Knife kits- worth it? or no

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DavidB
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Knife kits- worth it? or no

Postby DavidB » Sun Nov 27, 2011 5:55 pm

I love a heavy clip blade.
Think Bowie/KBar.
If something decent, not crazy,
costs ~$60 or so, then a $9.99 blade
cannot even be considered, right so far?
Are there any kits that are worthwhile?
Something simple, and I could make a
plain wooden handle that fits my hand.
A good blade.
Just a utility knife.

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Bullspit
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Re: Knife kits- worth it? or no

Postby Bullspit » Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:35 pm

Jantz supply (knifekits.com I think) is where I buy steel, pins and other supplies for knives I make. They have a variety of kits with the blades fully formed and heat treated. Most of these are stainless steel (I prefer non-stainless) but they do have the style you are looking for.

I haven't used any of their kits, but I have been happy with everything else I have gotten from them.

Knife making is fun. Be prepared to want to do it more if you start.
"Stand it like a man, and give some back." Al Swearengen

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SeekHer
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Re: Knife kits- worth it? or no

Postby SeekHer » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:34 am

There is a certain type of mentality that thinks if you make certain inanimate objects illegal their criminal misuse will disappear!

Damn the TSA and Down with the BATF(u)E!
Support the J P F O to "Give them the Boot"!!

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blackeagle603
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Re: Knife kits- worth it? or no

Postby blackeagle603 » Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:15 am

That list of DIY shopping sites is sticky worthy.
"The Guncounter: More fun than a barrel of tattooed knife-fighting chain-smoking monkey butlers with drinking problems and excessive gambling debts!"

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Steamforger
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Re: Knife kits- worth it? or no

Postby Steamforger » Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:47 am

How do you get
your formatting like that?
Hitting enter
at every opportunity? Or,
are you going for
the haiku look? 8-)

DavidB
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Re: Knife kits- worth it? or no

Postby DavidB » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:32 pm

Wow! Thank you all for the info.
I take it that it can be possible to make
a decent knife from a kit? If so, are there
any suggestions of what to look for; such
as type/composition of steel, hardness, etc.?
This is to be a plain-vanilla, utility knife. Like you
would use in the field; so the main quality is
strength.

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Bullspit
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Re: Knife kits- worth it? or no

Postby Bullspit » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:17 pm

DavidB wrote:Wow! Thank you all for the info.
I take it that it can be possible to make
a decent knife from a kit? If so, are there
any suggestions of what to look for; such
as type/composition of steel, hardness, etc.?
This is to be a plain-vanilla, utility knife. Like you
would use in the field; so the main quality is
strength.


You are asking a lot of different questions here.

Think of a knife in terms of at least four characteristics: Design, Steel, Heat Treat, and Edge Geometry.

Design refers to the way the knife is shaped. This includes blade length, thickness, profile, handle type, how the handle is oriented with the blade and more. Some designs are pretty clear about what they are good for. Think of a dagger, sharp on both sides, very pointed and the point lies directly in line with the center axis of the handle. This is a knife for sticking things. Now think of a classic skinner, the blade has a big belly, the tip lies far above the center axis of the handle. This is for making long sweeping cuts. Most utility blades are a compromise of features. If you think you are going to need it for long sweeping cuts like you use a skinner for, you design more belly. If you think you will need it to stick a pig, or do fine work with the point, you want the point closer to the center axis of the handle. Think about handles and guards. Some shapes are better for swinging for slashing, some are better for pushing to stab, some are better for pull cuts.

Now the steel. Compromise again. Stainless or Carbon steel. Stainless resists rust a bit better, carbon steel, in general is easier for the home smith to heat treat without special equipment. Some people think that carbon steel holds an edge better. Some steels are easy to work with, but they have lower abrasion resistance, some are more resistant to abrasion but are harder to shape and sharpen.

Heat treat makes the steel perform. Again, there is a balance here. Too hard and the steel loses toughness or ability to withstand side loads. Too soft and the knife won't be sharp. Too hard and the edge will chip. Just right and the knife is sharp, tough enough to take the use it will get, the edge will last and if it is over-stressed it will be more easily corrected. Then there are techniques like differential heat treating or tempering that lets you create a knife that has both a hard edge and a softer spine giving you the best of both worlds.

Edge geometry refers to how the knife edge is shaped. Hollow ground, V grind (often with a secondary bevel), Convex are three popular choices. Hollow ground uses round wheels to reduce the blade thickness above the edge. This is used to lighten the blade, make it easier to stick into things (reduced cross section) and to make it easy to get a very refined edge. The downside is that the carbides in the edge are not as well supported as in a V or Convex grind so the edge tends to be sharp, but a little more prone to damage. Think of a straight razor as most are hollow ground. Very sharp, but not tough, you don't want to make a chopping knife with a hollow grind if you have other choices. The V grind is common on Scandi knives and often on wood working tools. This grind is preferred by some bushcrafters (Ray Meers for example) as they are great for wood working. The V grind supports the edge better than the hollow grind and is often used on choppers as well. Some people like the V grind because it is easy to sharpen using stones. The convex grind takes the cross section of a bullet. This edge type supports the edge carbides the most, but is harder to do (can't be done on an automated machine that I know of). Some people find the convex a little harder to sharpen (it isn't that hard). The convex is great on a chopping blade but also works well for other uses.

