George Vondriska

Tom's Knife Making Experience

George Vondriska
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Duration:   8  mins

George’s friend, Tom, dropped in at the shop and spent some time talking about his knife making experiences. Tom isn’t forging blades, he’s adding handles to knife blanks that he buys. This is a great way to make a wonderful custom gift for someone, or to make high quality knives for yourself, without spending a bunch of dough on them.

Where to start
There are many places you can buy knife blanks, and even knife kits that come with everything you need to make your first knife. Tom’s recommendation is that you start with the simplest form of this, which is working with what are called scales. Scales are two small slabs of wood on each side of the knife steel. Prices for knife blanks vary. You can spend under $10, and over $100, depending on what you want.

What you need
Tom’s primary tools for this process are

  • Bandsaw
  • Drum sander
  • Spindle sander

Tom has found that his standard set of woodworking tools serves him well for making the knife handles that he’s worked with so far.

Take this as far as you want
You can spend as much or as little as you want on the knife blank, and use a variety of materials for the handle; wood, plastic, antler, etc. You can also incorporate brass and other materials. Dip your toe in the knife making waters and learn more about how to make knives from wood.

Here are a few places you can get knife blanks, and other knife making supplies:

Share tips, start a discussion or ask one of our experts or other students a question.

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2 Responses to “Tom's Knife Making Experience”

  1. Stephen

    Nice intro for the totally new maker. A couple of tips. A bandsaw is not indispensable. There is a faster and easier way to cut the scales I learned from old timers without the expense of a bandsaw. Place one scale one with temp pins and double stick tape. Then trim it with a straight, 1/4 round or 45 degree router trim bit. Run the bearing on the steel and make a perfect piece just like applying a laminate counter top. Do the other side and then use the pins to finish sand while off the knife. Then epoxy with a perfect fit. Easy and you don't mess up the finish on the knife spine by sanding. Especially nice for store bought blades. Also always finish the front of the scales before epoxy. Its easier to do off the blade so you don't scratch up the blade while sanding the scale. PS: many modern knife makers no longer solder their trick tangs. Takes some practice but most file a press fit bolster. Angle the file to be a larger slot towards the handle and thinner towards the blade. Much nicer and less mess than solder. A little epoxy on the back side keeps any chance of moisture out.

  2. mikek

    Tom and George, I've been a woodworker/woodturner for decades and now I'm now getting into cast resin and wood stabilization like so many others do either of you two employ those techniques for knife scales?

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