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Making a knife
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Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
Making a knife on 02/01/2011 15:11:52 MST Print View

Hi there. this forum has already made me want to make my own tent and sleeping bag, but until I have enough money saved up for that, I've decided to entertain myself with a smaller project.

I want to buy a knife blade, add a wooden handle (maybe with a brass guard, haven't decided about that yet) and make a leather sheath. I've already done this with an old (fairly damaged) Mora blade I had and now I want to do another one with a higher quality blade.

I've already found tons of websites (although very few from the US) offering blank blades from dozens of brands (example: and, but none of them offer me any real information about the quality of the blades. I want a 8-10 cm blade that will hold an edge well, but is not so hard that it will chip easily. Which brand offers the best sub €25 (excl. shipping) blades? Helle? Lauri (PT)? Something else? Is there a site where these blades are compared to eachother?

I will mostly use it for simple things in and arround the campsite like cutting food and opening bags, but I may also use it for wood carving from time to time.

Edited by Markacd on 02/01/2011 15:17:22 MST.

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Re: Making a knife on 02/01/2011 16:45:16 MST Print View

I would check out the kits from Ragnar:

Knife blades and kits from Ragnar

brent driggers
(cadyak) - MLife

Locale: southwest georgia
weatherford,TX on 02/01/2011 18:02:28 MST Print View

try these guys out.

Eugene Hollingsworth
(GeneH_BPL) - F
Ragnar, Onterio, ESEE on 02/02/2011 00:15:09 MST Print View

Another vote for Ragnar. Unless you require stainless, I would go with simple 1095 - tough, easy to sharpen until you cut yourself (experience talking) and holds a good edge.

I favor Mora reg steel (not stainless) for low cost and great edges. Also favor a Scandi grind - easy to sharpen.

Also check out Onterio and ESEE knives - you can get a smaller one with a skeleton handle, add your own scales, and have a very high quality full-tang, light weight blade. Oh, and Onterio has very inexpensive butcher blades that are easy to get wicked-sharp. (We batoned thru a 2" Maple to get a walking stick and didn't even roll the edge) You can cut those blades down to make a geat camp knife.

...just more food for thought.

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Ragnar, Onterio, ESEE on 02/02/2011 01:27:33 MST Print View

Any blade that is easy to sharpen is a crappy blade as it won't hold its edge. Just like all of your swiss army, buck garbage sold in common stores. Easy to make and pedal to the unsuspecting public cheaply.

Previous posts about Ragnor. They don't say what their steel is. So one has no idea how long they will hold an edge. Most steels obtain HRC hardnesses of 58-60. OF course unless you are shaving, you don't really want a blade this hard. Hardness is a function of how sharp can you truly make a knife blade. Its alloy content is what will KEEEP said sharpness. IE how Ductile it is at said sharpness. Your cheep steels knives will have said edge break off or roll.

The laminating vibe is a bit of marketing ploy really. Makes beautiful knives though. Its a cover for using a crappy steel. Yes, if they were using top end steel, having the upper outter section not as hard would be swell of course what counts is what the steel is made from.

So, what you want to look for are blades made from d2 steel, 9-4-30, or 9-4-25, tempered to HRC 55-58 instead of HRC 60-62 hardness. There are several other steel types of equivalent grades and durability. Though you won't find 9430 generally as its a PITA to mill/grind. Basically any super high alloy steel worth buying and making your own blades with, since you are going to invest all the time and money in doing so, will be hard to manufacture. If its cheap, you get what you pay for. Nothing in, Nothing out. Simple as that.

These blades(d2 and equivalent vanadium bearing steels) once sharp, hold their edges the longest of any blade out there due to their Vanadium content. Key term is Vanadium in more than trace amounts that is. There are lots of steels that get a high hardness. Of course they are horrible at holding their edge due to their alloy content. Think of vanadium as super hard nodules in the steel matrix. These nodules are VERY hard. Once a Vanadium blade is sharp and at the right angle, keeping it sharp with a simple brush on a stone every once in a while is quite simple. It did take a fairly long time to obtain said angle first. I have a blade bade from d2 at HRC 60. Yes, it holds its edge for an amazingly long time, but the tiny sheeps foot blade broke its tip when I dropped it recently onto concrete. The big blade that is thicker won't do this. In retrospect I should have tempered the sheeps foot blade to HRC 55 and left the big blade at HRC 60 hardness or gone with either 9430/9425 steel which is better than d2.

Obviously you buy the blade at full hardness condition and temper to wished hardness. Otherwise I could Heat Treat it for you I suppose. Some places sell annealed blades as well in case some folks want to engrave it etc.

