Jump to content

Knife Making Process

Recommended Posts

For my next project I'm going to try some things I haven't done before. Specifically this will be a stock removal knife with file work on the spine, nickel silver bolsters, brass liners, and black mesquite scales. Everything I've done previously is forged blades with hidden tangs and slotted bolsters, or pinned wood handles (no bolsters). I've outlined the steps I think I need to take. Can you smarter folks take a look and tell me if I'm on the right track and doing things in the right order?



  1. Cut blank to rough shape
  2. Grind profile
  3. Drill handle holes
  4. Drill bolster pin holes
  5. Grind blade
  6. File work
  7. Heat treat blade
  8. Finish blade and Etch
  9. Cut bolsters to rough shape
  10. Drill pin holes in bolsters
  11. Finish front edge of bolsters
  12. Attach bolsters to blade (pins & epoxy)
  13. Fit scales/liners and drill
  14. Attach scales/liners (epoxy & pins)
  15. Shape handle
  16. Finish handle
  17. Sharpen
Link to post
Share on other sites

One recommendation I would make is to epoxy the liners to the scales before drilling them (though you might already be planning to do that). I'll admit, I've never seen or made a knife with bolsters and liners (other than folders), but I think it's worth considering whether you want the bolsters to have liner under them or not, which could give it that old school folder look.

Edited by Aiden CC
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Here's where the difficulty lies in this style knife:

Once you do the filework on the spine of the handle, you cannot go back and profile the edges of the handle scales or bolsters without screwing up the filework. It's very difficult to do any shaping of the handle without screwing up the filework, unless you have already profiled and finished the handle scales and the bolsters.

The truth of the matter is that the entire profile (blade, bolsters, scales) has to be done to at least 400 grit finish before you complete the filework.

You can rough in the filework before HT (recommended), but before you finish it, the other profiles have to be done or you will inevitably jack your filework up.

It's the same problem with full tang Damascus blades and determining when to etch the blade.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Or you can put a sheet of copy paper between the scales and tang with superglue. Carefully profile the scales, then you can soak the handle in acetone to release the glue. Sand the residue off on a flat slab of granite or glass to keep the fit tight. You can also try a very thin sharp chisel to pop the scales off if you're brave, but you risk cracking the scales if you used too much glue. The paper is safer.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What I do is a rather complex method, but it gets the job done very clean & tight.

You want bolsters & liners on a stock removal knife, with file worked spine & liners?

OK, start with.........a template of the finished knife (nobody guessed that right? :rolleyes:) Have all the pins holes (3@1/16" or 3/32" for the bolsters, 2 or 3 for the scales) I prefer a couple of mini Corby rivets for the scales, and the holes in the template are drilled the size of the shaft, or matched to the size of some pin stock you have.


Dye one side of the blade stock and clamp the template to it. Scribe the outline and drill the holes, placing pins in as you drill. Cut out the profile and grind down to the line, but not through the line. Scribe the center line of the edge and grind the bevels in to whatever grit you prefer before HT, rough in the filework on the spine, and HT the blade, edge quench only.

Straighten any warping and clean scale off the sides making sure the sides are flat and parallel (if you want a tapered tang this whole process changes to leave the file work until after HT!) Now finish the blade down to final grit before sharpening.


Cut out your bolster stock, super glue the pieces to each other, and finish one edge to 320 grit. This edge goes against the scales. Super glue the bolsters (left glued to each other) to one side of the knife in the exact location you want them and drill the pin holes. Knock the bolsters off the knife and finish the front edge complete to just before buffing. Separate the bolsters and using the pins for alignment, superglue them in place on the knife. Rough cut the liners and scales.


Place one liner and scale on the knife getting a tight fit to the bolster, clamp in place, scribe the profile and drill the pin holes. Repeat for the other side. Remove all furniture from the knife and grind down the profiles to within 1/16" of the lines.

Using the knife as a template, create a dummy knife from mild steel just like you did in step one. Black the edge of the dummy with a Sharpie pen. Assemble the bolsters, liners and scales onto the dummy (using sacrificial pins) and finish the profile to 400 grit until you just start to remove the black Sharpie. Finish the handle on the dummy to about 90% and 320 grit or better. Disassemble the dummy and put everything onto the real knife. Check the fit. The dummy knife is wider than the real knife by the width of the scribe line so your profile is just slightly wider than the real knife at this point. Black the profile of the knife with the Sharpie, and using a stiff backer rod and 600 or 800 grit paper, finish the profiles down to the real knife.


Remove the bolsters, scales and liners. File the liners and drill the shoulders for the Corby rivets in the scales. Buff the front edge of the bolsters. Assemble the knife, set the bolster pins, and epoxy the liners and scales on the handle using the Corby rivets. Clamp and let cure. Then I clean off the tops of the bolster pins and Corbys on the disc sander at 600 grit. (remember I left the top at 320 and 90%) (You can carefully use files and sandpaper for this step, if you don't own a disc) finish the handle tops by hand to whatever grit you prefer before buffing.

Edited by Joshua States
Link to post
Share on other sites

last time i worked mesquite it stained my hands purple, id say the sawdust is nasty stuff for sure, next time i use it i think ill have a bucket of water to wash (dont forget to dry so the dust doesnt stick to you!!!) my hands frequently. wear long sleeves and shower after you are done working with it, it is a beautiful nasty wood.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...