Adding Jimping to your custom made knife

The Jimping is the small notches or file work typically cut into the back of a blade. jimping is used to prevent your fingers from sliding when using the knife.

I first laid out and cut with the band saw. A hacksaw would work well here if you didn’t have access to a bandsaw. Then start the filing with a triangle edge of a file. I used a 7/32” chainsaw file to cut this Jimping. I cut 10 Stokes on each hole until the cut marks disappeared. By counting strokes I had even depth all the way across.

There are endless types and styles of jimping. And there are endless ways to cut it.

Some knife makers who do jimping as lot will use a checkering file. These come in different sizes for a fine or course cut. They definitely add to the cost of equipment money spent if you decided to go this route. If you want the very fine and machinery cut look, it’s the best and quickest way to go however.

First you should decide if you want or need jimping, and what you think you need it for.

But here is how I did one knife. You can also see others:

There are mixed opinions in the knife world as to whether jimping is a good thing or not. Some knife makers put it on for aesthetical reasons, others do not like it at all.

A practical reason is to form a reference “feel” point for the blade. Obviously it does do this, the question is, “Is it needed”?

It’s also put there as a “stop” for your hand or thumb from sliding forward. The added grip add when the jimping is made can help ass friction. But once again the question comes up, “Is it needed”?

Some knife users will go as far as removing the jimping from their favorite knife.

So bottom line is it depends on the user and how they are using the knife.


Hidden Tang Puukko – Apple Cider Vinegar Patina

A Puukko is a Finnish utility knife

  • 1/8” 1080 steel
  • Blade 4 3/8”
  • Overall Length 8 5/8”
  • Sapele handle
  • Hand rubbed oil finish

I force a patina using Apple Cider Vinegar on “Hidden Tang Puukko – Apple Cider Vinegar Patina

Apple Cider Vinegar Forced Patina

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.

https://www.theknifehub.com/patina/

I have tried several different types of forced patina at this point. Using apple cider vinegar seems to work fairly well

I first did it before adding the handle.   I cleaned the knife with denature alcohol

I put the apple cider vinegar in a plastic container and heated it to boil in the microwave.

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 cycle again.

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.

Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine
the original tine
Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine
Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine
Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine
wetting the anvil to help remove the scale
Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine
Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine
Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine
Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine
Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine

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.

Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine
Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine
Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine
Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine
Knife - 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine

Cold Bluing

The blade of this Knife – 42 Hunter Forged from an Implement Tine – Cold Blued was blued using a cold bluing technique. This will help keep the high carbon blades from rusting.

Here is my technique.

  • Polish the blade to the desired finish. A polished blade takes blue better, but it’s not a requirement.
  • Wipe the blue on and let it sit for a minute or so. Buff it out.
  • Repeat the entire process until it reaches the texture you like, or it stops changing.

The Knife that has been remade

The Knife that has been remade – Lots of Mistakes and really could have been earlier in the lineup, but it has actually been in and out of the lineup, so to speak. I’m trying to keep this line up to pieces that came out successfully or at least close with a strong learning experience. This knife definitely qualifies in the “strong learning” category.

This Knife “The Knife that has been remade” certainly helped with my knife making education. I made a lot of mistakes and most of this Knife is a transition of those mistakes from trial and error and fix this and try that.

The first mistake has to do with the thickness. When I started making this knife, it was meant as a throwing knife. Kind of a remake of the knives I made when I was young. I obviously knew nothing about throwing knives then or at this time.

I didn’t do any research on how thick the knife should be. Now, when I start to design a knife, I research what the traditional thickness is for the style of knife I’m going to make. You’ll obviously find a lot of variations, but you’ll want to define a reason for yourself if you’re hitting the outer edge of the extreme or beyond. With your parameters.

My next mistake was not stopping to redesign. I just kept grinding. I was grinding with an angle grinder (I hadn’t built the belt grinder or the stand for my belt sander yet) and I was designing on the fly.

I soon determined it was starting to look like a hunting knife. Yes, I thought, a Bushcraft style hunting knife.

After getting the holes drilled and the knife heat treated, I made some hophornbeam scales and got them attached. What transformed was one of the ugliest example of knife work I’ve seen. So, into a pile of scrap it went.

Every once in a while, it would come out of the scrap pile for a test of a process. I tried doing some forced patina with coffee. I would save left over coffee in the morning and soaked the knife in it. That didn’t work. I guess my coffee wasn’t strong enough. It did stain the handle though. Lesson learned.  Be careful of the handle when forcing patina.

