Make a darn good knife

by Uncle Dewey
(Cape Coral Fl.)

You know the more you read and hear about all of the exotic steels that are available today the more confusing it gets. I am a 68 year old back yard knife maker who has made many many knives. I have sold some, gave many away, and kept some. I have experimented with a few exotic steels with not much luck.


I have a small shop with a pretty good electric oven that will bring steel up to 1300--1800 degrees what ever I choose, and a tempering oven that will hold at 200-- 450, what ever I choose. I also have lots of other knife making machinery, but without the computer controlled equipment and the deep freezing ability you will find yourself at the mercy of the dishonest heat treating companies, and even if you find a heat treater who does it by the book, if things go bad they will tell you that the steel supplier must have sold you the wrong stuff, or the manufacturer had a bad batch, so unless you are a large company with lots of clout you are going to waste a lot of time and money trying to create the PERFECT blade in a small shop.

I finally went back to good old 1095, it's inexpensive, available, and I can harden it to what ever I want, and if I put it on my Rockwell and it's not what I wanted, then I simply do it over. Will it rust? Yup. Can you pound it into a rock crack and use it as a step? Nope, but I can make you a skinner at about 61-62 Rc that will skin a half a dozen deer and then shave you. Not a perfect space age $300 knife that you are afraid to use, but a darn good knife.



Ontario Knife Company XM-1D Desert Camo Razor Edge Single Blade Pocket Knife - $169.99

Ontario's tactical XM Folders are designed for use under the most extreme conditions. Overbuilt rugged construction with a handle similar to what you would find on a fixed blade: Features: Blade length: 3 3/8". Open length: 8". Steel: N690Co Cobalt enhanced stainless steel. Handle: Machined aircraft aluminum.





Ontario Knife Company RAT-5 1095 Carbon Steel Fixed Blade Knife with Cordura Sheath - $98.49

Features: Black phosphate coated blade of 1095 carbon steel. Tan canvas Micarta handle. Lined Cordura sheath with accessory pouch. Overall length: 10.75". Blade length: 5 1/4". Blade thickness: 1-7/8". 1095 Phosphate finish. Full tang construction. Made in the USA.



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Jan 08, 2013
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Proper heat treating of PM steel
by: Max

Hello Uncle Dewey,

I am a knifemaker in NH. I have been making knives for about 25 years. I began making knives from old steel that was left over from my families tool shop. There was some 1095, O-1, A-2, and occasionally I would find a piece of D-2 that was the proper size for knifemaking. My tools were very primitive at the beginning, like a file and a pedestal grinder. I worked with these materials for quite a few years as I developed my knifemaking skills.

I have a heat treating furnace that I use to harden my knives. My furnace will reach 2150 degrees. I use it for hardening and tempering. It works fine for most of my knife projects.

I started using some of the new PM grades, like CPM 3V, CPM S30V and CPM S35VN during the past 5 or 6 years. I chose these grades because I wanted to offer my customers the benefits of corrosion resistance and wear resistance that lesser grades don't offer. I quickly noticed that these grades require that they are hardened at 1875F or higher and most require tempering at about 1000F. I harden most of my knives in my furnace but when I have many knives of the same grade to harden, I send them out to a commercial heat treater, mostly because of cost and scheduling issues.

Professional heat treaters should be able to check the carbon content of the material when you send it to them. This would assure that they have the correct specs before hardening. My heat treater checks the carbon content of each shipment that I send to them and I have never had a "bad batch".

I hope that this info helps you.

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