Dieselpunks

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My grandfather was a knife maker, paint store owner, builder of race cars, and, if you go back far enough, sailor. I have a small amount of tools and materials that I inherited from him, including some large files, so I decided to do something made popular in the 30s, make a file knife.

Before the 20th Century, knives were cheap, and files were very expensive, being very difficult to make, so it was the other way around. From the 1700s, some blacksmiths used old high carbon knives to make files and saws. In the mid-1900s, files were finally made using processes that made them much cheaper, and so, farmers and others would sometimes use a file, which is very good, high carbon, hardened tool steel, and make knives from them. 

If you're going to make a file knife, you need to make sure it's an older one. Most files now are "case hardened," which means that only the outside layer is hardened and high in carbon. That means that when you grind the blade down, you'll be exposing what is essentially mild steel. No good for a knife. I have several old files that were made in the US that I got from my grandfather, and used a flat bastard file that I had two of. I ground down the basic shape of the blade, and burned holes through it for the handle pins. Once I had the right shape, which I intentionally kept blocky and industrial looking because of what I was making it from, I re-hardened and tempered it, having ruined the hardening by letting it get hot while grinding on it. I then used scales (handle materials) that I also got from my granddad, and used 1/2" brass tubing and 1/2" copper rope as the pins. Then some sanding, polishing, sanding, staining, and much more sanding.

It's not perfect, there are nicks in the blade from the grinder, and I was a little rough sanding down the scales, but I'm very, very happy with it. It looks great, feels very hefty in your hands, and is just a cool piece to show off. It's very heavy, as the file was almost 3/8" thick, but that just makes it feel substantial. Here are the pics:

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Love it!

Well done, sir. Very cool.

I am also the inheritor of my father's file knife.  It is currently without handle.  He told me that high carbon steel is too valuable to throw out and he forged the 11 inch blade section from a file that had rusted beyond use (as a file).

File-knife.jpg

It is a cool knife as firs work... but don't stop!

I can see that you like to show that this piece of steel was a file, but this way the blade never will be really clean. (If you go to hunt this is an important point of view.)

A more traditional bladeshape (for example skandinavian or tanto) would be more useful as small bushcraft knife or EDC knife.

But as first work it is perfect... Just don't stop!

This is actually the second file knife I have made. The first one was from a file that snapped, and so I made it into a knife right where it broke. With that one, I did as you suggested, and got rid of all signs that it was once a file. I think I like seeing the file teeth better. Here's the first:



Erick von Naystafen said:

It is a cool knife as firs work... but don't stop!

I can see that you like to show that this piece of steel was a file, but this way the blade never will be really clean. (If you go to hunt this is an important point of view.)

A more traditional bladeshape (for example skandinavian or tanto) would be more useful as small bushcraft knife or EDC knife.

But as first work it is perfect... Just don't stop!

impressive! "hefty" is the right word.

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