Is this metal suitable for knife making?

Mike313

Nomad
Apr 6, 2014
264
17
South East
Hi all,
This is a project I've had in mind for a while. I'm not a knife-maker and this will be a one-off project. I want to make a mezzaluna and santoku-shaped knife for use in the kitchen. I also want to make a marking knife for woodwork.
I thought about finding and using an old saw blade, then I saw (no pun intended) this a few months ago, for £3.99 at Screwfix:

https://www.screwfix.com/p/toolbox-saw-16/3304v

I enquired and they told me it is 65MN steel. Would that be suitable for what I want to do?
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,257
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Those saws are a bit thin.
In fact, much to thin. The blades will flex like mad, about as much as one of those salmon filetting jobbies you can only use filleting farmed fat soft salmon.

Do not waste your time.

( I know this because that is exacly what I started doing, but having spend hours with a Dremel cutting out the shape I realized it was waaaaay to thin and flexy)
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,257
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
C-kelly:
Is it not more efficient/ easier/ quicker to have a flat base To cut the herbs and veg on?

I have now finished both the mezzalunas / ulus and need to start on the cutting board, but am unsure which one is best.

Could you please try both base forms and tell the result?

OP: to be frank, the steel is not so important. In the past all steels were, compared to todays steels, incredibly bad. But they worked well. Most household blades were done from very crude iron with lots of slag inclusions.
You can use any steel, or even brass or bronze.
The aboriginal arctic people used stone, bone, antler historically for the cutting blade. And they managed to butcher walrus, whale, caribou, polar bear. Iron came to them quite late, around 2000 years ago when the European people settled in that area.
But it has to have a certain rigidity.
 
Last edited:

Jackroadkill

Full Member
Nov 21, 2016
124
47
Newtown, Powys
Something like O1 or 1095, which are both carbon steels and easily hardened and tempered, are usually recommended for a first time knife-maker. You can also use an old hand-file if you fancy it.

The problem with using an existing tool to source the steel is that if it's a hardenable steel then it will already have been hardened. This means that before working it you will have to anneal (soften) it and then once it's been shaped and bevelled you have to re-harden it, whereas bar stock will be un-hardened and you'll only need to harden and temper it after the shaping and bevelling has been done.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,281
1,380
McBride, BC
Eastern Canadian First Nations people have been forging very good knives for centuries from "hand-files."
They knew how bad the trade knives were so used forge tunnels in the earth to great success.

By 1760, your Hudson's Bay Company was selling barrels of "Mocotaugan" knife blades, made in Sheffield.
They are one-handed planer blade knives for making and repairing canoes, pack frames and snow shoes.
They are terrible blades ( I have one of them in use).

It's a myth of fantasy to imaging that they are wood carving tools.
Literally, yes but practically in this day and time = a failure.

Locally in the Pacific Northwest, it's a tradition to make your own wood carving adzes and crooked knives.
Truck (lorrie) leaf spring metal, old, old rusty hand-file and so on. Magnificent results.
= = =
I say: do it. Again and again. I wish you the greatest of successes.
 
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Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,281
1,380
McBride, BC
Wrecked and rotted out utility van leaf springs. Anything from a pre-1960 Volkswagen Beetle to a 5T Ford.
I know a dude who can hammer a gouge out of a BMW coil spring (Yes, it can be done).
Leaf springs are the choice for First Nations here in the Pacific Northwest.

You find spring steel like that in Europe? Hang onto it.
 

crosslandkelly

A somewhat settled
Jun 9, 2009
23,474
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63
North West London
C-kelly:
Is it not more efficient/ easier/ quicker to have a flat base To cut the herbs and veg on?

I have now finished both the mezzalunas / ulus and need to start on the cutting board, but am unsure which one is best.

Could you please try both base forms and tell the result?.
Janne they work fine on a flat board as well. The dished board is more efficient when using a rolling action to finely chop. and contains the ingredient more effectively.
 
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Damascus

Native
Dec 3, 2005
1,449
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62
Norwich
A visit to the local dump, I came across some old saw blades, proberbly old forestry saws, I have cut up one and made several blades from it. The old saw blades have the temper all the way through, so they can be sharpened unlike modern saws, which only have the edge, once blunt bin them.