and design, steel is a crucial factor that determines how a knife performs.  Steel is a mix of iron and carbon that is often enriched with other elements to improve specific characteristics relying on the application.

All types of steel used for knife making must include these 10 core properties:

  • Hardness - A criterion of the steel's capability to resist sustained deformation measured on a Rockwell Scale;
  • Hardenability – Potential to be hardened by the heat-treating operation;
  • Strength – Ability to withstand applied power;
  • Elasticity - Capability to bend or flex with no breaking;
  • Toughness - Strength to absorb force before the shattering;
  • Sharpness - The initial blade sharpness functionality and usability;
  • Edge holding - Capacity to keep an edge with no iterative re-sharpening;
  • Corrosion resistance - Capableness to resist degeneration as an effect of reaction with its surrounding;
  • Wear resistance - The resistance capability to wear and corrosion during use;

Productivity - The simplicity that provides machined, cold-formed, blanked, forged, extruded,

Knife Steel Types

The best blade steel  typically falls into the 3 types:

1095 Knife Steel

1095 Knife Steel

1095 Steel is the main form of carbon steel and the most frequently used in the making in tons of knives. It has 95% of carbon, which boosts steel hardness and minimize the amount of wear that a blade gets during a lifespan.

Even with the wear's decreasing induced by the high carbon's presence, this type of steel isn't as hardened as other sorts of iron thanks to the small amount of manganese. Although manganese causes steel hardening, in higher concentrations, it makes a more fragile blade.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is the typical knife-making steel and the best steel for resistant free knives. The benefit of using stainless steel is the inclusion of chromium and other alloys that increase corrosion resistance. Stainless steel knives are usually made from austenitic or martensitic stainless steel.

Austenitic grades like 316 (standard molybdenum-bearing) may also use for this purpose.  Low carbon sorts of austenitic stainless steel, like 304L (extra-low carbon stainless steel), should be skipped when making knives, except corrosion resistance is more important than the blade life.

Carbon Steel

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is excellent for knife making since it gives the blade hardness and strength required to hold up versus impact and wear. Still, Knives formed from carbon steel can be inclined to rust. It’s because carbon steel doesn’t have many alloying elements that protect against corrosion.

Standard carbon grades are C1045 (medium carbon steel), C1075 (high carbon steel), and C1090 (high-wear resistance carbon steel).

Categories such as 420 (high carbon steel with a minimum of 12% of chromium) and 440 (high carbon steel with the highest hardness) are typically used for knife making.

How to Remove Rust from Knives

CHAPTER 7

How to Remove Rust from Knives

A knife is a tool with cutting edge and can use for different purposes such as hunting, combat, scouting, camping, hiking, and kitchen. It doesn't matter if you’ve found a knife in your old work box or unintentionally left your precious item outside, chances that your knife is pretty rusted are enormous. Rust may look like the sad end of the movie, but it’s possible to preserve your favorite knife using some of the methods below.

Once, you figure out how to remove rust, then you'll be capable of refreshing your knife look like a brand new. Here's a various range of techniques forremoving rust from blades.

Read this article carefully on how to remove rust off a knife with different methods and tools.

Removing Rust Using Rotary Tool

Removing Rust Using Rotary Tool

Choose an electric rotary tool, appropriate abrasives and a vice. For similar projects you can use Dremel hand rotary tool or bench lathe in combination with abrasive wheels.

Best abrasives for removing rust from knives are CRTAEX rubberized wheels. Wheels found their place in essential knifemaking tools for beginners. They are made from silicon carbide and premium rubber that is used for impregnation. Wheels come from 1 to 6 inch diameter. This means you can use them for small pocket knifes to big one with massive blade.

There are 4 grit sizes: coarse, medium, fine and extra fine. Start with medium grit to make sure not to damage knife. Fine and extra fine grits are perfect for final knife polishing.

Jeweling Grit Textures

Attach the small rubber abrasive wheel to Dremel. Pour oil to the rusted surface, for lubrication. Use rotary tool slowly and cautiously to avoid the blade damaging.

Set the knife in a vice grip, and use the small wheels with the short and precise movements. After that, replace medium or coarse rubber abrasive wheel with wheel in fine or extra fine grit size and continue with the same smooth short moves. Wipe the blade until it becomes shiny and polished.

