Safety There's several simple ways to add a handle to a blade, but first let's talk about safety. Blades are sharp. They're supposed to be sharp. You probably should tape up the blade before starting to work on it. Be careful anyway, the Scandinavian blades are really sharp and will cut through the tape if you grab them wrong. If you're working with hot solder or pewter, or power tools, wear safety glasses. The dust from some handle materials can be bad (sometimes VERY bad) for your lungs. Use good ventilation and/or a dust mask. When you're working with power tools or sharp stuff, pay attention to what you're doing. Don't try to work when you're tired or in a hurry. Antler One of the easiest, and most attractive, ways to make a handle is with antler. Find a suitable piece of antler, drill a hole, and add the blade, and you're done. You can add a guard, or not, as you choose. Here's how. Pick out the piece of antler and cut it to length. Before you cut it, lay the blade over the piece and see how the tang will fit. Try holding the section to see how it feels in your hand. If your piece of antler includes the crown, you can either place the crown at back of the handle as a pommel, or at the front of the handle as a natural guard. You may have to shorten or narrow the tang to fit in the available space. If you have to narrow the tang, be sure to file or grind parallel to the tang, not across it. Any scratch lines that cross the tang may weaken it, and cause it to break under stress. Drill the hole. I like to drill a narrow pilot hole, then widen it, but not all the way to the bottom. You may want to use several size drills so the hole tapers in steps. (I often taper the tang to match.) You can widen the hole at the opening with a narrow rasp or chisel to form a slot rather than a round hole. You only have to do this at the opening where the tang widens. Don't narrow the tang near the base of the blade, you need the strength there. As you enlarge the hole, try the blade for fit. When you can get it into position, you're ready for the next step. There's several ways to bind the two together. If you don't care about tradition, epoxy works really well. It's a good idea to clean the tang to remove any oil or grease. If the tang is polished, you can roughen it with sand paper, or add a few shallow grooves, to give the epoxy a better grip. You can dye the epoxy if you wish, or add some of the powder from your drilling to help the epoxy to blend in. If you have taken the time to form a slot just large enough for the blade rather than an over sized hole, it will make a neater appearance. For a mire traditional piece you can use pitch, or sap from pine or spruce trees. A good approximation of this is ferrule cement. This is an early form of heat glue made for assembling fishing pole ferrules. It contains some kind of tree sap and is available in larger sporting goods stores. I've even used frankincense, and I suspect amber would work as well. Another traditional method is poured pewter. This can be tricky, and probably isn't the best choice for a first project. You get one try at the final moment to get it right. Position the handle vertically in a vise or other holder. Wrap foil around the handle to form a collar. Melt the pewter, pour it into the hole, quickly add the blade, and let it cool. It helps to heat the tang as well, so the pewter does not freeze instantly as you are inserting the tang. You need to be careful that the heat does not draw the temper of the blade. Concentrate the heat on the outer half if the tang. Let the assembly cool completely before removing the foil. It's best to leave it overnight, or at least for several hours. If you remove the foil before the core is cold the antler may split as it contracts from contact with the cooler air. If you use a little more pewter than is needed to fill the hole, it will form a cap over the end of the handle and hide the hole. You can also cut grooves in a decorative pattern in the handle that will be filled by the pewter. This also helps lock the assembly together. Alternatively you can assemble the knife first, then pour the pewter. I have trouble getting a clean fill this way because the pewter tends to freeze as soon as it contacts the blade. However I know several folks who do it this way and don't seem to have any trouble. Perhaps they get their pewter hotter than I do. Remember to use a lead free pewter if you're going to eat with the knife! You can also split the difference and set the blade with epoxy, but only use enough epoxy to fill the handle within a quarter inch or so of the top, then finish with pewter. This saves pewter, and is very solid. I've had some inquiries on how to melt the pewter. There are several ways depending on the tools at hand. I usually use a torch to melt some off the block into a stainless steel serving spoon or ladle. Then I apply the torch to the bottom of the spoon until the pewter is nicely fluid. If you didn't have a torch I suppose you could melt it on the kitchen stove with a ladle. Knives assembled with pewter were quite common in the 17th - 19th centuries. Knives made this way would be would be very suitable for the American Colonial through Civil War periods. Yet another alternative