Making Carving Knives Out of Everyday Objects                   <back to Shop Talk articles list

Looking through my carving bag the other day made me realize that I have made carving knives out of a lot of different items. So, I thought it would be fun to let you know how you could try it yourself. It really is fun, and kinda neat, to see the finished product and think - gosh I make that (and it works).

The following list of materials require no forging or messing around with a propane torch or kitchen stove. Most can be made with a Dremel Tool and grinding stone. Just slowly grind them down to what you want. Keep the blade cool by dunking it in water when you grind them and you'll be fine. If it turns blue cut off that section and start over. Sand the blade or chisel with fine wet silicone carbide sandpaper (ask at the hardware store). With the smaller steel sections like Music Wire, just use a rougher to smoother set of whetstones then finish by stropping. Remember to leave some material to be able to place it in a handle and you are finished. Because the material has already been hardened and tempered, that really is all there is to it.

So here's my list-

Mechanical Hacksaw Blades: Not sawzalls. You're looking for the foot long ones that are painted yellow-gold or Reddish Brown. Check the local Machine Shops or metal manufacturing plants.
Motorcycle Spokes: These are great for microtools
Music wire: Found at your local Ace hardware. About $1.89 for 24". Another microtool steel
Straight Razors: The old ones that grandpa used. Look at yard sales and junk shops for the best deals. Antique stores want a small fortune.
Hex Wrenches: Yep, those L-shaped wrenches that you get when you assemble furniture from Ikea or the office chair from Office Max.
Chainsaw Files
Needle Files: I used to buy these at our local Surplus store for 25 cents a piece. They are very hard but stay sharp and if it breaks, oh-well, you're out a quarter.
Surface Planer Blades: My dad used to give old ones to me after planning Ash planks. They are about a foot long and have edges on both sides so be careful.
Cement Nails: I still have my cement nail flat palm chisel!
Large Clock Springs: I haven't found many of these but you want the thicker ones. A good one will roll out to 5 or 6 ft.
Large bulldog clips: You know the ones. The large black clips that held together last years budget report. Use the corners for a nice gouge.

This is just a small list of items. If you wanted to get into the hardening and tempering process, the list can get pretty long.

So, get out there and give it a try. Good Luck!

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