Making a Survival Knife from a File!

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When we purchased our farm, we bought the property along with all the belongings that were there. The previous owner had lived there since the 60’s so as you can imagine there was a lot of junk that had been acquired as well as a few diamonds in the rough. While cleaning one of the sheds I found a very large file that had long since seen its better days. As I was about to throw it away, I hesitated. I had always wanted to make a knife, but all of the old files I had were too small to make a knife that I would want so I saw this as my chance.

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I had an old charcoal grill that I shortened the legs on and removed the top to make a DIY forge. I used charcoal and a leaf blower to heat the file up until it was no longer attracted to a magnet in order to soften it enough to be able to shape it. Once it had cooled I proceeded to cut out a shape that was pleasing both to the eye and the hand. Once I settled on a shape that I liked, I began to sharpen the blade. This was a long slow process and I was careful to try and make the blade as symmetric as possible. The last step of the blade portion was to heat the blade back up and then quickly quench it in Vegetable oil being careful not to drop it as it would be extremely brittle at this stage. I then tempered it in the oven to reach a delicate balance between too brittle and too soft.

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Now that the blade was finished it was time to finish the knife. I chose a nice burled piece of wood for the scales and used brass pins along with epoxy to attach them. I shaped the scales to fit my hand and then added a patina to the blade by leaving it embedded in a potato over night.

Having finished the knife I started making a sheath for it. I purchased some 8oz oil tanned veg tan leather remnants and layered it 3 layers thick with the center layer being hollowed out to the shape of the knive. Once the glue had cured I then pre-drilled the seams before stitching them. I added a small pouch in the front with loops so that I could carry a large ferro rod, a flashlight and an Altoids tin to carry tinder.

Once everything was finished the last thing to do was to put the finished edge on the blade. If you haven’t got yourself a set of diamond stones you are missing out!

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