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Rob Davidson-Maker

Knives from the Texas Hill Country

Since 1978


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How-to Make a Fixed Blade Knife

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This page is created for those that have been wanting to know
how to make a fixed blade knife. This particular knife
will incorporate metal bolsters, instead of a milled guard.
It will also be full-tanged, instead of threaded or stick tanged.

Please keep in mind that this is only one way out of very many ways to accomplish the same thing. What works for me may not work for you.
This is intended as a guide to get started and assist in basic knowledge.
Have thoughts or ideas???
Let me know.

Rocket Knives completed example of a fixed blade knife

I have chosen a piece of mosaic damascus steel for this project.
You can apply the same ideas with any hardenable bar of steel,
whether it be tool steel, stainless or damascus.

The above picture shows the finished piece. Scroll down the page to view the steps required to make this knife possible.

I have started with a billet of mosaic damascus steel. This billet has a hardenable edge welded to the mosaics. This edge has to somewhat stay in place as is. Also notice that a tool steel handle has been welded to the billet.

The blank blade for this knife tutorial by Rocket Custom Knives

Close up view of the mosaic blank blade for this tutorial by Rocket Knives
This shows a close-up view of the damascus billet. Notice the mosaic base with the welded "twist" damascus edge. This twisted part of the billet is the part that is the most readily hardenable.

The billet is profiled. Please note that A LOT of time was taken in layout of this piece. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to accomplish before I started sawing this blank. Generally speaking...the more time that you spend on layout and "getting it right" the first time, the smoother your project will go. You obviously don't have to use this particular pattern. Imagination goes a long way here.

The profiled blank knife blade is ready for bolster holes for this tutoral

Holes are drilled for the bolsters on the knife for this tutorial

Next is the location of the bolsters. This is necessary because the holes can't be drilled once the blade is hardened. An outline of the bolsters are drawn on the blank and holes are made to accept the bolster material.

The blank has been surfaced flat and the initial grinds are made in the blade. I have added another hole at the end of the tang for another addition later. Filework has also been added to the spine of the blade. Filework has to be completed before heat treatment. There is also a hollow groove ground into the tang. To be explained later.

Ground blade is ready for haet treatment for this fixed blade knife tutorial

Heat-treated blade ready for clean-up and a handle for this fixed blade knife tutorial

All machining and grinding are finished and the blade is heat treated. Damascus steel is very easy to heat treat and is also very forgiving. The blade is quenched in oil and is ready for clean-up and attachment of bolster and handle material.

All heat treatment scale and coloring are removed. The blade is hand sanded smooth and then etched with ferric chloride to enhance its' pattern. The mostly completed blade is now ready for bolsters and a handle.

Etched blade ready for bolsters in this knife tutorial by Rocket Custom Knives

Bolsters are attached to this fixed blade knife in this knife tutorial by Rocket Knives

Bolsters are sawn out, dovetailed, drilled and mounted to the blade. The bolster material is stainless steel. The matching pins are heavily peened to fill the hole and hold the bolsters securely in place. The blade is now ready for handle scales.

I have chosen mother-of-pearl as a handle material for this project. The scales are dovetailed to fit inside of the bolster margins and are glued in place. Remember the hollow spot ground into the tang? That is to hold glue. It is also a good idea to make a similar groove into the backside of the handle material.

Handle is attached to this fixed blade knife for this knife tutorial by Rocket Knives

The knife is roughed out and ready for final sanding for this knife tutorial by Rocket Knives

The handle scales are ground down to the profile of the blade and mated with the bolsters. The handle part of the blade is ready for final hand sanding and finishing.

Remember the extra large hole drilled into the tang of the blank blade? That hole was to accept a Murata pearl from Japan. The bolster is carved into a clam shape to finish the motif.

Extra addition of a pearl to the butt of this fixed blade knife tutorial by Rocket Knives
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