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This tutorial was originally posted here [link will open new window] and was written by a knifemaker named Scott Jones.
Let me start by saying that I am a newbie and I don't have all the answers, but I can tell you how to have a little fun making knives. If you absolutely have the fever to make a knife and you are without machines, here is a small list that will help. Now, head over to the lumber section of your local hardware store (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.), and find the strips of oak.
We're at about a $30.00 price tag, and I'm going to show you how to make your knife, finish it, and even heat-treat it! Now, screw the blade to a bench or stump or whatever you have, and cut out the handle portion first. Once the handle has been filed to a satisfactory shape, remove and screw the handle to the bench and cut out the blade. It is time to quench in the secret oil when the magnet does not stick and the color is sweet and you have drool running down your chin. Assuming the blade is hard after your file test, we need to draw some of the hardness out of it so we don't have a brittle edge and point. The left hand scale has been filed and sanded at the front where we won't be able to do a lot of forming after they are epoxied to the blade.
At this point, if you have nice flat scales with no gaps between the scales and the metal, then you are ready to cut some pin material.
Cut the pin material and sand the rough edges off so they go through the wood without causing splinters when you tap them through. To get the best possible experience using our website we recommend that you upgrade your browser to a newer, more secure version. One of the most splendid burls, Amboyna Burl is an exotic wood that is one of about 60 in the Pterocarpus genus, which is reported to consist of small to large trees distributed throughout the tropics.
Amboyna Burl Wood BlanksExotic Wood Blanks: Below you will find stock sizes of Amboyna Burl exotic wood blanks. As one who has hand forged a few knives out of old worn out files, I have SO envied those of my fellows who have the resources to make damascus steel blades. Damascus blades, when properly made are among the finest objects still hand crafted, but the investment in tools and shop space was always beyond my modest means.

I realize that these may not be the best materials, but it will put a grin on your face when you finish your first knife. Much of the following information I acquired over the years through magazines and books and just adapted them for that first inexpensive blade. Make sure that the edge of the knife overhangs the edge of the workbench a little, as show in the illustration. Hold it there until the flame is gone, about a minute or so, and then slowly place the rest of the blade in the oil until it is covered and there is no more smoke. I dipped mine in a bucket of water to get the temperature down so I could hold it in my hand. Then, let it cool to room temperature and then repeat the baking process again for another 45 minutes at 375-400.
Use clear epoxy to cover the inside of the scales and then place them on the knife and drive the pins into the holes. Upgrades are free and if you're using a PC at work, you should contact your IT-administrator. Pterocarpus indicus is reported to be indigenous to Malaysia, but is also found in the Philippines, Borneo, Burma, New Guinea, and the Malay Archipelago. As you may know, 1095 is a traditional and sought after American high carbon steel that is prized for knife blades. Follow these instructions, and you will have a dependable knife that you can use for years to come.
The saw, blades, and clamp are going to add about $10.00 to the total but I'll bet that most of you already have some of these things. A Wharncliffe blade profile is about the easiest to start with because the cutting edge is straight and easier to file in a straight line. Do the handle first because you won't have any way to screw the blade to the bench if you cut out the entire blade.
I just unscrewed from the bench and repositioned as need to cut off the excess for the handle. It will take about 10 to 15 minutes to reach the proper temperature depending on how many and how hot the coals are. Using the file you can run it at about a 30 degree angle with a fairly light touch, not too hard, and the file will slide off the edge with out trying to grab.

By the way, the reason you need to clean off all the oil from the blade is so you don't smoke the house up.
Wrap the whole thing with four fat rubber bands and wipe as much epoxy off the area where the slab meets the flat of the blade near the front, and then let it dry.
The bending strength of air-dried wood of the species is similar to that of Teak, which is considered to be strong. It's a good idea to keep the handle design smooth too, and don't have a lot of fancy finger grooves and guards. Then I started sanding lengthwise, plunge to tip, until all of the rough file marks are gone.
Since this is your first blade, pull it out and look at it for a couple of seconds every 2 or 3 minutes and check it with the magnet on the cutting edge from tip to plunge. I'm sorry for the bad picture, but I think you can see the desired look with the black line on the blade.
Match up the scales, and then shape them with a file and sandpaper until you get mirror images of each other. I mark the start and finish of that line onto the wood, and then draw an arc to join the lines. If the lines are too close, re-blacken the edge with the marker and roll the drill bit to move the point up or down accordingly and then rescribe.
It's a good idea to hit it with a hair dryer for a few minutes if you want to make sure it is completely dry. Try not to heat it any longer than is needed by checking every minute or two when you think you are close. In this picture, I have the handle filed and added a couple of finger grooves for the heck of it. It's top secret but here's a hint: Those are old oil filters from the last oil change on the vehicles.

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