How to Make a Knife: DIY on 3 Different Types of Knives

There are many different types of knives, each, with their own specific purposes. There are chef knives, utility knives, boning knives, hunting knives, and many more. In hunting three types of knives that can be very convenient and useful to bring are tactical knife, survival knife, and hunting knife. As a hunter, being able to make our own knives which we can use for our future hunting activities is not only a very rewarding task but it is also a very productive way to use our spare time. Think about having a very enjoying and rewarding recreational time for yourself while having a product that is customized for you that you can use for a long time – exciting right? Then let’s put that excitement into work. In this article, I will discuss how to make a knife: DIY on 3 different types of knives. We will use the three types of hunting knives that I have mentioned above. Before we proceed, let us first have some knowledge about these three knives and the materials that we are going to use to make them.

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Tactical Knife

A tactical knife is a knife that is designed to be used in extreme situations which may or may have a military or combat feature. It is a comfortable knife that you can draw quickly and can be used in a variety of tasks. We can say that a good tactical knife can fit into your pocket or have some type of clip, durable, and does not have a lot of weak points. It can also either be a fixed blade knife or a folding knife.

Survival Knife

A survival knife is designed to be used in order for you to survive in case you are left alone in the wild with few or nothing with you. It should be able to perform a lot of tasks like cutting, slicing, digging, piercing, whittling, shaving, dressing, skinning, and many others. You can use it for starting a fire, making a shelter, bandaging a wound, and hunting for food. In general, the key characteristics of a survival knife are versatility and strength. It must be a full tang knife to emphasize strength and durability.

Hunting Knife

A hunting knife is used to prepare the game caught in hunting by skinning and cutting, thus, it’s design is optimized for slicing and cutting rather than for stabbing. It has a single sharpened edge and usually has a curved blade so that you can smoothly separate the hide from the meat of your game. Some hunting knives, however, have blades with both a straight and a curved part to facilitate both skinning and cutting meat efficiently. A hunting knife can either be a fixed blade knife or a folding knife.

Basic Materials and Tools that You Will Need

Before we proceed to how to make a knife: DIY on 3 different types of knives, let us first look on the materials that we will need.

Steel

This is what basically makes your knife and is a very important material to consider. When choosing a steel for your knife, you should consider the type of knife you are making and its purpose so that you will know the characteristics that you should pay attention to. The five key properties of steel are hardness, toughness, corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and edge retention. The common knife steel types are tool steel which is hard, carbon steel which is tough and durable, and stainless steel which is corrosion-resistant.

Handle Material

Choosing your knife’s handle material depends on the purpose of your knife but it also depends on the preference of the user. It is good to choose a handle material that will be most comfortable for you to use and is also durable and with good grip. There are a lot of knife handle materials that you can choose from, each, with their own pros and cons. Examples are stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, fiberglass, leather, bone, and wood.

Angle Grinder

An angle grinder is a tool used to grind, polish, or cut metal or other materials. You will use this tool mainly to cut and shape your knife. It uses a variety of wheels or discs like diamond wheels and abrasive wheels. If you do not have an angle grinder, you may use a hack saw for cutting but that would require more work.

Mill File, Sand Paper, Wood Rasp, and Sharpening Stone

You will need a variety of files from rough to fine and a sand paper in a variety of grits for finishing your blade. You will need the wood rasp in shaping your wood handle and the sharpening stone in sharpening your blade once your knife is finished.

Drill

You will use the drill to make holes on where you will attach the handle.

Clamp

You will use this for holding your knife during the heat treatment.

Heat Source

You will need a heat source to heat treat your knife. For this process, you may use a grill and hardwood charcoal. Make sure that the charcoals are super hot before immersing your blade.

Epoxy

You will use the epoxy to glue the blade and the handle together.

How to Make a Knife: DIY on 3 Different Types of Knives

One thing that we should know on how to make a knife: DIY on 3 different types of knives is that basically, the steps in making these knives are just the same; they only differ in designing the template and shaping the blade and handle. With that in mind, we will just proceed with the basic steps in making a knife and emphasize each key point in making each knife.

1. Design your knife and draw the template

How to Make a Knife

Design your knife and draw the template - Photo credit: i.pinimg.com

Making your knife’s template is a very important step in making your knife since it will be the basis of what your finished knife will look like. You should be very careful and detailed in making your knife’s template and make sure to consider all the aspects of the knife and what you want your knife to become including its type, length, design, and purpose. Also, it is important that you make the template the same or close to the actual size that you want your knife to be.

In making your tactical knife’s template, bear in mind that what we want is something that is easy to carry. A good size of the knife would be around 8-9 inches. Consider the size of your hand when deciding the length of the handle. You may trace your template in a piece of cardboard for you to have some idea on the feel of the length of your knife. For the design of the blade and handle, it is up to you as long as it serves its purpose. For me, a good design would be something with a half-serrated blade with a good cutting edge and a strong, thick point.

For your survival knife, a good design would be something with a handle that fits well in your hand, a blade with a thickness of around 1/8 to 1/4 inches, and a total length of around 9-11 inches. It will also be good if it will be a full tang knife which has a fixed blade, straight edge, and either a clip point or a drop point. For the steel, high carbon or stainless are good choices.

