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Old 02-24-2017, 08:12 AM
belfastrab belfastrab is offline
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 10
Best Method for Marking Steel for Templates

Hi Guys

I was wondering if someone could please share a bit of their wisdom on the best way to draw a outline, drawing etc onto steel for cutting out the blade and other parts.

Usually for my full tang knifes I print a template of my own design or found online and glue this to some thin ply and cut this out on my wood bandsaw and then use this plywood template to trace a outline onto the steel using a Sharpie marker. When grinding the profile I am having to cool the blade often in water which eventually fades the Sharpie line and every so often I need to redraw / go over the lines which is a minor annoyance but it works.

I have now moved onto making folders and find making the very small parts difficult because I am having to dip in water often because the parts are tiny and heat up very quickly and as a result the Sharpie method isn't really working for me.

Is there a way to mark steel that won't come / wear off unless it's ground / sanded off? Or at least won't come off the steel as easily as what the Sharpie pen does?


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Old 02-24-2017, 08:54 AM
Ray Rogers's Avatar
Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Wauconda, WA
Posts: 9,714
I use thin sheet metal for my patterns. Usually just trace the pattern with a Sharpie as you do. Cut the profile out with a bandsaw, that's pretty close to the outline. Grind the rest, more or less. Done. I do not care one tiny bit that the profile is not exactly like the pattern, I don't want my knives to be identical, each one is unique. To the eye they still appear to be the same model because they are but if you start measuring them you'll find that no two are really the same.

That goes for folders too and I've made hundreds of them that same way. If you must have a more accurate pattern then paint your metal with Dye-Kem and scratch the pattern on the steel. As long as you don't let the steel get too hot the pattern usually lasts long enough to finish the profiling and it doesn't wash off easily.

Think of your knife making as an art form rather than a manufacturing operation. Your knives will each have a unique character and you won't have to struggle so hard trying to be exact about anything ...


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Old 02-24-2017, 09:51 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: putnam county NY ....about 45 mins north of new york city
Posts: 1,417
I do one of 2 things...First I wil print it out on paper (I always print a extra as I will use one and then I have the 2nd if I need to copy more) I simply cut it out and use super glue and glue it to the steel. You need a good super glue other wise the heat will make it come off the best I have found is called MAX 1 glue just do a search for "max 1 super glue" now I will use that first. IF its a design I will be repeating I will do as ray suggested I will use the paper glue it onto sheet metal cut and grind it out. So then you have a template in sheet metal. I simply use the sheet metal in the same way I glue it to the steel or to titanium (for folder liners) cut and grind. Again if you don't have good super glue it will come off to early. once you grind them even. The easiest way to separate the sheet metal from the blade steel or titanium is to take a razor blade and find a part on the edge that you can just barely get the edge of the blade between and take a tapping hammer and tap the razor in between the 2 and it separates.....95% of the time you will find a spot the razor can get into because the heat at the edge of the grinding burns enough of the glue for the razor to fit.....IF you cant finds a spot simply heat them up slowly with a heat gun or torch and the glue will give and come apart once it gets heated enough. Works great for me but the most important thing is the glue a lot of the glues in hardware stores wont work that good...loctitie is OK but again that MAX1 glue is the best I have found very very rarely will a piece separate prematurely other glues I have used is a 50-50 shot Loctite is 75-25 works for me tho
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Old 02-24-2017, 01:31 PM
Andrew Garrett's Avatar
Andrew Garrett Andrew Garrett is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Nampa, Idaho
Posts: 3,607
I tried a few methods.
I have sheet aluminum masters for my popular models and I mark around it with a carbide scribe on steel that I've coated in Dykeem (sharpie works too).

Some designs are paper masters and the process, while the same, is more delicate with some 'short sketching' used to control the line without digging into the paper edge.

