On the tang of the this knife, I started adding a dowel to eliminate the need to burn the tang in. Just drill the hole big enough for the dowel and cut a groove for the tang. It then all gets epoxied together.
It was time to try my hand at making a Friction Folder. A friction folder is a folding knife that doesn’t use a lock or springs. It uses the handle’s friction against the tang to stay open. The design of a friction folder has an extended tang. This allows the user’s hand to keep the blade from folding shut.
When making a Friction Folder it’s best to make a prototype out of heavy paper or thin wood pieces. This allows you to get the pin locations close enough so it can be tuned in final fitting.
You’ll see my first attempt required an extra pin. I didn’t
leave enough metal to tune it to a
single pin. It actually worked out pretty well.
I finished these knives by sandblasting before heat treatment. They were hand sanded to 600 grit then sandblasted. I plan to leave the blade as it comes off the tempering color.
Making a cardboard working template will help ensure your success. It also helps gauge the size of your finished knife.
Looking closely at the images you can see the first folder I made has an extra pin. This wasn’t really by design, at least not the original design. It did however, work out well and added a bit to the knife. In the end, it works well and looks good, so I’m happy with it.
There are an endless number of designs and styles for friction folders. I will be making some different sizes and styles. They are fun to make and are a very useful and functional every day carry.
Using a friction folder isn’t much different than using any knife with the exception of possibly being a little more cautious if your going to use it in such a way that your grip isn’t going to keep it open. I really don’t think it’s much different than any knife. There is some inherent danger in using any sharp instrument. Use good judgment and know your devices limitations.
Knife 49 – Hunter – EDC – Testing the Knife’s Hardness
Blade – 4 3/4″
Overall – 9″
Scales – Stabilized Spalted Beech
Handle Finish – Hand Rubbed Oil
Testing the Knife’s Hardness
Up to this point Testing the Knife’s Hardness has been to chop a hardwood scrap, roughly 2” x 2” by chopping at it as hard as I could. A used knife I had folded on the test and I couldn’t get it heat treated so it would not harden. I was still researching trying to find a better way without buying expensive equipment.
Then I stumbled on the “Brass Rod Test”. I think this test
is a little more reliable and I’m not sure why it’s not documented with more knife
I did find a couple different processes, both basically the
same. On way is to just hold a brass rod in a vise, the other you mount it in a
block of wood. I decided to mount a piece in a block of wood.
You don’t want the knife completely sharpened yet, but the edge
geometry needs to be close to sharp. The idea is to fold the edge. If the edge
returns to the original shape, the knife has the proper temper. If it folds and
stays folded, it not hard enough. If it chips, it is too hard and should be run
through a tempering cycle at a higher temperature than before.
Hold the knife at slightly more of an angle than the sharpening
angle and put pressure on the edge enough that you see it fold. A light shining
directly on it helps. As the edge folded, the light will change. Now drag the
edge across the bar watching the fold slide. If the edge returns to its
original geometry, you’re good to go finalize the sharpening. If the fold stays
folded, the knife edge is not hard. If it chips, temper again at a higher
You can also force the edge to deform while checking the weight
required to force a deform. If you can push at 30 pounds or so you know you’re
ok. This is a good test once in a while, but until I bought the file set Hardness Testers
on page 74
I did the test on every knife I made.
After a while, I began to become more interested in a serious test for hardness. I decided to order the “TTC 6 Piece Hardness Tester File Set”. This will allow me to get the hardness within the 60-65 Rockwell hardness which is ideal for a knife.
These file help measure Rockwell hardness. It’s measured as HRC,
or Sometimes RC. An abbreviation for Rockwell Hardness measured on the C scale.
The abbreviation usually appears after a number, e.g. 22 HRC. See: Rockwell C
Hardness. Rockwell C Hardness is a designation of hardness, of steel or Corrosion
A typical knife will usually be around 62RC, although some
knives such as cleavers may be as low as 55 HRC as will machetes. Hatchet would
also be 52 – 55RC. Some like a softer steel in the 54-56 RC range their knives.
Softer steels require sharpening more often, but they are much easier to
sharpen than harder steels. They are also less likely to chip. The edge is more
likely to roll over, rather than chip, which is a much easier fix than a
To use the file to test my knives, I file the heat treated and
tempered blade with the 55RC file. If it skates off, the blade is harder than
55RC. I then try the 60RC file. If this one almost bites or bites a little (a
metal shaving shows up or there is a visible scratch) you are around 60RC.
Moving up to the 65RC. This should skate over the steel. If it doesn’t another
temper cycle may be in order.
Etched in Ferric Chloride straight for about 40 minutes
Scales – Stabilized Spalted beech
Seax is an Old
English word for “knife”. Traditionally the seax is a
weapon consisting of a curved sword with a notched blade,
appearing, for example, in the coats of arms of Essex and the former Middlesex.
