View Full Version : New guy

08-26-2001, 10:08 AM
Hello all!

I have looked at many of your knifes and I am very impresses, what craftsmanship!!!

I have just started to read about knife making and really want to try to make my first knife. I have some basic questions. If someone has time to answer me, I would really appreciate some pointers.

Reading several web sites and one book, I'm still confused how to begin, and what tools to buy. Visiting Sweden this summer, most knife makers there bought ready blades and crafted handles and sheaths. I bought a cheap blade, specialty leather for sheaths, and some tools thinking it could be a good start, what do you think?

However, here in the US most people seem to buy knife steel and then grind the steel to blades (sounds hard, but more interesting), while skilled craftspeople actually blacksmith the steel, grind and make blades. But, I have not seen many knifes with crafted leather sheaths here.

To my questions:

What is a good starting point (I don't have many tools more that common hand tools)?

What tools do most knife makers have after crafting knifes for a while?

Recommended magazines and books for a complete fool when it comes to knife making?

Bob Warner
08-26-2001, 12:34 PM
Here is some information I think all new people could appreciate.

OK, get ready, there is a LOT of info here.

Here is some useful information. Probably more information than you can digest over a few months.

If I were to start out today, knowing what I know now, I would do the following:

Look for a LOCAL blacksmithing club. You can probably go to a few of their meetings without joining but the sign-up fee is usually cheap. These people usually have their meetings at someone's shop and put on demonstrations. This is really the BEST place to learn next to being invited to a BLADESMITHS shop. These people are VERY willing to teach you how to do things. They are not knifemakers (usually) but they do know steel and how to move it around.

I learned about forging from blacksmiths and about heat treating from a heat treating place that did my early knives. These people will teach you a lot. Some of the suppliers like Jantz will give you heat treating information in their catalogs but I would trust the CKD when that time comes. When you are ready to heat treat something, come back and we will assist.

I would get the following tools in this order:

First set of tools -
Safety glasses
Small Drill press.
8" grinder (remove wheels and put buffing wheels on it).
Files of all sizes and shapes. You can't have too many files. Use golf balls for the handles, just drill a hole and bang it on.
A solid vise.
Some method of marking your knives with your name. At stamp, electro-etch or even a vibrating tool.
Sandpaper of all grits down to about 1500 to 2000.

This will get you through the creation of knives by filing the knife to shape.

Second set of tools -
Metal cutting band saw
Belt grinder

Now you're making knives.

OK, here is where you need to decide how serious you will be. If you plan on making knives for a long time (not just 10 or 12 and give it up).

A good band saw is 500-$1000 bucks
A belt grinder is $1500 approximately.
A forge is cheap but a lot of work to make (mine was about $50) , or expensive if bought.
An anvil is about $1.50 to $3.00 per pound and you will want at least 100# if your a moose like me.
You can make a grinder with some effort and planning, there is help on the tooltime with Geno Osborn forum.

Hydraulic press, speed up making damascus
surface grinder, gets stuff flat
anodizer coloring titamium
heat treat oven, or use your forge if you have one, some have both
tempering oven (use the one in the house),
cryogenic treatment station, part of the heat treating process.
acid etching station, for etching damascus
gold plating station, if you want to get fancy
a bluing station, if you think you would want to blue your stuff
mini metal lathe, for making parts
milling machine, to do the stuff I can't do
electroetching station, for putting on your mark
photo transfer station, to make your own stencils

Lots of stuff to learn.

Browse through this stuff and you will see that this can get complicated if you let it. You can make knives simply and functional or very artsy and still functional. I would do stock removal (grinding your own blades from flat stock), then to forging, then to making damascus, then to pattern welded damascus (where you control the designs in the steel, real cool).

Just follow the links below and you will find a LOT of information.

Feel free to ask questions, call or e-mail.


The first two books are great.

There is probably no place to get more information and tips than from this guy. He passed away a while back but his family kept the page up in his memory and to satisfy all of the requests to do so. Check out EVERY part of this page, there is not enough time in your working life for you to learn everything by trial and error. ( or (

If you want to pound steel, here is a page about gas fired forges. The web page by Ron Reil is full of great information. I recommend a mini mongo burner. (

This is the link to how to build the freon tank forge. This is similar to what I made but mine is bigger and more heavy duty (I also have a small one). This would get you going for over a year of regular use before you had to
rebuild it or make a new one. (

This place sells everything. It is like Grainger but has a lot more stuff. It is great for tools and screws, etc....
Order their catalog, it is free and HUGE. I suggest calling them to order and ask for the book on CD also. If
you order through the web it may not show up (mine didn't). Not really a knife store but WAY COOL. (

This is a gunsmithing place. There are some parts you can get from here. If you call them and tell them you are a knifemaker, they will consider you a dealer and you will get discount pricing. Get their book and ask them for a dealer account. They will explain how to determine your discount by sending you a paper with the book. (

This guy can make #### near anything. You may be able to get him to make it cheaper than ordering it from a knife supply store. (

This is a list of stuff and the type of steel it is made from. Great for starting out blacksmithing. I buy new steels to guarantee what I am getting. (

Knifemaking supplies and tools. (

Knifemaking supplies and tools.
If you just ask for a catalog, they will charge you. If they think you will really become a customer they will giveyou the catalog, especially if you order something. This is true with just about all companies. (

These people have a good variety and their prices are pretty good. You can download their catalog or call and get one. (

These people have a good variety of supplies. They also offer heat treating if you decide to make some stainless stuff. (

This is also a great place for supplies. (

08-26-2001, 01:06 PM
Thanks a lot, this really helps.