I also soaked it in vinegar. I didn’t like the outcome. It was not very dark but very blotchy. It also stained the end of the handle. Lessons learned.

Sooner or later it dawned on me that I could turn the handle into one with a hidden tang. I dug up an old wood chisel and commence to removing the handle. This is where I discovered how hard it would be for a handle to separate. It came off in little pieces. After cutting the brass pins flush, I still had to beat them out with a punch.

Rather than risk ruining the temper buy trying to burn the tang into the handle, I decided on a two piece. This worked out fairly well buy simply marking out the two scales and using a chisel to carve out the tang on both sides. As an afterthought, I could have gone with a framed tang as well. The framed tang would probably have looked better.

And yet, it still did not look very good. I just didn’t like it so it again, sat on the bench until motivation struck again. This time I decided to build up a handle. I went to the leather scrap box, cut some squares, punched the center holes for the tang. I dug up some mahogany and drilled for the tang for a front and bit piece. I epoxied them together and clamped them right.

I’m not sure the story has ended for this knife.


Knife 40 – Fully Forged Hunting knife

This is the first knife I’m going to call forged. I’ll admit it took me longer due to inexperienced, but not as long as I expected. This is an example of one of the benefits of knowing how to forge a knife along with stock removal. This piece of 1080 would not have been big enough to do what I wanted to do using just stock removal. There was plenty of metal, it just needed to be drawn out and shaped.

I started with 1/8” 1080 steel when making “Knife 40 – Fully Forged Hunting knife”. You will want to use a cross peen or rounding hammer. The flat side is for smoothing, the round or peening side is for moving and forming the metal.

First, I started with the blade. I heated and hammered the blade into the shape I wanted. I started with the bottom curve then alternated between that and the drop point, all the time keeping the knife flat.

I made sure the shape was exactly what I wanted, then moved to defining and drawing out the tang. Again, making sure the knife stayed flat. To define the beginning of the tang I used a combination of the cross peen and the edge of the anvil, using the hammer face to keep it flat as I went.

Once the tang was developed, I started on the bevel. Using the hammer face at a slight angle, I drew out the bevel working from one end to the other on each side. It was actually easier than I anticipated as long as I took my time.

Before stopping I paid extra attention to making sure it was as flat as I could make it and the form was as I expected it to be

I then let it cool and moved to the belt grinder. (I’d you don’t have a belt grinder yet, use what you have, a belt sander, angle grinder, etc.

Using the belt I formed the tang further and evened up the shape. At this point I was using a 36-grit ceramic belt. I decided to try to free hand the bevel, so I added my plunge stop. Slowing the belt down substantially and maintaining a horizontal move. It’s here I discovered it was often best to let the knife slide behind my thumb that was pressing the knife to the belt. Dunking in water served to purposes at this point, it kept the knife cool so I could hold on it and it helped lubricate the knife, so it slides behind my thumb. This allowed me to keep a more even pressure on the bevel. Keeping the belt speed slow enough so the knife doesn’t overheat in a single pass helps a great deal. It’s not a concern for the overheat for the metal, it’s maintaining a temperature you can hang onto.

From here I jumped to 120 grit. In retrospect I should have gone to 80 first. I then moved to hand filing and sanding. There were a few spots I found while hand working that had deep enough scratches that I moved back to the belt to take them out, then back to hand work.

I then made sure the tang had a slight taper from the beginning to the tip. This would allow the finger guard to slide on.

Once this was completed, I moved to making the finger guard. I cut a piece of ¼” x 1” steel. I marked the slot and drilled a series of holes the appropriate size for the tang. I used the mill to finish the cut, but a file or Dremel would have worked as well. I rounded the guard on the belt grinder.

I marked out and cut a piece of aluminum that will be the frame. I cut serrations in it about every ¼” all the way around. This gets cleaned up and roughed up with 80 grit sandpaper to slow the epoxy to stick better.

I then cut out two rosewood scales square and slightly oversized and epoxied black spacers to them. I clamped them together with wax paper between them for easy separation.

That was the end of the day. I would estimate I had about 5 hours in this knife at this point.

See the other Hidden Tang Knives

Finishing the knife happened in small time slots over the next few days. I basically made the frame the same as I did for Knife 34 – Hidden Tang Aluminum Framed on page 47.

