TO: NRA School Participants
FROM: Lassen Community College NRA Gunsmithing School
SUBJECT: GSS 98.04 Advanced Knifemaking
Welcome to the NRA Gunsmithing Summer Program here at Lassen College.
Thank you for your interest in the summer program. In the advanced
knifemaking class the focus will be on making knives with less emphasis
on hand tools (i.e. files) and more emphasis on the use of power tools.
We will become familiar with the use of the Burr King sander and fixtures
that will assist you in the creation of your knife. Hollow grinding is
done freehand and requires no fixture. We will also use the vertical,
disc and narrow belt sanders to further profile and shape the knife.
But please note; you do not have to make your knife using fixtures or jigs.
The methods used in the beginning class are still applicable. I made at
least a dozen knives by the file and emery paper method before I learned
to use the hollow ground (free hand) method and the flat grind method
(flat grinding fixture).
Each student will receive a materials list for the components to build a
knife and sheath. The same basic tool list for the beginning class will
be applicable to the advanced class. Also, the advanced student is
encouraged to bring any additional tooling that they have developed or
In order to flat grind a knife blade, a fixture must be made. The materials
to make this fixture include:
A piece of aluminum bar stock 2x 2x 12
A dial caliper
A compass (circle drawer) or steel dividers)
A center punch
Dykem (layout fluid)
A #36 drill and a 6-32 tap (tap handle needed)
A handful of 6-32 x ½ socket head machine screws
A #25 drill and a 10-24 tap (tap handle needed)
4ea. 10-24 x 3/8 socket head machine screw
The following list of tools is a fairly short list as far as knifemaking
is concerned. Obviously, if you continue to make knives as a hobby or
part-time source of income, you will run across many special tools that
will make knifemaking easier and faster than the methods we will use in
the beginning class.
MINIMUM TOOL REQUIREMENT:
Files: When creating a knife blade by the metal removal method, files
in good condition are a must. If your files are quality files in good
condition by all means bring them. If you are going to purchase files
for this class, buy the best. Dont bring cheap, old or worn files
good quality files are necessary for good quality knives. Both Nicholson
or Dissiton make excellent files.
1ea. 8 Flat Bastard File
1ea. 8 Second Cut Mill Bastard File
1ea. 6 Second Cut Half Round File
1ea. 8 Round File
1 set of needle files
1 file handle for each file
OTHER TOOLS: You must have for class:
1pr. Safety glasses or goggles
1ea. Dust mask
1ea. 6 steel rule
1ea. Carbide tipped scribe
1ea. Small bottle of layout fluid (Dykem)
1ea. 3 C Clamp
1pr. 3/4 Kant Twist Clamps (in your knifemakers catalog or MSC)
1ea. Small ball pein hammer
1ea. Small countersink
1ea. Set of assorted drifts
1ea. Package of 2-part 5 minute epoxy glue Devcon
1ea. -1/8, 3/16 and 1/4 Twist bits in new condition
1ea.- small can of Acetone
2ea. Pieces of hardwood (maple, oak, cherry, etc.) ¾x 2x 12
Sandpaper: Dont buy cheap or imported sandpaper; it wont last.
Dont buy tan woodworkers production paper it wont cut stainless
3ea. - Sheets of 100, 150, 220, 320, 400 wet-or-dry aluminum oxide abrasive sheets
(buy Norton or 3M)
1ea. Sheet of 600, 800, 1000 wet-or-dry aluminum oxide abrasive sheets.
It can be purchased in Susanville if you cant find any in your area.
OPTIONAL TOOLS bring them if you have them or plan to use them in
knifemaking or gun work at some later date. Dont spend any large sum
of money on special tools unless you see a use for them in the future:
Dremel or Foredom Tool
Dremel accessories burrs, sand drums and sand papers
Mighty Mag magnet (for holding blades against the sandbelt)
Diemakers polishing stones ¼x ½x 6 1ea. 150, 240, 320, 400 grits
4 hermaphrodite caliper (L.S. Starrett makes the best)
10ea. Abrasive cloth rolls 1½ wide 180 and 320 grit
Small machinist square
As with most classes at Lassen College, the student is responsible to
furnish the basic tools and materials to be used to complete his project.
