Saturday, August 31, 2013



I've always had a thing for sharp things from kitchen knives to chisels. I have also had a keen interest in bushcraft since going camping with my family as a kid. Combining these two things with some of my famous DIYness, I decided to embark on a self taught lesson in knife making. I hope to make this more of a photo heavy how-to.

Since I do not have a forge made yet, I figured that the stock removal method of would work best for an intial effort. I found Canadian Knifemaker's Supplies here in Alberta and ordered some stock. I chose 154CM (more on this choice later) as it is tough and stainless. I wanted my bushcraft knife, which I have dubbed BC1, to be about 8 or 9 inches long (overall) and possess a thick, indestructable blade.

Above is  my first finished knife.

The steel arrived yesterday. One piece of 3/16" x 1-1/2"x8" and one 5/32"x1-1/2x9". Going forward I will refer to these by their decimal equivalents: 0.187 and 0.156 respectively.

 The 8" piece was actually about .25" longer, so I planned my profile with this in mind. The price of this stock was just over $2 an inch, so about $18 to $19 a slab. Shipping via courier as extra.


Profiling is the art of transferring an idea to the steel. I sketched a basic shape on back of an envelope, then redrew it on some printer paper. Once I had the basic idea together I trued it a little and traced it to another sheet.
After carefully cutting out the profile with scissors, I glued it to a piece of hi-ply 1/4" plywood using regular carpenter's glue. Brush the glue on thinly and walk around the edges to ensure that the paper sticks down good.

I then worked the scroll saw and belt sander to get a shape that was close to what I wanted. It should be noted that the template should be a tiny bit undersized so that when you trace around it, you get very close to the desired size.

A few photos can walk us through the process.


Once traced out with permanent marker, it's hacksaw time! This steel is incredibly tough. I was lucky to have a new, very good hacksaw blade. This is one thing you don't want to cheap-out on. Clamp it in the vice and give it a go. Slow steady strokes, about 2 per second works best.

 154CM is surprisingly hard to cut.
 This is after almost 10 minutes of sawing.
 Notching out the hard to remove areas.
As you can see this is a bit-by-bit operation. Some sawing this way and that to take triangular pieces out of the stock. Occasionally, I would add a drop of oil to the saw blade. Once close, I used a bench grinder to get the shape closer to the line. Be sure to have some water handy to cool the piece when grinding. Go slow and make many passes.

Rough profile achieved and this puppy is ready for the sander. Total time with hacksaw and grinder, 3 hours. As this stock was 1/4" longer I altered the shape of the handle slightly and used up some of that extra to create a longer handle. If future stock pieces are exactly 8" long, we will follow the template.

Once the stock is exactly how I want it, I will trace this back to paper for the record.

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