PS. 1095 is a low end high carbon content steel. Whatever you do, if you are going to go the effort of making your own handle, spend an extra $5 or $10 and get a blade that holds its edge twice as long as low grade 1095 steel. Ok, 1095 is better than structural grade garbage, but its not exactly very good either. We are talking you will be sharpening a 1095 steel blade twice as often as D2 or 9430 steel blade. Search the internet there are forums where they have conducted tests on standard 1/4 cardboard. D2/9430 will have around 430 cuts and your "swiss army garbage" will have 160. No offense to the poster above intended. He just doesn't know what he is talking about when it comes to grades of steel. I have no idea what grade steel his Ontario and ESEE knife companies use. Give em a call. I have found that most knife companies are generally small time outfits and more than willing to talk to the consumer. Call Ragnor as well. Search the forums.

PPS. Stainless steels are a joke compared to high end steels for fine edge holding ability. Easy to heat treat though which is why you see fairly cheap stainless steel knives. You can do all of your manufacturing and then heat treat and put a final polish on the blade instead of another step if you use a common steel. In stainless, the best you can do is SS 440C which isn't stainless, but has enough Chrome content to be listed as stainless except it has 0.4% carbon which makes it... not stainless. You could theoretically go with 13-8 and take it "full-Hard" to a whopping 48HRC as I recall and have a VERY brittle blade if you really want true "stainless". High end steel is a full HRC 10 higher and easily has 2 to 4 times the fracture toughness of both 440C and 13-8. Though 440C is better than PH13-8 obviously.

Unless you are storing your blades in a pond of water, there is no need for stainless. Yes, the high end alloy steels will rust faster than the lower end steels. Though this is not really true as many of them have a high chromium and nickel content to combat this.

PPS. Steels with content of carbon in the above 1.5% range as posted by Ragnor, will obtain a solid edge, BUT, said edge is VERY brittle and will form divits in it once the edge breaks down. Making resharpening them a very very very long process as you have to remove a LOT of steel to attain a new proper edge. Only Tungsten carbide is harder at HRC of 68-72. I think there are a couple exots equivalent up there but...


Edited by footeab on 02/02/2011 01:46:09 MST.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Ontario and Esee on 02/02/2011 02:49:09 MST Print View

I'm not affiliated with Esee but I do own a couple of their smaller blades and like them quite a bit.

I'd just like to point out that Esee knives are not Ontario knives but some Ontario knives are designed by Jeff Randall of Esee Knives. Esee brand fixed blade knives are made by Rowen out of some form of 1095 steel that's reported to be really hard for 1095. They're reported to have a better heat treating process, be hand sharpened before leaving the factory, and are impregnated with dust from unicorn horns.

Anyway, the previous poster is right, 1095 isn't the greatest in the world but, when it comes to the Esee's, IMO it's good bang for the buck. You get a respectable knife and great customer service.

There are also plenty of videos of people doing stupid things to Esee knives on Youtube in addition to this stunt by Jeff Randall himself on this page (Right click + save as the "destructive testing video").

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
OMG on 02/02/2011 02:49:09 MST Print View

Stupid internet... I did it again.

Edited by veriest1 on 02/02/2011 02:51:14 MST.

Eugene Hollingsworth
(GeneH_BPL) - F
Ignorance Test? on 02/02/2011 13:20:17 MST Print View


Your thesis statement is pretty good! It sets the stage for the entire post as an opinionated slant oriented in a condescending manner. Moreover, the forum was designed for educational purposes in an informative atmosphere. You did provide useful information, however, but its layout and bias held little merit for your argument other than approving D2 steel.

"I have no idea." I didn't post my knife as being "cheap." I regarded them as inexpensive. Research from the "community" regarding the previous two companies will be helpful for the BPL community.

Please consider that my only intention was to offer simple experience-based information in an open form encouraging further research. In addition, I didn’t deem it appropriate to go on about all of the technical information when not explicitly asked. That doesn’t automatically red-flag me as ignorant.

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
Re: Re: Ragnar, Onterio, ESEE on 02/02/2011 13:33:00 MST Print View

So Brian, if I understand you correctly the steel quality is 9430>9425>D2>1095>anything "stainless", laminated blades hardly ever use good steel and the more vanadium is used, the better a blade will keep it's edge.

"Key term is Vanadium in more than trace amounts that is."
How much is more than trace amounts?

"Steel analysis Carbon steel: Tempered HRC 59 C-0,81 Mn-0,56 S-0,004 P-0,01 Si 0,35 V-0,161 Cr-0,54
Stainless: C-0,479 Si-0,37 Mn-0,38 Ni-0,09 Cr-14,53 Mo-0,51 P-0,019"
Does the V-0,161 in this steel stand for vanadium? Are these decent types of steel that will hold an edge?