So, what do you want your knife to do? When I think of a utility blade I think of a 4 inch blade that is less than 1/4 inch thick (down to maybe 1/8 inches thick). I like the point near the center axis of the handle or a little higher with moderate belly. I prefer a convex grind. I prefer a handle with no guard but with a finger groove up front. The blade needs to be useful in several grip styles. Give me carbon steel heat treated to balance hardness with toughness. I would want the balance of the knife to be at the first finger or back.

If you are really rough on a knife, you might go thicker and get a heat treatment that biases towards toughness.

If you want a knife to use to chop brush, you might want more belly, more toughness, more forward blade weight and a handle that lets you control the blade in a chop.

This seems tougher than it is. In reality, you can use almost any knife for almost anything. And as for handles, your hand is very adaptable. Find a knife style that looks good to you and that captures most of the features you want.

If I wanted to make a basic utility knife for camping, hunting, etc. and I didn't want to have to forge or shape the blade and heat treat it myself, I would order something like this:

http://www.knifemaking.com/product-p/nw301.htm

A basic style with good steel and a good heat treat. You can find the same basic style here in stainless as well. This knife is not going to be as thick as is the current trend, but it will be tough enough for 99% of reasonable use and will cut great.
"Stand it like a man, and give some back." Al Swearengen

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SeekHer
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Re: Knife kits- worth it? or no

Postby SeekHer » Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:23 am

Bullspit -- an excellent post that should be made into a Wiki post.

DavidB -- The question you have to ask yourself is what is your intended purpose for said knife...A machete makes for a very poor filleting knife (although I have done it) but then again so does the USMC Fighting Knife erroneously called a Ka-Bar but both can do great damage to underbrush...Purpose motivates design is an axiom of engineering and knife buying/making...There is no such thing as an ideal overall knife but some come a lot closer then others.

Back in the 1960s the late, great knifemaker named R.W. (Bob) Loveless came out with one of the most copied blade design ever, the drop point hunter utilizing a 4" blade and with it an experienced outdoorsman can perform 85% of all the jobs and chores with it...The Saami of Finland use a blade normally around 2½" to 3½" for their daily carry knife and skin out reindeer, cut saplings for brush cover or bedding etc with it so size doesn't really matter except in very certain and specific scenarios.

The blade Bullspit showed in his link, a definitive Scandi ground blade, is about the ideal compromise for an EDC knife so get anything like that and you'll be happy.

Is knife making hard? From kits, no on a forge, yes...One of my daughters made me for Chanukah a kit knife with a 4" modified clip point blade and hand sanded and oiled leather stacked washers that unfortunately got burnt up...It was as good as anything Ka-Bar put out...She was 7¾ years old...Before it was consumed and she got over the fact that Daddy has lots of "other" knives it probably accounted for 30 squirrels, couple hundred rabbits, a few coyotes and at least two deer plus all the necessary chores around camp...It was a great little knife that I believe cost $35 (today's pricing).

Any of the above list I provided have dozens of designs available in the standard clip point (Bowie), modified clip, Scandi or drop point (Loveless) with various handle materials ranging in price from about $20 to $60 with the primary cost being in the blade material and then handle materials...D2 costs more to make then 1095 but also has different final properties like D2 is not great in a long heavy chopping blade where 1095 is...Wood is lovely to look at but can get slippery (quickly) where G10 may be better suited to a general purpose knife.

Check out the list, copy the links to maybe a dozen kits (handle, guard, cap and blade) and post them here and we'll be happy to give a final verdict but remember that it will be our biases showing not yours...Before you invest any money in the affair, go to your local knife emporium and try out some designs in the type of knife you want and maybe take dimensions as to what fits the best in your hand as that's the ultimate decision maker...I have a beautiful hand made knife by a very noted maker that I just cannot use, the handle is far too short and way too thin but I can't get rid of it as it was one of my daughter's present to me...She saw it at a show and it fit her perfectly, so she ordered one forgetting (really?) that my ham hocks are nearly thrice the size of hers...I think an ulterior motive was involved here as she always uses it when she comes here to go hunting.

Have fun with your project, take your time and port the results...Oh, and welcome to the Dark Side!
There is a certain type of mentality that thinks if you make certain inanimate objects illegal their criminal misuse will disappear!

Damn the TSA and Down with the BATF(u)E!
Support the J P F O to "Give them the Boot"!!

rightisright
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Re: Knife kits- worth it? or no

Postby rightisright » Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:56 am

Awesome post! I've been thinking of getting into this. Maybe starting with a simple paracord handled field knife.


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