The Full Wiki

Knife making: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Knife making is the process of manufacturing a knife by any one or a combination of processes: stock removal, forging to shape, welded lamination or investment cast.[1] Typical metals used come from the carbon steel, tool, or stainless steel families. Primitive knives have been made from bronze, copper, brass, iron, obsidian, and flint.[1]


Materials for blades

Different steels are suited to different applications. There is a tradeoff between hardness, toughness, edge retention, corrosion resistance, and achievable sharpness. Some examples of blade material and their relative tradeoffs:

  • Obsidian can achieve a nearly molecular edge (high achievable sharpness) and only requires stone age technology to work, but is so brittle that it cannot maintain that sharpness for very long. Also the entire blade is very easy to break by accident.
  • The newest powder metallurgy steels can be made very hard, but can quickly wear out abrasives and tooling.
  • A blade made from low carbon or mild steel would be inexpensive to produce and of poor quality. A low carbon blade would be very hard to break, but would bend easily and be too soft to hold an edge.


Initial shaping

The initial shaping of a knife is usually done through forging or blanking.

When forging, the blade material is heated to a high temperature or forging temperature in a forge and shaped with a hammer on an anvil to achieve the desired shape, often to near final dimension, where very little stock removal is required to finish. Steel can be folded either to form decorative pattern welded steel or to refine raw steel, or as the Japanese call it, tamahagane. Grain size should be kept at a minimum as grain growth can happen quite easily if the blade material is overheated.

In a mass production environment, or in a well equipped private shop, the blanking process can be used to make blade blanks. This can be achieved by a number of different methods, depending upon the thickness of the material and the alloy content of steel to be cut. Thinner cross section, lower alloy blanks can be stamped from sheet material. Materials that are more difficult to work with, or jobs that require higher production volume, can be accomplished with water jet cutters, lasers or electron beam cutting. These two lend themselves towards larger custom shops.

Knifemakers will sometimes contract out to a shop with the above capabilities to do blanking. For lower production makers, or lower budgets, other methods must suffice. Knifemakers may use many different methods to profile a blank. These can include hacksaws, files, belt grinders, wheel grinders, oxy-acetylene torches, or any number of other methods depending on budget.


If no power equipment is available, this can be done with files if the piece of steel has not yet been hardened. Grinding wheels, or small belt sanders are usually what a beginner uses. Well equipped makers usually use a large industrial belt grinder, or a belt grinder made specifically for knifemaking.

Heat treatment

Blade finishes

The finish quality of the blade is determined by the Grit of the finishing grind. These can range from a low-shine 150-250 grit finish to a mirror-shine accomplished with a Japanese water-stone, which has an approximate grit of 10,000-12,000. Most high quality manufactured knives have about an 8000 grit finish.


  1. ^ a b Barney, Richard W.; Loveless, Robert W. (March 1995). How to Make Knives. Knife World Publications. ISBN 0-695-80913-X.  

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address