Sunday, November 7, 2010

Recycling Knives

I thought I'd post a tutorial on what I call recycling knives.  Anytime I see decent quality kitchen knives at yard sales or thrift stores I buy them and throw them in a box in my garage until inspiration strikes.  I haven't made any knives in quite a while and had a some free time on a Sunday afternoon.  Normally when I recycle a knife I'll take one of the kitchen knives, reshape the blade, rework the handle a bit and sharpen it up. I don't usually get too fancy as I prefer utilitarian type knives over show pieces.  This allows me to try different blade styles and shapes without spending a lot of money on knives and it's good knife making practice.  This time I decided to get a little fancier and see what I could come up with. I took a few pictures with my phone as I worked on it. I did no measuring on this knife, everything was hand drawn and all measurements were eyeballed. Let get started!

Here's the knife with the pattern drawn on the blade.  It's a 8" chefs knife that I bought at a yard sale for fifty cents.  It's got a fairly thick stainless steel blade that seems to be decent steel.

Here's the new knife blank after using a dremel and cut-off wheels to rough it out of the chef's knife blade. 

Here's the blank after coming off the grinder.  I held the blade in my bare hands to make sure it didn't overheat and lose it's temper.  When it started to get to hot to hold I'd back off and let the steel cool down. This is usually when you can tell if the knife you started with was made with good steel.  This one happens to be a good piece of stainless.

I decided to do a little file work on the back of the blade just above where the handle will go.

Putting a quick edge profile on the blade.  I don't want it sharp yet.  There's still a lot of work to do and I've been known to cut myself before.

Here's the blank cleaned up a bit and drilled for a lanyard hole. I dug up a couple of pieces of black walnut scrap for a handle and a short piece from a broken aluminum arrow for a lanyard hole liner.

Glued up with 2 ton epoxy and clamped.

Out of the clamps and rough shaped with the belt sander.

After a bit more sanding and shaping.

Here it is... Final sanded, polished to a satin finish with steel wool and finished with 3 coats of neatsfoot oil rubbed into he wood.  I'll give it a few more coats of oil over the next few days, but it's pretty much complete. 

Came out to right around 7" total with a 3.5" blade. Total amount of time it took (not counting waiting for the epoxy to set) was about 5 hours.  I just need to make up a sheath for it and give it a final sharpening.  Thanks for reading and I hope to see you in the woods.


  1. WOW! Looks great. Makes me think back on all the knives I've passed up at yard sales. Keep up the good work.

  2. This looks great. I started my knife making in much the same way. I still have alot of learning and skill to work on. Seeing yours is very inspirational. What metal types do you usually look for in used knives? I try to find carbon steel knives but would like to try stainless as carbon steel bladed knives have been more difficult for me to find. your knife is very nice. thanks for sharing.

  3. Kenna's Blog,
    Thanks for the kind words, when I buy used knives to rework, I've found that the heavier the knife, usually the better the steel. I almost exclusively use stainless to do this as carbon steel knives are also rare around here. After making a few, you can pretty much just pick a knife up and know if it has decent steel in it.
    Thanks for reading,

  4. You've got a very good perspective in recycling those knives. I really like the idea of reusing old knives. I have a lot of knives that are in the garage and I am thinking of recycling them. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  5. I admire you enthusiasm in creating used knives more usable. I have a collection of knives as well. I have cold steel knife, horned crook knife and buck knife. Buck knife for me is the most useful one. It's portable too. By the way, I would love to follow your passion in recycling different kinds of knives.

  6. Great job you did there. Billy is right, you got an amazing enthusiasm in making a new knife. kershaw pocket knife