Knife Making - Venturers

Log of Events - the step by step. By Ezra Lau

The process of making knives was long and time-consuming, but the product was astounding and made it all worthwhile. Even before we started the making of the knives, Brother Elingson brought in a knife expert. This expert showed us some of the knives he had already made, and went through a compact run-through of the knife-making process, including the safety issues, and answered all the questions our group had. Soon we would start on the knives in reality.

We met in the garage of Br. Weight, Sr. and were introduced to all the tools and devices we would be using, and then we started in earnest. First, we had to decide on a design. Some of us used templates that were provided for us. Others chose to make their own design for their knives. This design was then drawn onto a piece of paper. We then cut out this design from the paper and taped them securely to a section of steel. This steel was around 7 cm in width, 1 cm in depth, and the length depended on the length of the design. I remember that this type of steel had a fancy name, but I donít remember exactly what it was. The pattern that was taped onto the steel was then traced onto the steel with a permanent black marker, or whatever marking tool was at hand.

We then proceeded to use our first power tool: the drill-press. We would use the drill-press to drill small holes into the steel around the design, and there were a few drill bits that melted from the stress of drilling into the high quality steel. After we had finished this, we would place the steel on an anvil, then would take a chisel and hammer to the line of holes on the steel. This would hopefully break out the rough outline of our knives, but most of us needed to have Br. Elingson with his more seasoned muscles to actually do this for us. After the disposal of the scraps, the rough edges of the knives were filed or sanded off. There was a great machine there that was a wheel with a piece of emery paper that worked wonders on the shape of the knives. They actually were now starting to look like the designs we had made earlier, for the most part. After this was done, we drilled pretty sizeable holes into the handles of our knives, and this would be to reduce the weight of them and allow the average 14 year old boy to handle them with ease.

  Now was the tricky part, to use the wheel to create a hollow ground for the edge of the knife. A demonstration showed us basically how it was done, but after several attempts on our part, we handed them to the more experienced hands of the knife expert. This probably took longer than it needed to, since there was only one wheel, and we needed to take turns with it. This is where we started the making of our sheaths, or the pocket-thing that would later hold our knives. The design for these sheaths did not vary widely at all, since they were based on the designs of our knives, which were all about the same size and shape. This design was traced onto a very large stock piece of thick leather (about 8 mm thick), then those of us that could, used the band saw, but the rest needed to use a very large set of heavy-duty scissors.

  When the edges of our knives were all as they needed to be, they were sent to a place somewhere, and they fired the steel and made the knives super-hard. They had to do the firing after all this work had be done, otherwise it would have been nigh impossible to actually perform work on the knives if they were to break all the tools we would use. Anyways, while they were sent to be fired, we continued work on the sheaths, and chose material for the handles of the knives. The knives were soon returned and work on the handles commenced. The material chosen for the handle was cut generally to the shape of the knife, and then holes were drilled through the material and the steel and brass pins were fitted through. Epoxy glue was then applied to the steel and the inside of the material, and then was clamped down tight. Now that we knew that everything was securely in place, we used the wheel to sand down the edges and corners of the material and make a more comfortable grip on the knife. Things were winding down for the knife-making project, but it wasnít completely over. We had to fit the leather of our sheaths to our knives so that there would be a tight, secure fit, since there were no loops or clips to keep the knives from falling out. So we took the leather, and then put it in water, so that it would not crack when we were to bend it into shape. The leather was then glued together with more epoxy glue, with the knife still inside, and was left for awhile to harden. We then drilled holes through the leather so that we could sew it together more securely.

  This was a tough process, since the leather didnít seem to like what we were doing and resisted most enthusiastically. That is basically it, with only minor details left out (I hope), and we all enjoyed making massive, potentially harmful objects designed to cut things. Many thanks to the leaders who helped us, and the parents who financed this undertaking.