is to set the blade with epoxy, again leaving some space at the top. Then mix some of the dust from drilling the antler into some of the surplus epoxy and pack it in the top of the hole. This will match the color of the epoxy to the antler and make the size of the opening less obvious. If done properly, it will look as if the tang was forced into an exactly fitting hole. If you want to do this in a more period fashion, you can soak the antler in sour buttermilk and vinegar for 6 - 12 weeks, at which time it should be soft enough to force the tang into the antler. After 4- 5 days it will regain it's hardness. This is a very ancient method of working antler for all kinds of artifacts. The folks on the Primitive Ways website suggest you can also do his by soaking the antler in rainwater for a month or so. I haven't tried these methods yet, but it's on my list of things to do. I'd be tempted to drill a pilot hole to insure the tang goes in straight. Bone Bone makes a very nice handle, and is mounted much the same as antler. Finish up with a nice polish for a mellow feel and look. If you are polishing on a power buffer, be very careful it doesn't grab the knife and feed it to you! When working with power grinders or buffers I try to stand to one side rather than in line with the rotation. The leg bones from deer work very well with little work. On buck skinner reproductions, I've seen jaw bones of wolf, bear, raccoon, and others, used complete with teeth. This is very picturesque, but not very comfortable to use. I doubt that it was commonly done in the period. Wood Wood is a little more work, but gives you greater freedom to shape the style you want. Select a block, drill and fit to the blade, but don't glue it. Then shape and sand the handle, stain and glue it. You can bring the end of the tang through the end of the handle, and peen it down on a nut or washer. You can thread the tang for a recessed nut, but this isn't common for Scandinavian knives. An easier alternative is to drill the hole almost, but not quite, through the handle. Shorten the tang to match and bind the two together as with antler. With wood, you may want to form the hole as a tight slot that just fits the blade. This avoids the need for an end cap or hilt. With a snug fit, you may not even need the pewter or epoxy. One of my customers tapers the tang to a point and makes the hole just a bit short so he's actually driving the point into the wood of handle. Of course if you overdo this you'll split the handle. The result can be an elegant combination of blade, wood and shape. This style is quite common in Scandinavia. Like the Japanese styles, it is deceptively simple looking. The easiest way I've found to form the slot is with a drill press. Using a drill the same size as the thickness of the tang (or just a bit thinner) drill two or three long holes in a line that converge at the bottom. Clean out the material between them to form the slot. You can use a combination of narrow chisels and rasps to clean out the space between the holes and open it up for an exact fit. Chain saw files work well for this You may want to grind a round file flat on two sides and taper the other dimension on one side as well. Recently I've been experimenting with zip cutters. These look like drill bits with teeth along the shank. They are used by dry wall installer to make opening for electrical switches, etc. You may want to taper the tang, but avoid removing material at the base of the blade where strength is needed. If you are using a drill press, you can make a simple tool to greatly ease the work. Clamp a block of scrap wood to the table of the press. Drill a shallow hole in the wood and fit a stub of nail or drill rod in the hole, leaving a little sticking out. Lower the table, but keep the stub in line with the drill. Now when you are drilling the handle, drill a shallow (1/8" or so) reference hole in the other end of the handle first. Place this hole over the nail and you will be sure of your hole direction. This makes it much easier to drill converging holes to form a slot. It also is a great help when you are trying to drill through a handle from two ends and get the holes to line up properly. If you are making a handle with a blind hole you can still use this to keep the hole in line. Just leave the handle a bit long until you drill the hole for the tang, then remove the surplus with the reference hole. An alternative is to burn the slot. This was often done in early times since long drills (or drills of any kind) were not always available to the maker. Today, it's easiest if you first drill a hole, then burn the hole into a slot. This is how the Helle factory did the Viking handles. You can use a piece of steel shaped like the tang, heated to a... Source
