Another Hunting Knife in 1095

New Spec. Hunting Knife in 1095. 


Well not much has changed with my skinner. I just used 1095 instead of O1 , its usual spec steel.  More for the ability to get a hamon on the blade than anything.

Micarta and 1095 hunting knife
Steel : 1095 Scales : Micarta Tan and Black OAL: 8″ Blade Length : 4″ Handle Length : 4″

Both steels are great steels I would still favor the O1 in performance, but its hard to get a hold of sometimes and I must admit using  New Jersey Steel Baron’s 1095 has been nothing but consistent and fun.

The story behind this knife.

This blade was commissioned by a friend looking for a graduation gift for his nephew.  I have known this friend for a lot of years and jumped at the chance to make him a knife.

His nephew is an avid sportsman.  Shooting sports and hunting are his passions  it was just natural to assume his choice in knives would follow those lines.

I am pushing my hunting line to be high performance, razor sharp, light weight blades.  They have a slim profile to keep out of the way on the belt. I contour the handle heavily to make up for the lost mass.  The swoop in the blade helps catch tissue or hide giving the user more control.  A deep finger choil helps keep the knife in the hand.  Micarta is a favorite handle material in my hunting knives.  As I have said before it is one of the few materials that gets sticky when it is wet.

For a hunting knife 1095 is a great choice.

Carbon steels are excellent heavy use steels and in my opinion can’t be matched by a stainless steel.  There are some stainless steels out there that are amazing, like AEB-L.  To me its still not the same as a good old 10X , high, and low alloy steel.

I have been doing some research on knives made in the 17-1900’s in the U.S and England.  The styles and production processes, and that’s helped feed my interest in the traditional steels I suppose.

I’ve read a lot of performance charts on a lot of different steels.  I’m no expert.  However, I am starting to believe the difference between steels that have been around a long time and some of the super steels is minimal.  The super steels are great on paper but performance in real life might be so minute that the average user will never really notice.

I’m not saying , stay away from the super steels.  Not at all!  I have all kinds of S30V and other super steel blades.  I am actually a big fan of such steels.  However marginal the improvements might be , they are still improvements and that’s what this game is all about, making better knives.

So like anything, be skeptical , be cautious and don’t rush out to be the guy to have the first  knife in the latest greatest steel.  There has never been a steel to do it all.

Custom 10″ Slicer for Cutting Prime Rib.

A Custom Knife made for a Retirement Gift.

High Carbon Steel Custom Blade for Cutting Large Roast
10 ” Edge
O1 Steel
Spalted Magnolia and Eastern Red Cedar Scales



I love the blue shade O1 takes on !
Scabbard to protect a long blade inteneded to be used and travels frequently
Scabbard for a blade that travels . Slicer is kept in place by leather strap that is held on copper pin by a cotter pin.  I figured its a 10 cent fix if its ever lost. 


Satin finish on Custom Slicer


This slicer was made as a retirement gift for a guy who likes to do presentations with prime ribs and larger cuts of meat.  I like a lot of contrast in my handles and stumbled across some spalted magnolia that surprised me when finish was applied.  The dark rings and detail really set this knife off in my opinion.

I’m no expert on the ” rules” behind what makes a knife this or that kind of knife.  I realize there are probably names and specifics around certain styles of knives especially Japanese knives.  I know there is a difference between a French chefs knife and a German chefs knife and so on and I get the need for such designations.

However, I just like to make knives and call them what I like.  This knife is made to slice large cuts of meat.  What seems important to me is that friction is reduced as much as possible.  I kept the blade long and thin.  The finger choil is added to provide the user with some clearance for the fingers so they can worry about a long smooth cut and not their fingers hitting a cutting board.

I researched a ” good cut on large roast ”  and what I found out is the carver wants to avoid a lot of small hand movements that result in a saw like cutting pattern on the surface of the meat.   This is also why the length of the knife is important.  Slicing knives are 9″ up to 14″ in some cases.  Since this knife would travel I chose to keep it at 10″ for convenience.

The handle scales are coated in tongue oil to bring out the color and I have found gets a little sticky when wet.  Its also easy to maintain should the handle need some attention down the road.

The wooden scabbard ( I’m sure there is a fancy name from the far East I don’t know)  but scabbard sounds like something a pirate would use so that’s what I am going to call it  was an after thought when I was trying to find a box to ship this knife safely in.  I figured the only way to protect the blade was incase it in some wood.  I had seen kitchen knives kept in wooden scabbards before , but had never tried my hand at it.  The challenge was how I was going to secure the knife in the scabbard.  The solution was simple, just a leather strap that is held in place by a pin.

Bowie Knife – Well… kind of.

The Bowie Knife! The American Fighting Knife


Its surprising to me how many people do not realize the Bowie’s origins ( despite being named after an early American hero.)  The Bowie is characterized by its massive size from clip to pommel .

Its said that the original bowie was influenced by Spanish / French sailors.  The Bowie started life out as a fighting knife.  Commissioned by Jim Bowie’s brother as a way for Jim to protect himself it was the Colonial concealed carry at the time.. only there was no concealing it was all about intimidation and in the right hands probably intimidation turned into a bad day for the guy on the other end.

This knife is modeled after the bowie , with a sharpened clip and oversized features.  I would not classify this as a full bowie knife.  Anything with a blade under 9″ really isn’t a bowie knife but that could be argued by some.

