Loving me some @cratexsandiego today a tool maker can't live without this stuff.
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.
People & Knives
CRATEX Tools For Knife Making
Interview With Kris Stevens Custom Knife Maker
DIY - Make Your First Knife Step-by-step Tutorial - SOON
Best Steel For Knives
How to Remove Rust from Knives
How to Make a Knife – Make it Happen
People & 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Afterwards comes grinding to remove excess metal from the blade model. You can do this with a standard file or a belt grinder.
- 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.
- Drill holes for handle pins. Use a hand or bench drill.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Before we proceed to knifemaking tools, we need to explain a few things about the material you are going to use. There are a lot of things you should pay attention to while choosing a knifemaking steel, especially if you are just about to start and make your first knife.
There are several types of steel used by knifemakers. You need to know at least some basic information about those that are mainly used. You will choose different steel types depending on how you make knives: by stock removal or forging.
Every steel needs to be heat-treated. You probably don’t have a heating oven yet, so for starters, choose something simple, easy to heat-treat and work with. Common steel used for knife making is tools steel, stainless steel, and carbon steel. To gain a better insight about knifemaking steel types, visit this page. You can find a lot of steel comparison online that can help you decide. Below are most common steels found in knife blades.
- O1 Steel – great for beginners, easy to work with, very tough, oil quenched, wear-resistant and holds an edge very well; care needed to prevent rust;
- 1084 – also great for beginners, suitable for imprecise heat-treating; it can be bought everywhere; doesn’t need to be soaked for too long;
- 1075 – same as above; very affordable, great choice for beginner knife makers, since it can be heat treated with a blow torch (temperature for heat treatment is not very high, around 830 degrees);
- 1095 - a high percentage of carbon (95%); mostly used for knife making through forging;
- Stainless steel – more expensive, the blade won’t rust, so no maintenance is needed; you'll probably need someone to heat-treat it for you; easy sharpen.
Top 12 Tools for Knifemakers
If you are just about to start and you're looking at knife making as just a hobby, don’t invest too much in tools. Buy essential and cheap tools just to get you started. Simple projects need simple tools. Let's assume you want to make a knife by stock removal. This means you don’t need all that gear for working with fire, anvils, big hammers and oil. Check this list to learn more about top knifemaking tools.
Tool #1: File
Good old-fashion file. The best friend of many metalsmiths. You can do amazing things with this simple tool (except drilling a hole, of course). Files are cheap and one of the first tools you'll need to get. Grinding, finishing, smoothing – it all can be done with files that come in different grit sizes and different shapes. A lot of guys made their first blades out of an old file. Files cost less than $10 and you can buy them at every metal store. Although they require manual, work and there are a lot of power tools that can replace them and get the job done faster, you'll definitely need to have a set of files in your garage.
Tool #2: Clamps
You'll need something to hold the knife while you are working. Buy several pairs of clamps since you’ll need them in many situations. They are not expensive, so try to buy different types if possible. Start with welders and c-clamps, and then move on to pipe clams, bar clamps, one-handed clamps, etc. You can buy them online at Home Depot starting at $10 depending on type.
Tool #3: The Hacksaw
The hacksaw with a high-quality blade is also an important tool, especially in the process of cutting and shaping steel. Knifemaking process always starts with the hacksaw. Power tools can get the job done faster, but you can't use them in tight corners. Order a hacksaw at Amazon starting at $20 and make sure to order spare blades kit as well.
Tool #4: The Bench Vise
Everyone dealing with metal needs at least one bench vise. There are a lot of options when choosing a bench vise, but you can easily start with the one with a 360-degree swivel base adjustment, which enables you to change the orientation of your work. A quality bench vise can be found for $100, but if you think that is too much, you can buy a used one. Generally, all-around bench vise size is 5 inches, but you can go even with a bigger one.
Speaking of a bench vise, we need to mention soft jaw caps or inserts that are designed to protect your knife. They are usually made of leather, rubber, copper, plastic, aluminum and can be found on eBay for around $20.
Tool #5: Grinding Abrasives
Sandpaper, rubber abrasive wheels, cones, points and sticks all come handy when it comes to finishing work - blade fine grinding and polishing. A line of CRATEX rubber abrasives is a MUST for knifemakers that want to give a unique final touch to their work. You'll find more about CRATEX abrasives for knifemakers in the next chapter.