Find out how you should go about getting started in knife making. This post guides you through the equipment, the tools and the mindset. Introduction We are back with more tips for the beginner knife maker on how to get started with the hobby of knife making. We get a ton of mail from people who say that they want to start making knives, but don’t really know where to start. Well, this is a sort of short seem we practical guide on what you need to do in order to get started with this hobby. We also get a lot of mail from people who are interested in becoming professional knife makers. That’s not what we’re talking about here. The first thing we always say to those guys is “before you start thinking about making a living making knives, become a hobbyist. The money will take care of itself later. First thing you got to do is stand in front of a belt grinder hour after hour, getting covered with dust, wearing a respirator, in a hot shop. If at that point you know you really want to make money at it, then go ahead and think about it. But first just focus on having fun with knife making. Start Small Okay so the first point we’d like to make is to start small. You don’t have to know everything there is to know about knife making on day one. The first time we got paid to make a knife was about a decade and a half ago, but we still don’t know everything there is to know about making knives. Not even close! It’s okay to be clueless! That’s where you start! That’s where we started! And that’s where everybody started! Recognition that you don’t know something is the first step and learning to do it right. The whole key to learning any hobby is to recognize that you accumulate skill slowly, so focus on acquiring those skills. Wood and plastic are easier to work with than steel, so handles are a great place to start. Move on to steel when you feel ready. Let’s begin by talking about your workspace. Obviously you do need a place to work, but it doesn’t have to be huge or elaborately equipped. Ideally though people like an indoor workshop. In some place like a basement or garage or a shed. The most important thing is that you need a stable counter table or workbench to work on. If you have lots of space, an air conditioner that provides ventilation is great, but it’s possible to make a knife at the kitchen table. Just don’t expect your spouse to love that plan! Knife Making Tools Next, let’s talk tools. People really get hyped up about tools there’s just no need for that, so don’t get freaked out about it. We have some posts that make some really simple knives with really simple tools. You watch a lot of YouTube videos or forged in fire whatever and you think “man, I have got to have that belt grinder, and a forge, and an anvil, and that guys got like hammers. I need them too!” All the equipment is awesome, and can make your job easier, but you don’t need all that stuff to get started. A hacksaw, a drill, sandpaper, a bench vice, and a file. That’s really about all you need to get started. So basically, don’t get too caught up in the gear side of things. What’s always worked for me when learning a new skill is to focus on a project. And make sure you start with a simple project. Don’t try to make a katana or a Damascus steel. Come up with a simple project such as a throwing knife, a kit knife, a neck knife, a knife with a cord wrapped handle, or something you can really get your hands around. THEN figure out how to make it using relatively cheap simple tools. Forged vs Stock Removal So moving onwards; there’s a general split among knife makers, between the guys who forged knives, and the guys who make knives by stock removal. The first guys beat their knives into shape with hammers, so they have big fires and anvils and troughs full of oil. They also have a hell of a lot of gear. We sometimes have a ton of gear, but it’s easier and simpler to start out on the stock removal side. If you get serious about it, eventually you’re going to want a high-quality belt grinder, but you don’t have to start there. Start with a file. Maybe move up to a small belt grinder, and once you start to get really serious, then spend a couple grand for that big one. So moving onwards; there’s a general split among knife makers, between the guys who forged knives, and the guys who make knives by stock removal. The first guys beat their knives into shape with hammers, so they have big fires and anvils and troughs full of oil. They also have a hell of a lot of gear. We sometimes have a ton of gear, but it’s easier and simpler to start out on the stock removal side. If you get serious about it, eventually you’re going to want a high-quality belt grinder, but you don’t have to start there. Start with a file. Maybe move up to a small belt grinder, and once you start to get really serious, then spend a couple grand for that big one. So let’s just say you bought a knife kit, or maybe you’re going to replace the handle on a knife you bought. A bench vice and a couple of files is all the equipment you need. Maybe even a drill press if you want to get a little more ambitious. Knife Making Materials The next issue is materials. This is one of the areas that people get really kind of nervous about, because they’re bewildered by the amount of steel options. There are all kinds of specialty materials that you might use as a knife maker, but this is something that you can kind of strip down to some simple elements just for getting started. The bottom line at some point if you’re going to make a knife from scratch, you’ll need a piece of steel. However, you’ll need the right kind of steel. Welding steel from Home Depot won’t hack it. Good news is you can buy a piece of high carbon steel