Lastly, for your hunting knife, I recommend that you design your blade with a drop point, a thick spine, a bevel with around 20-30 degrees angle, and a choil that matches the size of your fingers. The knife should also be a full tang.

2. Trace the blade template to a piece of steel and cut the steel

How to Make a Knife

Trace the blade template to a piece of steel and cut the steel - Photo credit: http://2.bp.blogspot.com

Using a permanent marker, trace your designed template on your chosen piece of metal. It is better if the piece of metal is not too large compared to the size of your knife so it will be easier to cut later. Also, make sure that you include the tang since the blade and the tang are in one piece. Using a hacksaw or an angle grinder, cut the outline on the metal. Leave a bit of allowance when cutting to leave a room for some adjustments when finishing the blade.

3. Finish the blade and drill a hole in the tang

How to Make a Knife

Finish the blade and drill a hole in the tang - Photo credit: http://poorfolkbows.com

Using your angle grinder, make the bevel of your knife by grinding the edge side to side taking into account the design of your blade. You may also use files and sandpapers to make a nice finish and polish your blade. Start with a rough grade sand paper going to a finer grade. Make sure that the whole blade is polished and the bevel is grinded well. For the serrations of your tactical knife, use the appropriate size of files and make sure that you make the spacing between the serrations equal. Also, make the serrations before grinding the bevel. After you have finished your blade, drill some rivet holes in the tang where you are going to connect your handle later.

4. Heat treat the blade

How to Make a Knife

Heat treat the blade - Photo credit: anitachowdry.files.wordpress.com

In making a good knife, more important than the type of steel that you use is the heat treatment. For your heat treatment, you may use a grill and hardwood charcoals. Also, prepare your quenching bath. You may use food grade quenching oils, mineral oils, or commercial quenching oils for this. When heat treating your blade, you can say that it is ready for quenching when it is already non-magnetic. When your blade turns orange in color, put it out the flame and check if it will still be magnetized, if it is already non-magnetic, put it back the heat, make sure that the whole blade has become orange colored, then immediately but carefully dunk it in the quenching bath. Allow the bubbling and hissing of the oil to subside then cool it in open air. After this, temper your knife in the oven for an hour and cool it to room temperature. Repeat these three times. The temperature of the oven depends on the type of steel you use but it usually ranges from 350 to 850 °F. Make sure to use clamps when handling the knife and wear protection like gloves and helmet.

5. Make and attach the handle

How to Make a Knife

Make and attach the handle - Photo credit: http://www.hobbynerd.com

After we are done with the blade, it is now time for us to make the handle. In this article, we are going to use hard wood as the material for making the handle of the three knives. For the tactical knife, your handle must have a steady and comfortable grip in both forward and reverse grips. Don’t put grooves and contours on the handle that forces you to hold it in any way. For the survival knife, your handle must fit well in your hands and must have a flat pommel. You may put some grooves for better grip but make sure that it fits comfortably to your hand. For the hunting knife, make sure that your handle has a groove that comfortably fits your hand, a nice bolster, and a pommel. To make and attach your handle, get a piece of wood a bit larger than the size of your tang with the thickness that you would want your handle to have, shape them the way you want, drill the rivet holes using your tang as basis, split the wood into two equal parts, then attach the handle into the tang using some rivets or pins and epoxy. Make sure that the epoxy sets well. Use clamps to hold the handle and the tang together while waiting for the glue to set. You may use wood rasps in shaping your handle and sand paper in polishing them to make a good finish.

6. Sharpen the blade

How to Make a Knife

harpen the blade - Photo credit: icdn9.themanual.com

It is very important to sharpen your blade since it satisfies the main purpose a knife – to cut. Use a sharpening stone to sharpen your blade by holding your blade in a 20° angle and lightly scraping through the stone in a cutting motion. Do this in both side of your blade. Make sure to wet your sharpening stone with oil from time to time. Also, if you have a double sided sharpening stone, use the coarse side first then the fine side after for a better finish. Make sure to finish both side of the blade first before moving on to the finer side. To test if your knife is sharp enough, hold a piece of paper with one hand and slice through it with your knife. Your knife must smoothly cut through the paper.

7. Polish the blade and handle

How to Make a Knife

Polish the blade and handle - Photo credit: http://www.instructables.com

Now that your knife is finished, you can give your blade and handle a final polish and add some final touches. You may even put some customized carvings or design on the blade if you want.

Conclusion

A knife is a very important tool for a hunter. It serves a lot of purpose and is sure very handy in a lot of situations. Buying a good knife can be an exciting activity for a hunter but making your own knife gives an entirely different excitement and feeling. Although making a knife is not easy, it is possible for you to make your own given the right tools, materials, and knowledge. Just bring your passion and enthusiasm with you and your good to go. It may take time and effort but the product is surely rewarding. That is why to help you with making your own knife, I have written steps on how to make a knife: DIY on 3 different types of knives in this article. I hope this article helped you!

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Sheldon Martin
 

Sheldon Martin is the founder of Captain Hunter. CaptainHunter.com is a site dedicated to the sport of hunting. We have a deep respect for nature and for the environment, and we therefore take the sport of hunting very seriously. Never think that you are alone in the woods again. Our goal is to share what we know with who needs it most.

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