Tool #6: Drill
A drill press is a much more convenient and better option, while hand drill with some bits for drilling steel is quite good for a beginner knife maker. Maybe you can consider buying a used drill press with a drill vise. It will improve your precision and save you some time. A hand drill can cost you around $30. A 10-inch drill press at Sears costs around $121. A set of Cobalt drill bits will cost you around $30 on eBay. A 4-inch drill press vise costs $17 and will get the job done just fine.
Tool #7: Sharpening Stone
Sharpening is the last step in knifemaking process. There are countless options to choose from when buying a sharpening stone. The price range starts at $20 and goes all the way to $200, sometimes even more. A lot of brands, stone shapes, grit textures, stone sizes can be found on the market, and the price depends on the stone material. Knife makers mostly use diamond sharpening stones, but you can try ceramic stones, water stones, Arkansas stone, or whatever you find suitable.
Tool #8: Safety Gear
Always use safety gear when cutting metal, grinding and heat-treating steel: safety glasses, dust masks or respirators, and gloves. Safety equipment can prevent serious injuries and protect your eyes, lungs and hands from heated metal hazard dust particles. Glasses and gloves are quite cheap, and a respirator is always a better solution than a dust mask. You can get high-quality 3M Respirator at Home Depot for $100.
For knifemakers who make knives by forging steel, a fire extinguisher is required. A 5lb rechargeable fire extinguisher will cost you under $50. It is a small investment that could save your working space from catching fire.
Tool #9: Dremel or Another Rotary Tool
Dremel is not an essential tool but can be useful for cutting material, detail grinding, rust cleaning, jeweling or customizing with mounted abrasive cones, small rubber or cut-off wheels, points and bits. Dremel 400, is the first choice for many knifemakers, and it can be found online for $77. Search eBay to find the best deal. Along with a Dremel tool, you can buy a handpiece or flex shaft attachment, which is a very convenient accessory, since you won’t have to hold the motor unit in your hand.
More Advanced Pieces of Equipment
At one point or another, you will need all previously mentioned tools. Hobby knifemakers can invest less than $1000 and have a solid foundation. However, if you are somewhere in between, in a transition from a hobby to a full-time knifemaker, you'll need to invest a lot more. Tools described below are the ones you'll need to have in your shop or a garage in case you are striving to become a master knife maker.
Tool #10: Belt Grinder
We are not talking about small bench belt grinders here, but 2" x 72" industrial knife belt sender made for professionals. Buying a smaller 1" x 42"(belt dimensions) belt grinder shouldn’t be an option here. If this tool is too much of an expense for you at the moment, then hold off on buying it. Don’t waste money on a grinder that’s not capable of getting the job done.
Belt grinder prices can vary a lot depending on many factors: motor power (don’t go below 1HP if you tend to grind tick and long steel bars), motor speed (variable speed control is a fantastic option to have), wheel speed, wheel size (usually 8", but you can get any dimension you need), body material, accessories, ability to quickly change belt (quick-release mechanism), tracking adjustments, etc. All powerful and professional belt grinders have very similar specifications.
An affordable belt grinder for knifemaking can be found for around $600 plus shipping. High-end models can cost even up to $3,000. Search online to find a used one that's in a good shape. We recommend the following brands: Grizzly, Bader, Kalamazoo, Coote, KMG, Wilmont and NRT.
Tool #11: Heat-treating Oven
As mentioned before, steel needs to be heat-treated. Heat treating is the most demanding and most important process when making a knife. You can outsource heat treating, as shops that sell steel usually offer heat-treating services as well. However, if you want to be serious in knifemaking, you'll need to have a heat-treating oven (some call them heat-treating furnaces or kilns).
You can definitely heat a 2-inch stainless steel blade with a torch, but heating a 5-inch or a longer blade at the constant temperature of 1000 degrees can be quite tricky. You can have the right temperature in the center of a blade, while the other blade parts stay cool. Inconsistency in hardness can lead to failure, as blade simply won’t hold the edge. This is just one of the reasons why you need to invest in a heat treat oven.
