Hey all,

Just finished this one yesterday.

Steel: 1084 and 15n20, random pattern, about 300 layers

Hardness: 58-59 RC

Blade length: 7-5/8″

Total length: 12-3/8″

Blade thickness: about 3/16″ at the ricasso

Handle material: cocobolo

Fittings: stainless


Making a knife start to finish, part 5

Now the handle block is glued to the locating spacer:

The holes are drilled, and the pins inserted:

Then the shape of the guard is drawn on using a template:

and the grinder platen is set to an angle:

The guard is ground to shape, and the front surface is sanded to 240 grit:

The guard is mated with the handle block, and marked where the extra material needs to be hogged off:

Then it’s ground off using a 1″ wheel:

And here it’s all stuck together. I need to anneal the tang a couple times, then drill the pin hole while it’s all together.

After the tang is softened, the handle is assembled, and the grip shape is rough cut with a bandsaw:

Then the shape is refined with the grinder and the locations of the pin and thong tube are marked:

The holes are drilled. I’m using 1/16″ stainless rod for the pin, and 1/4″ tube for the lanyard:

Now a pin is inserted, but NOT glued in. The tube is glued with CA:

I start shaping the handle by blending the sides with the guard:

Then hollow out the butt area using the 10″ wheel:

Then the corners are all rounded off, mostly using the 1″ wheel:

After I’m done grinding the handle to shape with the coarse grit, then I go back over it with the same attachments, but this time with 240 grit:

Then with 240 grit and 400 grit slack belts:

Then I push out the pin and disassemble the handle:

Now the guard is heat treated. I attach it to a length of wire,

and after coating it with anti-scale powder, it is put in the oven to soak for 15 minutes, then quenched. Since edge holding is not important for a guard, I temper at 500 for 2 hours and that’s it.

When I drilled the pin hole, I had forgotten that the customer wanted a mosaic pin. So I had to drill it out to 1/4″ after the handle was shaped. The way I did it was measure the thickest part of the handle, then the thickness at the guard, and tape a spacer half the thickness of the difference to the guard, like so:

This ensures that the pin will be vertical. The hole is drilled from the other side, obviously.

Here’s the pin:

After tempering, the guard needs to be etched. I coated the bottom with lacquer to act as a resist:

and then sanded the sides of the guard with 600 grit paper to remove the oxides and scratches from the last grit. Then it’s tied to some Nichrome wire:

cleaned, and etched for 10 minutes:

After etching for 10 minutes, I neutralize, then rub the oxides off with my fingers, then etch again. I did this three times, then buffed the guard carefully. Decided it needed some more etching, so I de-greased it, and etched some more.

After etching the last time, I again buffed the guard, being careful to not round off the corners.

Now it’s time for assembly. Here’s all the parts laid out:

First I mix up some J-B weld and coat the area where the guard will go:

Then slide the guard up to the shoulders:

Now I mix up some slow set epoxy:

and put some in the tang hole, and also coat the tang. The handle is slid up the tang, and the pin inserted, making sure it’s well coated with epoxy also:

After it’s all together, the squeeze-out is cleaned off with rags, and the extra J-B weld is cleaned up too.

Next, the pin is carefully ground down flush with the handle:

and the ends of the thong tube are chamfered:

Then it’s time to sand the handle smooth and buff it. Buffing it immediately tells you if you’ve sanded enough:

I had to go over it by hand with 600 grit paper to get out scratches like that. This stuff takes a nice polish, but you definitely have to work for it.

Now the section of blade that’s serrated is uncovered, and then masked off again, exposing the serrations but protecting the rest of the blade:

and a diamond wheel is used to sharpen and polish the serrations:

Like so:

Then the tape is peeled off, and Goo Gone is used to remove and adhesive residue, and the edges are sharpened. At this point, the knife is finished. I’ll post pictures after the customer sees them first.


Making a knife, start to finish, part 4

Now I slot a thin spacer. This is to be used to align the guard and handle block.