The Seax was a universally carried knife in Northern Europe. Also
known as the Viking dagger, it was carried and used by the Saxons,
Angles, Vikings and Germanic
tribes. Viking Daggers, use probably dated before the fall
of Rome and continues on into the early Middle Ages.
Small Seax – EDC – Stone Washing
It was about this time I decided to build a knife tumbler as a grinder attachment for stonewashing knives.
Stone Washing for Your Knives’ Finish is quite simple. You can actually do it by hand. Just put the knife in a container with media. I used stones I picked up from the side of the road.
The beginning tumbler is pretty simple. I mounted casters to
a wood base. I had a cardboard shipping container some metal was shipped in
that was about the right size, so I used it.
One end is capped and the other has a block of wood I cut to
fit. It’s thick enough that the sides of the frame holds it in place. I used a course
belt on the grinder to “drive” or turn the barrel. There is a wooden baffle to
“flip” the media. The block of 2 x 4 in front was to keep it from possibly
jumping off, but it didn’t seem to be a problem. The base is just clamped to
You can also use a purchased tumbler. I’ve heard the
vibrating type used for reloading or some that are used in polishing.
After just a few minutes in the tumbler this is the way the knife looks.
Design note for stone washing. In order to finish the scales, it’s nearly impossible to leave the etching on the spline. I should have added Jimping in front of the scales. This would have made a good border from etched to not etched.
A few notes on Stone Washing for Your Knives’ Finish:
You can put nail polish over parts of the knife you don’t
want stonewashed. Remove the nail polish after you’re done stonewashing the
blade with nail polish remover.
Try adding Spray a little WD-40 in the barrel with the
rocks, or a little soap and water.
The longer you stone wash, the lighter the blade will be.
You can purchase tumbling media or use stones as I did.
Different media gives a different texture, so you should experiment to see what
you like. You can create anything, from a matte that’s finely-textures down to
a rough or scratched-up look that looks tough and cool.
At this point I decided I wanted to stabilize the wood I used for handles. Stabilizing Scales (and handles) helps eliminate the possibility of the handle going bad because of moisture causing expansion or contraction if it dries out. It minimizes or eliminates warping, cracking and other issues that can occur with wood when used under extreme circumstances. It also would allow me to use some spalted wood that wouldn’t normally be a good handle.
The equipment required for Stabilizing Scales is a bit expensive, so if you’re only going to make a few knives, and have no other use, it’s may be best to just buy scales or use wood that’s dry and stable. You may also want to focus more on making knives. Either way using stabilized scales is a great way to get some interesting figured scales.
If you want to stabilize your own however, you’ll need a vacuum
pump, a vacuum chamber, a scale and stabilizing liquid. You’ll also be using
the toaster oven. I chose Cactus Juice (it’s a brand name, not real Cactus
Juice) for the stabilizer. This process also allows you to dye the wood in
multiple colors, although it will add expense for each color.
I dry the blanks in the oven. I built a rack so they would stay separated. I weigh one and put it in for a couple of hours at about 210 degrees. Some documentation says to use 220 degrees, but I’ve had scales start to burn at 220 degrees. Other documentation says to leave it for 24 hours, but I refuse to leave wood roasting in my shop when I’m not there.
After a couple hours I start weighing one piece and tracking
the weight. When it stops losing weight, I give it one more 30 minute cycle and
stop it there. I immediately put it in a zip lock bag, wrap it in plastic wrap
or put it in an airtight container to keep it from sucking up the moisture from
From here follow the manufacturer’s instructions to stabilize it.
As with other stock removal knives of mine, the profile was marked out with a maker. The basic shape was uncomplicated and that of a typical hunting knife.
The U shaped brass finger guard was fitted buy cutting the slot, then slowly filing it until it fit. The blade was also filed slightly to create a very shallow shoulder for the brass to slide up to. It was then drilled for 2 brass 1/8” rods which were peened on (after heat treating).
The cap was fitted in the same manner, but it was held in place by peening the tang.
Both the cap and finger guard were fitted prior to the bevel being ground.
I made a small mistake on the scales when I put it together. I didn’t make the scales flush with the top of the cut out for the cap. My thought was peeing would tighten the whole thing. What I didn’t anticipate was the small gap. It’s not a terrible gap, but I know it’s there.
So, the lesson learned is dry fit your design and inspect it very carefully. I should have caught the mistake, but I did not.
Although not completely necessary, i slightly taper the holes from each side to help the peening action hold the guard in place.
I found the scalloped finishing belts very helpful on the handle of this Full Tang Puukko.
Finding the right belts can be a bit of a learning curve. Here is a little of what I’ve picked up so far. Here is some information that may be helpful for the steel grinding.
You want ceramic belts for rough grinding
they last longer (a lot longer) than aluminum oxide.
they cut better
the cut cooler
120 grit is about as high as they go
They do not work as well in wood and other handle materials.
Use and old belt to get the corners and rough edges off, then switch to a newer belt. It makes them last longer.
Grinding Nice Plunge Lines.