As I said in my first post, very few manufacturers actually tell you what quality steel they're using. Do you know which (not too expensive) manufacturers use good steel? It doesn't have to be the best steel out there, but I would like something substantially better than my victorinox, Opinel or Mora (which is fairly difficult to sharpen and doesn't keep its edge).

Edit: Oh yeah, I am looking for a blade with a rat tail tang, not a full tang

Edited by Markacd on 02/02/2011 13:37:51 MST.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Making a knife on 02/02/2011 13:41:44 MST Print View

"Your thesis statement is pretty good! It sets the stage for the entire post as an opinionated slant oriented in a condescending manner."

Every one of his posts is like this. I'm not surprised.

brent driggers
(cadyak) - MLife

Locale: southwest georgia
helle knives on 02/02/2011 14:06:28 MST Print View

I have made a few of the kits from Helle Knives and have been very impressed by how incredibly shaving sharp the blades are to start with and how well they hold their edge.
The one I use most is the "varg" blade which shaved arm hair even after skinning and quartering two large hogs. Its handle matches my bamboo backed yew longbow.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Yew and bamboo on 02/02/2011 14:22:24 MST Print View

Brent, I'd love to see a photo of the knife and bow together!

BTW, here's another vote for Ragnar's. The blades and stuff he sells for making knives are very functional, and make for some great users. If I found myself alone in the woods with one of Ragnar's blades, I'd consider myself adequately equipped.

To find a truly great knife, first consider your purpose - what are you going to use the knife for? Then consider the grind - is it designed for your purpose? Next comes the heat treat - is the metal hard/soft, ductile/brittle,etc? Finally, consider the type of steel - and remember there is more than one opinion on that! Good luck!

Finally, these are neither rat-tail nor cheap, but Falkniven offers their blade blanks (ground, with their heat treat). My opinion is that they are the best quality knife blanks available on the regular commercial market.

Edited by grampa on 02/02/2011 14:32:55 MST.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Re: Yew and bamboo on 02/02/2011 20:38:21 MST Print View

"Brent, I'd love to see a photo of the knife and bow together!"


"Finally, consider the type of steel - and remember there is more than one opinion on that! Good luck!"

+1 again.

My opinion:
I'm a big Esee fan. After seeing what their knives can take I quite worrying about other brands even though it's "just 1095." They're more than good enough for my purposes and what 99% of the population actually uses a knife for. It's a shame you're not interested in a full tang.

brent driggers
(cadyak) - MLife

Locale: southwest georgia
yew longbow on 02/02/2011 21:39:59 MST Print View

Here you go.....

from when I first finished the bow

yew longbow

I later added some canebrake skin for a grip and plate.

bow and knife


The handle is very basic and not fancy. this was my first knife so I wasnt really sure how I wanted the handle to feel. I sized/shaped it for my hand for skinning. It has been heavily used.

Edited by cadyak on 02/02/2011 21:55:50 MST.

Chris Peichel

Locale: Eureka
1095 steel on 02/02/2011 21:52:52 MST Print View

I have an esee izula 2, 1095 steel. This knife is hands down the best "working knife" I have owned. The 1095 steel keeps its edge through a reasonable amount of use. My knives are tools and I use them, sometimes bordering on abuse (hey it's a multiple use item, right?) Sure, it's not as light as a single edge razor, but I don't care.

I have had good luck ordering blanks from ragners, reasonable prices and super quick shipping. I highly recommend him.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Thanks, Brent! on 02/02/2011 21:56:31 MST Print View

Those are some great looking tools! A lot of love and care went into making and using them! Well done, sir!

Josh Leavitt
(Joshleavitt) - F

Locale: Ruta Locura
Knives on 02/02/2011 22:10:51 MST Print View


An arrow rest! thats cheat'n! Just kidding, NICE stuff.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Re: yew longbow on 02/03/2011 00:24:11 MST Print View

VERY nice work. I'm not sure what else to say....

Eugene Hollingsworth
(GeneH_BPL) - F
Yew Longbow and Knife on 02/03/2011 00:30:53 MST Print View

Sweet! I envy anyone that does work like that. Shows you care.

I like the grind on the Helle blade - it's the style I consider easier to sharpen because I can just lay it flat on a stone or glass/sandpaper combo. Good job on the handle.

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
Re: yew longbow on 02/03/2011 06:10:37 MST Print View

Nice! Very nice craftmanship!

@Stephen: I would love to own one of those Fallkniven. They're just a tad too expensive for me though. Maybe some day...

@Larry: The reason I don't want a full tang knife is that I want total freedom to customise the handle any way I want.

I've read a lot of good things about Lauri, Helle and Enzo blades in the forums of, so I'll probably use one of those blades.