What is the most important thing to know when buying heat-treating furnaces? The main function of the oven is to heat the blade to a precise high temperature and to keep the temperature constant. Thus, it must have digital or manual temperature controls and a reliable temperature controller. The size and the capacity of an oven will depend on the blade you'll need to heat. The highest temperature it can achieve is also very important, and temperature standards are 2350°F and 2000°F.
The oven is not a cheap piece of equipment and the price depends on the size. An oven with chamber size of 6.5” W x 4.25” H x 18” D will cost you around $1,200. A trusted brand of many knifemakers in the US is Paragon.
Don’t forget to buy ceramic racks and industrial stainless-steel foil as well. You will need a rack to position blades in the oven, and the heat treat foil will protect blades and prevent from scaling and discoloration.
Note: Heat-treating ovens are electric and will draw lots of electricity.
Pro Tip: TOOL #12
Beer? No. Pizza? No. AC/DC soundtrack to listen while grinding? No.
Tool #12 is INSTAGRAM or some other social media channel! Promote your work, your new project and have fun. Ask for opinions and advice. Follow or Like other knife makers. Try to learn something new, something different. Steal some ideas and improve them. Share your knowledge. Ask about new tools. Learn some new knife-making techniques. Give valuable info to those who are searching for new handle materials, looking for heat-treating services, or just need help choosing the best steel for their project.
Record videos while working and upload them to YouTube. Help others learn new things from you. Be a part of a large knifemakers community. Learn from others and help others to become better knifemakers.
CRATEX Tools For Knife Making
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.
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
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
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).
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?
- Quality & Material
- Customer service
- 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.
Best Steel for Knives
Steel is a combination of iron and carbon. All steels are consisting of other limited amounted elements, such as manganese, sulfur, silicon, and phosphorus. If steel doesn’t contain any of these elements, it’s called carbon steel. Steel used for knife blades are increased with extra elements and are known as alloy steels. These additions provide unique properties for different types of steel. Alloy steels with these additions are corrosion-resistant and labeled stainless steel, and they're the most frequently used steels in making knife blades.
A well-built knife is a tool that functions persistently without failing. Still, making a knife that is not subject to failure can be a cumbersome task to achieve, because a knife blade must be sharpened to a fine edge that mustn’t fracture or dull. If you want to accomplish this, it is crucial to choose the appropriate knife material, as the wrong steel and grade will eventually end in premature failure and edge dulling. Not all metals are made same for knives, so read the line bellow carefully to see what's the best steel for knife making.
Tool steel is one of the most typical options for making knives. Tool steels are generally, carbon steels that include extra alloying elements which boost their mechanical features. These alloying elements frequently raise the steel's corrosion resistance too, however not to the stainless-steel level.
A standard tool steel grade that has used as a knife material is A2 (1% carbon, 5% chrome, air-hardening tool steel). Although it can’t range hardness as high as some other tool steels, it has excellent toughness.
Still, A2 could be susceptible to rust if care hasn’t provided. D2 (high carbon, high chromium, air-hardening tool steel) is another solution that has higher corrosion resistance and edge retention than A2. But, this solution provides a lower toughness. M2 (molybdenum based) is a top tool steel that is perfect at retaining a knife edge, but it can be too fragile for specific demands.
Carbon steel grades with a high quantity of carbon are attractive for knife making, since it will provide the blade hardness and strength required to hold up against impact and wear. Still, appropriate heat treating must accomplish on high carbon steels. If too quickly a quench is used, the knife will be too fragile and may fracture, if the metal is normalized or annealed, it’ll be too soft, and the blade won’t keep a sharp edge very long.
Knives formed from carbon steel can be inclined to rusting too. It is because carbon steel doesn’t include many alloying elements that guard it against corrosion. You must insure that a carbon steel blade doesn't rust.
Typical grades of carbon steel for knife making contain C1045 (medium carbon steel), C1075 (high carbon steel), and C1090 (high and wear resistance carbon steel).
Stainless steel is the often type of knife-making steel and it is the best steel for knives that are resistant free. The extra advantage of using stainless steel is the inclusion of chromium and other alloying elements that boost corrosion resistance. Stainless steel knives have typically formed out of austenitic or martensitic stainless steels.
