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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-27-2015, 01:58 AM Thread Starter
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How to Make a knife from an old File

I mentioned on another post about doing a tutorial of sorts for making a knife. Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for any injury you incur if you chose to try and make a knife. There may be safer and better ways then what you see here so proceed with caution.


Ok on to the fun part.

I firmly believe everyone who wants too can make a knife. You have to want to first and then its a matter of being willing to try.

So we are going to go through the steps I took to make this knife out of a old file.



Ok so here are some of the things we need to make a knife. First you need to find an old file. The older the better as the old ones were hardened all the way through. Nicholson brand is a good call. You can find them at yard sales cheap a lot of times. Newer ones are usually case hardened, meaning that only the top is hard which wont work as well. If you grind the steel you should notice short sparks in abundance if you can get through the surface and find the same then you have a full hardened blade. You will also notice wood in the pic any wood you like will do. I have even gotten some from the wood pile over the years. Pick something hard though oak, cherry etc. Skip pine as it doesn't hold up well it is too soft.




[img:center]https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hph...amp;oe=571E77CE[/img]

Since our file is hard we need to make it softer so we can work it. This process is called annealing. So into the forge. In this case I am using a propane forge I made. U can do this lots of ways, coal in a pit with a hair dryer for a blower will work. Even wood will do it that way. Do a quick internet search and you will find many ways to make a basic forge at home. SO in goes the file This is just getting heated. Heat it up till it is non magnetic you can test it with a magnet(Be Careful you don't touch it with your hands. A telescoping magnet is nice for this) The file will be a orange color. Once it hits nonmagnetic take it out of the forge and let it cool in the air. Make sure you let it cool all the way.




Waiting for it to cool. Go head you worked hard get something cold to drink while you wait.



Ok so now that it is cool we need to figure out the profile of our knife. Here I used some chalk to sketch on a simple drop point hunter onto the file I will use this design to cut out the knife profile(shape). Sharpies work well for this also.

[img]https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hph...amp;oe=570B382F[/img]

Ok so now we can use that angle grinder. Using a grinding or cut off wheel and a vise you can cut out the profile of the blade. There are lots of ways to do this but an angle grinder works. I have also used the 2x72 inch belt grinder I have but most don't have one of those laying around.



IF you got your blade soft enough you can use a hacksaw to cut it off and clean it up nice with a file. I cheated since I have a 2x72" belt grinder and cleaned it up on there. Here is the profile, next we are ready to make the bevels.



You will want to mark where your bevels end. Use a sharpie and mark both sides and on the bottom where the sharp part will be When you grind your bevels you will want to come to the middle evenly on each side. So you can eyeball this or mark the bottom by using a drill bit the same thickness as the file lay it on its side and drag the point down the middle. this will give you a guide to go to when you do the bevel.



Ok so here is the rough out of the bevel. I did both sides and I used my 2 x72" belt grinder. Now a angle grinder will work if your are careful and using a sanding disc with a flexible back. Another method is to use a file and clamp the blade down on a bench then file the bevel at an approximate 20 degree angle. As long as you are soft enough on your anneal you should be able to file it.


So that is it for the first steps. As you can see we have something that is starting to look like a knife. Remember there are a lot of ways to make a knife, I personally use a lot of 0-1 tool steel, I have seen knives forged from coil springs, railroad spikes(usually not hard enough), Various bought steels, etc. Our next steps will be to clean up the bevel a little bit. You noticed I didn't take off the file grooves, I decided I liked it like that so I am leaving them on, you can just as easy grind or file them off. Also note this is what is called a full tang knife with the metal going all the way through the handle. After we do the heat treat we will add wood handles to each side. So stay tuned I will try to get the rest of the process up soon. Hope this is a fun trip for some of you and maybe encourages you to get out and make one of your own.

Ross
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-27-2015, 02:01 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How to Make a knife from an old File

If anyone can get the two pictures to show up in the post as opposed to link that would be great. I am not sure why they did this, as the others I did the same way.

Thanks
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-27-2015, 11:37 AM
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Re: How to Make a knife from an old File

great start Ross!!

A gun will get you thru times of no money better than money will get you thru times of no gun.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-27-2015, 12:59 PM
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Re: How to Make a knife from an old File

Very sharp!!!

wmu 3A
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-27-2015, 02:30 PM
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Re: How to Make a knife from an old File

heck Ross, I'm still tryin' to figger out how to post pictures....

A gun will get you thru times of no money better than money will get you thru times of no gun.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-27-2015, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How to Make a knife from an old File

Ok so lets complete this odyssey.

[img]https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hph...amp;oe=56D4AA07[/img]

So next up we need to get some holes in the blade for the pins in the handle. Figure out where you want the pins to be and then measure to find the middle. Next take a center punch and tap it into the spots where you want to drill. This keeps the drill bit from wandering on you.



I chose to use 1/8" brass pins and I put a 1/8" drill bit in the drill press. You can do this with a hand drill as well. Regardless make sure you clamp it down either in a drill press or when using a hand drill. Here you can see the holes with the center punch in them.



Ok all drilled and ready for the next step.

