Knife making

breamfisherbreamfisher Senior MemberPosts: 13,078 Senior Member
So, I need another hobby like I need a hole in my head, but...

I've heard of folks making knives form lawnmower blades. Anyone here done it? Do you need to heat treat/temper/anneal the blade? What did you shape the blade with?
Overkill is underrated.

Replies

  • hawk18hawk18 Senior Member Posts: 735 Senior Member
    If the mower blade is flat, you can make a blade by stock removal. Careful not to overheat the steel. If the mower blade is not flat, you would need to anneal it, beat it flat, then shape and re-harden. If you're making a larger, chopping type of camp knife, mower blade might work. I doubt that you would want a finer hunting/skinning/belt knife out of that type of steel.

    As to tools, I use belt grinders, files and sandpaper. Files work great on annealed steel. Grinders are faster. That's not always a good thing. Grinders also work on hardened steel but heat is your enemy.

    Hawk
  • BigDanSBigDanS Senior Member Posts: 6,796 Senior Member
    So, I need another hobby like I need a hole in my head, but...

    I've heard of folks making knives form lawnmower blades. Anyone here done it? Do you need to heat treat/temper/anneal the blade? What did you shape the blade with?

    I am right there with you Bream. I have been studying up on this for quite some time, so when I am ready to play at least I will be educated.

    Steel is tempered by cooling it quickly in a liquid once it gets hot, and this makes it harder / more durable. Steel is softer when it is heated past the point of it being magnetic and cooled slowly ( annealing ). To work any hardened steel it first should be annealed which will make it more pliable. Once slowly cooled, or while still hot, you can more easily beat and shape the metal. Blacksmiths have an anvil to beat on hot steel because it is easier to form that way. Once formed you heat the steel again past magnetic and then quench it in either water or oil to realign its structure to "harden" it.

    I have no practical applications as of yet. IF you intend to beat files, lawn mower blades or any metal into a shape you need a way to heat it, like a blade forge setup. Try googling around and there are several ways to make a forge with force air propane and clay pots.

    Just a start.

    D
    "A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." Mark Twain
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings? :jester:
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,145 Senior Member
    The show on the History Channel "Forged in Fire" deals with a lot of different kinds of steel, from start to finish. I like the show a lot. Lawn mower blades work fine, but since the title of the show is "Forged...." there has to be some forging involved. I think hammering the blade to harden it, certainly for tempering it.

    The challenge is always 1. Create your own knife using available materials in three hours at the very well equipped home forges, one person is eliminated, 2. is to attach a handle and cure any problems, another three hours allowed, after which another blacksmith is eliminated, Three is the remaining two working at home forge and producing a weapon, and 4. testing that weapon.

    The forgers are all professional blacksmiths and have a lot of expensive looking machinery, and they're experienced. They are given tasks at their home forges and do some impressive work. Comes on Tuesday at 9 p.m.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 14,951 Senior Member
    With all due respect....EVERYONE should, at least try, to make a knife at some point in their lives....basic guy knowledge....
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,078 Senior Member
    Jayhawker wrote: »
    With all due respect....EVERYONE should, at least try, to make a knife at some point in their lives....basic guy knowledge....
    Didn't you make one? If so, please... tell us.

    I'm looking at replacing lawnmower blades soon. I could scrap them, or if I can just do my own cutting and get a semi-functional blade... why not?
    Overkill is underrated.
  • sakodudesakodude Senior Member Posts: 3,256 Senior Member

    My most recent. Not from a lawn mower blade but a table saw blade.
    Learning the skills of shaping and grinding bevels before I worry about heat treat.
    It's a lot of fun and frustration.

    Sako
  • olesniperolesniper Senior Member Posts: 3,750 Senior Member
    So, I need another hobby like I need a hole in my head, but...

    I've heard of folks making knives form lawnmower blades. Anyone here done it? Do you need to heat treat/temper/anneal the blade? What did you shape the blade with?

    On Forged in Fire, one dude used a lawnmower blade. Forged it cause that was part of the show. He did have to heat treat the finished blade.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil: For I carry a .308 and not a .270
  • olesniperolesniper Senior Member Posts: 3,750 Senior Member
    My grandfather made kitchen knives from cross-cut saw blades. Still have a few around here, somewhere.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil: For I carry a .308 and not a .270
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 9,684 Senior Member
    I have built a bunch of knives: from kits, blade blanks, scrap steel and bought steel. The most fun ones are the scrap ones because it has a story.