This method is very efficient and gives instant results.

Small Mounted Wheels

Order Small Wheels

SKU Diameter Thickness Arbor Hole Edge
Q1 3/8" 3/32" 1/16" Tapered
Q53 5/8" 3/32" 1/16" Straight
Q54 5/8" 1/8" 1/16" Straight
Q59 5/8" 1/4" 1/16" Straight
Q74 7/8" 1/8" 1/16" Straight
Q80 1" 1/8" 1/16" Straight
Q80-2 1" 1/8" 1/8" Straight
Q86 1" 3/16" 1/16" Straight
Q88 1" 1/4" 1/16" Straight
Q88-2 1" 1/4" 1/8" Straight
Q2 5/8" 3/32" 1/16" Tapered
Q5 1" 1/8" 1/16" Tapered
SKU Price Quantity
sku $price
Quantity Price per piece

Be cautious and always use protective equipment when work with abrasives and rotary tools. Safety gloves, mask and eyeglasses are here to protect your body and lungs.

Removing Rust Using White Vinegar

Vinegar is available in all stores and it’s also efficient product for cleaning metal and steel items, so purchase a big bottle if you need for the task. Make sure to choose white vinegar, that contains an organic compound known as acetic acid which will take off the rust. Other sorts of vinegar may cause stains.

If you don’t need to soak the entire knife, you can pour a paper towel in the liquid and envelop it around the rusted area. Allow the blade to sit in for 5 minutes. It can't sit longer since it will damage the item surface. After the soaking, clean down your knife using dry cloth.

WD-40 Solution

This solution is suitable for a larger blade and a knife that won’t be applying for food preparation, because the spray can be toxic if it consumed. At the same time, that is the answer to the question: is rust on knife dangerous. Yes, using rusted knife can seriously jeopardize your health.

Still, using WD-40 it's a prompt and efficient solution of rust removal. Sprinkle the affected surfaces of the knife with spray and let it stay for couple of minutes. You’ll require to use fine sandpaper to tenderly remove the rust from the blade and get a knife without rust in several minutes. Simple as that. 

Baking Soda Process

If you don’t have it at home already, you can find baking soda in every grocery, and it can remove rust quickly and efficiently. Here're the instructions on how to remove rust from knives with baking soda. Use some water onto the surface you need to remove rust. Pour liberally an amount of baking soda onto the sprinkled surface. It should stick to the sprinkler parts.

Shake a bit, and the surplus will drop off. Sprinkle the scrubbing surface with some water and softly scrub the baking soda coated item. Now, when a considerable amount of soda has been dissolved, wet little more, if the blade has reamain rust. After, five minutes of cleaning, almost all rust disappears.

Onion Technique

Onion is food that provides removing of rust naturally and solves your issue on how to remove rust from kitchen knives. If you pull the blade back and forth into an onion, the rust will disappear quickly. This vegetable contains the sulfenic acids that eliminate rust.

Potato Method

Potato is another vegetable that helps to take off the rust from your blade. Key ingredients that provide rust removal is the oxalic acid. Just, put your knife into the potato for a couple of hours. When you take it off, clean the surface with oil and rust should gone.

Lemon Juice Solution

Lemon is one of the primary household supplies, and it's available in almost every kitchen. To start the process you’ll need a glass, lemon juice, and water.

Then, mix half of the hot water and half of the lemon juice in your glass, adequate to cover the metal blade, and submerge knife in. Leave it for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, take off your knife from the glass. The rust has disappeared, and you can wipe away the rusted surface with cloth. It is an excellent solution and answer on how does lemon juice remove rust from knives.

Toothbrush Tool

Take the used toothbrush to remove dirt and grease from your knife blade. Pour some glass washing detergent to the toothbrush and then apply it on the rusted surface. After you finish the process, wash away the soap, and dry the blade with a clean rag.

Eraser Sponge Remover

There is no need for any chemical usage with eraser sponge. Sprinkle it with a little water, and you can start with the scrubbing. Scrub the rust pits on your blade. Then, wash off the blade and dry it.

