Turning a butter knife into a "bushcraft" knife and forcing a patina on an Opinel number 8

in #hive-1290175 months ago (edited)

Since we are doing a BBQ almost every week in the backyard, sometimes multiple times a week, I started to get interested in learning other ways of setting up a fire. One of the technique is the use of a feather stick which can be done with a knife or an axe. I don't have a good small knife I could use so I went buying a cheap but very good Opinel number 8. It's a French knife made with high carbon steel. The steel is not a modern one but it has the advantage to be cheap but still quite good quality, holds an edge better than stainless steel and is easily resharpen.

The Opinel is a folding knife, however, I also wanted a fixed blade knife and was considering buying one but thought it would be more fun to make one myself. I don't have a forge, yet, so for my first attempt at knife making I decided to try converting a butterknife into a sharp camping/bushcraft knife.

Making a bushcraft knife from a butter knife

Turning a butter knife into a camping knife

My first step was to cut the butter knife handle so that it does not protude too much out of my hand. The angle grinder was my friend here. I did a real bad job to keep the blade cool but it's a butter knife and I don't think it had been harden that much anyway.

Shortening a butter knife handle

I then spent a lot of time sanding the sides of the handle so they would be flat. Harden or not, stainless steel is still a very hard material.

Sanding the handle of the knife

Putting the knife aside, I went and cut a piece of hardwood from an old fence. I cut it so it is about 2 cm (under an inch) length with a width that I thought would feel comfortable in my hand.

Cutting hardwood with compound saw

The knife I wanted would be a hidden tang one so I needed a way to cut a whole into which I would slide the butter knife handle. I used the drill press to make three holes. Luckily, the drill bit was long enough.

Drilling holes for the blade tang

Little test and it seems to fit snug.

Butter knife in future wooden handle

Because I failed to aligned the three drilled holes, I had to adjust the shape of the handle. I started with a hand saw but then decided to use a chisel instead.

Sawing wood

Cutting wood with a chisel

I was afraid that I would split the wood at an angle but thanks to the grain of the wood it was not an issue and I got a cut that was clean enough. Using the chisel was definitely faster than with the hand saw. I do need to improve my hand sawing skills but that would be for another project 😝.

Now it's time to shape the handle with multiple passes with a coarse file and the belt sander.

Shaping a knife handle with a file

Shaping a knife handle with a belt sander

I should have gone online and look for a knife handle model and copy it but I was already working on the thing so just carried on and improvise. With a sanding block and a slice of sanding paper, I smoothen the surface of the handle. It feels so good!

Sanding the wood handle

Sanding the wood handle

Back to the angle grinder to make two little notches at the top and bottom of the butter knife handle. This is so that the epoxy have something to hold on to and helps keeping the knife inside the handle.

Notches on the knife handle

Some 5 minutes two part epoxy adhesive will do the job here. I mixed the epoxy thoroughly and used a wooden stick to transfer it into the hole in the handle and spread some on the surface of the knife handle too.

Mixing two-part epoxy

I let the epoxy overflow out of the handle for more adhesion and because I like the look of harden epoxy on wood.

Epoxy on the knife handle

I have made a big mistake of glueing the handle to the knife too early. I forgot to sharpen the knife first and this was going to waste so much of my time. Not only it was more difficult to position the blade properly on the belt sander but it also made the handle dirty which I had to clean up with more sanding.

Using some sand paper of various grit (80, 240 and 600) I then worked on getting a brushed metal finish to the blade. It's definitely another time consuming task.

Anyway, after couple of hours, I managed to get something decent and finished by sealing the wood with some tung oil.

Oiling a wooden knife handle

I could probably spend a bit more time with the belt sander or a coarse file to extend the bevel deeper into the blade but the blade is thin and the bevel angle would be too narrow. I might still give it a go later, just to learn a bit.

The result is not too bad... It does not look as sexy as other homemade bushcraft knives but that's my first attempt. Most importantly, it does cut (my fingers can testify...)

For my second knife, I will make one from scratch by cutting the steel of an old circular saw blade and use a chimenea as a forge.

My butter knife bushcraft knife

Forcing a patina on an Opinel number 8 blade

As mentioned, my Opinel is made from carbon steel and as such it will easily rust if you don't keep it dry at all time. Everytime you wash it you will need to dry it thoroughly before putting it away. You could also protect the blade by regularly oiling it with mineral oil. Mine was neglected for only two days and already showed some minor stains from red rust, yikes.

I read that forcing a patina on carbon steel would help protect it from red rust, at least slow down its formation. There are several ways of achieving a patina, you can dip the blade into vinegar, stick the blade into a lemon or a potato or even spread some mustard on the blade.

Some people would use a cotton swab and make small round spots on the blade with mustard to get some cool designs on the blade but I wanted to darken the whole blade. So I boiled some vinegar and dip the blade into it for about 30 minutes.

Using a clamp to suspend the Opinel blade in vinegar

Hot vinegar acts quicker, as the vinegar reacts with the steel, it starts foaming and the process is done when the foam stops. Here is the end result after the 30 minute vinegar bath.

