PREPARING for cult trappers and WHENtrips afield, hunters,long and diffiexplorers often discard other less

essential equipment in favor of the all-purpose hunting knife. An experienced camper alone in the woods would rather lose his tent than the hunting knife in his belt sheath. He can get along without the former; the latter is indispensable. Although knifesmiths u s u a l l y select Swedish steels because of their stability and extremely fine grain, for the finest hand-forged custom blades, you can make a reasonably good hunting knife from a large mill file. Probably the next best material is an oil-hardening tool steel, as it has a better response to tempering and a more uniform soundness of structure than does the average file. Photos on these pages showing the essential steps in knife making were taken in the workshop of W. D. Randall, noted knifesmith who began making knives as a hobby and now is in the business of handforging them in various styles that class among the finest made. In the photo above Randall-made knives are shown in styles
DECEMBER 1952 167

Above, one of the first steps in making a knife is heating the blank in a blacksmith's forge. Below, after heating, the blank is hammer-forged on an anvil to draw the blade to the rough form for grinding

THREADED FOR NUT WASHER DISKS CUT FROM SOLE LEATHER WHITE

TANG THUMB REST RED BLACK HILT RED INDEX-FINGER GRIP ALUMINUM BUTT PIECE

FLAT TOP, BEVELED HEAVY SKINNING BLADE

Above, rough-grinding the blank on a coarse emery wheel. Below, polishing blade on stitched cloth buff

and blade lengths suitable for all purposes. In making a blade in any of the three styles detailed below, the blank is first ground to form the tang to sectional size and to shoulder the offsets for the hilt. If a file is used, it ordinarily is annealed before grinding. Then the rough is heated to a cherry red in a blacksmith's forge (heating also can be done in a coal-burning furnace) and hammer-forged on an anvil as in the lower photo on the preceding page. Forging in this manner draws the bevels to the rough shape and gives an edge thickness of about 1/32 in. Then the blade and tang are finished to exact size by freehand grinding on a coarse wheel as in the upper photo at the left. The edge bevels are ground to form a cutting edge and the narrow back bevels are ground in to shape the blade to contour. This operation requires extreme care to get the lines of the blade ground true. Note that in the photo the operator is wearing heavy leather gloves to protect his hands from injury. He also wears industrial-type goggles. Next the blade is hardened by heating it cherry red and immersing instantly in tempering oil. On some steels it is necessary to repeat this process in order to equalize internal stresses. Use low heat in succeeding steps—about 450 deg. When properly

2" CUTTING EDGE ON TOP

STAGHORN HANDLE NUT OR PEEN END OF TANG. BUTT PlECE BRASS HALF HILT ALUMINUM

1" CUTOUT FOR INDEX FINGER

HOLE FOR 3/32' OR
PIN

DRILLED AND FILED OUT FOR TANG
FINGER GRIP GROOVE

SECT.

LEATHER HANDLE RlDGES BETWEEN FINGER GROOVES HUNTERS KNIFE TROUT AND BIRD KNIFE

tempered the blade appears a straw-blue color and can be cut with a file. From this point on, special care must be used to avoid drawing the temper. True the bevels by slow, light grinding on a medium-fine wheel, checking the results continually by eye until all surfaces of the blade show a true reflection when viewed in oblique light. Before honing and buffing, the reflections will be rather dull, but they will enable you to spot irregularities in the surfaces. While grinding the blade to final contour, true up the tang and fit the hilt and butt piece. In the knives pictured and detailed, the hilt is of brass and the butt piece of aluminum. The hilt is filed to the rough shape before fitting to the tang. Final finishing of the blade is done on a hone as in the lower right-hand photo, and t h e fine scratches left by the final grinding are removed by buffing on a stitched buff as in the lower photo on the opposite page. The buff should be charged with polishing rouge of the type specified for steels. Although ivory, staghorn and even certain metals are used for handles, ordinary top-grain cowhide is recommended for hunting knives. The lower center photo at the right compares the rough with the finished leather handle. Details below and on the opposite page give sizes of the leather disks. Note that the latter are oval in rough shape and that the center holes are cut rectangular to fit the tang snugly. Five .062 fiber squares in three colors are fitted on the tang next to the hilt. Then follow with the leather disks and three or five fiber squares. Cement each disk and square to the one preceding. Then attach the butt piece firmly in place by peening the tang projection. Rough to size and shape with a coarse rasp as in the upper center photo at the right. Then finish the hilt and the entire handle with a medium emery wheel and finally bring to a high polish with a stitched cloth buff charged with polishing rouge. When buffing be careful not to heat the leather handle unduly. The shape of the handle is optional. Grind it to a form that suits your finger grip. * * *

In the tempering process the blade is heated in an electric furnace which permits close control of temperatures so essential to proper tempering of steel

Leather handle is roughed out with a coarse rasp and the hilt and butt piece are filed to the rough shape. Finish with emery wheel and a stitched buff

Above, the rough and finished handles of the allpurpose knife. Below, honing the blade by hand on a three-part professional-type hone. Note blade angle

TOP OF BLADE SHARPENED FOR 1''

BUTT PIECE

LEATHER HANDLE

ALL PURPOSE FIGHTING KNIFE