“How do you make a knife?” You ask. “Well,” says I, “funny you should ask.”
So… what I do is called ‘stock removal.’ Which means I don’t forge my knives. I take a bar of steel and remove material until it’s a KSO (Knife Shaped Object). Then I heat treat it and do fit and finish work, and BOOM…knife.
Making the Shape
I start with a bar of high carbon steel (usually 1080 or 1084 if you were curious), and use an angle grinder to rough out the shape I want. Then I use files to fine tune the overall shape. After that, I clamp my ‘blank’ into a filing jig to file in the bevels. That’s the sides of the blade that are angled to form the edge. Then it’s time for much hand sanding… everyone’s favorite part of knife making.
Turning a KSO into a Knife
The ‘soul’ of a blade is in the heat treat. Until a blade has been hardened and tempered it’s just a piece of steel that looks knife-like. To harden the steel I bring it up to 1500F, and dunk it in oil until it cools down. Now it’s very hard, but also very brittle. So I temper it by bringing it up to 400F for 2 hours. Letting it cool to room temperature. Then bringing it to 400F for another 2 hours. Now it is hard enough to hold an edge, but tough enough not to shatter if you drop it.
Fit and Finish
Hardening leaves scale and grime on the blade. All that has to be cleaned off, and then…MORE HAND SANDING! Once you have your finish where you want it you can fit up your handle in any number of styles, and you’ve got yourself a knife… congratulations…you either never want to do this again, or you’re hooked. Enjoy spending all your disposable income on sandpaper and power tools.