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Old 02-11-2009, 11:16 PM
SQUAWSACH
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How to make a knife



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The title should say How to make a knife the Squawsach way. There is more than one way to skin a cat and there is no wrong or right way. This is just the way that I have learned to do it with the tools I have and lots of trial and error. This is a basic three piece knife tutorial. Several folks at RFC have mentioned wanting a tutorial on knife making and I think it would be nice to see more people posting in the custom knife forum. JJ has really sparked some interest with his posts documenting his progress after diving head first into this knife making thing.

I start with a bar of steel and an idea.



I lay the steel bar on card stock, usually the packaging from sandpaper, and scribe lines along the top and bottom to give me the size of the bar I have to work with. I make a couple marks to show handle length. I like a handle no less than 4 1/2" on full sized knives. Many makers make handles which I feel are too short. If you want to know how long you should make a handle for yourself, grab a ruler like you are going to slice something with it and take note of how much of the ruler your hand covers. When I have my handle length marked, I start to doodle inside the lines drawn using the bar stock. I do mean doodle. I sometimes have to make 10 knife doodles before I have one worth cutting out.

When I have a knife doodle that I like, I cut it out of the card stock and trace it on the degreased steel using a Sharpie pin.



This steel is 3/16" O1. This knife is intended for field use and the 3/16" O1 provides enough material for very rugged use.

The fun now begins. I cut my blades out with a hacksaw. If you have something that works better than a hasksaw, use it. I have a very good hacksaw but it's still a hacksaw and it wears me out. I use tap fluid when cutting the blade. It helps keep things cool and prolongs the life of the blade.



The blade looks very rough when cut out with a hacksaw.



That's what they make disc sanders and files for. I like using files to profile my blades. I draw file the spine of the knife paying attention to the curve along the top of the blade.



I like knives that have very few with any straight edges. A knife should flow. Fluid lines make for a better looking knife IMHO.

I use a half round file for the contour on the inside of the handle.



Once the blade is profiled and the handle feels good in your hand, I cut the handle material to profile. I'm using 1/4" maroon, linen micarta on this knife. I trace the profile of the handle onto the micarta with a sharpie.



I then cut the 10" piece of mycarta in half and use double sided carpet tape to secure both pieces together. I cut both pieces at the same time with a jig saw.



The double sided carpet tape is wonderful stuff for knife making. The scales are exactly the same when cut while taped together. The two scales can be wiggled apart after cutting to profile.

I'll be using black spacer material on this knife. I use a Dremel tool to put shallow divots in the scales on the side that will contact the spacer. The divots will allow the epoxy a little room. If the flat surface of the scale was clamped to the flat surface of the spacer with out the divots, the epoxy would have nowhere to go and it would get squeezed out causing a weak bond. I use a fast cure epoxy on spacer material but not for gluing the scales to the blade. I clamp the scales to the spacer using flat 1/2" SS plates and C clamps.




The tang gets drilled while waiting for the scales and spacers to dry. Pins and pin location? That's completely up to the maker. I don't know of any rules about pin size and location. I just use what I think looks good. This one will get a 1/4" mosaic pin up front and six 1/6" brass pins along the rest of the handle. I lay pin locations out using a homemade scribe and a ruler. I mark the pin locations with the ole Sharpie pin and center punch them.



I assume everyone knows how to drill a hole so I won't cover that. After the pin holes are drill through the tang, drill additional holes to lighten the tang and allow better bonding of epoxy. Kinda make it look like swiss cheese but keep material between the holes and avoid removing too much material from the area under the front of the scales.



I chamfer the holes with a stone bit and dremel tool.

I'll post part two a little later.

Last edited by SQUAWSACH; 02-20-2009 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 02-11-2009, 11:27 PM
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thank you , great info
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Old 02-11-2009, 11:49 PM
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This is very, very interesting! And you word the process, so that anyone can understand, and easily follow it. The pics are great, too! I'm really looking forward to the next 'class'. Thanks for sharing this! .....Lee
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Old 02-12-2009, 12:12 AM
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So far all I'd need to invest in is a bench vise and I could build knives the Sasquatch way in my own garage. I'm looking forward to reading the rest, I might start tinkering around with some knives on my own.
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Old 02-12-2009, 12:41 AM
SQUAWSACH
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How to make a knife part 2

It's time to grind the angles on the blade. I don't know how to instruct someone on how to do this. It's all about feel and practice. I can give a little basic information but getting a good grind is up to the maker.

The first thing to do before machine grinding a blade is to find your dust mask and safety glasses. This should never be considered optional.



The centerline of the blade needs to be marked. It is easy to wonder past center when grinding. I use my homemade scribe to mark two lines along the center of the blade.



I like to to keep about .030" on the edge of the blade. This will help during heat treat. Taking the blade to a fine edge when grinding has caused a few problems for me during the quench.

