Loc: Keweenaw Peninsula, MI
So I found this site a while ago, and figured that this project would be perfect for the light weight section. I have to admit, even when I am trying to pack light, I will splurge for a knife a little more heavy duty than this.
The kukhri looks good but I can't imagine how the hacksaw knife would be useful for much. Hacksaw blades bend too easily, stock's too thin for a knife and the temper is wrong.
I used to make a lot of my own tools and knives, cutting blanks from plow discs and sawmill blades and shaping by forging and grinding. Getting things tempered right isn't easy and the thinner the steel the trickier it is. One of my favorite knives was built around a blade blank of laminated swedish steel, all I had to do was make everything else, bolster and handle slabs and pommel and sheath. Still lots of work but it was a really good knife and I've still got it someplace.
I looked for the blade and Woodcraft Supply still has it at Woodcraft Supply Large Laminated Knife. I had a few pieces of Brazilian rosewood laying around back then, and the blade I used had a rattail tang, so I wound up with a really nice looking knife with a rosewood handle and brass fittings for about twenty bucks. Heck of a deal. Price has gone up on the blade now, but it's a full tang model, stronger and simpler. Several other kits available at Woodcraft Supply.
Loc: Keweenaw Peninsula, MI
Yeah, I kinda feel like the hacksaw blade is just to small/light to be very useful, but I figured somebody in the the market for really small lightweight gear might find it useful.
I am looking into getting a Kukhri right now, I think that will be a little more useful, and I am willing to haul a little more weight for a lot more usefulness. I made a pretty good little blade out of a piece of a big lumber saw, used some pieces of antler from my attic to make the handle, I don't know where that is anymore...somewhere.
I've seen M40's site for a while. I agree with his sentiment on chopping - at least when it comes to "high impact" type camping/survival or winter stuff getting firewood. Personally, I've used knives like the kukri, but when it comes down to it for chopping, give me a regular sized knife and then for equivalent weight a small 1.5 lb axe. the smaller knife is then better at doing knifely things, and the axe is far better at everything else. If you want a nice one go find a gransfors forest axe, or the little fiskars axe..
Now making a sheath for the axe and putting a little kit like his survival kit on it might be ok. but this is all stuff I always have in my daybag anyways, anywhere I go.
Loc: Central Texas
Nicely put, Phat:Use an ax for chopping/splitting. A small knife will do "knifey things" better. A 2" blade takes care of cutting line, tinder and food packages. A 4" blade is useful for cooking, marginal for splitting and useless for either chopping or trimming toenails. And if it is a good chopper, it will not be much good for anything else.
I agree with the chopping concept, if you have a knife big enough for that it's a clunky hatchet. I think the Kuhkri was originally made as a sort of combination machete and short sword, sidearm in the Indian or Pakistani armies. The camp knives you get here are mostly toned down versions. It's not really meant for the uses we favor.
I always carry a knife style knife, and I take a light tomahawk, a custom single bevel type I talked a smith in Montana into making for me. I know enough about smithing to know he's a lot better than I am. Haven't regretted that, you can chop with a knife but the tomahawk works. By the time you start on something with a knife, the tomahawk is finished already. No contest there.
Loc: Keweenaw Peninsula, MI
I see what you are saying about rather having something especially made for the job, but it seems like (depending on what you are planning on chopping/cutting) there could be a middle ground that would save you packing an extra tool. I know that a small to medium kukri won't do the job that a hatchet will, and a large one won't cut like a knife, but I think you could probably manage with a middle sized one, and spare yourself the weight of the second tool. While I am not a hardcore enough ultralight fan to worry about the weight of an extra knife, there might be some who do. In the end, I just think that they are dang cool knives that are fun to use. I realize that it may not be grounds to add it to the kit, but I will at least play around with it.
Loc: Keweenaw Peninsula, MI
I plan on doing this eventually. I will be sure to post the results up here. At present the only kukri I have access to are old ones that my grand father got in WWII when he was stationed in the Pacific. I am thinking I probably shouldn't tear those apart.
I am looking at a couple different possibilities to purchase, around $20. The Cold Steel model supposedly was pretty good, but then they switched suppliers and the steel is crappy now and will not hold an edge.
Bear, My high school shop teacher taught us that a old file makes the best knife blade. You have to take your time grinding it to shape so it doesnt get to hot. A knife blade made in this fashion will hold a edge better than any I have seen. Files are very high carbon steel. Todays knives are all shiny pretty Stainless. There are some hard Stainless blades out there. 440 Stainless makes a respectable blade. Happy Trails!
My high school shop teacher taught us that a old file makes the best knife blade.
