Handmade knives

Handmade knives are often made in way better materials then what you find in most average stores. You get a knife with heart and soul, and yes, the sweat, blood and tears from the maker. A knife is very personal, and many hours go into the making of every knife. Most handmade knives today are either forged or made with stock removal.

How I do it

I cut my handmade knives out of a piece of O1 tool steel with an anglegrinder. You could also use recycled steel like old sawblades, files, springs etc. I then grind it into the final shape on my beltsander. When the steel is ground into final shape, it is time to make the bevel.

Knives have been cut with anglegrinder

The knives need a bevel where it gets sharp. Some makers grind it on a wheel and make hollowgrinds. I grind on a flat surface on my beltsander and make scandi/sabre/full flat grinds. The bevel can also be made with a angelgrinder if you dont have fancy machinery, or you can even use a hand file.

Knives ready to be heat threated

Heat treating

After the the knife has been cut into shape and sanded to at least grit 220, it is time for heat treating. I heat treat my O1 knives at 815 degrees Celcius in a special heat treating oven, and quench it in hardening oil. For this step you can also use a propane torch, a firepit with air intake (for the heat) or what else you can get hot enough. The steel (carbon) needs to be a nice cherry red on the way to yellow, U can also check it with a magnet close by. If it stops being magnetic, its ready to be quenched. After the quenching you can check it with a file. If it dosent bite, the steel is harder than the file, and your hardening has been a succes. After that it need to be annealed. I give it 2 cycles in the oven at 225 degress Celcius for 1,5 hours.

In the oven ready for heat threat

Sanding

Now it’s time for some sanding and polishing. I always sand my handmade knives to atleast 400 grit. I always try to sand in the same direction, and a good tip is to make sure you have removed the coarser marks before moving to higher grit. I give the blade a run on the buffing wheel, and then it’s ready for the handle.

Ready for a handle

Handmade knive handles

Handmade knives often feature beautiful handles. The most common materials are wood, bone, acrylic, micarta, resin or a mix of all mentioned. There are no limits to what could be used as a handle. My thoughts on the handle are that it has to take a beating. So I normaly use stabilised wood or G10. My knifes are build to last! I glue handles on my knives with two component epoxy glue, and use at least two pins. Today these pins are more for tradition since the glue is really solid. The handles are in blocks, and I have to sand them down after they have been attached to the handle.

Glueing handles on knifes, now they are ready to be shaped.

Now its only a question of sanding the handle into the shape of the steel, and adjust the thickness of the outer handle. Some like the Coca Cola bottle shape, others a more square shape. “Just” do it the way YOU like it. Again, sand up until atleast 400 grit. I think 600/800/1200 grit make the knife kinda slippery when wet.

TVJ Camper made for an auction to help kids with Cystick Fibrosis.

***The text on this page represents my thoughts and views. Its not the only way to do it, and it’s probably not the right way to do it. But its my way!

Thomas

Earlier articles:

How to maintain and care for your knife.
How to sharpen your knife using a Lansky system.
How to sharpen your knife with WorkSharp guided system.
How to strop your knife for extreme sharpness.