Andy Garrett
Charter Member - Kansas Custom Knifemaker's Association

"Drawing your knife from its sheath and using it in the presence of others should be an event complete with oos, ahhs, and questions."
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Old 02-25-2017, 05:29 PM
WNC Goater WNC Goater is offline
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: NC Mountains
Posts: 469
I drew designs on paper and traced that onto 1/4" plywood. I cut that out on a bandsaw and tweak it on the belt grinder or sander. If I really like it and it fits the hand, I use that as my template and trace around that with a sharpie onto the steel. The models I consistently make I'm slowly transitioning to templates made of mild steel. No real need other than to be forever permanent.

I have a number of models in 1/4" plywood that didn't make the cut. They looked good on paper but it was apparent even in plywood they would be clumsy in the hand. The plywood template has proven to be a valuable step for me.

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Old 03-01-2017, 03:02 PM
belfastrab belfastrab is offline
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 10
Thanks for the replies guys... have bought some engineer's blue and a scriber and see how I get on with that.

Yeah normally with a full tang knife I don't worry about the knife not matching the template exactly but with folders the very small parts with slots / areas cut out for stop pins, half stops, locks etc they do need to be pretty precise or as close as so there is limited micro adjusting with a file or abrasives when putting all the parts together.

If the blue stuff doesn't work out I will try just using better glue like one of you suggested as I know the glue I currently use is very mild but is used to allow for easy removal but at the moment it's too easily removed and ok for parts that don't need heat treated as I don't have to worry about cooling those parts during grinding.... I do an awful lot of grinding as don't have a bandsaw capable of metal cutting.. I did buy a Dewalt portable metal cutting bandsaw and fabricated a table for it but the saw was totally gutless and the build quality was awful and at a cost of nearly $700 US I expected better results. (power tools in Northern Ireland are both severely limited in terms of choice and the prices are nearly double than what they are in North America for identical like for like tools). Anyways returned the DeWILT for a refund and will just have to save a bit longer for a bigger wood / metal capable saw as my current wood only bandsaw is a tiny 10" hobbyist model but was what I could afford at the time and has forced me into being creative on how to overcome it's severe limitations.

Anyway thanks again for the suggestions.
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Old 03-01-2017, 05:59 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Now live in Las Cruces NM.
Posts: 1,076
I do the dykem method and scribe a line into the knife steel and I use a thin plywood about 3mm thick, I have also used 1/32 thick G10 spacer for templates. Just scribe the line into the metal as hard as you can and whether the dykem or sharpie ink burns off, the scribe line is still there. For fine folder liners I would use aluminum for the template about 1.5mm thick and hand file it as perfect as possible as parts have to match up on a folder.

Your wood bandsaw will cut aluminum and brass with a 14TPI blade or finer. I do it with mine no problem, just remember to smear some oil on the top of the part along your line. I'm sure they sell the blades in Ireland, though they might designate them differently like 14 teeth per 25mm. I have used my blade quite a bit, they last long if you use some oil on the parts, don't put it on the blade.
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Old 03-02-2017, 08:41 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: putnam county NY ....about 45 mins north of new york city
Posts: 1,417
Below is the link for the glue I was talking about. I have used it to glue paper template to steel, Paper to alum., paper to titanium, alum. to titanium, titanium to titanium....I think you get the picture. Now yes it takes a bit more than a drop or two I usually run a bead on the edge and maybe a dot or 2 in the middle if its a big piece. if its paper I take my finger and smooth it out so really glue covers the hole thing....With other glues things came apart to early. This stuff holds most of the time (especially when grinding) there is enough heat to have the very edge separate enough to take a razor blade and tap it through until it splits.....IF you cant get it off that way heat it up with a torch or heat gun eventually heat WILL break great for me.....some stuff I do use clamps for but since I found this stuff half the time I just glue things togather instead of clamping it down much easier and quicker than clamps....for me anyway

This company has all sorts of things from accelerator to a powder filler to use with the glue for filling gaps. Take a look the only thing I find regular use for is the glue and sometimes the accelerator...but you may find use for some of the rest.
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