Make your own Budget Bushcraft Knife by following this photo tutorial. No forging experience or sophisticated tools needed.
Some time ago we challenged ourselves to make a bushcraft knife only using materials and tools you will find in your common garden shed. In this tutorial we will show you step by step how you can do the same. Feel free to follow our steps, or to get inspired by the idea, and follow your own steps. There is not one way to make a knife, just use what you have and enjoy the process and the lesson it holds.
For this tutorial we used hedge shears because of the good quality steel. It is made from carbon steel and designed to take some beating. The end result will leave you well equipped for heavy work, such as battoning and doing rough carving. We found our hedge shears at a local second hand store for only pennies.
When it comes to knives, we can be really fussy in what we like, and what we don’t like, but in the end we realize that a knife is nothing more than a piece of metal with a relatively sharp edge. There is no real need for exotic materials or special grinds. There are, and have been, plenty of people and tribes who do not have the option to use sophisticated processes to create their everyday tools. Machetes used in the Amazone are to this day still made from non-hardened steel, same goes for the knives of the San Bushman in Africa. If it works for them, why not give it a try ourselves.
DIY Budget Bushcraft Knife
1. Start your knife by transferring the outlines of the shear onto paper. Do some sketching to find out what you can make of the steel, and how to use as much of the material as possible.
2. Try different kind of design to see what works best with the original outlines and edge of the hedge shears.
3. We kept referring to the original shears to see if we were on the right track with our design.
4. A baby hacksaw will help you to roughly shape the material.
5. Drawing the outline on the knife will help you to create the shape and curve you have pictured. A file can be used to get an edge on the knife. Different kind of edges will work for different kind of tasks.
6. After shaping the edge, you can simply wrap the handle with cord and you will have a perfectly fine bushcraft knife.
We decided to kick it up an notch, and cheat a little, and use a dremel to give the handle a more ergonomic shape. You can make this step as extensive as you want, or have the tools for.
7. If you use power tools on your knife, make sure to cool it down in between, so the steel won’t lose its hardness.
8. Again some cheating with a power file to make a 90 degree angle on the spine, this helps if you want to be able to scrape a ferro rod with your knife.
9. You will have a rough knife shape by now, you can dot the i’s and cross the t’s, and use a file to smooth out the edges if needed.
10. We know you have been waiting for this step: Putting on a final edge. Please do this once you have finished all the shaping, in order to prevent cuts. An edge can be created with any regular file, as well as power tools, or special knife equipment such as sharpening files or wetstones.
11. We chose to make the handle from the original hedge shears. We did this by cutting the handle in half using a hack saw, and using the saw and file to shape the handle to fit the knife. Some epoxy glue and metal pins keep it all in place. As said before, cord wrapped around the knife will work fine too!
12. The final step, some knife care, rubbing it in with oil. Any oil will do, in this case we used Ballistol – because we had it nearby.
Checking out the spine.
Comparing the original shears and the end result, the DIY Budget Bushcraft Knife.
Of course we did put it to the test afterwards! The knife held up really nicely and worked great for battoning and rough wood carving. We were even able to make feather sticks and scrape a ferro rod, making this knife a great bush companion to have around.
For us these DIY’s are all about learning skills and getting to know the material we are working with. Steel can sometimes feel as a daunting material to start working with, but we promise you, it is worth the try! Always take the precautions needed, such as wearing gloves and glasses. We definitely plan on making more of these knives in the future! Are you working on a DIY project yourself at the moment?
Feel free to share a comment, advice, question or your thoughts on this subject. They are always much appreciated!