Von Gruff Made Me Post This: Skinning Knives from Sawmill Blades

John P.

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In the 1980's I was on a knife making kick and produced about 50, most were for gifts. I kept a few and have some blanks left plus about 500 pounds of band mill blades. Band mills are huge band saw type sawmills for milling big logs. The steel is called L 6 saw steel and makes a very nice tough knife blade that is easy to sharpen.

So the photos: The knife at 3:00 position is hand forged from some wear bar steel I obtained from a paper mill.

upload_2016-4-5_13-48-24.png



The four blanks in the upper left are patterns.
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Handles are brown micarta with 316 Stainless steel knife screws that I made.
upload_2016-4-5_13-49-5.png


This blade style is very easy to use when skinning: I have used the knives on Roosevelt Elk and Mule Deer here in the Pacific NW of the U.S.

I have a lot of the knife steel that I cannot live long enough to use up: Von Gruff if we can figure out a way to ship it to Australia cheap I will send some to you. Lots of Micarta also.
 

spike.t

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John P.

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Yes same knife. The material is a very hard wear bar that was used in a large dewatering press that squeezes water from wood pulp waste in a paper mill. The bars are about 3/8" thick by 1" wide by 10" long. I have a horse shoe forge and forged the blade on my anvil after bring the steel up to forging temperature over a hot coal fire. Blades were then ground to final profile and heat treated in a wood stove in the same manner as Von Gruff showed in his thread.

Just like in the movies, making knives the same way they were made hundreds of years ago!
 

Rob404

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nice work, thanks for the pics
 

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John P I like your work sir.
 

John P.

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Yea I need to get back into the knife making, too many other projects in the way. I have a couple of designs that I want to try including this one. I pirated the photos from the NitroX forum: A real working Australian knife:

View attachment 59454

View attachment 59455

Some tools of the trade:


The anvil is Swedish made from tool steel instead of cast iron. Weighs 160 pounds, date stamped 1929. An absolute prize that I found at a machine shop auction in 1994. I have a very old 150 pounder but it is not as nice as this one.
upload_2016-4-5_20-30-51.png



upload_2016-4-5_20-31-14.png


Forging hammers. Note the thinned handles on the top and bottom hammer in the below photo. Gives better control.
The straight peen hammer is about 125 years old. Why the straight and cross peen hammers? The peen is used for "stretching" and thinning the forging stock.

upload_2016-4-5_20-31-41.png


I would post a photo of the forge but it is wrapped and "mothballed" in the storage shed.
 
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Von Gruff

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I have a lot of the knife steel that I cannot live long enough to use up: Von Gruff if we can figure out a way to ship it to Australia cheap I will send some to you. Lots of Micarta also.

That is a generous offer but I am in New Zealand. I was in Australia from 74 to 86 but dont expect to be back there again. I do get quite a few bits and pieces from the US but as you say shipping is quite expensive.
The saw mill band saw steel does make some good knives and in fact the very first ones I made were from the mill where my father worked after the bandsaw hit a log dog still embedded, and the band shattered. Dad bought me home a couple of feet of it. I found that I needed to cut the blades across the band rather than along the length of it as there was a tendency to get a slight bend in the finished blade otherwise. It did make some good blades but I used that up in the 70's. I have used the steel from the sharpenable circular saw blades with a big 48 in blade giving me quite a few in the early 80's. Since then I have just made a few for myself and have used old steel from scrub slashers and pruning hooks. This is the first ones I have made for rasps and files and really only did this to see how it went and have been quite pleased with the edge it gives.
This little camp hatchet is from the 48 in saw blade but really needs a bit more weight in the head.

This is a few I did in the late 70's and early 80's with the smaller ones on the right being from the bandsaw blade and the larger ones on the left being from the 48 in circular saw blade. (sorry for the poor pic but taking a cell ph pic of an old photograph makes for the washed out look)
 

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John P.

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Good stuff you have been doing Von Gruff. I often am amazed at what is available out in the world for knife making if a guy just looks for steel: Huge amounts just for the asking. I worked in a large paper mill complex years ago as a Machinist and the supply of scrap tool steel and saw steel was just amazing. It was all headed to the scrapper at pennies on the pound and we mechanics had first crack at whatever we wanted. I am now 69 years old and it is time to pass the treasure of knife supplies on to a younger generatioin. If I just could find a young man interested in working with his hands and brain instead of becoming addicted to the computer and video game world!!
 

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I have been wanting to build a few of my own knives but have a ton of projects going that I need to finish.

I have some rifle stocks that I want to make. Out of the extra wood, I want to make knife scales so that I have knives matched to the rifle.
 

kathy

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Great looking knives. Forrest
 

CAustin

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Hope you get back into this and sell a few
 

Von Gruff

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Good stuff you have been doing Von Gruff. I often am amazed at what is available out in the world for knife making if a guy just looks for steel: Huge amounts just for the asking. I worked in a large paper mill complex years ago as a Machinist and the supply of scrap tool steel and saw steel was just amazing. It was all headed to the scrapper at pennies on the pound and we mechanics had first crack at whatever we wanted. I am now 69 years old and it is time to pass the treasure of knife supplies on to a younger generatioin. If I just could find a young man interested in working with his hands and brain instead of becoming addicted to the computer and video game world!!

Forging is something I have always wanted to try but I am near 65 myself and have all the knives I could ever use so the set-up to get into forging is more than is financially viable now. I first saw an old blacksmith forging steel in the early 60's and to see the ease with which a very skilled artisan can take a piece of steel and make it flow from one shape to another all the while changing its properties from one purpose to another is facinating. Forging would open up a whole new range of steel to try from wirerope to motorcycle chains and old truck axels. We have a small population base here in New Zealand and there are a number of very good knifemakers and a million cheap imports on the auction sites so knives are almost at saturation point. All that is left is playing with the odd one for myself either to try something new or to change a design feature and that often in a very minor way.
I do know what you mean and completely agree with you on the desire to have a young person interested enough to spend time in my shed learning to little bits and pieces I have aquired over the years. I am of the firm belief that knowledge not passed on is knowledge lost and while I know there are a lot of "old school" young people stiil having an interest in actual learning, they are over balanced by a large majority who have no concept of, nor ability to be, self sufficient in any of the areas of skills that we all took for granted as being a natural part of growing up and into manhood.
 

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