I didn't get to the web page you rwcommended. (the guy that knows it all)

didn't work, is it the correct address?

Bob Warner
08-26-2001, 01:12 PM
Yes, the address is correct but they seem to be offline for some reason. I recommend you check it every once in a while. I will update you if I figure out what happened.

george tichbourne
08-26-2001, 03:06 PM
Until you get real serious the kit knife route is a great learning method. Making your own blades is not anywhere as difficult as learning to finish the knife handle off properly. I suggest to new people that they start with kit knives and learn the hard part then decide if they want to go to the trouble of making their own blades.

Good luck

J Loose
08-26-2001, 10:08 PM
Dang, Bob,

That was a list, alright.

We should save that for a FAQ somewhere on the CKD.

Welcome, Tor. As you can see this is a friendly and informative place... keep us updated on your pursuits!

Bill Foote
08-27-2001, 08:23 AM
Heres another link to Engnath's great stuff..... (

Bob Warner
08-27-2001, 10:27 AM
Thanks Bill. I have edited my post above to reflect this address. I was afraid all that info was gone.

08-27-2001, 12:40 PM
welcome to the best customknifesite on the planet!

08-27-2001, 04:17 PM
Tor, Just a small comment on blades from Sweden. In Sweden, making a knife after getting a blade from a knifemaker is a regular hobby over there. More common than stamp collecting over here. There are many knifemakers who produce steel and ready ground blades (damascus already etched) so that the hobbyist just adds the handle and sheath.

J Loose
08-27-2001, 11:30 PM
Hey Jerry,

I might be wrong, but isn't making knives with blades made by a bladesmith also the professional route in Scandinavia?

I have a Finnish friend who thinks Americans are strange because knives over here don't need sheaths and Scandinavian knifemakers always provide one. I try to tell her that since she doesn't have to make the blade she has extra time for sheath-work...

Heh. Hi Tina!

08-28-2001, 06:47 AM

Don't forget about the CKD Tutorials at the top, here is the link also........ (

08-28-2001, 10:33 AM
Jonathan, you are correct. There are many who take their hobby to the next step which is building these knives for other people (for sale) and then that usually leads to doing everything. I got this info from Conny Persson and Roger Bergh who told me that they make many more blades (for others to finish) than they make knives themselves. Both of these makers produce some of the most outreagous damascus I've every seen.

Brad Duncan
08-28-2001, 01:17 PM
Hello new guy and welcome to the madness.,,,Wait that uis the other forums.

08-29-2001, 06:01 PM
Thanks for all your comments. I'm glad to hear that many of you support starting out with kits. The tools are so expensive if you want to make your own blades. I'll start with a couple of kits too see if I'm really interested, actually, it's not about being interested more to find time.

Thanks for your replies. If you have any more suggestions, bring them on! For example: Starting with kits, any special tools you reccomend?

By the way, talking about sheaths check out the sheaths this Swede has made (

08-29-2001, 11:38 PM
Hi Tor and welcome. There is no better place for accurate, helpful and just plain friendly info on knife making.

If you do decide to follow the Scandinavian style of knife making, there is an excellent book on the subject-
Knifemaking, A Complete Guide to Crafing Knives, Handles and Sheaths by Bo Bergman, 1997 (English translation of 1988 original). Lark Books, Ashville NC (near you?) Random House distributors. Available through Amazon in a day or two.

I has a very good discussion of the tools you will need to get into this kind of knife making. If you work with wood at all you probably have better than half of the tools that you will need. Leather work requires some additional tools but they are not expensive (of course you can buy really expensive leather working hand tools too, but they are not needed).

Hope this helps. Above all enjoy what you are doing as an art and craft whether or not you grind or forge your own blades.


08-30-2001, 09:41 AM
I have started making a handle using birch. I think it's a fairly cheap and eaqsy way to start. I would love to shape my own blades and finally forge them, but I'll start to "crawl" before I walk, and I better be able to walk before I run.

Thanks for the book information

08-31-2001, 10:00 AM
I have a couple of more questions, never ending story!

1. I have carved my first handle and are now looking o find wood pieces, but all wood pieces i find are 1" x 1 1/2 x length. This is a bit small to carve a real handle from, I assume these pieces are made for the "pin" type connection with the blade. Anyone know where to find larger pieces of wood for knife handles?

2. I'm thinking of buying a grinder for simplifying handle making. I want to use this grinder later for blade shaping. I found one at Home Depot $99, 1/3 HP motor. However, here I see advertising about grinders at 3/4 HP but $1100 and up. Can I go with HD one, or do I need more power later?

Bob Warner
08-31-2001, 04:33 PM
If you plan on grinding steel you will want more of a grinder than the Home Depot one.

However, many people are face wirth financial issues and spending $1500 and up for a grinder is not possible, so you do with what you can get. If you can afford more, ge more. If not, get the Home Depot version and grind slowly, don't try to complete the knife in a hurry, use the grinder at the level of capabilities it has. Make a few knives, sell a few knives and then buy the big grinder. I started with files for my first 50 knives, then got a 4X36 from Sears, then built a 2X72 and still have it. I built most of my tools and that actually becomes almost as much fun as making the knives (ALMOST).

There are intermediate grinders between the Home Depot and Bader III grinders. I know several people here used them and maybe they will jump in and make some recomendations.

Good luck.