Non-Toxic Rust Solution

You can find non-toxic rust removal products in auto part stores and hardware. They are milder than the other acid-based chemical solutions that you can apply to remove rust. To use a non-toxic product, fill some of a remover into a bowl and submerge the blade in the solution.

Let it sit in the solution for a half hour. Then, pull it from a bowl and rinse off the excess product, clean the blade with a rag and dry.

Water Technique

Before you take off the rust, ensure that the blade is without dirt and oils. Hold your knife under some hot running water to remove it.

Run it patiently and slowly, to avoid any damaging of your knife. Apply regular water to remove rust spots. Prevent the water comes through the gaps between the blade and handle because it can make new rust stains. At the end of the action, dry your knife blade with a clean, soft cloth.

Coca-Cola Solution

Coca-Cola contains phosphoric acid that interacts with iron oxide to dissolve rust, and it’s a good instant solution to remove rust from stainless steel knives. You need a small bowl, coke can and aluminum foil wad. Pour the coke in a bowl. Then dip foil in the coke, take the wet foil from the cola and start scrubbing away the rusty spots from your blade surface. Rinse the knife and dry.

Calcium Lime Rust Cleaner

Calcium Lime Rust (CLR) Remover is a commercial cleaner that removes calcium, lime, and rust from any metal surface. It's usually using for remove surface rust stains from sinks, glass, bathtubs, but it can be applied to remove rust from a knife too.

First, immerse your blade directly into a pot with a mixture of half hot water and half CLR cleaner for about two minutes. Then, take the knife from the pan and rinse it with the cold water. Clean it with the gloves and dry the blade.

Preventing Rust on Knife Blades

Maybe, the worst attacker on the knife blade quality is rust. Despite the fact that the modern knives produced from high-quality materials, rust almost always find a way to your blade surface. Take care of blade to ensure that you don’t have issues with rust consistency.

Follow these tips on how to protect your knife from rust spots.

  • Don’t let to your knife get wet, especially with salt water or any corrosive fluid;
  • Don't store a dirty knife. You must clean it after every use;
  • Always clean the gaps between knife handle and blade, because the dirt in that interspace can cause rust;
  • Never store your knife in a dishwasher;
  • Never leave your knives in the sink, water or outdoor;
  • Wash your blades with soap and dry them immediately;
  • Once in a while, clean your knife with a suitable oil.

Knife Patterns & Sheath Templates + How to Make Knife Sheath

CHAPTER 9

Knife Patterns & Sheath Templates

Templates are very useful in making a design from a piece of paper onto a steel bar. Knife patterns are also excellent for getting knife designs repeatable.

There’re many patterns’ types, and you can create them with tons of different materials. You only need to make a rough idea of knife design.

In this article, you'll learn how to use knife patterns and knife sheath templates to accomplish the best result.

Knife Templates

Knife Templates

If you're making knives and wish to create plenty of the same model, you 'll need to keep a copy of it. The perfect way is to generate knife templates to save your work of art.

Follow the next few steps on how to make knife patterns with various materials. If you need free printable knife patterns, templates, or any knife profiles in PDF or another adequate format, click on Dcknives.Blogspot.

Step #1 Paper pattern

Use a paper and a pencil, ruler, or French curves and draw the design on paper. Scale that up or down by the copier till you get the wanted size.

Stick paper to a piece of wood or plastic and then cut and drilled that out until you get a temporary pattern.

Step #2 Steel pattern

Steel pattern - knifemaking

Repeat all this paper template making operation with streel, and you can create Bowie knife patterns, Paracord knife handle patterns, or Case knife patterns. You only need to clamp and scribe that on a steel piece and produce a more permanent model.

Step #3 Plexiglass pattern

If you made designs, you can keep them and go to the local ironmonger's shop and purchase a piece of Plexiglass. Then clamp the knife to the Plexiglas - scribe and scratch a line around it and cut it on either a metal cutting band soil or woodcutting band. Drill the exact same holes in the pattern.

Knife Sheath Pattern

Knife Sheath Pattern

You don't want to cut out of a piece the leather, fold it over and stitch it. You want to create a knife sheath pattern, both usable and attractive.

Trace the steps below and learn how to make a knife sheath pattern.

