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Making A Knife For Josh

Updated: Nov 21, 2021

You can make a knife using tools you may have around the house




Josh is a lad from Ireland, whom I had as a student in the woodworking program while his parents were missionaries in Romania. He was very astute and liked working with his hands and when his folks had to return to Ireland, I lost a promising apprentice. Nevertheless, I am convinced that regardless what path he will chose for his profession, he will do well, as he is a very determined young man.


Because of the relationship we had developed while in the shop, I wanted to make something he would remember those special times by, and so, I decided to make a knife, since he enjoyed whittling. It would have to be a folding knife that could easily be carried in the pocket or in a sheath.


High carbon steel that files are made of, is a great material for a whittling knife as it takes a keen edge. This type of steel is prone to rust, but a little oil wiped on the blade after working with it, would prevent that.


That being said, I set out and picked an old, rusty Nicholson and after deciding on the size of the blade, I cut it with a cut-off wheel on my angle grinder. Beware of the flying sparks, they can set your clothes or any combustible materials near-by on fire. After burning holes in a shirt I was wearing on one occasion, I always wear a welder’s leather apron. And of course, goggles are a must.


I do most of the grinding on a belt sander that I clamp upside-down on my bench and I keep a bowl of water handy to dunk and cool the blade often, to avoid overheating and burning the edge. I start out with an 80 grit belt that removes material fairly quickly, then go to 120 grit and bring the edge to about 1/32, (1mm). From here on I will use diamond stones to finish sharpening the blade, but I will do that after I finish shaping and mounting it into a handle.


This being a friction folder, it requires a hole for the pin, and to drill that, I have to first anneal that part, without drawing out the original temper in the rest of the blade. To do that, I use a potato as a heat-sink and using a Mapp gas torch, I bring the part sticking out to a straw color and then leave it to cool slowly.

Once the hole is drilled, I insert a temporary pin for the blade to pivot on and determine the location of the pin in the handle that will be the positive stop for the blade in the open position.


For the handle I use some black locust burl. I rivet the pin placing a washer between the wood and the "head" of the rivet on both sides. Having determined the location of the "stop pin" before assembling the blade to the handle, I drill and install it.

At this point I do the final sharpening, polishing and honing of the blade.

I used some bone to make the bolsters that cover the pin and after doing the final shaping of the handle, I engraved an Irish knot. I finished the wood with two coats of Danish oil.


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Judy Moyer
Judy Moyer
31 de out. de 2021

WoW... it sounds like it was made with lots of intention motivated by your love for this young man... I hope he says a prayer for you every time he uses it...

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