    I annealed the lawnmower blade in a bonfire, hammered it flat, cut it to shape with a porta-band, ground the bevels on a bench grinder (belt type), heated it to non magnetic with acetylene, quenched in peanut oil, tempered in the oven, then added handle scales.

    Is it the best I've made? Nope. Is it a great knife? Nope. Did I have a blast making it? Yes I did. And it taught me a lot that I was able to do better when I bought better steel
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 14,951 Senior Member
    Didn't you make one? If so, please... tell us.

    I'm looking at replacing lawnmower blades soon. I could scrap them, or if I can just do my own cutting and get a semi-functional blade... why not?

    Yep...made three....all out of a leaf spring. Used a gas powered forge made out of a tire rim. Annealed the hunk of steel, roughed out the shape with an angle grinder, heated it up, beat hell out of it to reduce the overall thickness of the edge while keeping some weight to the spine...finished shaping and cleanup with grinder and files....brought it back up to temp and tempered it in used motor oil...file tested the edge...harder n woodpecker lips.... It was by no means a masterpiece, too heavy overall BUT it was sharp as hell and a functional knife. I had a picture of it but can't seem to find it now...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,338 Senior Member
    I'm in the process of building a forge out of a couple of 18-wheeler brake drums, a piece of 4" pipe, and some fire brick. I'll use a leaf blower or a retired vacuum cleaner as a source of air for the forge. Already got a 150 lb. anvil and a big hickory tree stump to mount it on.
    Jerry
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,145 Senior Member
    A buddy of mine made a patch knife out of a file. It's sharp and I attached it to my shooting bag. Perhaps a bit thicker at the back than it could be, but cuts a patch just fine and is there when I need it.

    I got one of those damascus blades on-line and a pair of scales in curly maple. I had a guy put them together, and it could have gone better...left a ridge on top which needs to be ground down. But it is a very good blade and extremely sharp.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,078 Senior Member
    I've already got one blade in search of a handle. My dive knife's old one just kinda crumbled away....

    bluetangh.jpg

    I want to make a new handle for this one, too. Probably going to get a micarta or some other synthetic. Make an aluminum guard for it. And a kydex sheath.
    Overkill is underrated.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,338 Senior Member
    Oldtime blacksmiths could change the carbon content of a blade or other piece of steel by the way they heated and hammered it, and by the fuel they used for firing the forge. Coal, coke, charcoal, etc. and the volume and velocity of the air that gets blown through the forge all has an effect on the final properties of the metal. Buying already-alloyed steel is sort of like dating a chick with fake hooters- - - -it takes some of the pleasure out of the whole experience!
    Jerry
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,078 Senior Member
    The Japanese would increase carbon content by putting straw in with the iron as it was being hammer forged.

    Edited to add: I guess if I wanted to really get crazy I could get ore or even iron sands and smelt my own iron.
    Overkill is underrated.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,338 Senior Member
    I've also got a low-speed grinder that runs the abrasive wheel in water. It's designed for doing the type of metal removal that doesn't overheat the workpiece. It's actually made for sharpening woodworkers' tools like chisels and plane blades, etc., but it also works well for shaping knife blades.
    Jerry
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,145 Senior Member
    Lots of folks are buying Old Hickory kitchen knives and repurposing them by grinding the profiles and adding handles. They're supposed to be good knives already, and cheap.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 15,106 Senior Member
    I guess if I wanted to really get crazy I could get ore or even iron sands and smelt my own iron.
    That would be kind of cool to do one time just to experience the whole process.
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,078 Senior Member
    Yeah, but.... no.
    Overkill is underrated.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,145 Senior Member
    I have problems with adding scales to a pre-formed blade. I can't imagine smelting iron ore and then turning that into carbon steel. Certainly not a first project.

    I saw a program of a guy who did just that and made a Viking sword. It took him a very long time.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • coolgunguycoolgunguy Senior Member Posts: 6,411 Senior Member
    I've got a 14X2X3/8" chunk of black steel that I'm going to hack into shape some day... If I ever get the kit knife I started into something resembling a completed project.
    "Bipartisan" usually means that a bigger than normal deception is happening.
    George Carlin
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