Step #1 Draw pattern

Place the knife out on the cardboard piece and draw around the blade as much of the handle as you need to cover with sheath. This doesn’t have to be perfect.

Step #2 Cut and make leather knife sheath template

Use scissors and do a rough cut to see how the template looks when the knife is laid out. Bend the pattern in half along the line that makes the blade's back part of the sheath and trims the overlap, so the template is symmetrical. Press the paper versus the blade to check where it lies within the model.

Use adhesive tape to make the pattern the same 3D from as your leather will be. Trim back the pattern to even it out and provide the handle a little more exposure. Cut the tape holding pattern together and flatten it out.

Step #3 Cut leather

Cut leather with a rotary cutter but escape cutting inside corners where the blade part of the sheath faces the belt loop since you'll over-cut.

Step #4 Leather Forming

Wrap the knife with plastic wraps. Put the sheath part in hot water for a few minutes. It'll alter color and bubble a little as the water breaks through the leather.

Place the knife on leather and fold it, forming it over the handle as you go. Put it aside to dry, and check it every five minutes for the first 30 minutes to ensure the leather is molding the way you need. When the leather becomes dry, take the binder clips. A leather knife sheath template is ready for use.

Knife Handle Design Makes Difference Between Good and Perfect Knife

CHAPTER 10

Knife Handle Design

For most knife newbies, knives are all about the blades. But folks seem to forget that there’s a whole another side to every knife and it can be more significant than the blade end. A handle is the part of the knife you hold onto in order to operate.

Choosing a right knife handle design depends on a few factors. The hilt design will differ relying on the effect you want to achieve with the knife. A handle should be tailored to match with the function and anatomy of your palm. And of course, the handle image is a crucial factor in picking the right knife handle for any purpose.

For anyone seeking to purchase a new knife, whether a survivor or a kitchen chef, the knife handle is an important feature that shouldn’t be ignored.

How to Choose Right Knife Handles Designs

A great way to start is by handling the knife. It should feel and comfy in a palm. You should promptly figure out if the chosen handle is right for you. In order to find and select a proper knife handle, you need to consider these details.

Hand Size

finding the proper handle

The size of the hand is key to finding the proper handle for you. Longer hands need a larger handle diameter and thicker hands a smaller diameter. Gloves work best with a thinner and longer grip.

Handle Scales

Handle Scales

Preferably the handle scales will swell out and fill up the palm hollow and the natural curving of the fingers in a hand squeeze. The grip should be wide enough so when you handle it tightly, the hand doesn’t strain.

Handle Dimension

Characteristic dimensions of handles include a height that is ¾ to 1 inch at the shortest point and 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inch at the tallest point. Original designs will vary, and measurements on a knife may be outside those dimensions.

Round vs. Oval Knife Handle Shapes

Round & Oval Knife Handle

Round handles don’t provide natural indexing for the blade edge. Oval handles are better since they index the edge to the grip and deliver the ability to apply twisting force.

Handle Swell

Handle Swell

A handle swell makes a relaxed, comfortable handhold. It keeps palm in the same place on the handle, delivers a natural rotate point and provides better retention.

Squeeze

Contoured and formed handles are great if they fit to hand, but the more form fit the grip, the fewer folks it fits. Finger grooves are nice if they fit fingers, terrible if they don’t. Grips with a single finger groove for the index finger are more versatile and capable of fitting many hand sizes.

Handle Material

Most synthetics and metals are stable, durable, and they don’t need a protective finish. Wood is sturdy, finishes well and tacks beauty. Stag is limited in size and but offers good texture and looks traditionally.

Texture

A knife handles texturing should be skillful and smooth enough to make handle better for using. If the handle is designed adequately, you won’t lose grip on the knife, even if the sides are polished smooth.

Knife Handle Shapes

Knife Handle Shapes

An inadequate knife handle isn't only uncomfortable, since working with poorly designed knife tenses and tires the hand, which augments the risk for accidents. Skip knives with slab-side handles, because their square sharp angled grips don’t match with the naturally curved contours of the palm. A hilt that doesn’t fit the hand leads quickly to tiredness and hand injury risks.

Purpose of Usage

Short handles are very undesirable for knives that will be worked hard. They should be long enough for all fingers to squeeze the handle comfortably and securely.