like from Admiral steel or other knife makers supply houses for very little money. You can even buy good quality steel on Amazon. Stainless Steel Bear in mind stainless steel is harder to heat treat, and you’ll probably need to pay somebody to do the heat treat for you. This is because it has to be heated up to screaming hot, and then cooled down quickly enough to cause a molecular change in the structure of the steel which causes it to harden. Carbon Steel With carbon steel, you can actually do this in a charcoal fire, but if that sounds too complicated go the stainless steel route and send off your knife to a professional heat treater. The same folks who sold you the steel often offer heat treating services. We recommend checking out the websites of knife making supply houses. They have infinite amounts of materials that are used by knife makers: handle materials, woods pins, sheath materials, and much more. The good news is that beyond steel, most of this stuff is not super specialized. A lot of the stuff that you use you can buy at Home Depot. Later on you may want to get fancier woods and fancier pins, but this is not a material intensive hobby. While there is lots of tools involved, materials you can really use a very small list and make quite a nice knife. Knife Making Mindset All right final stop here is mindset. It’s ok to spend all weekend reading forums on the web and surfing through the pages of knife making supplier catalogs instead of doing useful things like making money, going to church, playing with your children, mowing the lawn, fixing all the crap that’s broken in your house, etc. That stuff’s for chumps! Seriously though, we think a lot of people are not so much scared to try something new as they are afraid that they’re being self-indulgent. Where is it written slicing the top one and three-quarter inches off a bunch of grass in your yard is more important than making a knife? Nowhere! Don’t be afraid to be passionate about something that most people aren’t that interested in. Be an eternal student, always be learning. There’s an enormous amount of information out there. Absorb it. Bathe in it. Forums, YouTube, blade magazine, books, conventions, and the list goes on. There’s so much out there. Maybe you could find a local knife maker and pay him a couple hundred bucks to spend a day or two showing you the ropes. We particularly recommend buying three or four of the basic knife making books, because they cover how to buy tools, basic metals, basic techniques, heat treating and so on. We have put together a list of the best knife making books around, so you can’t go wrong. It’ll be the best money you ever spend, and most of them don’t assume that you own a small machine shop. Finally just take concrete steps. Buy a piece of steel for fifty bucks. That will get you enough steel to make five or ten carbon steel knives O1 Steel’s are all pretty good starter steels. Fifty to seventy-five bucks will get you enough stainless steel for a handful of small knives. Source
Make your own Knife handle As some of you have seen, shop staff here at Pier 9's Workshop have dived deep into the exciting art of making Knives, particularly beautiful Knife handles. We have made Kitchen Blades, Hunting Knives, Fishing Knives, Retractable blades and rumor has it a mystical samurai dagger is in the works. Please remember it is important to follow all Shop rules and to treat shop staff in a respectful way. This Instructable will detail all the steps you need to follow to make your very own custom knife. Machines used: Wood shop Sanders, Wood Band Saw, Metal Band Saw, Metal Sanders, Scribe, Files, Drill Press, Clamps. Necessary Materials: Knife Blade Scales (Material for handle; wood, plastic, stabalized corn cob, mammoth tusk, stone ect.) Epoxy Masking Tape Sand Paper (200-600) Optional Materials Pins (Mosaic, Solid, or Rivits) Color spacers (Small spacers that add a line of color between your wood and metal Knife handle.) Step 1: Preparing Materials and Cutting Handle Material to Size. Step 1: Preparing Materials Once you have received your materials lay them out on a clean surface. Unsheathe your blade and cover the sharp section of the blade in Masking tape. This will protect you from cutting yourself and protect the blade from getting scratched. Prepare your Handle Scales and cut them down to a square with .5-1 inch of extra material around the blade handle. Using a Pencil trace the edge of the blade handle onto your Handle Scales. Step 1.5: Cutting Handle Material to size Next, use the Vertical Band saw to cut out the shape of your handle. Make sure to leave an eight of an inch of extra room so you don't cut away too much material. That will be done on the sanders. Step 2: Drilling Pin Holes Step 2: Drilling Pin Holes Knife handles often come with predrilled holes or if not that;s the first step. These represent where you can insert your pins and the size of pin you can use. Hopefully you ordered the correct size pin. If not you could drill larger holes using the Metal Drill Press. Tape your two scales together and then tape tape your blade handle ontop. Mark the spots on the scales where the pins will go. You should drill the two scales together, so that you know the pin