How to Make a Hunting Knife

Learn how to make a hunting knife from an old saw blade, for yourself or as a bootstrap business. This excerpt from Dave Boye's Step-by-Step Knifemaking: You Can Do It! includes detailed instructions and diagrams.

| July/August 1978

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    Making a homemade knife can be easy and rewarding.
    PHOTO: RODALE PRESS
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    This diagram outlines materials and the anatomy of a hunting knife.
    RODALE PRESS
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    Caution: If you turn the point or edge of the blade into the belt while grinding, the wheel will catch it, doing damage to the belt, the blade and possibly your hands.
    RODALE PRESS
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    Finally, clamp everything together once for practice. Then (following the instructions on the containers of cement) mix your epoxy, apply the adhesive to both sides of the metal shank and the insides of the handle slabs, form the three elements into a "sandwich," and rivet them together.
    RODALE PRESS
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    This diagram showcases how to grind each side of the knife and an cutaway view of an electric kiln.
    RODALE PRESS
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    This image shows the rivets, rivet holes and slab handles for knife making.
    RODALE PRESS

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Making a hunting knife can be easy if you know what you're doing. Just follow these simple steps and you'll be on your way.

Select the Steel for Your Homemade Hunting Knife

Since used saw blades, whether crosscut, buzz or hand, are fairly consistent metallurgically, come in a variety of ideal sizes and thicknesses, and are very easy to obtain, I suggest that you tap this wonderful source of steel (especially if you're a beginner) for any knives you want to make in your own home workshop.

I use carbon saw-blade stock, which I scrounge from lumber mills and scrap yards. These blades are made from top quality carbon steel and are ideal for knifemaking.

The perfect knife blade should be hard so that it won't become dented and scratched, tough enough so it won't bend or break, and wear-resistant enough to hold a good edge. (If the blade is too hard and too wear resistant, of course, it'll be difficult to sharpen. Use some judgment.) The perfect blade should also be made of stainless steel so it won't darken or rust.  



Design the Blade

Knives come in all shapes and sizes. Look around. Test and compare various designs. Then, once you've decided upon a shape and size that suits you best, draw a full-scale outline of the blade (including tang!) on a piece of cardboard or poster board.

Cut the silhouette out with a razor knife or small band saw. Pretend it's a real knife. Hold it. Heft it. How does it feel? Keep the outline around for a day or two and see if its shape "wears well" with you. If not, redesign the blade as many times as necessary while it's still in cardboard form. Only after you're completely sure that you're satisfied with the proposed blade should the template be used to trace the outline onto a piece of steel.






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