I enjoy watching my husband make knives using the stock removal method. Stock removal means that you are essentially carving out a knife and removing the excess metal from a slab. First, he begins by drawing blade designs on paper, and after some amendments, cuts out the shapes using plexiglass (acrylic glass). Always save your plexiglass blade figure for your portfolio. Then he traces the image in marker and profiles out the knife from the steel stock.
Once the knife has the desired shape, it’s time to drill holes for pins and grind into the steel to actually thin the knife out. John creates a hollow grind on his blades using a Burr King grinder. Rough grits should be used first to shred away a majority of the metal. Once the blade is properly ground, it’s time to heat treat it. This is the procedure where the steel gets hardened. Various steels have different heat treating protocols. Hardness can be tested using the Rockwell scale.
After heat treating, knives are ground using fine sandpaper grits and polished up using a polishing wheel and compound. We can also engrave dates, names, and logos onto the blade. If John is making a full-tang and using scales for the handle, he proactively anticipates the location of the pins and how much material he will need in order to shape the handle. After a lot of sanding and testing the grip, he sharpens the blade. Sharpening is the last step and should be carefully performed. My previous blog post, Looking Sharp, discusses the popular sharpening methods used in this stage.
There is a helpful knifemaking article published on Blade Website by Wayne Goddard called Knifemaking 101- Read This Before You Make a Knife. The article addresses how to set up shop and advises on what materials to use. Whether or not you’re a prospective bladesmith, this literature is a fantastic read. Thank you for reading and please share and comment if you enjoy the artistry of knives!