Like a lot of old time legends, this is true to an extent. You can make a knife out of an old file but it certainly is not the best material for a blade. File steel is compounded to be hard when tempered; it is about 1.5% carbon. Hard steel such as that will hold an edge but unless the blade undergoes a differential tempering process it will be extremely brittle. Most files are brittle; at least more brittle than is desirable for a knife blade. Grinding a knife from a file retains the brittle nature of the file in the knife blade. Annealing and tempering are required to produce a reasonable knife from file steel; or any carbon steel for that matter.
IMO, the best carbon steel for a knife blade is that used for saws. It is about 1.0% carbon, can be hardened to hold an edge but still retain the toughness (lack of brittleness) that makes a good knife blade.
I am convinced that if one wants a knife that will hold an extremely sharp edge, it is hard to improve much on good carbon steel. But, if you look at the steel used in surgical instruments, it is almost always some type of stainless. Modern stainless alloys can hold an incredible edge but not one that will hold up to the types of use to which a pocket or sheath knife is intended.
What do you use a knife for a screw driver or to cut? Brittle yes but sharp yes again. Knives are for cutting not prying etc. So brittle doesnt matter unless you are trying to cut a nail in half like on a tv demo!You will not break afile knife boning a dear or cleaning fish. Pry the lid off a can of beans instead of using can opener? PERHAPS!
Loc: Keweenaw Peninsula, MI
Got the knife today, it is a beast. Put an edge on it (it came dull). Going to need to modify the sheath because I went ahead and tore the leather off. It seems like they used some sort of water soluble dye to blacken the leather, so that was no good. I have yet to go out and test it, but it is dark and I have to do some philosophy research.
If you want a knife ground from a file, great, get one and enjoy it. But, I think that most established custom knife makers know more about knife steel than did your shop teacher. And, I don't know any who would make a blade from steel with 1.5% carbon; they would go bankrupt from all of the broken returns and grinding them to shape would take months. Perhaps your shop teacher had had experience with older files that had lower carbon steel. These days, those who make blades of carbon steel use saw steel, not file steel.
If you look, you'll see that most files are 1/8" to >1/4" thick; they need this thickness for the strength to withstand the flexing to which files are prone when in use. Most knives are no thicker than 3/32" and are often 3/64" thick or less; if you had a knife this thin made of heat-treated file steel it would snap like a potato chip the first time it was even mildly stressed. To have any strength at all, a knife of file steel would need to be thick and heavy.
Check it out; Google knife steel. You will find that most knife makers who use carbon steel use something like 1095 steel; 1095 is 0.95% carbon. It will heat-treat and harden quite well and take a long-lasting edge but is still tough enough to withstand some flexing. Ka-Bar knives are made of 1095. You are right that a knife is not a pry-bar or screwdriver but the blade has to be able to bend a bit. And, brittle does matter in a knife. Hardened file steel is more like glass in its flexing ability; ie none.
A lot of the circular saw blades are alloy steel that is chosen to minimize warping when they heat up, or to provide a good bond for carbide teeth. Most of them are good steel for knives but since the composition is often unknown, you could spend some time experimenting to find the proper heat treating method. Alloy steel can be tough to grind as well.
The hand saw, if it is more than 20 years old, is most likely good carbon steel, probably around 1% carbon. I have never, yet, had a problem making a knife of handsaw blades. The blade will be a bit thinner than that of many knives but often the thinner blade will be easier to grind and keep sharp.
It is extremely important to keep the blade cool when you are grinding. A grinder with a water spray is not essential but it will speed up the grinding process by a factor of ten.
Also, if you have a steel supplier nearby, you can order 1095 steel in a variety of strips, sheets and bars. That way, you can have a blade as thick as you want. Costs though.
You might want to look up some information on heat-treating carbon steel. If you heat-treat properly, you will have a tough blade but one that will fiercely hold an edge. You will want one that covers annealing and hardening. I have some references on the subject but they are down in my shop building. If you would like, I'll send you the author and title once I get down there. Just let me know.
Have fun, it is really satisfying to use a knife you made yourself.
IMO, the best carbon steel for a knife blade is that used for saws.
Pika, what type of saw blade? I have several old 7 1/4 in carbon steel circular saw blades and have considered cutting the up to try knife making?
Would this be okay or should I use an old carbon steel handsaw?
Tango, I have actually started to do exactly that. I found an old 7 1/4 circular saw blade laying in a field. I decided to see about making a knife out of it. First I annealed it in a fire. Then I cut it out of the blade and shaped it with a file. Now I need to heat treat it. It will be a very small carving blade, so maybe no tempering. I will post pics when I actually finish it. I have been taking pictures of the process along the way.
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