holes will line up. If you don't do this step correctly, you will have a challenge assembling your knife. Next choose the drill bit just slightly larger than your sellected pin. 1/8 inch pin (.125) would use a slightly larger drill bit (.128-.132). Clamp down your Scale and drill a straight vertical pin hole. Drill hole nearest the blade first, drill hole at opposite end, and then drill center hole last. Now repeat with your second scale. If your Knife came with Rivets instead of pins you must countersink your hole to the desired Depth. You can use a caliper to determine the size of the rivet head, which represents the size of the countersink hole you must drill. Before you move onto Epoxying your blade together. Shape and sand the section of the scale that will touch the sharp edge of the blade. Once Epoxied, this section is difficult to work on the sanders without damaging the sharp edge of the blade. Also, remember to line up the two scales symmetrically if you want the front of your Handle to match on each side. If you are adding a color spacer to the blade you must drill the holes in this piece as well. You can tape the spacer to your scale wood and Drill them together on the drill press. Step 3: Cutting Your Pins to Size. Step 3: Cutting your Pins to size. Put your handle together and let the end of the pin stick out of the handle an 1/8th. Mark 1/8th on the long side and cut out the desired number of pins on the Metal Band Saw to the right length. It is better to cut your pins longer than closer. It can be a bummer to realize you cut your fancy mosaic pin too short. Step 4: Epoxy the Blade Handle Together. Step 4: Epoxy the Blade Handle Together. Next, in the paint booth, bring two clamps and set a fresh piece of paper down on the table. Lay you parts out and make sure your Pins go into the holes you drilled. Practice putting your Knife together, you will only have a short period of time to assemble and clamp your Knife together once epoxied. Next, prepare your epoxy and using a brush apply a light and constant coat of Epoxy over the first Scale handle. Attach that to the metal blade handle. Then push the pins through the drilled holes to bring the wood and metal into place. Finally Epoxy the other half of the handle scale and connect it, over the extruding pins to the other side of the metal handle. Once all the layers have been epoxied take two clamps and clamp the knife handle together. Check the time and let sit for at least 5 minutes. If there epoxy has squeezed out onto the front metal of the knife you can remove it now before it dries. After the epoxy has cured you can remove it from the clamps and move onto sanding the blade into shape. Step 5: Sanding Your Blade Handle Into Shape. Step 5: Sanding your blade handle into shape. Now you are ready to create the shape of your knife handle. Plan out the flow of how you want your knife to be shaped. Do you want it to be a wide Knife handle or a thin knife handle. Will it have sharp edges or no edges at all. You can plan this out before hand or just begin sanding and decide as you go. I used the sanders in our Pier 9 woodshop. A belt sander, circle sander and our spindle sander was very useful. I started on the outside edges and sanded the wood down until it was flush with the knife metal. You can then form the rest of the handle by rotating the knife handle over the circle sander. You will need to sand down the metal pins that are sticking out to make sure they are not sticking out of your handle. Once you are happy with the shape you can finish up with some other wood working tools and move onto polishing your handle. Step 6: Polishing Step 6: Polishing You can now polish your handles using your the wood polish of your choice. I used 400 and then 600 grit sandpaper to wet sand the blade to a smooth surface. Depending on how smooth a finish you want you can go above 600 grit. Apply a your wood polish across the wood and then sand down. Repeat and let sit overnight with a coat of polish on it. Continue until you are happy with your knife. Step 7: Finishing After your handle is dry from the wood polish, you can add any other finishes you like and remove the tape surrounding the sharp end of your knife blade. You have now finished your Knife blade handle, congratulations! Next up text all of your friends to come over for a dinner party so you can show off your beautiful custom knife! Hope this helped! Source
For many, sharpening a chef's knife stands anywhere between going to the dentist and taking care of the lawn. It is a thankless chore unless you're one of those who like to see if they are able to shave the hair off of their arm with their favorite knife. It doesn't have to be that way. Today sharpening mediums such as diamond and ceramic make placing an edge on your blade much smoother and speedier, plus methods to enhance preciseness. The boom in tactical knives of the past 20 years brought with it changes to all areas of the cutlery market, including sharpening products. A perfect example of this is the increase of super steels designed to be indigenous to the knife community. These exotic steels are more durable and more durable than the ones many of us knew growing up--so resilient in fact they can't be