The college, of course, will have a bandsaw (to cut the knife pattern),
various sanding machines to profile the knife shape, drill presses and
the heat treating oven to harden the steel to the correct hardness to
hold the edge.
The student will need to furnish the following materials to build his or her knife:
1. 440 C stainless steel barstock 1/8x 1¼x 12 (light weight blade) or
5/32x 1½x 12 (medium weight blade) or 3/16x 1½x 12 (heavy weight blade)
You will need one piece of any of the above to make one knife. If the blade is
small you might get two blades from one piece of barstock. 5/32 material is the
most common for custom knives that are not too big.
2. Handle Materials There are several types of materials to make the handles
(scales) for your knife. You will need a pair (2) scales for each knife.
Scales are usually cut to a size of 1½ wide by 3/8 thick by 5 long. Scales
are attached oversized and then profiled to fit the knife. The following are
types of handle material available:
Laminated Dymondwood Dymondwood is made in the same manner as the laminated
rifle stocks seen on many of the new rifles being manufactured today.
Dymondwood is cheap to buy, comes in many colors and is easy to finish.
Micarta paper, linen or canvas made from multiple layers of paper or
cloth with color added to the layers and then glued together under pressure.
Micarta is cheap to buy, has limited colors and is easy to buff and finish.
Natural Hardwoods All kinds of trees and bushes are used for handle
materials. Usually, hardwood scales have interesting grain patterns.
Also, some have very unusual colors. Hardwoods are expensive to buy,
have unlimited colors and patterns and are harder to buff and finish
(lots of sanding to prep the wood for finish).
Animal Horn and Bone Materials bones and antlers have been used for
hundreds of years as handle materials. Each knife is as unique as the
handle materials. Generally, bone and antler are harder to work with.
Scales are less of a headache to fit than round antler. Cost is generally
high, similar to exotic hardwoods. Bone and antler are somewhat easy to
finish once mounted to the blade. Horn and bone materials are not to be
used in the beginning class.
3. Bolsters and pins Bolsters are metal pieces attached in front of the
scales on either side of the handle tang. Not all knives have bolsters.
The bolster separates the blade from the handle. Pins hold the bolsters
and scales on to the knife. For your first knife I recommend using brass
for your bolsters and pins.
Bolster material comes in 12 pieces. You will need a ¾x ¼x 12 piece.
You will also need a 12 piece of 1/8 pin material to attach the bolsters
and a ¼ piece to attach the scales to the knife. If you want a thong hole,
you will need ¼ thong hole material.
4. Leather Sheath In order to build a leather sheath for your custom
knife you will need the following leather materials:
1 sq. ft. of 7-8oz. shoulder leather
1 spool of waxed linen thread black, brown or natural (white)
1 pkg. easy thread needles
Small bottle of leather dye black, brown or any shade you like (remember
your sheath my be left natural)
Small can or tube of contact rubber cement (Barge brand is the best)
If finances are not a problem, and/or you plan on making knives as an active
hobby or sideline business the following items will prove to be useful:
Craftool Overstitcher - #6 (to lay outstitching pattern)
Exacto craft knife with blades
Edge beveler - #2 or #3 (to round edges of sheath)
Adjustable V gouge (for gouging fold lines)
If you have additional leather tools and can bring them with you, by all means do so.
5. You will need a piece of plastic or plexi-glass to make your knife pattern.
You may also want to copy another students pattern or some of mine for future knife-
making. Scrap plastic can be found at the hardware store or Tap Plastic (if one is
SOURCES FOR SUPPLIES:
Texas Knifemakers Supply Houston, Texas, (713) 461-8632, (888) 461-8632
K&G Finishing Supply Lakeside, Arizona, (520) 537-8877, (800) 972-1192
Jantz Supply Davis, Oklahoma, (580) 369-3082, (800) 351-8900
Koval Knives New Albany, Ohio, (614) 855-0777, (800) 556-4837
SOURCES FOR SUPPLIES:
Tandy Leather Co. - Sacramento, CA, (866) 817-3135
Fountain Valley, CA, (800) 571-8648, and Reno, NV, (800) 450-2440
The Leather Factory, (877) 532-8437 for closest sales center to you.
To reach me if you have any questions about the class:
WM. R. BILL Herndon
32520 Michigan Street
Acton, California 93510
Live ammo is not permitted in the classrooms or the lab.