View Full Version : Making knives on the cheap

Grahame Collins
29th Apr 2007, 09:33 PM
Hi Knife makers,
As there are a few recent posts on knives it would appear that there is a bit of interest around from new members on blade making .For me, the art of custom knife making offered an opportunity to blend my interest in woodworking with my trade skills in metal working. I have enjoyed making a knife for its own sake of blending form, fit and finish into an attractive and durable but still useful item.

Having that interest over the years I would like to offer some information I have gained about starting bladework from a modest base. Not too many of us have excess dollars to fling about. For that reason I would start off with budget in mind.

What tools does a new knife maker need?

A good bench
A good vice with some soft jaws
A hack saw. 32 tpi blades and 24 tpi blades
A drill press is handy but one can get by with an electric hand drill and drill bits to say 6mm
A hammer, center pop, 20mm chisel.
Good files, bastard, 2nd cut, and a file card
Wet and dry abrasive paper 280 gr,400.,600, and 1000gr
A fairly big LPG burner or heating rose for heat treatment

Some Cheap Knife Making Blade Materials

Power hacksaw blades
Old files
Car leaf springs 6mm thick-they taper down thinner than this at the ends.
Broken HSS saw blades.
Old type carbon steel rotary saw blades

Perhaps other members who have made knives could offer their own experiences for making blades on a budget

Here are some links

Article on Aus knife maker
Knife Making | HubPages (http://www.squidoo.com/knife-making/)

amateur knive maker
Good stuff on cheap materials and all phases of knife making

How to Make Your Own Steel Knifes (http://www.primitiveways.com/pt-knives-1.html)


30th Apr 2007, 12:55 PM
Hi Graham,

It's been on my to do list for some time. Probably have a go at it in the next few weeks. Only part I'm not sure about is the rivetting of the blade with the handle so thanks for the post.

30th Apr 2007, 01:12 PM
I've never used a hacksaw when making a knife. No need when you forge to shape and have hot cuts. There are other ways to do the heat treat. A coal or charcoal (hardwood, natural or chunk not briquettes) is easy and cheep (or free) to fashion.

There are several way to attach the handle to the tang. Generally I peen brass pins. But there are cutlery rivets, chicago screws (sometimes called sex screws), pins can be epoxied in and some folks trust epoxy by itself to hold everything together.


30th Apr 2007, 04:11 PM
A magnet to get the heat treat correct.

I could never work out the "reds". The magnet feels if it is non-magnetic prior to quench.

Grahame Collins
30th Apr 2007, 05:14 PM
Went and found some notes I had made and among the rat scratchings was:

Bandsaw steel –heavy duty thick stuff- never found any
Old hedge trimmer blades- good success from an old pair of Cyclone shears
Old pair of wool shears


2nd May 2007, 11:48 PM
Currently making one out of a power hacksaw blade at the moment. Once I've got it finished I'll post a couple of pics. :2tsup:

Grahame Collins
3rd May 2007, 11:08 PM
Hi Blademakers

I had been talking to the groundsman at school about knives.The posts recently have got me interested again.

He has saved me some worn out blades from his ride on mower..I ran a file over them and it just barely bites.Just! mind you, it had to be pushed so hard, it was squeaking and skating off the edges.

At about 500mm long I should get a couple of blades from each blade.

Is it worth doing photos of the construction phases?


3rd May 2007, 11:25 PM
Sounds as if the mower blades are hardened, in which case you need to anneal them so they're soft enough to work using hand tools?

Grahame Collins
3rd May 2007, 11:42 PM
That why I have to get finger out and complete the half finished oven.
Understand though,that my place is half finished heaven.A complete collection of unfinished artifacts.

My anvil though is finished. It is topped with a bit of bisalloy which I had to soften a bit.Got it from the scrappy for $3.00.

Have you annealed a file and drilled a hole in one.Its a good one to show know it all students who tell me I can't drill hole in a file.
Then harden it back to where it started.


3rd May 2007, 11:50 PM
Did it to the current project. A HSS knife made from an old power hacksaw blade. Roughed out the shape on a pedestal grinder, then clamped it to a work bench and filed the edge on it using a diamond file. Used a diamond point wheel to make the hole, rather than attempting to anneal the blade. Not really geared up at work to harden HSS, unfortunately. Still have to polish the edge and make a handle for it.

Admittedly, it started as an on the spot 'I need a box opener right now', but has developed into a small collection of busted power hacksaw blades piled up next to my toolbox at work. I'm reluctant to use them for anything but quick 'on-the-spot' tooling tho. I really want to get some annealed 1095 and do it properly. Just a case of time and inclination.