Handles shouldn’t have pronounced finger grooves. In a natural power grip, the fingers press together, enhancing grip security and stability. Grooves on the hilt that separate the fingers overpower the natural gripping strength of the palm.

Knife Handle Materials

There are numerous types of handles made from different materials. Folks often think that the knife handle is merely an aesthetic choice. But, in realness, the material of the handle is critical for the general ability and features of the knife.

Knife Handle Materials

These materials can be natural, metal, synthetic, or hybrid and each with own set of properties. Natural materials are wood, bone, pear, and abalone. Metal materials are stainless steel, titanium, aluminum. Synthetics are micarta, kraton, carbon fiber, and G- 10. Hybrids are laminates and stabilized wood. Which handle material is right for you? Read on to find the 10 most common knife handle types and materials.

Wood

A wood handle is durable and attractive since wood is a relatively cheap material for heavy-duty knives. Wood also delivers a lot of beauty to a knife, making wooden knife handled designs favored among people. Numerous types of timber are used in knife handles, so you have to pick logically based on how often and where you’re going to use the knife.

wooden knife handled

Some of the typical sorts of timber used for handles are ebony, rosewood, and cocobolo. Also, there is a wide variety of pricing among wooden handles depending on the type and lack of the timber used. Wood does have some drawbacks that you should bear in mind when thinking about purchasing a knife with a wood handle. The main factor is the maintenance of wood handle. It’s difficult to clean and harder to maintain as it can be damaged easily.

Bone

knife handles bone

This is the most common material for pocket knives. The bone that used for knife handles is obtained from naturally deceased animals, including giraffes and elephants. Still, the most common and cost-effective bone used nowadays is the cow bone. Many people favor bone merely handles because of tradition. It's sloppy for heavy-duty usage, and it’s spongy which affects bone steadiness and makes it an easy target for cracking and deformation.

Stag

Stag knife handles

Stag knife handles are made from deer horns that have naturally fallen off. The stag texture provides fantastic grip, and these handles are great for outdoor wearing. They look unique too. Since it's so popular today, you can find it on many knives from the less to the very expensive.

Micarta

Micarta Handle

Micarta is a mixture of linen, canvas, paper or other fabric in a thermosetting plastic. Its composite makes a tough material able to be used for hard-use activities. It's a great material that comes in a wide array of colors. Micarta has no surface texture and is very slippery and smooth. This causes it pricey, which converts to a higher priced knife.

G-10

G-10 Handle

G-10 is an extremely durable material, made of fiberglass, which is soaked in resin and compressed before being baked. This makes it very strong, lightweight, and water-resistant. These preferences make it ideal for outdoor use. You’ll often see this knife used for tactical, survival and general outdoor use knives. Usually, G-10 knife handle comes in black color.

Carbon Fiber

carbon fiber knife handle

Carbon fiber is a lightweight and sturdy material that is also quite expensive. This material is a bunch of straws stuck together. It’s stronger than steel in a single direction but starts to break apart when stressed in other courses. Since it’s brittle carbon fiber can crack if subjected to sharp impacts. Because of the way in which the carbon reflects light you can make some excellent looking results with a carbon fiber knife handle.

Stainless Steel

stainless steel knife handles

Stainless steel with a minimum of 12% chromium has excellent durability and resistance to corrosion. Also, stainless steel knife handles can be very slippery, so manufacturers have to incorporate etching or ridges to provide the needed friction. Frequently, you'll see stainless steel used in combination with rubber or plastic, to improve the handle, but stainless-steel grips are typically avoided heavy-duty knives, in due to the added weight.

Aluminum

Aluminum knife handles

Aluminum is a very durable material and perfect for knife handles. It’s a low-density metal that delivers a tight, sturdy feel to the knife without weighing the knife down. Adequately texturized, an aluminum knife handle can provide a reasonably firm squeeze that is also comfy, and easy for extended use. On the downside, if you use this handle often during colder months, you might find the handle uncomfortable since cold given its conductive preferences to the aluminum knife handle.