With this frame I cut the slots all the way around the frame. I then epoxied the handle together with epoxy tinted black and let the epoxy cure. I then drilled a series of 1/8” holes for the brass pins and epoxied the pins in place. These are for both esthetics and strength holding the frame together.

At this point I heat treated the knife and after it cooled, I started the tempering process. While this was in process, I roughed out the scales.

And here is the mistake. I realized at this point I did not normalize the knife before I heat treated it. I didn’t want to risk anything going wrong with this knife after the work I’d out into it, so back to the forge.


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.

I normalized the knife  three times. Each time bringing the knife to non magnetic and then letting it air cool. I then heat treated it once again and tempered it with the normal two hours at 450 degrees with two cycles.

I debated at this point if I should go further on the handle or wait and get it all together. I decided it would be best (since the finger guard would be flush to the handle) if it was all formed to final shape together.

I decided to add some spacers and epoxy the handle on. Since the clamp was positioned so I could drill for the tang pins, I went ahead and drilled and installed them as well. I then let it cure overnight.



Knife 39 – Hunting – Larger Skinner – Etching with Ferric Chloride

Knife 39 – Hunting – Larger Skinner – Etching with Ferric Chloride is still one of my favorite designs. It’s a simple yet elegant. It a great looking knife in a very simplistic way. A traditional old style knife.

  • This one was made from 3/16” 1095 steel.
  • The handle is Cocobolo with an aluminum added spacer and firework.
  • Brass pins

I did this knife with all hand grinding (except for final hand sanding). I finally figured out how to grind straight and completely horizontal. As the knife curves, pull the handle end away from the belt ever so slightly. It only takes a little practice to get this right.

I made an aluminum spacer for this knife. After some fussing around I wound up epoxying the aluminum spacer to the blade. After the epoxy had cured, I was sanding it back flush and one side popped off. I found the other side easy to remove. I decided not to use the aluminum spacers for this knife because of this.

Etching

I wanted a dark etch on this knife so I set up with some Ferric Chloride. I used the Ferric chloride straight. After a 15-minute soak it came out with an even light gray color.

Knife 39 - Hunting – Larger Skinner
Knife 39 - Hunting – Larger Skinner
Knife 39 - Hunting – Larger Skinner
Knife 39 - Hunting – Larger Skinner
Knife 39 - Hunting – Larger Skinner
Knife 39 - Hunting – Larger Skinner
Knife 39 - Hunting – Larger Skinner
Knife 39 - Hunting – Larger Skinner
Knife 39 - Hunting – Larger Skinner
Knife 39 - Hunting – Larger Skinner

Etching with Ferric Chloride

To make the containers for the ferric acid I took 2 pieces of 3” PVC and plugged one end and added a cap on the top. I found this sand blast medium barrel perfect for a base for a bit more stability. Clamping it to the wall or a post will work as well. You just do not want it to be tipped over.

I have Used it full strength. Some knife makers suggest diluting it. It will take some experimenting to determine which works best for you.

The second container is for a baking soda mix to neutralize the acid after etching is complete.


Knife 37 – Utility/EDC – With File Work

  • Blade 3 3/8”
  • Overall Length 7 5/8”

A small utility knife made from a file. I made this knife to try filing on the spline.

  • I marked the plunge line and the handle so I would know where it was.
  • I started by grinding off the file serrations.
  • I figured while I was at the grinder I might as well put the bevel on.
  • Then I sanded the spline to 400 grit
  • Then I added layout blue to the spline
  • I marked the starting point
  • I marked the center line
  • I marked line 3/8” apart
  • Then I cut every other line one alternating sides with a 7/32” chainsaw file cutting at 45 degrees. I cut to the center line.
  • The I cut a line at 45 degrees on each side with a small triangle file.

The Mistake. Try to make sure the scales do not end up in the middle of a cut out like I did.

Knife 37 - Utility/EDC - With File Work
Knife 37 - Utility/EDC - With File Work
Knife 37 - Utility/EDC - With File Work
Knife 37 - Utility/EDC - With File Work
The Mistake. I should have made sure the scales did not end up in the middle of a cut out like this.
Knife 37 - Utility/EDC - With File Work
Knife 37 - Utility/EDC - With File Work
Knife 37 - Utility/EDC - With File Work
Knife 37 - Utility/EDC - With File Work

See: Knife 55 Seax – Vine Filing-laminated scales and Knife 54 Hunter EDC from a file – Blade Filing for more filing details.



