Knife making

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Knife making is the process of manufacturing a knife by any one or a combination of processes: stock removal, forging to shape, welded lamination or investment cast. Knife making_sentence_0

Typical metals used come from the carbon steel, tool, or stainless steel families. Knife making_sentence_1

Primitive knives have been made from bronze, copper, brass, iron, obsidian, and flint. Knife making_sentence_2

Materials for blades Knife making_section_0

Main article: Blade steel Knife making_sentence_3

Different steels are suited to different applications. Knife making_sentence_4

There is a trade off between hardness, toughness, edge retention, corrosion resistance, and achievable sharpness. Knife making_sentence_5

Some examples of blade material and their relative trade offs: Knife making_sentence_6

Knife making_unordered_list_0

  • The newest powder metallurgy steels can be made very hard, but can quickly wear out abrasives and tooling.Knife making_item_0_0
  • A blade made from low carbon or mild steel would be inexpensive to produce and of poor quality. A low carbon blade would be very hard to break, but would bend easily and be too soft to hold an edge. High carbon (or high alloy, in some listings) can take a much higher hardness but must be tempered carefully after heat treatment to avoid brittleness.Knife making_item_0_1

Unusual non-metallic materials may also be used; manufacturing techniques are quite different from metal: Knife making_sentence_7

Knife making_unordered_list_1

  • The natural volcanic glass obsidian can achieve a nearly molecular edge (high achievable sharpness) and only requires Stone Age technology to work, but is so brittle that it cannot maintain that sharpness for very long. Also the entire blade is very easy to break by accident. Obsidian is used to make extremely sharp surgical scalpels.Knife making_item_1_2
  • Ceramic knives hold their edge for a long time, but are brittle.Knife making_item_1_3

Blade making process Knife making_section_1

Initial forging Knife making_section_2

The initial shaping of a knife is done through forging or blanking. Knife making_sentence_8

When forging, the blade material is heated to a high temperature or forging temperature in a forge and shaped with a hammer on an anvil to achieve the desired shape, often to near final dimension, where very little stock removal, if any, is required to finish. Knife making_sentence_9

Steel can be folded either to form decorative pattern welded steel or to refine raw steel, or as the Japanese call it, tamahagane. Knife making_sentence_10

Grain size is kept at a minimum as grain growth can happen quite easily if the blade material is overheated. Knife making_sentence_11

In a mass production environment, or in a well equipped private shop, the blanking process is used to make "blade blanks." Knife making_sentence_12

This can be achieved by a number of different methods, depending upon the thickness of the material and the alloy content of steel to be cut. Knife making_sentence_13

Thinner cross section, lower alloy blanks can be stamped from sheet material. Knife making_sentence_14

Materials that are more difficult to work with, or jobs that require higher production volume, can be accomplished with water jet cutters, lasers or electron beam cutting. Knife making_sentence_15

These two lend themselves towards larger custom shops. Knife making_sentence_16

Some custom knife makers cut their blanks from steel using a metal-cutting bandsaw. Knife making_sentence_17

Knife makers will sometimes contract out to a shop with the above capabilities to do blanking. Knife making_sentence_18

For lower production makers, or lower budgets, other methods must suffice. Knife making_sentence_19

Knife makers may use many different methods to profile a blank. Knife making_sentence_20

These can include hacksaws, , belt grinders, wheel grinders, oxy-acetylene torches, CNC mills, or any number of other methods depending on budget. Knife making_sentence_21

Grinding Knife making_section_3

Main article: Grind Knife making_sentence_22

If no power equipment is available, this can be done with files if the piece of steel has not yet been hardened. Knife making_sentence_23

Grinding wheels, or small belt sanders are usually what a beginner uses. Knife making_sentence_24

Well equipped makers usually use a large industrial belt grinder, or a belt grinder made specifically for knife making. Knife making_sentence_25

Pre-polish grinding on a heat treated blade can be done if the blade is kept cool, to preserve the temper of the steel. Knife making_sentence_26

Some knife makers will use a coolant mist on the grinder to achieve this. Knife making_sentence_27

Heat treatment Knife making_section_4

Main article: Heat treatment Knife making_sentence_28

Methods of heat treatment: atmosphere furnace, molten salt, vacuum furnace, coal (coke) forge, oxy/acetylene torch. Knife making_sentence_29

Quenching after heat treatment differs according to type of metal and personal preferences. Knife making_sentence_30

Quenching can be done with oil, animal tallow, water, air, or brine. Knife making_sentence_31

Blade finishes Knife making_section_5

The finish quality of the blade is determined by the Grit of the finishing grind. Knife making_sentence_32

These can range from a low-shine 280-320 grit finish to a mirror-shine. Knife making_sentence_33

The high polish shine can be accomplished by buffing with chrome oxide (ex. Knife making_sentence_34

white chrome, green chrome), hand rubbing with extremely fine wet-or-dry abrasive paper, or with a Japanese water-stone, which has an approximate grit of 10,000-12,000. Knife making_sentence_35

Most high quality manufactured knives have about an 800 grit finish. Knife making_sentence_36

Handle making process Knife making_section_6

Handle making can be done in several different ways depending on the tang of the knife. Knife making_sentence_37

Full tang knives usually have handle scales either pinned, riveted, or screwed on to the tang itself while knives without a full tang may be inserted into a solid handle and then attached in one of the previously stated methods. Knife making_sentence_38

Handle materials can range from natural materials including wood or elk horn to man-made materials like brass, plastic, polymer or micarta. Knife making_sentence_39

A knife makers grinder may have additional attachments for making knife handles, such as small diameter contact wheels. Knife making_sentence_40


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knife making.