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How To Make A Knife: A Step By Step Guide

Making your own knife can be a difficult process to master, but with this step by step guide, you will have the knowledge to make a homemade knife with relative ease. Preparation is key and ensures that you don’t encounter issues later in the process.


Step 1 - Designing the knife

When you consider diy knife making, it’s worth spending a bit of time on getting this part of the process right. If your design is not achievable, is over complicated or too simplistic, your end product is likely to be unsatisfactory. If this is your first diy knife making experience then it is best to start simple and make it to a high standard rather than trying to achieve something too elaborate that probably won’t look as good on your first go. If drawing is not your strong point, look for a template online or get someone else with the requisite skills to bring your vision to life.


Step 2 - Cutting the blade profile/how to make the knife blade

Using the drawing of the side profile of your knife (after you have cut it out), lie it on the steel and draw around the outside of your template. To ensure that you can see the outline clearly, use a sharp tool or even a permanent marker. Use a hacksaw to roughly cut out the profile, making sure to leave a little around the edge as a margin for error. Place the blade profile in a vice and use a file to gradually work away the excess that you have left until you have reached the outer line of your blade profile. Take extra care as you get closer to the line.


Step 3 - Adding the bevel

When making your own knife, perhaps the most important aspect is creating the section of the knife that thins down toward the cutting edge, known as the bevel. Draw a line roughly down the middle of the steel profile and clamp the blade horizontally to an even surface, using a file or electric sander to create the edge profile. To create an even bevel, try to maintain a similar angle as you file along the steel. Keep filing up to the line that you drew across the middle of the blade profile, being careful not to go too far. Once you have done one side, flip the blade over and do the same on the other side.


Step 4 - Drilling and finishing the blade

Holes need to be drilled to attach the handle to the blade, which is a process that needs to be done before the blade is heat treated. Where you place your holes is entirely dependent on what you intend to use as your handle and its style.

The final stage before heat treatment of the blade is to finish it. This is an important step, as it will give your blade a quality finish, using sandpaper to sand out the marks that have been created from the file. This can be a lengthy process, as it may take several minutes to cover a small area of the blade.It’s best to start with a rougher grade of sandpaper or electric sander and then move down to a smoother grade once the major scratches have been polished out. Repeat this process, gradually moving to a smoother grade until the blade is completely flat and smooth.


Step 5 - Heat treating your blade

For a knife blade, the best method of heat treating your blade is to heat it to a temperature at which the metal becomes demagnetised and then quench it in oil. This can be achieved using a variety of heating methods, with one of the most consistent being a heat treat oven, which can be programmed to achieve the heat needed for each stage of the process. At this stage the knife has been hardened to the point where it is very brittle, so care should be taken to handle it. The next process, to harden the steel fully and to make the blade usable, is called tempering, which involves heating the steel up to a certain temperature and allowing it to ‘soak’ at that temperature for around an hour. It’s important to get a consistent heat and to maintain this consistent heat for this period of time otherwise the knife may lose some of its integrity. That’s why a heat treat oven, with control over the temperature, is a great solution for making your own knife.



Step 6 - Finishing your blade

The effect of tempering your blade and quenching it in oil will have turned the steel black. Once again use a coarse grit sand to remove the black coloring, gradually moving to smoother grits as with the previous process.This is essentially the final ‘polish’ of the blade, so ensure that you take your time over this step and remove any further scratches or dents created by the heating process. Once you are satisfied with your sanding, you can choose to use a finishing agent to create a smooth or slightly satin finish. Before you move on to the handle stage, protect your blade with a cardboard sheath to ensure that it does not incur further scratches.


Step 7 - Attaching the handles

Take 2 pre-prepared wooden handle slabs and place them on to the blade in the correct position. Ensure that the wooden faces are completely smooth and flat to ensure a nice fit. Once you are happy with the position, clamp the wood into place and drill a hole using the same drill that you used to create the holes in the metal earlier, using the previous hole as a guide. Do the same on the other side of the handle. Fix the handles in place using a suitable rivet and then cap the rivets off to hold them in place. You can even use a bit of glue at this stage to ensure that the wood remains in place, but be sure to remove the excess glue as you tighten the wood into place.

Once the glue is dry, you can start to shape your wooden handle. Remove excess wood with a wood saw and then shape the wood using a file to create the shape of the handle that you desire. Once you get close to the steel handle, swap your file for sandpaper in order to give a nice smooth finish. Repeat the same process as before, starting with a coarse grain of sandpaper and gradually working down to finer material. Once the area is completely smooth, you can finish the handle with some sealant and a wood oil to give a professional finish.



Step 8 - Sharpening the blade

If you are wondering how to make a knife blade suitable for functional use then you need to ensure that it is sharpened effectively using a sharpening stone or kitchen steel. Hold the knife at an angle and use long, sweeping motions to ensure a consistently sharp edge. Keep alternating on both sides of your blade until you are satisfied with its sharpness.

As you can see, when considering how to make a homemade knife, you need to factor in the amount of time and effort that can go into it in order that you create a nice looking but also functional end product. At Soul Ceramics, we specialize in the heat treatment of your blade, using one of our extensive selection of heat treat ovens. 

If you are unsure of what type of oven you need for your DIY knife making project, then please refer to our guide. If you are still unsure, please do not hesitate to contact our team of experts so we can help you out.


Additional resources on knife making