Knife 34 – Hidden Tang Aluminum Framed Knife

  • 1084 Steel
  • Framed hidden tang
  • Drop point.
  • Blade length 6”
  • Handle length 4 ¾”
  • Overall length 11”

Knife 34 – Hidden Tang Aluminum Framed knife – Here it the process for this knife.

Layout and design. Basically, this was marking the basic outline on the steel.

On this knife I did another Jimping sample and decided to use 9/32″ spacing

The jimping was first laid out and cut with the band saw. A hacksaw would work well here if you didn’t have access to a bandsaw. I then started the filing with a triangle edge of a file. I then used a chainsaw file ADD FILE SIZE> to cut the Jimping. I cut 10 Stokes on each hole until the cut marks disappeared. That way I had even depth all the way across.  (See Adding Jimping to your knife)

  • I the ground the blade profile only
  • I marked the blade center
  • I marked the blade start line
  • Using a grind stop I ground the blade bevel.
  • I marked out the aluminum frame and cut it out on the band saw and used the belt grinder to finalize the rough shape.

I cut grooves in frame with bandsaw. These were just cut free handed.

I found a piece of Walnut and cut the scales fr this Knife 34 – Hidden Tang Aluminum Framed Knife.

I test fitted the scales and frame to tang. I marked the outside outline where tang is going to be after installation.

I epoxied the scales and frame together. I used epoxy colored black to accentuate the aluminum frame pattern.

I decided to try grinding this knife free hand. I’ve discovered a couple tricks over the last few knives. Since they are working and improving, I’ll share them here. First, being able to slow down the grinder helps with control a lot.

Also, you need to make sure you move up the grit sooner than I thought to get the aggressive grit marks. I also discover I can move to hand sanding quicker, and back to the belt if needed. Hand sanding shows the problem areas that the grinder hides.

Moving back and forth between hand sanding and belt grinder seems to be my training wheels.

Slowing down the grinder also allows to keep going on a full grind from one end to the other without the blade getting to hot to hold.

One thing it took me a while to figure out is during grinding is you want to keep the knife perfectly level through the stroke, just like it was in a jig. Think of your hands as the jig. I have a desire to want to follow the curve at the end of the blade. Don’t do that!

The other thing I decided to try on this knife is a ball peen hammer pattern. I tried on the anvil buy it left scratches on the back side, so off to the bench with a piece of leather under it.

I’ll try this process while forging on a future knife, but this time it was a cold steal hammered pattern.

The knife came out of the quench warped. I used the Temper straightening technique in Temper Straightening a Custom Made Knife

Next step was to hand sand again from 220 grit to 3000.

I then epoxied the handle on the Knife 34 – Hidden Tang Aluminum Framed Knife and pinned both the handle to the knife and pinned the back part of the handle together with the frame.

This was then sanded using the grinder to 600 grit.

I then hand sanded from 500 grit to 3000.


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

Knife 32 – Mini Cleaver is a small chopper or mini cleaver.

  • Made from 3/32” 1095 steel
  • Laminated Rosewood and maple scales with G10 spacers
  • Blade is 4”
  • Overall length is 8 ¾”

This mini cleaver or herb chopper was a trial and error kind of learning exercise.

The tang was a little too narrow, but I figured that would be acceptable for a herb chopper. As it turned out I was right

This was made from a left-over piece of 1095. The shape of the piece of steel inspired the knife. I also wanted to try grinding after heat treating before I did it on a full-size cleaver like Knife 30 – Cleaver and Knife 35 – Serbian Cleaver

I discovered with a good ceramic belt, and submerging in the water bucket every stroke, it didn’t take long at all. I keep the belt running about half speed. This worked out well and grinding after helps eliminate a potential for warping during heat treatment.

Knife 32 – Mini Cleaver

The other lesson learned on this knife has to do with carefully choosing the scales. There are some blemishes in the scales I didn’t notice before I put them on. It won’t hurt the performance of the knife, but if I wanted to sell the knife, it would be a harder sell and would definitely warrant a price reduction.

I now inspect the scales much more closely. Other than the minor imperfect in the scales, it came out well. The knife turned out to be an exceptional kitchen knife.

Because of the small blemish on the bottom of the handle, I thought about removing the handle and starting over, but it’s unnoticeable enough that I decided to offer it as it. I obviously had to point it out clearly in the description and priced it accordingly so someone got a great knife at a great price.

See more on this style of grinding on Knife 30 – Cleaver