If you need a knife that has proper edge retention, the martensitic and ferritic grades of stainless steel must have a high enough carbon grade, capable of achieving high hardness. Categories like 420 (high carbon steel with a minimum 12% of chromium) and 440 (high carbon steel with the highest hardness and wear resistance) have typically used for knife making.
Austenitic grades like 316 (standard molybdenum-bearing stainless steel) may sometimes use for knife making. Still, austenitic grades are typically not capable of hardening adequately to provide a lasting edge. Low carbon forms 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.
The choosing of steel for knifemaking particular demands has established on the properties of the metal and other aspects such as manufacturability. If the metal is demanding to manufacture, then it isn't useful in a manufacturing environment. These properties are formed by the alloys added to steel and by the techniques performed in its manufacture.
Here are 10 most essential features of blade steel:
1. Hardness: A criterion of the steel's ability to resist sustained deformation that has measured on a Rockwell Scale (hardness scale based on indentation hardness of a material).
2. Hardenability: The capability of steel to be hardened by the heat-treating operation.
3. Strength: The steel's capacity to withstand applied power.
4. Elasticity: The steel's capability to bend or flex with no breaking.
5. Toughness: The steel's strength to absorb force before the shattering.
6. Sharpness: The initial blade sharpness usability and functionality.
7. Edge Holding: The capacity of the steel blade to keep an edge with no iterative resharpening.
8. Corrosion Resistance: The steel capability to resist degeneration as an effect of reaction with its surrounding.
9. Wear Resistance: The resistance capability to wear and corrosion throughout use.
10. Productivity: The simplicity with which provide machined, cold formed, blanked, forged, extruded and heat-treated of the steel.
Nomenclature of the Steel
The classification of the knife steel types and their properties has frequently derived from the internal metal structure. Since metal is heated and cooled, its internal structure suffers changes. The systems based throughout these changes are names such as Austenite and Martensite. Martensite is a stable structure that can be created by quickly cooling certain kinds of steel throughout heat-treating. Metals that are able of forming Martensite are well-known as martensitic steels, and this sort of steel is most popular in the cutlery industry.
Additions for Alloy
The properties of steel can change by adding additional elements to the metal, throughout the process of melting. The alloying elements that are crucial to knife-making have explained below these lines with short info of how they impact on steel properties.
- Carbon - isn't an alloying element because it's appeared in plain carbon steels.
- Chromium - increases hardenability, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance. It's the central element in martensitic stainless steels, which have most commonly used for sports cutlery utensils.
- Molybdenum - boosts hardenability, elastic strength, and corrosion resistance, especially pitting.
- Nickel - increases toughness, hardenability and corrosion resistance. It's a leading element in austenitic stainless steel that is occasionally used for making dive knives.
- Vanadium - boosts hardenability and develops fine grains. Grain structure in steels is another significant aspect in wear resistance and strength.
1095 Knife Steel
1095 Steel is the primary form of carbon steel and the most frequently used in the making of numerous types of knives. It contains 95% of carbon which improves steel hardness and decrease the amount of wear that a blade will meet during a lifespan.
Even with the lowering in wear caused by the high presence of carbon, 1095 steel isn't as hardened as other kinds of steel because of the small amount of manganese. Still, even though manganese cause hardening of the steel, in higher concentrations, it causes a more fragile blade.
1095 Steel Usage
This type of knife making steel, keeps a proper knife edge and is very easy to sharpen. But, the properties of this kind of steel tend to rust rapidly. These types of blades will typically have some sort of coating to resist rusting, but if the edge has appropriately preserved, rust shouldn't be a big issue for you.
Since this steel is more breakable than other kinds of steel, it's overall well for blades that aren't much thin. It's plain to sharpen, but if a knife made with this sort of steel doesn't have a proper amount of thickness behind it, it can break easily. That's why, it isn't an adequate grade of steel for folding knives, sushi knives or tools.
It can be heat-treated to boost its strength entirely, but steel can becomes fragile after this and even break, so it isn't much you can do about it. 1095 steel can use for chopping knives, but it isn't the most effective choice. Yes, it shines, but they're more steels out there which are better for that application. Even though this type of steel hasn't alloyed with chromium such as stainless steel, it's very easy for polishing.
