When it comes to making knives a lot of people are scared off thinking that they will dump a bunch of time and money into finding the right tools needed for knife making. This can turn a lot of people off from getting into making knives. Well this doesn't have to be the case, knives have been made for centuries without all the fancy power tools and expensive equipment we have today. Sure you might have to put in a few more hours of work than the guy with the Burr King grinder, but you'll have a piece that you made from hand and you'll have saved a few bucks in the process. In addition to saving some money you'll learn to pay attention to the smaller details, perfect your technique and this will give you sometime to think about if you want to fully go into knife making and buy some fancier tools for knife making. We're going to look at some of the most basic tools needed for knife making so you can get started making knives as soon as today without breaking the bank. If you haven't already be sure to check out our article covering and simplifying the different knife steels.
Tools Needed for Knife Making: Files
When it comes to knife making tools the files has to be one of the most essential. The file allows you to do so much when making knives, from making bevels on the blade to jimping on the spine there is no substitute for a good file. Even the most advanced custom knife makers will tell you that they often need to use a file. When it comes choosing a file there are a few different kinds you should consider. Single and double cut files, this refers to the cuts or grooves made on the file itself and determines how much material will be removed, a single cut will remove less and should be used for finer finishing tasks, while a double cut removes more and can be used to do most of the work. Nicholson makes a great flat file that includes a single cut on one side and a double cut on the other, this a great option since you get both cuts and it costs only around $11. In addition to that I suggest you pick up a half round file, a triangle file and a round file. These will get you started if you don't have them already as you go you can pick up different types of files, it wouldn't hurt to purchase a file card as well to keep your files clean and working. Again files are one of the most essential tools needed for knife making so start your journey here and invest in some quality files.
Tools Needed for Knife Making: Abrasives
There really isn't a way around it, making knives requires a lot of use from abrasives whether it's sand paper, a sanding disc or a sanding belt abrasives will be the most expensive part of making knives. You'll go through a lot of abrasives and it adds up quickly, but if you're just starting out and doing it by hand you should be able to get by fairly inexpensively. There are a lot of different brands of sand paper but I would suggest you get a good brand that you're going to get more use out of which will cut down on your abrasive costs in the long run. I recommend getting a couple assortment packs like this one on Amazon and picking up a few other grit sizes along the way.
Tools Needed for Knife Making: Hacksaw
The hacksaw is definitely another one of those tools that you could substitute for something that would get the job done much quicker, but here we're looking at the bare bones of tools needed for knife making. There are a lot of hacksaws out there and to be honest most of them will get the job done, I like to use my Greenlee hacksaw but as long as you don't pick up some cheap flimsy saw it should get the job done. In addition to the saw itself you'll be needing some blades, I like to use an 18tpi blade but you can use whatever you're comfortable with.
Tools Needed for Knife Making: Forge
This can be the scariest part for a lot of first time knife makers, a forge is a must for producing good quality knives. People tend to think however that you need to have a big fancy forge to make knives, while it would certainly help you can definitely get by without. There are a bunch of videos on YouTube explaining how to build one on a budget, now you're not going to be able to produce a razor sharp katana with this but it'll work just fine for starting out making knives. The video down below shows the process of making a coffee can forge, props to Andrew W on the video he puts some good stuff out on his YouTube channel. They don't take a whole lot of time, money or resources to make and they do their job pretty well. You could skip the heat treating process if wanted to just by simply sending your knives off to get heat treated by a professional, this will help you save metal as you're likely to warp and ruin a few blades in the process of learning.
Tools Needed for Knife Making: Whetstone
After you've gotten the shape of your knife down and you've hardened the blade you'll have to sharpen it. The best way to do this is on a sharpening stone, there are a bunch of different tools to sharpen knives but I've found that whetstones tend to work the best for putting an edge on your knife. Now if you're looking to just run some maintenance on it and true up that edge I'd probably go with some type of handheld sharpener like an Edgemaker Pro. When you're first making your knife it's a good idea to start with a whetstone, the Japanese used them for centuries making their Katanas so they must work pretty well. This is dependent on the how skilled the user is obviously though. In any case I personally like the King whetstone, it gets excellent reviews on Amazon and you can pick one up for less than $30. The King comes with 1000 grit on one side and 6000 grit on the other. If you're looking to pickup a few pointers on using a whetstone be sure to check out our article that describing how to use one.
We've looked at just the basic tools needed for knife making here, in a later article we'll cover some more tools for more advanced knife makers. I hope this helps any of you looking into making knives its a fun hobby and can be quite rewarding. Let us know if you have any questions and don't forget to leave us some feedback down in the comment section. Thanks for reading and check out Preppers Unlimited again soon for more articles coming to the blog.