The spacer is glued to the guard with CA (super glue) and then holes are drilled for locating pins:

Now the end of the handle block is cut to the correct angle, the shape of the handle is drawn on, and the outline of the tang is traced on:

Then a centerline is drawn on the end, and marks are made for the drill bit:

Now the block is put in the drill press vise, and the edge of the tang tracing is lined up with the drill bit:

Since regular twist drills can wander in some materials, I start the holes with brad point bits, then finish with the extra long twist drill:

Do the same with the other side:

then do the ones in between:

Then the webbing is removed using the drill bit:

and if it’s a tight fit (and this one was) material is removed with files and drill bits, until it slides all the way up:

Making a knife, start to finish, part 3

Then the main bevels are ground (using a fresh 60 grit belt) until the guide bevel is gone, then again with a fresh 240 grit belt.

Then it’s time to hand sand. Here’s my sanding setup:

I have several different sanding sticks. I have flat ones for doing the flats (imagine that!) and convex ones for doing the recurve. I have a set each of hard and rubber coated. I use the hard ones for blades like this one that has a double grind, for keeping the grind line sharp. I sanded lengthwise with 400 grit paper until ALL the 240 girt scratches are gone.

One bevel done:

the other one done:

the ricasso done:

Rinse and repeat for the other side:

After etching in ferric chloride for 10 minutes:

I didn’t get pictures of every step of the etching process, but it’s pretty repetitive anyway. The way I do it is this. After sanding it to 400 grit, I etch for ten minutes, neutralize, sand the oxides off with 600 grit paper, etch for 10 minutes, neutralize, sand with 800 grit, then repeat with 1000 grit, then again with worn out 1000 grit. Some patterns I’ll buff, but not this one.

Here it is at some point in the process (after sanding with 600 grit, I think):

And here it is after the last etch. I might go over it with some 12000 grit paper if I think it needs more shine.


A few pics of making the guard. I used what was left of the billet that the blade came from. First, I welded a handle to it, since I hate using tongs, and put it in the fire:

and drew it out to 1/2″ square, and 18″ long:

I marked it in the middle, and twisted one half clockwise, and the other counter clockwise (anti clockwise if you’re on the other side of the pond).

Both sides twisted and squared up:

One side ground with the angle grinder and cut in half:

Next step on the guard is to cut each piece in two, and grind the mating surfaces flat and clean with the belt grinder:

Then arc weld them together and to a handle:

Then forge weld. I took three welding heats to make sure it was all welded solid. Then forged it down to 3/8″ thick and 3/4″ wide.

Then I did a few normalizing cycles to refine the grain. At the same time, I ground it clean again:

When I finished normalizing, I stuck it in the still hot forge to let it anneal. This usually works for me; if it doesn’t, I’ll have to use the oven instead.


Here’s the guard blank after thermal cycling and annealing:

After grinding clean with the belt grinder:

Then I run it through the surface grinder on both sides to make it nice and square and parallel:

Then it’s coated with dykem, a centerline is scribed (btw, the line is scribed on the weld seam, not the center of the chunk of steel) and marks are made for the drill bit:

Now the holes are drilled:

and the webbing is removed with a round file:

At this point, I made sure the tang was tapered and straight:

Then the slot is filed out until the tang slides most of the way up:

When it’s close, the guard is hammered onto the guard shoulders and inspected for gaps.

If there are gaps, (and there were, sadly) they are closed up by peening the material at the edge.
Once I’m happy with the fit, then I draw a couple lines so I’ll know where the center is:


Making a knife, start to finish, part 2

Now the billet is cut off of the rebar handle and reheated:

The shape of the tip is refined:

and the recurve is forged in. If I had rounded dies for my hammer, it would be great for this, but I don’t, so I had to do it the old fashioned way, with hammer and anvil.

When the shape of the blade is as good as it’s going to be, it’s cut off from the rest of the billet:

Then start forging out the tang:

All done forging:

Now I grind the edges clean on the belt grinder to make sure there are no bad welds or deep grooves from the twisting that will relegate this blade to the scrap bucket:

It’s a little narrower than I’d intended, but still within specs, so I went ahead and thermal cycled it. I do this in my heat treat oven. I didn’t want to heat it up for just one blade, so this afternoon I forged out a couple kitchen knife blades and a hunter to keep it company in the oven.