It is suitable for functional show swords, like those found during military ceremonies. It would be entirely helpful for replica swords and blades or daggers. However, other kinds of steel, particularly stainless, will be more useful for a different utensil appliance, 1095 is still very useful for a significant number of dining tools. It's a proper metal for blades used for religious purposes or ritual ceremony. It has frequently used in some kinds of machetes.
To preserve your 1095 knife rust free for the longest time possible, rinse it off after every use, wipe it and clean, or oil it at least once in ten days. The oil creates a barrier that blocks moisture from contacting the steel. It provides a very polished look of your knife.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
How to Make a Knife Step By Step
A knife is a fundamental tool, one of the first ever crafted. It's an essential tool for almost everybody. You can use a knife in the kitchen when preparing food or for camping and hunting. In worst cases, it becomes self-defense tools. So, making your own knife isn't "mission impossible."
With a few tools, the skills to use them, and time you can made own knife. Knives can be created using a steel piece for the blade and wood or other materials for the handle. DIY knife blades are made by one of two techniques: stock removal or forging.
Stock removal is the process of taking sheets or blocks of material and removing material until it gets final shape.
Forging is metal shaping process performed with hammering tools or forging presses powered by electricity, compressed air and hydraulics. Stock removal is a better option for beginners, since it requires less experience or tools.
Read this brief guide gingerly on how to make knives and what equipment to use for knifemaking.
Step #1 Sketch the Knife
Get started with the process of making your homemade knife. Use paper to design the shape of a blade. Try to keep it at 1:1 scale size for easy construction. The length of the blade is your personal choice. Still, large knives can be bulky and need a lot of steel.
Step #2 Choose Tools and Knife Making Steel
Avoid stainless steel, because it must be sub-zero tempered and doesn’t make nice blade. 1/8” thick carbon steel (01) is excellent knife making steel for creating a blade because it is easy for drenching.
Wood material is an ideal material for making a handle. Nevertheless, you can create a handle of anything you want. For the full tang knife, the adequate materials that you can attach with rivets are kirinite, G10 and micarta. These materials are best for knife making since they’re waterproof.
Trace blade onto the slab with a permanent marker. It will be the guide for cutting the steel. Make sure to trace the tang accurately, since the tang and blade are connected in one piece.
Wood material is an ideal material for making a handle. Nevertheless, you can create a handle of anything you want. For the full tang knife, the adequate materials that you can attach with rivets are kirinite, G10 and micarta. These materials are best for knife making since they’re waterproof.
Trace blade onto the slab with a permanent marker. It will be the guide for cutting the steel. Make sure to trace the tang accurately, since the tang and blade are connected in one piece.
You may use a hacksaw, an angle grinder with CRATEX cut-off wheel, bandsaw, grinder, vise, drill, and safety wear.
Step #3 Steel Cutting
Use a hacksaw to cut a rectangle about traced blade to separate it from the main slab. Take a stiffer hacksaw for thicker steel. Then, you’ll grind down the rectangle to form the blade profile.
Place the rough-cut blade into a vise and grind away excess steel. Keep track the guidelines to mold the profile. Use the grinder to finish the blade shape. Then, softly grind the edge into a slope with the CRATEX grinding wheels . Form this slope on each side of the blade, and you'll get the wanted blade edge.
Then, use the same size drill bit as the rivets that you are going to use. Place the holes in the tang. Relying on the blade size, you may require a different number of holes.
Now, sand the blade with sandpaper or finer grits. Ensure to sand out any scratches. Sand all surfaces of the blade. This will boost its quality and shine.
Step #4 Heat Treating the Blade
The ideal way to heat a blade is with forge (a type of brick or stone-lined fireplace used for heating metals). For smaller blades, you can use a torch (thick stick with material that burns, used as a light source). Use gas or coal forge for this process.
Make ready quench hardening (mechanical process for strengthening and hardening of steel). For cooling the knife, you must douse it in a hardening bath (a bucket of motor oil). Then you sink the blade entirely in the bucket.
Keep it heating until the steel gets an orange color. Flick it versus magnet to look if it hot enough. When the steel achieves the proper temp, it loses its magnetic properties. Once, it doesn’t stick, allow it cool by air.
