Soon after I decided to take knife making a little more seriously, I decided to track my progress and document what I learned along with my mistakes. I thought if there were mistakes to make and I made then others would likely make the same mistakes. So, here is a progression in some reasonable order of my beginnings as a knife maker and bladesmith.
If I had a better way to learn this skill than I did, it would have been a smoother learning curve. A lot of comments are made that one can’t be self-taught. I disagree. I do agree that having a mentor and someone to turn to will help with the learning curve. Let this site be your mentor. Follow me along and listen to my mistakes so you don’t make the same ones.
The knife is one of the oldest tools crafted by man. Starting from the earliest knives made from split stone and flint, we’ve worked to improve, embellish, and collect the knife. Almost everyone uses a knife of some kind quit regularly, so the desire to make a knife or to make knives is understandable.
I think everyone’s first knife should be made with a very limited set of power tools, just to learn what you can do by hand. The majority of my mistakes revolve around not using skills I already had. You may not already have these skills and that is ok. They are basic metal and wood working skills you will need to get familiar with and making one or two knives using just these skills will get you there.
If you will follow my advice, here is what your first knife making process will be. (Deeper explanations are throughout the post)
- Choose a simple design
- Get a piece of known steel, preferably 1080 or 1084
- layout the design, first on paper, then on the steel
- Using a hacksaw (or what you have at your disposal), cut out a rough design
- Get a few sharp files. An 8” bastard file is a good starter.
- File the shape of your knife
- Drill holes for your pins
- Now clamp it to a bench or in a vise so you can file the bevel
- Once that is completed hand sand up to 600 grit, leaving the edge dull.
- Sand the whole blade the same.
- Heat treat your knife
- Temper it
- Hand sand up to a grit of your choice
- Add the handle
- Finish the handle
- Enjoy your knife
Throughout the progression of this site, I will show processes I used to make my knives. I also mention alternate possible options that I know about. I tend to always try to work with materials and equipment at hand whenever possible. Start your journey with some basic tools and figure out what you feel you need most. If you’re only looking to make a few knives, you really do not need much.
So follow me along as we walk through my journey as a bladesmith and if you’d like to buy one of my knives, that would certainly help keep the motivation alive.