Forced patina on an Opinel #8

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Oh, so that's what patina means...! I'm a big Opinel fan myself, mostly for cutting food, and I've noticed this protective dark layer it would develop after cutting limes. Well, that's exactly what I would do before putting it away. Of course, I'd have to repeat it each time after sharpening it, which is quite often, as the carbon steel tends to lose its edge rather quickly. But I still prefer it to the stainless steel, because you can really get it sharper than any other knife. I'll try the hot vinegar method though. The patina in your photo looks really good.

They are awesome affordable knives. The lime or potato works for patina but the hot vinegar creates a thicker and more even layer. You can also try vinegar and make little dots with it to make a pattern of patina

That's cool! I have a dozen of slicers here and I thought of making one after reading your post. It's a lot thicker than the commercialized kitchen knives nowadays and if there is, it's expensive too, so why not make use of what you already have. Thanks for this useful info. I will go over my witness' list as well. I guess I still have ten vacant ones there.

Indeed. A lot of our old stuffs can have a new life providing we have the tools and the skills.

Exactly. I am fun of recycling things too. I have the habit of storing this and that because I know I will be dealing with it in the future. As a mother of five, I love to dress up my kids especially in school activities such as United Nations Day hence I kept stuffs that I know I will be needing just in case. I too, have carpentry tools at home for basic repairs including making handles for knives and bolos using guava branches.

Haha I tend to “collect” things for future use too, my garage is becoming an Alibaba cave for junks

Wow friend I really liked how you did it and the end result. Too bad we don't all have those tools to make our own knives. But that makes you someone special here in this community. Great work and greetings wherever you are. I will follow you.

All of these can be made with very simple hand tools but it will obviously take much more time to get the job done

Hello dear friend @quochuy You are incredible.
I admire the talent and knowledge you have, you do very beautiful things, I must admit that I did not know the effect of vinegar.
There is no greater satisfaction in creating functional things with your hands
I wish you a great week

I wouldn’t have discovered about this vinegar thing if I haven’t bought a carbon steel knife.

It's true, that's the way things are dear friend @quochuy and I wouldn't have known if I didn't read your post
I take the opportunity to wish you an excellent week

I have found myself watching knife making videos on YouTube for hours... it is very interesting to me, but I can't quite figure out why.

There is something about it. Maybe our hunter instinct hehe

Its really cool ,it mentioning me Discovery Channel program "HOW TO" ,Once i have seen it on that program how to make a knife ,really awesome

Oh they did have a program on knife making ? That’s great

Okay, now that's a SKILL I lack.

I hate you already.

The result is spectacular!

Maybe you should give it a go. That was my first time too, didn’t really know what I’m doing and was just trying to replicate what I saw on youtube

Amazing! You could survive in a jungle!! What skill and ingenuity! I could never making a knife myself like this! But I always wonder about how to make a hunter’s knife! Really good information here.

Getting ready just in case Covid-19 ends the world hahaha

You are very wise to have all the necessary skills for survival. Covid19 won’t end the world, the virus is mutating and it will burn itself out. But, there’s a rumour that a second virus with more severity might be released this winter; the coronavirus didn’t kill that many people for successful depopulation!

But the financial collapse next year might put everything in jeopardy! It’s good to be prepping a little bit, just in case!

You should make your own bow and arrows for hunting!!

Unbelievable, just today I took a needle to the carpenter's workshop to get that same job done, it's a very big needle. It's fabulous the wonders we can do with our hands. Greetings.

Yes, a magic needle, it's very big; it's to make a special fabric that I'm learning about.

Pretty cool handmade/adapted knife XD are you happy with how it performs?

And boiling in vinegar made the blade of the other knife a really pretty colour :O

also I really don't like it when you take photos of operating power tools, get someone else to XD

It performs OK. For cutting food it’s good. For cutting wood it could be better, the edge angle is too wide.

No worries for the power tool, the wood was not touching the sander 😃

I didn't think it was from the shadow but wasn't sure and also I can't even begin to describe my irrational paranoia around power tools, to this day I don't know how I survived woodwork and metalwork in high school XD

Yea I can see why. You can loose fingers or limbs to power tools. Metal work is even worse I think.

A very nice looking knife! Very clever. I do like DIY posts. Thank you for sharing your process.

Thanks. Hopefully I’ll get better too

Practice makes perfect!

Thank you for sharing this amazing DIY post on our Hive community page, we've given you a 100% in upvote and shared your work on our Twitter page for more exposure. Do enjoy the vote and keep being creative ;)

Wow! This is pure creativity @quochuy
I think this inspiration is just enough for me to get creative throughout the rest of the week

@k-banti Yes this really good creativity

Looks awesome!

What good creativity he had to transform that butter spread knife into a sharp and sharp knife. Good idea, friend and thanks for supporting me, greetings from Venezuela.

Friend I really like how amazing you've taken time to give the details of how to make a Nife like such,that anyone with the available and right apparatus can do same. Bravo, great content. I'd try making mine too 😊🤔

Wuao extraordinary talent ..!