I can't take a picture while I'm grinding so no pics of sparks.



I establish an angle that feels good to me and I stick with it until I reach my scribe line. I do the same on the other side. Sorry, I'm not much help on grinding. I can't explain feeling your way along a grind. It is done by feel. You can't see what's happening on the opposite side of the blade. I do grind edge up if that helps anyone.



If the grind comes out ok, I continue with the knife. I try to do as little as possible to the knife before I grind. The only reason I drill before grinding is that I have a fear of sharp blades spinning at the end of a drill bit. It has never happened to me. If the grind is bad and I can't tweak it to where I'm happy, it gets tossed in the scrap pile. All knife makers have a scrap pile. The grind on this knife came out good so I can do a little file work to the spine.

This is a tutorial for people who would like to try thier hand at knife making. I'm going to stick to some very simple file work. In fact it's easier than pouring pee out of a boot. Mark the spine with the ole Sharpie at a 1/4" spacing. Keep the marks in the space that will be covered by the scales when they are attached.



I used a 1/4" or was it a 3/16" round file? I forget. Either will work. Hold the file at a 45 degree angle and file at every other mark on one side. File to just shy of center and do the same on the other side.




Clean off the marks by block sanding the spine. The block sanding will make the file work stand out a little better so you can inspect your work. Leave the file work out of the knife making process if you want. File work is just for looks. This file work will look like this on the finished knife.



Now it's time to flat sand the blade. This is not fun. I use a hi-tech jig made from a scrap piece of walnut held by a vise and a c clamp.



I use a 5/8" piece of aluminum for my sanding block. One side of the aluminum sanding block is covered in hard leather. The leather side is used after heat treat. The knife was ground to 120 grit on the grinder. I usually start flat sanding at one lower grit. I started with 80 grit emery cloth on my sanding block. Sand along the length of the blade until all grinding marks are gone. Look at the blade from different angles. The light sometimes likes to hide grind marks. When the blade is a uniform finish with no grind marks, change to a finer grit paper. I usually flat sand to 220 grit before heat treat.



The blade needs some more flat sanding before heat treat but I am done for the day. I'll post more when I get another chance to work on it.

Last edited by SQUAWSACH; 02-12-2009 at 12:44 AM.
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Old 02-12-2009, 04:30 AM
Art in NC
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((((I can't explain feeling your way along a grind. It is done by feel. You can't see what's happening on the opposite side of the blade. I do grind edge up if that helps anyone)))))))

You can go alot by sound of the belt sander. If you are not holding the knife right to the belt grinder (sander) it will make a differant sound.
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:06 AM
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RE optional dust mask: Let me first say that I have been in a granite quarry for 8 years and opperated LARGE diamond bridge saws.(dry cut)
I once was pressed for time on a project and was just going to finish up some handle work on a knife so did not think wood dust was a big deal and the amout of silicon dioxide inhaled to be minimal...BOY WAS I WRONG
I was makeing the handle out of IPE' wood wich is some sort of resinous jungle tree that resist rot and weathering. It started out as knid of a sweet and weird but pleasent smell, then my sinus cavities started to burn a little,then alot(worse than raw horse radish). then my eyes started to water and my mouth to drool. I recognized the symptoms and imediatly stoped what I was doing. cleared my head and went out for fresh air. where apon I hacked up bright oarnge luggies for 1/2 the day and could taste the wood for 2 more days. NEVER AGAIN WILL I WORK WITH OUT A MASK.
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:36 AM
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Talk about timing! Thanks for the great write-up and pics, SQUAWSACH
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:08 AM
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This is most excellent of you Squawsach! I am eagerly awaiting the next post, and plan on saving the whole thing if you don't mind for my future reference.

Thanks for doing this.

JJ
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:18 AM
JJFUNK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SQUAWSACH View Post
Now it's time to flat sand the blade. This is not fun. I use a hi-tech jig made from a scrap piece of walnut held by a vise and a c clamp.
LOL

Actually, Once I slowed myself down and really started going after it, I kinda enjoyed this part of the process. Maybe it's just because I am a newbie though.

JJ
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:08 AM
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Thanks for the really neat tutorial SQUAWSACH! Read these how-to's all the time as I am really fascinatd by the work you folks are doing. Keep up the great work and give us more lessons there buddy.

P.S. Can't wait to see what Sophia and JetGirl come up with.

usncporet
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:46 AM
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I swear by your tutorials. You are always so generous with your knowledge.

Time for a sticky.
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Old 02-12-2009, 11:17 AM
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Old 02-12-2009, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
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You are always so generous with your knowledge.
I eventually plan on my first build and really apprecieate your tuts.

Some people are weird the opposite way. IMHO, my brother is an excellent cook and when I ask him about different dishes, he seems to forget how much of this or that is in it.
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:45 PM
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Very nice! Really appreciate the good info
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