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Rob Davidson-Maker

Knives from the Texas Hill Country

Since 1978


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How-to Filework a Fixed Blade Knife

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This page is created for those that have been wanting to know how to go about doing filework on their fixed-blade knife.
This is a short archive of most of the steps involved with fileworking a fixed-blade knife with a vine pattern.

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 example of filework done on a fixed blade knife

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

The first photograph shows the knife ready for heat-treatment.
Filework must be accomplished before heat-treatment to save a lot of extra work and save some tools. Once the blade is heat-treated,
it will take diamond cutters to work the steel.
To learn how a knife has made it to this point, go to the

Rocket Knives tutorial on how to make a fixed blade knife.

Knife blade ready for heat treatment once filework is accomplished

This shows the piece, including the guard, and before heat-treatment. The part that will be fileworked is the spine of the handle tang.

Here are the supplies needed to accomplish the task. A machinists' scale (any measuring tool will work), a 3-corner or handsaw file, a 1/8" round chain saw file, some scrap wood pieces to hold the blade in place and the vise to hold it with.

Supplies needed to complete this tutorial on filework on a fixed blade knife
Fixed blade knife marked and ready for filework

This shows the handle spine with the guard attached. A mark should be made where the guard and handle meet. This will be the "mark of no return". If you file past this line, you will be filing into where the guard is soldered to the blade. Filework past this line could be a BIG problem later.

Starting at where the mark was made for the guard, (or somewhere behind that point)mark the spine as far as you would like for it to be filed. Marks are made about 1/4" apart here all the way to the end of the tang.

Spine of the tang of the fixed blade knife is fully marked to show where the initial cuts will go
Beginning cuts for the filework on this fixed blade knife tutorial

Starting with the handsaw or 3-corner file, file every other mark on one side. I have highlighted in red the file impression left in the steel. The cut is made at about a 30 degree angle.

Now, the cut is made on the opposite side, filing on the mark that was not filed from the other side. Red highlights were made on every other filing on both sides.

Second cuts made for the filework on this fixed blade knife tutorial by Rocket Knives
Decorative cuts made for the filework example on this fixed blade knife tutorial by Rocket Knives

Directly behind the cut made with the 3-corner file, make a new cut with the round or chain saw file. Leave about 1/16" between the two cuts to make the leaf shape later. Cut at approximately the same 30 degree angle as the first cut. Do this on both sides. Red highlights are done on some of the filings in the picture to better show the file cuts.

Sorry about the picture quality here, but the idea is pretty clear. The first cut (3-corner cut) is slightly rolled to make the leaf point and the round cut is made to blend into the vine. Red highlights show the final result.

Cloce-up shot of the filework pattern for this fixed blade knife tutorial
Final cuts made on the fixed blade knife for this filework tutorial by Rocket Handmade Knives

This shows the final work done to finish up the vine. Red highlights help to distinguish the filings. Remember to make your filings pretty deep because there will be some metal removed upon completion of the handle. Go back and "true-up" any slips or mistakes. This blade is ready for heat-treatment.

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