Titanium

Titanium knife handle

It’s an extremely lightweight metal alloy, and it provides the best rust resistance of any metal. It’s a metal heavier than aluminum but still considered as a lightweight metal and much stronger. It's is one of those rare metals that has a warm feel to it, so it doesn’t make it suffer in the winter time like aluminum. Titanium can have a unique and attractive color through the anodization process which is particularly common on custom knives. Also, it can be texturized by bead-blasting. It’s typically used in alloy form Titanium 6AlV4.

Stabilized Wood

Stabilized Wood knife handle

The benefit of stabilizing wood for use as knife handle materials is to make the wood more persistent and less vulnerable to breaking or moving. The stabilized wood knife handle is more substantial than the original wood handle. It minimizes or eliminates warping, cracking and other issues that can occur with wood when used under extreme circumstances.

How to Make a Knife Handle with 3 Different Materials

CHAPTER 11

How to Make a Knife Handle

Making a knife handle requires some time, and you’ll need some basic materials, but in reality, it’s not that hard at all.

Wooden Knife Handle

Wood is natural, warm to the touch, comfortable for holding, and durable material too. It’s everywhere and therefore is a perfect choice for making a knife handle.

Step #1 Scales’ tapping

Bond wood scales with solid double-sided tape, to feel and move like a single unit. This’s the most important part of the knife handle making since scales need to be stuck together.

Step #2 Scales’ marking

Use a blank sheet of paper and draw a sketch of your knife handle design. Cut the paper using scissors to create a knife handle template. Place knife handle pattern on the scale and trace it with a pen. Rerun it with another scale.

Step #3 Trace the handle slabs

Apply a thin marker and trace the original handle slabs.

Step #4 Shaping

With pattern traced out, cut wood with a hand saw. A hand saw is ideal since this is a slow and repetitive job.

Step #5 Smoothing

Once you make the knife handle shape, smooth it, using a belt sander paper following the line.

Step #6 Drilling

Wooden Knife Handle

After the shaping, mark and drill the holes for the bolts. Then, sand again the wood. Now, sand it with sandpaper to make an elegant look and feel between fingers.

Step #7 Split the Wood Scales

Separate two wood scales and put bare knife cautiously.

Step #8 Gluing

With a little wood glue on the back of the scales, set them in place. Place them in a clamp and leave for a 24 hour.

Step #9 Final touch

Remove the handle from the clamp. Clean the handle with paste wax or other product if the wood will accept it. Use hardwood since it’s the best wood for knife handles.

G-10 Knife Handle

G-10 is a laminate made from fiberglass cloth layers, and it’s amazingly strong material. So, unlike more traditional materials like wood, it won’t break, chip, crack, or scratch easily.

Keep track of the next few instructions on how to make a G-10 knife handle.

Step #1 Prepare the Scales

Draw the handle design on the paper. Apply paper with handle design on the scales, trace it, and mark with the black magic marker since G-10 won't absorb the ink.

Step #2 Mark the Holes

Mark the holes you're going to drill on one side of the scales.

G-10 Knife Handle

Step #3 Sanding, Drilling, and Gluing

Drill the holes in one scale, pour a drop of epoxy on the flattened inside surface, and glue the scales together. It ensures the scales will stay perfectly matched up as drill holes and do the rough shaping.

Step #4 Shaping

Shape the front of the scales with the file while they’re attached by the light epoxy bond.

Step #5 Put the Edge of the Blade

If the holes are drilled, and the rough shaping is finished, put the edge of the knife blade on the seam between the scales.

Step #6 Tracing, Cutting, and Gluing

Follow the handle shape onto the material, cut to rough shape, and then glue it using epoxy to the inside of the scales. If the material is dried, clean up the edges and drill through to fit the existing pin holes. A hand drill is great since as the holes in the scales will lead the bit.

Step #7 Assembling

Handle is ready for mounting. For pins, utilize two simple brass bolts. The key is that you can use the pins to clamp the scales in place by adding a nut and putting it down after using epoxy.

Step #8 Flushing of the Pins

Once the epoxy dries, take a file to clean the head of the bolt, the extra length of bolt body on the nut side, and pins will be completely level.

Step #9 Ultimate phase 

Clean knife handle and shape it to fit your hand. Do it slowly and double-check it until it feels as an extension of the hand. Work through sandpaper grits to get that final finish.

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