When I say Knife-Making, I have to clarify right away that I do not actually forge knife blades. What I actually do is “Cutlery”, using the old definition. I take blades forged by someone else and I finish and mount those blades in handles of my own design. Although I would very much like to learn how to forge steel, limitations on my time and resources prevent me from doing this at the moment. So for the time, I am content to work on the mounting and finishing of blades I acquire. The kinds of blades I work with are known as ‘sheath knifes’ or fixed-blade knives – not folding or pocket knives. I have also worked with some swords.
At the time of this writing, I have been mounting knife and sword blades for about 10 years. It is an occasional hobby, I am not making an industry of it, just mounting the occasional blade that comes into my posession. At this time, I have done about a dozen knives, and 2 or 3 swords. I have only recently done some reading and researching, to help perfect my techniques. Previously, I was learning through trial and error – and my earliest attempts certainly looked it.
The method I use most involves making the handle in two pieces. I work with wood, making the handle in two parts, with a slot or groove cut or carved into the wood to allow the knife tang to fit inside. When the slot is finished, I glue the two pieces of the handle together. Then I file and sand the handle to the shape I want, and then I fit the handle onto the blade. The two are then secured together using bolts, pins, epoxy, or pewter.
There are some variations of course, if starting from a block of wood the slot for the tang is carved out with chisels. I also use exotic woods which I get in thin sheets; in this case I can cut the pattern of the tang out of one sheet, then use several thin sheets of wood to reach the thickness I desire. This method allows some interesting patterns to be achieved, by using different species of wood for the various layers.
Warning & Disclaimer
The information provided here is for entertainment purposes only. Handling knives can be dangerous, making them even more so. If you want to try making your own knife, please take all safety precautions. I cannot be held responsible for any problems or injuries you might encounter.
Recently I documented the construction of a knife through photographs. I’ve used those pictures as the basis of a step-by-step ‘guide’ through the creation, assembly and finishing of the knife.
This knife took me a total of seven days to make. I spent an average of 1 to 2 hours per evening working on it. I was able to get pictures of most of the stages of construction. Each image is accompanied by some text that explains that step of the process.
I have not yet made a sheath for the knife in the above images; when I do I will take some photos of its construction as well so you can see how I’ve done it. It is actually a fairly simple pattern I’ve come up with, merging traits of sheaths described at the Ragwood Forge’s sheath page, and the Primitive Ways sheath page. You can see an image of a finished sheath at the bottom of this site. It’s made of a single piece of leather, there is a wooden insert and a small amount of stitching.
- Information Sites
- Blade Mounting information at the Ragweed Forge.
- Sheath Making information at the Ragweed Forge.
- Leather Sheath Making at Primitive Ways.
- Store Sites
- Lee Valley Tools carries some unmounted blades, exotic craft woods, and needle-files.
- Bare Blades at Karesuando, Sweden.
- Bare Blade Catalog at the Ragweed Forge.
- Tandy Leather is a good source for sheath-making supplies.