Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Blacksmithing | Can a File Make a Good Knife?

How to Make a Knife From a File?

I have a bunch of old and fairly new files of all sizes. I would like some information on the proper procedure in turning them into a decent blades.

Files can make decent knives but you have to do a fair bit of preparation first. To truly make a good knife I would suggest grinding all the teeth off so you are down to bare metal. If you forge the blade and the tang leaving the teeth on. All the valleys at the bottom of the teeth make small creases in the surface of the blade.

When you heat treat the blade these creases can form cracks or potential cracks, and are always a point of weakness.

In general file steel can be an unknown tool steel and I have heard there is considerable variation in quality. I would try quenching in oil for most. I would actually recommend buy new steel. O1 drill rod is easy to get and makes a good knife and most importantly you know what you are getting. Buy 3/4 or 1 inch round and just forge it flat then make your knife from that.

It might seem a little expensive to spend $30 or $40 on a piece of steel 3 feet long. If your knife breaks in the final heat treating after spending 10 to 20 hours on it the $10 spent on the piece of O1 used for the other knife seems pretty cheap.

If you are stuck for finding O1 and tool steel in your area try clicking through to Onlinemetals.com They carry a full range or sizes.

I have had a number of knife making requests lately so I am planning on doing a newsletter series on it in the near future.

I hope this helps.
David Robertson
Artist Blacksmith