Repeat this action 3 times. On the 4th time, don't air cool steel, just douse it in the oil bath. Be careful because there will be fire when the blade is placed into oil, so you must be adequately protected. Once the blade is hardened, it can break when dropped, so handle cautiously.
Now, you set oven (thermally insulated chamber used for the heating) at 420° Celsius. Place the blade on the middle rack and cook it for one hour. When the hour is up, a heat process is finished.
Again, sand the blade with finer grits of paper and polish the blade for some extra luster.
Step #5 How to Make a Knife Handle
For a full tang knife, there are 2 parts of a handle, 1 on each side. Cut the wooden piece with a hacksaw and sand the pieces synchronal to be sure that both sides are symmetrical.
Then, drill the holes on each side for rivets. Put it in a vise and allow it dry overnight. Use a saw for final cuts and handle adjustments. Put the rivets, leave about 0.125 inches and peen them with a ball- peen hammer and file them down. Don’t forget to sand the handle.
Step # 6 Sharpening the Blade
You need a big sharpening stone for this action. Cover the rough stone side lightly using sharpening oil. Then, keep the blade at a 20° from the area of the sharpening stone. Move the blade via the stone in cutting motion.
Pull up the handle while moving the blade to sharpen all the way to the top. After, a few moves switch the blade over to the other side. When you make a sharp edge on every part of the blade, rerun the sharpening on sharpening fine stone side. On this link you can find a lot more information on how to sharpen various cutting tools
Step #7 Test the Knife
Cut down the piece of paper. An adequately sharpened blade should easily slice the paper into ribbons. Enjoy, because you get your DIY knife.
Knife Making Equipment
If you want a homemade knife, you need the proper equipment. Because, knifemaking requires equipment, design, and adequate materials. The appropriate tools will contribute to make a quality blade and handle.
The blade is craft from steel by a heating process, grinding and cooling. It can be design at home or small warehouse with heavy or homemade equipment. The tools used for detailed knife blades are a disc grinder, surface grinder, and power drill.
Safety equipment is necessary. The use of hand gloves is crucial to avoid burning and cutting during the sharpening or heating process. Eye goggles are highly recommended for those who're using grinders. Powdered steel and debris may infect the eye or even inhaled. Work apron is excellent to avoid irritation inflicted by steel dust and dirtiness.
Knives can be crafted without the help of power tool equipment. As an alternative for non-electric knife making can be performed with tools more available at hardware. Tools for making a knife at home are a hammer, epoxy, tongs, scribe, workbench, coarse bench stone and various grades of dry and wet sandpapers.
- Making of knife starts with the laying out of the design,
- The size and shape of the blade can be made into a wooden or plastic template,
- Use the scribe to draw a design on an annealed piece of metal. The band saw easily cuts the metal into its proper shape,
- The disc grinder smooths the edge of the annealed metal while the surface grinder flattens it.
- Making a knife without electric tools requires the hammer, anvil, tongs for flattening the metal blade,
- A file is used to shape the steel edge if there is no band saw available. Surface grinders are great for removing any scratches or burr on the metal blade.
Heating Treatment Equipment
With an adequately heated process, the blade's shape and flatness are easier for manipulation. Stone ovens or gas forgers are great for reaching the high temp of 800°. It’ll remove any magnetic material in metal and become durable and hard as it’s treated. The heat must progressively decrease as the blade is treated to avoid brittle result.
The metal blade will be hardened by immersing it in cold water after the shaping and heating process. The blade must not dip right away after being heated, it must cool in the air until it’s no longer glowing, or the blade will become breakable and brittle. The heating treatment is finished when the wanted shape is achieved. Otherwise, you continue to hammer or place it under the surface grinder.
The adequate use of wet stones or a combination of wet and sandstones can provide to knife's edge and shiny surface finish. Knife handles are attached with epoxy or by drilling holes into the blade and using small rivets or screws. An oilstone is best for making an elegant finish, it doesn't create burrs, and it's easy for manipulation.
Tips for Beginners
01-tool steel with a dimension 1-1/2-by-7-1/2-inch piece is ideal for beginners in knife making. It is simplest to heat treat but needs permanent care since it can rust quickly when left wet.
The knife' is made of two slabs of hardwood or different wood type. Birch and walnut wood are recommended for making handles as they are easier to cut out.