Shop Knife

It no secret that I like to work on knives. They’re an easy, quick and rewarding project. Well a few years ago I was on a vacation in Gatlinberg. The best thing there; The Smokey Mountain Knife Works. yeah basically the biggest knife market in the world. They have everything from super high end and rare knives to the super dirt cheap china junk.

Well, I love to pick up that china junk. Then strip it and make it nicer.


Here we have a 2 dollar junk drop point knife. So what did I do? Well I turned it into a nice shop knife that I don’t care too much about.


I stripped off the cheap string wrapping and did a full walnut handle. I re-heated the blade so its actually hard and holds an edge. I cut a new bevel so its actually sharp and precise.

Lastly, never should have a sharp knife without a sheath. Sheaths protect the blade and your fingers. I did a small Sheridan carved belt scabbard for this little guy. It just classes up the cheap knife.

Overall, for a one day build with about $3.00 invested in it, I think it came out nice.


If you’re looking for the knife you can also find it on amazon for (at this moment) about $8.00 right here:


So this was an early 2012 maker build for me. Really my first forray into building anything. Its still an on-going project as I have several razors in the que for restoration.

So lets start at the beginning


The razors that I look for are ones that come from antique stores in decent condition. I don’t care at all about the handles. The blades have a good deal of life left in them. You can see how rotten the one above was when I opened the scales.


Here you can see I’ve completely refinished the blade by hand. I sand them down stepping from grit to grit all the way to about 1200. It usually takes a few hours per side. Then I paper template out the scales to get a good fit.


Next up, fitting the wood. Here you can see I used Ambrosia Maple. Its quite a pretty wood.


Once the scales are fit and shaped I apply about 6 coats of wood turner’s finish. Its a good, hard, topcoat that polishes super well and repels water. You want to keep water out of a razor. The blades are very prone to rusting in a bathroom.


All the pieces get laid out. You can see the original scales, the new ones. The new pins and wedge.


Here’s the finished blade. From this point all it needs is to have a nice 20,000 grit hone, stropping, and its good to go!

And lastly; here’s a collection of just a few of the razors that I’ve restored and rescued. Also, yes, I do use them!


Head Knife Four

Yeah, when I need a tool, I sort of become obsessive about it.

So I actually got some rough blanks from a local bladesmith that were treated and rough sharpened. This is the first one I’ve finished. It needed a lot of re shaping. but I think its turned out well, Its nice and sharp but the bevel is a bit terrible looking, because I suck at cutting a bevel.

It was reshaped with a 1 inch belt sander from 1990’s and a few hand files.


I fitted it with a nice walnut handle and some brass pins.

IMG_20160709_222329 IMG_20160709_233724

I finished the handle by buffing it on my Beal Buffing System.  It really brings out the shine. It could probably stand to be buffed again as its had lots of use.

Its a very sharp knife and it cuts quite well. Very happy. The sheath is a 10oz veg tanned leather, just a slip on. Sadly I don’t spend a lot of time on my tool’s sheaths.

Head Knife Three

As mentioned in the previous chapter there was some pattern issues with the second head knife. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with the third iteration of my head knife.

Pattern sitting next to the cut blank
Pattern sitting next to the cut blank

So above you can see my paper pattern sitting next to my cut out blank. This one was much easier to cut and shape because it was cut out of a piece of dead soft low carbon hardware store steel bar.

The finished knife turned out looking amazing. I’m super happy with the way it looks.


I even went ahead and tried a nice set of mosaic pins too. It all worked out really well. The only problem I seem to have run into is that I very stupidly made it and handled it without heat treating it. which was a terrible mistake. Its dead soft. It does not hold an edge. none. at all. So It doesn’t cut…. It looks good though. I’m impressed with what I can accomplish with just hand tools. So the next one will be hardened…

Head Knife Number Two

So I was getting really into leather and I had some decent tools but it was time to get another knife together so I didn’t have to keep stropping in the middle of projects. So, I decided to make one from scratch.

I went and found a design on a blog that I liked and copied it.

transferred the hand drawing to an old rusted circular saw blade and went to town blowing out several blades on my band saw, because it was super hard tempered high carbon steel.

Cut from the saw
Cut from the saw

Then it was just a matter of continuing to work the blade until it was shiny. It really wasn’t that hard to do.

at 100 grit sand paper
at 100 grit sand paper
600 grit paper

Then once I got the blade nice and cleaned on both sides I cut some nice handles and used some brass rod for pins.



And the final knife:



It turned out really well. It cuts fantastically. Its super comfortable. Not the prettiest thing on the planet, but amazing.

Turns out though, the blog I found the original on was in German… I didn’t see that it was a specialty design and I basically ripped off another maker. Its not a big deal, but I felt bad so this knife doesn’t see the light of day any more and I’ve replaced it with new completely original designs.

Stay tuned for more builds!