[img]https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hph...amp;oe=56D4268E[/img]

Ok so now we reach a very important step Heat treating the knife. Your goal here is to get it to non magnetic. Again I used a magnet to check it when it was close. You can see here the Orange color which is close to all non magnetic. Make sure the whole blade gets to non magnetic. The rest of it doesn't need to get to that point but the blade ie sharp part must.



Ok into the oil. You can use lots of things, canola oil, mineral oil, bacon fat/grease, the list goes on and on. Ideally you want the oil to be warm like 125 degrees. Once you are at nonmagnetic it goes directly into the oil. Hold it there for a few moments so it rapidly cools. Then take it out of the oil. Please note this is extremely hot. Once it is out of the oil it is still hot and can burn you so set it aside to cool.



At this point this is just after the oil bath. Once it cools down you should take a file and run it over the blade part. It should skate right off and not grab the metal. This means it is hardened. Now we need to temper it so it gets soft enough to sharpen but hard enough to keep and edge.



I have an old toaster oven I keep in the shop for tempering. I set it at 425 ish which should give us a nice temper. I let it cook for 1 and 1/2 hours. Fair warning here guys, if you chose to do this part in the house in say the toaster oven or the kitchen oven you are taking your own lives in your hands. The wife/girlfriend will not be happy. Also it can get smelly. Even if you wiped all the oil off.



Out of the oven and ready to get cleaned up.
here is where you get out your sand paper and clean it up. If you chose to use something with power you have to be very careful not to overheat the blade if it gets any color at all you will have to anneal and then reheat treat and temper all over again. you can hand sand up from say 60 grit up to 220 or 400 and get a nice finish.



Ok so here it is cleaned up and ready for the handle But first lets make sure our heat treat and temper worked.



Ok so this is the semi famous brass rod test. if you place a 1/4" brass rod in a vise and then press the edge of the blade and pull it along it you should see it deflect. If it chips you are too hard if it flexes and stays flexed then too soft. Ideally it flexes doesn't chip and goes back to shape. This one passed no problem at all. There are lots of ways to test a knife but this is one that gives you an idea especially when you don't know the steel you are using.



Ok so next I took the pieces of wood I wanted to use as handles. Note you want the side against the blade to be as flat as can be which may require some sanding. As you an see I went ahead and drilled the holes in the wood and placed the brass pins through.



Ok next we get rid of the excess wood For this I use a coping saw first to get the bulk out. Then you can use a file to get it down to the metal. Then back to the sandpaper. Note that the blade should be taped up. I like the blue painters tape for ease of removal. This keeps your blade clean and safe while you work on the handle.



Here we are getting close to epoxy time.



Ok so once you got the edges done you need to take the handles off and put the pins in them and then sand then end towards the blade since this would be very hard after you epoxy.



Ok next mix up some two part epoxy. These can be bought at the local hardware store for around $5 do your self a favor and get one with at least a hour dry time. Once you epoxy the handle on and the brass pins. Take some wd-40 on a rag or paper towel and wipe off the excess saving you a lot of time later from sanding. Now do the smart thing and let it dry overnight. No need to rush it now.



Ok time to remove the excess brass pins. I clipped them off. Then take a file to flatten then out to the wood.



Next get out that sandpaper use a 60 grit or 100 to round off the handle material. you want to make this nice and round so its fits your hand well. once you got the shape work your way up to 150 grit, 220 grit and then 400 grit. stop anywhere you feel it is good.



All sanded and ready to be sharpened.



All sharpened up. You can hand sharpen it on a stone. I used the belt grinder on slow speed. Again though you have to be super careful not to change the color of the metal but overheating it and losing the temper/heat treat. Note its slicing paper with ease.



If you used wood you should finish it with some tru oil, linseed oil tung oil, Danish oil, wax etc. If you oil it usually takes a couple of coats over a day or two.


So there it is the finished product. What started out as a old file in a drawer that was well past its prime is now a new tool that will last for years to come. Phew. Now it just needs a sheath.

Hope you enjoyed this little tutorial. I tried to keep it basic. I am happy to answer any questions and if you try to make your own feel free to pm me anytime. I learned a long time ago knife makers are very generous with their knowledge and time and I have had a lot of help along the way. The best thing that you can do when folks are so nice is pay it forward.

Keep them knives sharp

Ross

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-27-2015, 11:00 PM
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Re: How to Make a knife from an old File

Excellent tutorial Ross ! Beautiful knife ! Now I just have to go find an old file in my Dads garage ..... LOL
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-27-2015, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How to Make a knife from an old File

Thanks 4x4 dad. Share some pics if you make one!
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-28-2015, 12:44 AM
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Re: How to Make a knife from an old File

Very interesting. How many hours did you have in that knife?

Thanks for a great Post!!!

wmu 3A
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-28-2015, 01:00 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How to Make a knife from an old File

Timberdoodle,

I didn't time it really. If you don't count the time in the oven and the cooling off times etc, Maybe 3 or 4 hours. But you have to remember this is after I have been making them for years and I also have the belt grinders and many other tools around like the forge. So that cuts the time down a lot. So take that time with a grain of salt. Don't let that stop anyone from trying it either. It isn't about the time into it but the result of what you have when you are done. It really is something you will cherish for a lifetime.

Your Welcome on the post. It was fun to do. Never really thought about all the things I do when I make a knife. Really puts it in perspective to do something like this.
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