By Travis Birch
Living our life off the grid means a lot to my family. As we prep for the day when we finally cut the cord, we all appreciate the little things. With that means giving everything a second look before we dispose of it. A great example of this is was when my sons and I made a couple of knives, from a used table saw blade. This 10″ table saw blade was perfect for building two knives, and the process is fairly easy.
First, we laid out the saw blade and traced out what we wanted our knives to look like. The goal here for us was to optimize the material, getting the most that we could from it. Two knives seemed to be best. The finished product resulted with two 8.5” knives. If you want a quick go to for cutting out the knives, trace out some of your favorite knives you have on hand. Even a fold out knife can be traced, and then accommodated and finessed into a knife that you can build.
Once you have the knife traced out to your specifications, you can proceed to cut it. First, insert the blade into a secure vise so that it doesn’t slip. When you feel comfortable that it is safe, rough cut the blade. I have access to a plasma cutter, so that is my go-to cutter today. A more inexpensive way, and how I cut out my first knife, was attaching a cut off wheel to my angle grinder. This brings the metal into the basic shape needed.
When the sparks have subsided, we were left with two slags covered things that looked somewhat like a knife. Take the knives to a grinder wheel or use a grinder attachment on your angle grinder. Remove the built up slag. Go over the areas slowly and assuredly. You want to ensure that when you are finished, there is no slag fragment left attached that can dig in and bite into your hand. When all is smooth, begin grinding out an edge for your knife. Build your tip, and grind some contours that will accommodate your grip. I try to notch a divot where the handle transitions into the blade. This creates a simple stop to prevent my hand from going into the edge and cutting my finger open.
Now you need to attach a handle of sorts. You can let your artistic freedom take over, and work with horn, antlers, wood or rigid synthetics. For the boys and I this is a quick project designed to be fast and easy. We used paracord. Measure out, and loosely attach it so you know how it will end up. We remove and apply an epoxy glue. Reapply the Paracord, and use a clamp, or a clothespin to hold the cord in place until it is cured.
The next day when you go back to this, you should be just about finished. You will need to finish the edge some more. I use an edge stone that is three sided, coarse, medium and fine. Clean the knife and you’re finished. Your end product is something you and your kids have constructed together and should last a lifetime with proper maintenance. Use this new knife as an extra knife on your boat, in your tackle box or attach a leather cord to it and use it as a neck knife. Sheath it to your belt for an everyday utility knife. Most importantly, you’ve given your children the knowledge to build something from scratch and taught them the lesson that re-purposing what you have laying around has great benefits to secure your future.