Antler Handled Carving Knife

  • Blade was a recycled file 4 1/2”
  • I used the conditioning belts on this knife.

Because this Antler Handled Carving Knife’s antler was put on with the base end first, it required a little different technique. It seems the base is bone and is harder. It did not soften like a cut end that exposes the softer insides. To get around this I drilled a hole then slightly widen it to be about the width of the tang. I drilled with a drill bit the approximate width and used a Dremel with a cutter to widen it.

I then boiled it again. This time for about 15 minutes.

I also had this antler soaking in water for several days before I was going to install it.

Knife 61 - Antler Handled Carving Knife
Knife 61 - Antler Handled Carving Knife

I added a sheath made with hair-on deer hide. I tanned this hide last year. It was my first tanning experience. I thought it was a good fit for this knife.


Knife 33 – Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter

The Knife 33 – Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter knife was made from a file using the stock removal technique.

I typically anneal the files buy heating them to nonmagnetic then just shutting down the forge and sitting some firebrick to close of the doors. I leave them over night. Another process I have used with success is heating the files to nonmagnetic then putting them in a container with wood ashes. Again, just leave them overnight.

Day 1 started at 12pm, done at 4pm

  • Layout. I designed based on the file size and what I was trying to achieve.
  • I cut the jimping. I marked grooves 5/16″ apart (see Adding Jimping to your knife )
  • I cut a rough profile with the bandsaw
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter - jimping
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter - jimping
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter - jimping
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter - jimping

Then I went to the grinder and ground and finished up to 320 grit

Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter

The bevel was ground with the bevel jig

Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
  • Added touch mark
  • Hand sanded the knife. I started with 100 grit and went to 600 grit I found a piece of brass to make the finger guard. I used the milling machine to cut out the finger guard but drilling a couple holes and filing with a round or needle nose file works as well.
  • I fitted the finger guard. Final fitting was completed by hand filing.
  • Last thing of the day was Heat treating the knife
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Using the mill to cut the slot
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter

Day 2

  • Temper
  • Hand sanded again (I eventually learned not to do this twice)
  • Sharpened
  • Fitted the finger guard
  • Drilled and fitted the antler epoxy the antler on

A little research showed that there are several ways to mount antler on a hidden tang knife.

You can burn the antler in. Like burning in a wood handle. You drill a hole smaller than the tang. Heat the tang and push the handle down on the tang so it burns in. You repeat the process until the handle is in place. You’d want to do this before heat treating or wrap the blade with a wet cloth. I tried this process, but it didn’t work very well on this antler so I decided to file it out.

You can also boil the antler then push the antler on the tang. You repeat this process until the antler is all the way on. Try to push straight with no side to side movement. Once in place hold it until the antler cools. The material will cool and bond like glue and hold the handle in place like it was epoxied on.

I filed the hole until I was able to get the antler in place. I then filled the void with epoxy and clamped it to dry. I wiped any excess epoxy with a rag and denatured alcohol.

Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter
Knife 33 - Hidden Tang Antler Handled Hunter

Nessmuk knife

Sometimes making a knife is more than just making a knife. Some knife styles have a history more interesting than others to the maker. Here I took a look at the Nessmuk knife or the Muk Knife.

The Muk knife is named after George Washington Sears (Nessmuk) (December 2, 1821 – May 1, 1890)), who made it popular when he wrote “Woodcraft”, an article published in Forest and Stream Publishing Company, New York, in 1920 and republished by Dover Publication Inc. in 1963. This “Nessmuk Trio” as it came to be known consists of a small double-bit axe, a moose pattern folding knife, and his now infamous fixed blade knife.The description in the text is as follows:“A word as to knife, or knives. These are of prime necessity, and should be of the best, both as to shape and temper. The “bowies” and “hunting knives” usually kept on sale, are thick, clumsy affairs, with a sort of ridge along the middle of the blade, murderous-looking, but of little use; rather fitted to adorn a dime novel or the belt of “Billy the Kid,” than the outfit of the hunter. The one shown in the cut is thin in the blade, and handy for skinning, cutting meat, or eating with. The strong double-bladed pocketknife is the best model I have yet found, and, in connection with the sheath knife, is all sufficient for camp use. It is not necessary to take table cutlery into the woods. A good fork may be improvised from a beech or birch stick; and the half of a fresh-water mussel shell, with a split stick by way of handle, makes an excellent spoon.”

The Nessmuk knife was carried in a small buckskin bullet pouch, and as stated

“which I wear almost as constantly as my hat. The pouch has a sheath strongly sewed on the back side of it, where the light hunting knife is always at hand.”
I wanted to make something to replicate the original.Blade is 3/32” 1095

Handle will be antler as the original appeared to beThe first thing I did was make a template, then I needed to straighten antler.

I boiled the antler for about 30 minutes.Clamped it in the vise and left it overnight.

The antler was added with the boiling method. I boiled the antler for about a half hour and tried to push it on. It only went part way so I boiled it again. I did that over and over until it was on all the way making sure to try to push straight on without moving it side to side in either direction. It took quite a few tried but came out great.A crack was created pushing the tang on. I filled it with super glue and worked borax into it while it was wet. It took two applications but after some light sanding the crack totally disappeared.
I made the blade out of 3/32” 1095 keeping with the original description of it being a thin knife. The antler was finished with multiple coats of tru-oil.
The blade is 5 ¼” and overall it is 10 ½” long.The knife feels really good in my hand. The natural curve of the antler creates a perfect drop and the curve in the knife allows your thumb to rest eliminating the need for jimping. The roughness of the antler was comfortable but kept your hand from sliding.
I started using conditioning belts on this knife. They are well worth looking into. They save a lot of hand sanding and provide a very nice satin finish.
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