Friday, January 17

Knife Making

There are lots of ways to make sharp pieces of metal. There are only a few ways to make a knife. I'm going to talk about two methods here: Forging and Stock Removal.


This is what you think of when you hear the words "blacksmith" and "knife" together. You're taking a piece of high carbon steel (the hard stuff) and hammering it into a knife-like shape.

The blacksmith from epicfantasy on YouTube does a great job covering forging a knife and (moving) pictures are better than words when it comes to this craft. (My apologies for the ads. Something to be aware of, though: By watching the ad all the way through you're supporting the blacksmith who made the video.)

How to Forge a Knife Part 1 (Click to watch on YouTube)

That should give you a good overview of how to hand-forge a knife. Take note of all the different tools and methods used.

The Stock Removal Method

Stock removal means cutting out a knife shape from a piece of larger stock material. Good examples of stock material to use: Car Leaf Springs, 01 manufactured steel, Damascus steel blanks.

It requires zero hammering, but plenty of tool work since you're cutting away, filing down, and sharpening. 

*You don't need a forge for this method. All you need is the necessary files, cutting tools, clamps, and a torch. The torch comes in when you're ready to do your Tempering and Hardening.

Let's take a look at the blacksmith from epicfantasy again:

Part 2 (Click if no video is displayed)

Pretty straightforward once you bring all of the tools together.

He didn't go into using a torch for the tempering process, but the essentials are there:
  1. When hardening, get it to 1400-1500 degrees Fahrenheit and quench gradually.
  2. When tempering, heat from the spine (back of the knife) watching the colors.
The torch will take more patience than a forge, but it's more accessible (low cost, low time investment) when you're just starting out.

For some more firsthand experience making knives, check out Benton Frisse's great storytelling style and pictures at Hall Ironworks.

If you have thoughts or input on knife making, I'd like to hear from you in the comments.