I cycle my blades three times. Once at 1600 F, then at 1525, then 1450. After the last one, I quench them, then anneal them in the oven at 1250 for a couple hours. By morning they’ll be cooled down and soft and ready for grinding.

Here’s how it looks after annealing:

and then grinding. One benefit of quenching the blade after the last thermal cycle is that it really softens up the scale. Actually, most of it comes off. So there’s very little grinding to do.

After grinding the blade flat and straight on the belt grinder, the shape is marked on with a Sharpie, and the extra material is cut off with the bandsaw:

Then the profile is cleaned up on the belt grinder, and the edges are painted with Dykem:

and the centerlines are scribed:

Now I use a dull belt to grind a short bevel down close to the center lines. I also made a couple sharpie marks half way across the blade:

After a few passes with a fresher 60 grit belt, grinding up to the mark:

I like to do blades in sections several inches long, rather than taking full length passes. Here the second half is done:

Then the top edge:


Next, grinding to 240 grit. Didn’t get any action pics, but here it is with all of the blade except the “inside” curve ground to 240 grit.

Here it’s all done:

and here I’ve filed in the guard shoulders. Sorry, no pics of that either.

Have to file in the serrations before heat treating, for obvious reasons. Here I’ve layed them out with a sharpie. The marks are 1/8″ apart.

And here I’ve started the grooves with a three corner file.

Then I continued the grooves with a 1/8″ file:

and decided to go to a 3/16″ file:

After doing both sides, it’s time to heat treat. Here’s the four blades I did just before coating with anti-scale compound:

The fighter blade coated:

After hardening and tempering, another guide bevel is ground on the edges, taking it down to it’s final thickness:


Making a knife, start to finish.

I don’t think I’ve done a complete, start to finish knife build on this here blog, and several weeks ago I started one on a knife forum.  Since I haven’t posted here for awhile, I thought I’d cheat and just copy it from there to here.

So, here goes.
The knife is being modeled somewhat after this one:

which was arguably the most popular knife I’ve ever made. The blade will be pretty much the same. I’m altering the pattern slightly, and the handle will be ivory paper Micarta instead of carbon fiber.

So, without further ado, here’s the first round of pics. Pics follow the explanations.

This billet is starting out as 4 layers, 2 each of O1 and L6. The O1 layers are 3/4″ thick, the L6 is 5/8″ thick. The pieces are 1-1/4″ wide and 4″ long.

Cutting to length with the chop saw:

After grinding clean:

Now the pieces are clamped in my special billet welding vise and tack welded together at the corners:

Then a handle is welded on:

Recently, I’ve switched from borax to oil for forge welding flux. Works great, and is so much cleaner and safer. It only works of the billet is cold. If you have to take another weld when the billet is hot, then you still have to use borax. I do this anyway, because sometimes using oil, the very outside edges of the seams don’t take, and the borax closes these up.

Some people use diesel, some use kerosene. I’m using vet grade mineral oil, because it’s what I have.

It flares up quite a bit when you first put it in:

Once the billet is a uniform color, and as hot as it’s going to get, then it’s time to squeeze it under the hammer. I didn’t get any pictures of the actual forging, but here it is at temperature:

and here is it forged out to 16″ long

Now the scale is ground off the billet with an angle grinder, it’s cut into 4, 4″ pieces, and they are ground smooth on the belt grinder. I use the angle grinder along one edge so I know how to orient them all later, like so:

It’s tack welded together again, and forge welded.

Then the process is repeated again, for a total of 64 layers. The billet is drawn out to 12″ long:

It will be cut into 3 pieces, and some thin layers of O2 will be inserted in between. The O2 has to be forged down as thin as I can get it with my hammer, which is about 3/32″:


Just before the last weld:

Then it’s welded and drawn out to about 3/4″ square:

Then I started twisting. I did a left hand twist, about one twist per inch.

After twisting, the untwisted section of the end is cut off:

Then it’s forged flat and widened and the tip is started. I forge it flat at a welding heat with flux in case there’s any welds trying to open up. I didn’t see any, but it doesn’t hurt.

I was afraid there wasn’t going to be enough material to get the width and thickness I needed, but I think it’s ok. But it would be better next time to leave it 7/8″ square before twisting…