sharpened on a typical whetstone. They require grits tougher than the steel they are meant to sharpen, hence the prosperity in diamond and ceramic mediums. With so many opportunities at the sharpening consumers fingertips, we supposed it would be enjoyable exploring what's out there to show you how to choose the perfect medium for your needs. We hope you'll be able to find the sharpening tool that works best for you! Although there are numerous great systems, which will make your sharpening job better and much faster, I highly encourage anyone who may be in a scenario where their knife could be necessary to their survival learn the fundamentals of hand sharpening. There's absolutely no electricity in the wild. Fancy electric honing systems will not help you in the center of the wilderness or even in your own home during an long power outage. You need to learn the basics. Knife grinds range between concave to convex to fiat, but the overwhelming most have a secondary bevel along the edge, and which is the part you sharpen. (The exception to this is the Bushcraft Scandi or Zero Grind, which sharpens all the way to the edge.) The typical secondary bevel commonly falls into the range of a 15- to 22-degree angle. Learn to hold your knife at the angle you desire as you slide it over the surface of a stone on a consistent basis and you're home free. This takes practice but one you've mastered it, sharpening a knife becomes a breeze and the whole process can be done quickly. BENCH BEVELING Absolutely nothing is more basic--and pleasing once you master it--than sharpening upon a benchstone. Rule number one is: It is necessary to choose a benchstone capable of processing the edge of the blade steel. Softer high-carbon steels--1095, Ol and A2 are common types--are definitely sharpened on a natural Arkansas whetstone and their manufactured aluminum oxide and carborundum (silicon carbide) relatives plus any of the more aggressive mediums such as diamond or ceramic. In a endurance pinch, these steels may be sharpened on a rock, which is one of the reasons there has been a fashionable revival of high-carbon varieties in the past few years. A number of older stainless steels such as the ubiquitous 440 series is sharpened on a whetstone as well. Modern-day stainless steels--such as state-of-the-art proprietary offerings by Crucible Industries, Carpenter Steel and Bohler-Uddeholm--are a whole different animal. Here diamond and ceramic sharpeners are a must. If you use knives with high-end exotic steels, it's approved you sharpen your knife before you leave for your outing and carry a small field sharpener in case of emergency. The most predominant of the aggressive sharpeners on the market today use diamond as a medium. The coarse grits are bit of overkill unless you have a knife with an atrociously damaged edge. I will suggest a medium grit for all those edges in need of extra persuasion and a fine for an edge you need a touch-up. Very fine or "super fine" grits work well so you can get a hair-shaving edge. Using water on the surface of the diamond stone during sharpening helps to keep the surface from clogging and results in easier cleanup. There are 2 kinds of diamond honing surfaces: continuous (1 flat surface) and interrupted (with tiny round holes). The interrupted surfaces tend to cut faster than continuous ones. I use continuous i'm also content with the speed and results. Ceramic benchstones aren't as prevalent, but just as effective. Maybe you are asking, what size benchstone is right for you? A 2-inch by 6-inch stone can handle most folding knives and small fixed-blades. A 2.5 to 3-inch by 10-inch benchstone can easily handle those chef knives plus larger fixed blades. Starting out, I recommended buying a medium and fine grit stone and adding coarser or finer grits as you regard as necessary. Some benchstones are available mounted to wooden or plastic bases and some are available with different grits on two sides, so check out your options. Being able to maintain a blade edge in the field is important and happily there are many choices. From simple Arkansas Stones to diamond and ceramic methods, the gang's all here. Some of the old leather fixed-blade sheaths of yesteryear had front pockets for carrying a whetstone and that tradition has carried on today with ballistic nylon fare. It's a great way to keep a sharpener ready in the wild and know specifically where it is when it is needed by you. Small sharpening stones are available in all the main mediums from natural stone to diamond and ceramic. Folding diamond sharpeners are increasingly popular, and rightfully so. These handy edgers fold out of a plastic handle like a Balisong knife and are also offered in a variety of grits. Some give you a choice of grits on each side and others are fitted with tapered rods geared for honing serrations. To select the sharpener that's ideal for your purposes consider the length of time you want to spend sharpening a knife and how finicky you are regarding your edge. Also determine where you'll use the knife as field sharpening on the go has a different sort of set of parameters than that of the comfort of your own workspace. It's very possible you want a variety of sharpeners to cover your needs!