I’ve said this before, but Grinding even plunge lines is one of the hardest things for the beginner to do well. It is also one of the first things a buyer will likely check on your knives.
Using J Flex belts. J Flex Belts are about as flexible as abrasive belts get. It’s often recommended to starting with a 120 grit belt tracked slightly over the edge of the platen, but I start higher, like 220 grit. Experience may drop me back to 120, but not yet. The plunge line is ground on one side of the knife, If free hand grinding, normally the first grind is done on the off hand. The belt is then tracked over the other side of the platen and the other side of the knife is ground by eye to match. This method requires only a few dollars worth of belts but takes some practice. It is not uncommon to radius the platen for a better result, but with practice this is not necessary.
I will also Clamp the knife in a file guide and grind up the guide with the radiused edge of a Trizact Gator belt. Trizact Gators have an exceptionally deep coating of structured abrasive. Abrasive that has been laid down precisely on the backing. This can allow the user to grind up to the guide and leave a nice finish, even on both sides.
Finishing get a little trickier
Different finished require a different belt and a different technique.
I recently tried the Surface Conditioning (Non-Woven) Belts. They work very well for a non polished finish.
I still haven found anything that eliminates hand sanding for a finer finish, but slowing the belt down and working to higher grits in 3M 2X72 307EA TRIZACT works pretty well for me. They have a very flexible cloth. Used for metals only. Not used for wood because it will load up the pores. It’s a little slower but helps reduce hand sanding.
A patina is a protective layer on your blade. It prevents further oxidation of your Carbon Steel and can make your knife more resistant to other forms of corrosion……… If you intend on forcing a patina onto your blade, just remember one thing. Appearance. A properly-done patina can look great, and you can actually customize it into special design and colors.
I let the knife sit in the vinegar for several hours. Every
once in a while, I took it out for inspection. After a few hours I took the
knife out, buffed it with a clean shop rag, wiped it clean with denatured alcohol.
I put the vinegar back in the microwave and ran through the
When it was dark enough, I wiped it clean. I cleaned it well
to neutralize the acid. (I didn’t wash
it with baking soda, but I would recommend it to be safe)
I then finished the knife.
From the work on the handle there were some scuff marks, so
I taped the bolster and handle and ran the knife through one cycle with the
vinegar. As I put the knife in the vinegar, I tried to get the vinegar to a level
that it hit all the blade but not on the bolster. Error ever so slightly on the
side of the blade. It’s already etched, and you shouldn’t need to leave it in
to long for this touchup.
I then dried the knife, neutralized the blade, and buffed with some polish being careful not to buff the patina off. I then buffed the blade with oil.
Knife – 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine – Cold Blued
Notes: cross peen or rounding hammer would be used
forge the point first
keep it straight as you go
keep refining the profile within each section as you go
for the entire blade profile (we’ll do the tang after)
after the profile is formed forge the edge
forge one section at a time
Remember to use the right side of the hammer to pull the steel (round side or cross peen side)
rough profile the length a section at a time
go back and smooth it after
Keep the knife bigger than the patter
Blade is 5 1/2″
Overall Length is 9 3/4″
The blade was blued with gun blue (cold blue)
This knife was forged from an implement tine. This should be close to 5150 if the information
on the internet is correct. I found it to be a little harder to forge than the 108x.
I drew out the blade first, shaping it as I went. From a
forging perspective it was much different than the last knife I forged except
this was to be a full tang.
Wetting the anvil and hammer helps get rid of the scale. Just
dip your hammer in your water bucket a few times and throw the water on the
anvil and continue as normal.
After forging, I started with a 36-grit ceramic belt and
worked my way up to 220. I think I’m starting to hit the other end of the
learning curve. Grinding is getting easier. I still did some hand sanding, I
only sanded to 180 grit then hit it with a course finishing belt.
There are times when I get closer and into finish sanding, I have the
belt going as slow as it will go. It allows better control and mistakes become
much smaller and easier to overcome. At this stage taking your time and
constant focus is the best advice I can give.
This time I didn’t forget to normalize. I almost forgot my makers mark, but added it in between the first and second normalizing cycle.
Normalizing Your Knife
When a knife is forged it needs to be normalized. Forging adds stress to the steel. If you research this, you will find it has to do with the grain structure of the steel. But for now, just know it needs to be done.
Normalizing is a pretty simple process. Heat the metal to nonmagnetic then let it air cool. For most metals we’ll talk about in this book, doing this three times should do the trick. After annealing you can go straight to heat treatment.
Typically normalizing is not required with stock removal but I recommend you normalize recycled steel. If in doubt, normalize.
Adding the Jimping
I marked out and drilled the tang holes and added the Jimping to “Knife – 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine – Cold Blued”.
I marked the tang for the spline embellishment. I marked
about every quarter inch and marked the center line. I drilled holes at each
intersection. Then using the corner of a square file, I cut a V in-between each
hole on both sides of the spline.