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17 Essential Tools for Knife-Making (with Pictures)



Although it is super easy and convenient to buy a knife at the store, it can be an incredibly fun and rewarding project to make your own instead. To make a knife, though, you need a variety of tools to keep you safe and make the best knife possible.

To help you get started on your knife-making projects, we have put together this list of the 17 most essential tools for knife-making. In this article, we look at the top tools necessary for knife-making, as well as provide a description and picture of each tool to make the process a bit easier. Let’s get started.

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The 17 Essential Tools for Knife-Making

1. Protective Gear

person wearing protective gear
Image: Pixabay

The most important tool to get when knife-making is protective gear. The protective gear ensures that you remain safe and healthy while working with sharp and dangerous materials. Here is a list of protective gear you should get:

  • Goggles or Safety Glasses: When making a knife, sharp and delicate debris can fly towards your face. Protect your eyes from steel dust and debris with goggles or safety glasses.
  • Heavy gloves: Knives and the tools needed to make knives are sharp, making it easy to cut your hands in the process. Additionally, you have to heat up steel in order to sharpen and fasten the knife, creating an opportunity for you to burn your hands. Heavy gloves protect your hands from getting cut or burnt.
  • Dust respirator: As you make a knife and sharpen its edges, steel dust will come off the knife. Prevent yourself from inhaling steel dust or other debris with a dust respirator.
  • Work apron: It is very easy to get grease, cuts, or some other damage to your skin and clothes when making a knife. A work apron will protect your skin and clothing from getting stained or damaged by any tool.

If you expect to make knives by forging steel, then you must get a fire extinguisher as well. You can find a 5-pound rechargeable fire extinguisher for under $50 online.

2. Hacksaw or Coping Saw

Image Credit: Pixabay

Knife-making always begins with using a hacksaw or coping saw. The purpose of these tools is to cut the metal down to a workable size. Without this tool, the metal can be too large and unruly to be useful in any way. Although power tools may cut the metal faster, they will not let you work in tight corners, which is required when making a knife.

3. Pre-Cut Blade Blanks

knife blades
Image Credit: Pixabay

If you are an experienced knife-maker or want to make your knife completely on your own, then you can skip this tool. Otherwise, you may want to consider buying pre-cut blade blanks. This is a great tool to get if you are new to knife-making because it will allow you to spend your energy learning how to shape and craft a knife, as opposed to breaking down the steel into more manageable chunks.

4. Angle Grinder

angle grinder
Image Credit: Pixabay

An angle grinder cuts through steel, which will allow you to make the sharp side of your knife. Without this tool, it will be very difficult and time-consuming to create a sharp, angled-side to the knife. Though you can technically perform this function without an angle grinder, this tool will make the process go much faster and require less muscle.

5. Angle Grinder Discs

If you intend to use an angle grinder, which you should for convenience, then you will need angle grinder discs. These discs are what allow you to actually sharpen and grind the knife. You can look for a variety of disk types in order to get the precise finish and shape that you want for your knife.

6. Metal Files

metal files
Image Credit: Pixabay

Metal files are a staple for knife-making, and all metal workers and knife-makers rely on them heavily.  They sand off rough areas on the metal after you have shaped it. This allows the knife to have a smooth and crisp finish that is both sharp and attractive looking.

7. Sandpaper

Image Credit: Pixnio

Sandpaper will allow you to shape your handle and smooth the knife. The purpose of the sandpaper is to make the handle comfortable so that way you can use the knife efficiently and for long periods. You will need to buy multiple grits of sandpaper, not just one, to get the ideal finish.

8. Small Drill Press

Electronics DIYers drill press 5
Image Credit: Electronics DIYers drill press 5, Retired electrician, Wikimedia Commons CC0 1.0 Universal

A small drill press is used to drill a hole for the pins inside the knife. The purpose of these pins, which are incredibly small, is to hold the knife together. Small drill presses can be expensive, which may cause you to want a regular hand drill instead, but a small drill press is more efficient for knife pins due to the size of hole needed.

9. Drill

hand drill
Image Credit: Pixabay

If you do not anticipate using the small drill press often, then you can opt for a regular hand drill instead. If you are a beginner knife-maker, a hand drill may be suitable for your needs. If you expect to make more knives in the future, then you should consider investing in a small drill press instead.

10. Bench Vise

fruit on bench vise
Image Credit: Pikrepo

A bench vise will work as a third hand to hold the steel, making it easier to work on and shape the knife. This tool is especially helpful since knives are so small. Look for a bench vise that is a 360-degree swivel base adjustment, allowing you to change the position of the work. To work a bench vise, place the mouth upwards so that it holds the blade into the air, making it easier to access.

Keep in mind to practice good safety precautions when using a bench vise. Since the blade is in the air, this setup can be very dangerous. Walk slowly and do not leave the blade in the air when you are not working on it.

11. Clamps

Bessey LM2.004 LM General Purpose ClampClamps will hold the steel in place while you use it. What makes clamps different from a bench vise is that the clamps hold the blade to the side, instead of in the air. For optimal results, buy several pairs of clamps so you have one for every scenario or situation that may arise.

12. Forge

Image: Needpix

A forge heats up the steel so you can shape it the way you want. The reason for this is that steel, when cool, is incredibly hard. Whenever the metal heats up, however, the metal is workable, allowing you to work the knife into your ideal shape.

13. Heat-Treating Oven

Similar to a forge, a heat-treating oven heats up the steel. As mentioned earlier, steel must be heated in order to be workable and bendable. The most difficult part of making a knife, as well as the most important, is heat treating the steel. Although you can outsource heat-treating, purchasing your own heat treating oven will allow you to create professional-grade knives on your own.

When looking for the right heat-treating oven, make sure that the model has high and precise temperatures. It must have a digital or manual temperature control that will allow you to control and monitor the temperatures. Make sure that the oven can reach 2,350 degrees Fahrenheit.

14. Whetstone

Whetstone Knife Sharpening, 2015-(01)
Image Credit: Whetstone Knife Sharpening, 2015-(01), Didriks, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic

After you have made the knife, you will use a whetstone to sharpen it. This tool ensures that you have an extremely sharp and precise knife that can cut through anything.

15. Dremel or Another Rotary Tool

hand using Dremel 4000 Rotary Tool Kit

Although a Dremel is not necessary to make a knife, it can be extremely useful for cutting material, detail grinding, rust cleaning, and customization. Most knife-makers prefer the Dremel 4000, and you can find used deals online for nearly half the price. If you do not want to invest in a Dremel, then you can look for another Rotary tool instead.

16. Belt Grinder

knife sharpening
Image Credit: Pixabay

A belt grinder is coated in abrasive material and run over the surface of the knife in order to get the desired finish. For serious knife-making purposes, invest in an industrial knife belt. These options can be incredibly expensive, making them unsuitable for beginners.

If you are on a low budget or are new to knife-making, then you do not necessarily need this tool, though it will allow you to create professional-grade knives.

17. Social Media

person browsing social media
Image Credit: Pixabay

Although you don’t need social media to actually make a knife, social media is a necessary tool for promoting and showcasing your work. If you want to sell your knives, social media is a must in the modern world.

If you don’t know how to market on social media, look online for helpful guides and tips for effective social media marketing strategies. There, you will find countless of free websites, templates, and more.

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When making a knife, you need a variety of tools in order to cut the steel into manageable chunks, fasten the knife, sharpen the knife, and create a comfortable handle. The list above includes the 17 most important tools for making your own knife. We hope that this roundup will make the process of finding the tools for knife-making easier, allowing you to start making your knife faster.

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