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  • Tool Making

    Has anyone here made their own Knives or gouges? How did you shape the blade? What is the handle made of? But I' really like to know what finish you used on the handle.
    I've made a bench knife from a worn out saws-all blade and a piece of pine 2x2 that I whittled into shape. I haven't finished it yet, but I'm thinking of an linseed oil finish.
    Carving is the art of taking a block of wood and cutting off anything that doesn't look like a carving.

  • #2
    Re: Tool Making

    I make a knife now and then; I forge the blade from 01 tool steel dowel. 3/16' works for most knives; while 1/4' is best for roughing knives. I forge the blade with propane, using a single soft firebrick for a forge. After I flatten and shape the dowel, I heat it up to a dull yellow and let it cool slowly in a coffee can full of vermiculite.
    Then I shape the blade by grinding; heat-treat, temper, and sharpen.

    I use wood that shows off the blade well; I have used Bocote, Monkey wood, Canary wood, and many others, my favorite is spalted Holly.

    I have used many different finishes on handles; I think I like epoxy best. It gives a good hard finish that isn't too slippery.
    After it hardens, I sand it to an even thickness and appearance. Just don't try to woodburn you name on the handle.

    Making a knife takes me about six hours, which includes shaping the handle. I let the epoxy dry overnight so it hardens completely before sanding.

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    • #3
      Re: Tool Making

      I have made two knives, both blades are from small reciprocating saw blades and the handles are white oak.

      I shaped the blades using a combination of grinding on a sander with 80 grit and a coarse whetstone. When using the sander or a grinder you need to take small 'taps' and keep a can of water nearby so that you don't heat the blade too much and lose the temper/hardness of the steel.

      I sanded the wood with 180 grit and left it unfinished because I like the grip it gives. I also sanded the handles of the knives I bought because I prefer the grip on bare wood to the possibility of the knife slipping if my hands get a little sweaty.

      Good whittling, Cliff
      Charles City, Iowa
      http://cliffordparker.tripod.com

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      • #4
        Re: Tool Making

        I've made a few out of old files and old saw blades. Sanding them down on a belt sander. Made a few more out of various Warren blades and decided that was a whole lot easier. Gonna pick up a couple of Murphy blades to try next. Am still looking for the perfect steel. As for handles, I'm with Clifford. After trying numerous finishes I like unfinished best. Haven't tried the epoxy yet, but will the next one I make. Wood mostly peach, pear, and plum out of the back yard. I put it in the woodshed for a couple years before using it. Have made a couple out of Osage Orange and one out of walnut. The last two were white oak. All found/harvested wood (I'm cheap).

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        • #5
          Re: Tool Making

          Mr. Munchkin, Making your own tools is a lot of fun. I have gotten totally carried a way with it, however, to the point that my carving time is rare. Anyway, visit my website to see a picture of the one-brick forge Rick mentioned. I made a lot of knives and even some chisels and gouges with that little fire brick forge. E-mail me if you want more details.

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          • #6
            Re: Tool Making

            Cap't, I wish I had as much room as you do in your garage!

            How well do the railroad spikes hold an edge? Also, where exactly do you get your spikes?, I want to avoid that section of track.

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            • #7
              Re: Tool Making

              I recently bought a knife that I like very much. I'm told that the blade is made of old planer blades. That means that it is very hard. I use it almost daily and have not had any trouble with it chipping.

              I like most of my handles sanded to the bare wood. I guess they are supposed to get dirty, but I always wash my hands and haven't had any trouble. MOstly I get a nice patina on the handles after I use them enough. By the way, I also like the little finger indentations in my handles and I seem to like the larger handles better. (I didn't realize there were so many factors until I started writing all this down.)

              Of course, I have a few beautiful handles which I have left in their original form. Good luck.

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              • #8
                Re: Tool Making

                Nope - I just buy 'em and get back to carving...LOL

                Keep 'em grinding, boys!

                Teri
                "Santas for the Soul" &&Original Carvings by Teri Embrey&&http://www.teriembrey.com&&[email protected]

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                • #9
                  Re: Tool Making

                  I've made two stubby knives from a very old hacksaw blade. I've been told that the older hacksaw blades are better metal than the newer ones. A hacksaw blade is a little two flexable for a longer knife. I shaped the handle out of oak and clamped the blade between the two halves of the handle in a vice so that the blade made an indent in the wood. Then I took it out of the vice and applied epoxy glue and reclamped. I like my knife handles unfinished because I feel that I can get a better grip.

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                  • #10

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                    • #11
                      Re: Tool Making

                      How do you apply an epoxy finish? I thought they were poured on a flt level surface, like a bartop.

                      Thats some noce work you do Capt. My brother's an amatuer blacksmith so I suppose I might ask him to let me use his tools. Lord knows I let him use mine enough
                      Carving is the art of taking a block of wood and cutting off anything that doesn't look like a carving.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Tool Making

                        I can't say I have found a good way to apply the epoxy finish.
                        I mix it carefully to avoid bubbles, and then apply it with a popsicle stick; like spreading frosting on a cake. It doesn't come out real smooth, so (after it hardens) I sand lightly with a flap-sander.

                        I would bet if you looked on some of the knife-making sites, you would find some good direction.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Tool Making

                          Picked up an old book yesterday (copyright 1971) and it has a part on making tools in it. The author claims old files are an excellent source of metal because they can be heated and formed into whatever but not have to be re-heat treated when your done. Whereas most other sources of metal do require the heat treatment. Hadn't tried it (yet), but that's what he says. Anybody had any experience with that.

                          He also describes a three step method of stroping -
                          1. Leather strop loaded with jewlers rouge
                          2. Bare leather strop
                          3. Finally the palm of your hand

                          Not too sure I want to mess the number three.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Tool Making

                            I use epoxy to finish my selfbows. Just mix 4 parts acetone with 1 part two ton epoxy ( it holds up better than 5 min. epoxy ). Apply a coat and let it dry over night. Buff it with 0000 steel wool, wipe with acetone damp rag, then put another coat on. Two to three coats should be plenty. Makes a very hard durable finish.
                            Take care,&&Butch &&&&I know there's a carving somewhere in all that extra wood!

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                            • #15
                              Re: Tool Making

                              Butch - I've been using Tung Oil on my bows. Just finished a hickory one and am going to give the epoxy/acetone mixture a go. I'd have never thought of mixing the two. What do you use to apply it with?

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