18 Apr 2017, Samuel Hinton

Making a utility knife

Because going to the shops is too easy.

For a while now I’ve been meaning to see if I can make something a bit more useful than my normal projects, and what could be more useful than a knife? Well, a lot of things, but most things are simply too difficult and require too many tools I don’t have!

So, in preparation built a gas forge with tons of help from the guys at QMAC, and then built a simply filing jig to help me out. Then, with some steel, wood and pins, time to get to work.

Firstly, jotted down a profile which wasn’t too horrendous. A thick blade to make sure I can make multiple mistakes and still have metal left to work with, and a variety of points, because I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted!

But no point staring too long at an outline, time to cut it out. An angle grinder, hacksaw, a file and a dremel made short (not that short) work of the soft metal. And soon, a profile!

So, slap it in the filing jig, set it to about a 10 degree incline, and start filing away. And keep filing. File until you can’t feel your arms. Then file more. Then stop, when happy, or on the ground weeping.

So at this point I thought “Well, the tedius part is done, now it gets easy.”.


Time to sand… metal. All those deep groves I accidentally put in there filing… they all had to go. I went through so much sand paper and WD-40 for lubrication. Had a great time.

But eventually I got there. Not perfect - I need to figure out a more efficient way of doing it. I suspect just not putting in groves when filing would be a great help. Something to remember for next time. At this point, it needs to go in for the heat treat to turn that soft metal hard. Which is best done at night, so you can see the flow of the metal easier. Which meant it was of course time to feed the fluffball.

So, 9pm at night, gas forge has been spluttering along (I need to figure out why it splutters though, that’s been worrying me), and the blank is hot. Take it out, dunk it in oil, and realise removing the scale means even more sanding.

I did it, slapped the wood scales on, pinned and epoxied them, and after waiting the night for the epoxy to cure, cut out the handle profile.

Then, back to sanding. This time only wood, thank goodness! Still, wish I had a belt grinder, because this part took hours longer than it could have. But hey, eventually I got something I was happy with.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any oil, and Bunning’s was closed by then, but I found some old varnish that I threw on the handle. Note to self, never use varnish, it will get on your steel and never come off. Still, imperfect blade and imperfect handle, I don’t think it’s too bad for a first attempt. Hopefully the second attempt will be better.