I used copper for the guard and pins.  Ebony handle and an O1 blade.

Knife Specs:

Overall Length- 12 ” approx.

Blade Length – 6.75″

Handle Length – 5.5″ from pommel to end of guard

Blade Material — trusty O1 Tool Steel

Handle Material – Macassar Ebony ( not endangered)

Grind – flat grind with a secondary bevel

Satin finish on blade.  Copper pins and guards




Damascus Skinner

“A style of my own ” Damascus Skinner


Damascus is a beautiful material.  It like all steels has its issues but the end results , if skill and luck hold out are beautiful.  This knife was made from Alabama Damascus , a brand name known for its unusually dark patterns.  This was my first attempt at a Damascus from the U.S. and was very impressed by it.

knife specs :

Overall Length- 9.5″

Blade Length- 5″

Handle Length- 4.5″

Blade Material – Damascus

Handle Material –  Ebony

Every Day Carry build the struggle was real – that knife that tested me to the end

So , not only was January brutally cold in Nebraska.  I also had to struggle with a couple knives that for some reason , didn’t want to be finished.  Cedar scales , I cut myself, my go to steel O1  and soon to be leather sheath.

I made a test knife to build from.  I found out right away the handle although looking simple on paper ended up being the hardest part of the build.  I’ve mentioned in the past my struggles with handle scales but right now its not the basic pin alignment issue.  I’ve since moved on to focus on fit and finish of the knife .  Keeping symmetry is ultimately my end goal.  Each knife is getting better.  Its about the focus and practice right!  I’ll update when I get the sheath and handles finished.

Knives are prox. 7 ”

O1 tool steel

Sheath soon to be leather.

every day carry knive with file work

Making of a Blade- Last Resort Blades

Last Resort Blades –

Insight into a blend of old blacksmithing meets new world Knife Smiths.    This is a quick overview of what it takes to bring one blade to life.  A blend of old world knowledge and new world technology brings forth a functional piece of art.

If interested in having a knife made here is Last Resort Blades :


Website :  Last Resort Blades

Facebook :  Last Resort Blades FB.




Some of My Custom knives!

I shut down my store so I thought I would post some of my knives on the blog.  If interested contact me via my form below.  Thanks!


Here are some of my new knives:

The knife below is an experiment of sorts.  I based it off a standard drop point hunting knife with a deep choile  at the start of the cutting edge to assist in detailed work.  The handle is made so that when the blade is flipped in the hand , facing the user, the middle and index finger now control the cutting edge.  Handy if you are peeling something like a potato.  It does take some getting used to but after a few minutes it becomes handy.

Finger Choil in Custom Kitchen Utility Knife allows for better control and grip of the knife
Modified Kitchen Utility knife with finger choil
O1 Tool Steel
Leopard Wood Scales
White liners






Custom Cutlery and Kitchen knives unility blade
Kitchen Utility Knife
O1 Tool Steel
Canary Wood Scales
4″ Blade , 4-1/4″ handle

The knife above I made for my wife.  I had initially made her a nice Damascus chef’s knife and to my disappointment she never used it.  This was my fault because I failed to recognize the fact that she never uses big knives.  Always using a thin steak knife or a paring knife to do about 90% of the work.

Realizing my error, I decided to build something in between.  I do feel she needs a little bigger knife for those chopping jobs that require some leverage.    O1 steel impresses me with its ability to get sharp and stay sharp.  the down side is , if you like a polished bade with no blemishes , O1 is not for you.  It tends to tarnish if not etched.  For me the oxidation is an upside.  I can’t wait to see some miles on this knife and how it will look in a couple years!  Gonna be bad ass!

I am a fan of the old stuff, and vintage tools.  Those things have a story you can almost hear in the dents , scratches, and dings.

So where do I rate myself as a knife maker?  I’m still a rookie.  There are a lot of knives I have not attempted yet, but want to.  I feel comfortable with what I have made to date.  They all hold an edge, have good handles, and do the job they were intended to do.

Opportunities-  My plunge lines … not perfect yet but I did some tuning to the grinders platen and modified my technique a lot to help with that.   Handles , surprisingly coming along better than I expected. If you had read any of my earlier posts you would know I struggled with handles / scales at first.   I slowed things down, took my time and did a lot more hand work.  I want to take this a big further and come up with a way to work on keeping everything really proportional.  I’m about 70% there.  In time !

Oh! forgot to mention I am tooling up for some sheath work.  I will start out with some Chicago screws and kydex and move into leather.  Another learning opportunity and adventure.  lets us hope it is better than learning how to grind handles and scales …





Taking the Damascus Blade Out for a Run!

One of the fun parts of making knives is the ability to go out and test them. 

Strolling thru the grocery store I found an okay rib roll.  I’d guess the middle of the road U.S.D.A Choice, not a Nebraska Star Beef quality but none-the-less a good cut.  Thought, I would take a crack at possibly cutting some of my own steaks.

The challenge would be the size of the rib-roll.  A standard kitchen knife is a touch on the small side as far at cutting edge so this would be a great test of one of my knives.

The size of the rib-roll was such that it would take a full forward cut and a full draw back.    I figured , if the knife wasn’t sharp , or didn’t hold the edge the meat would have a jagged cut and very noticeable choppy face to the steak.  Showing I had to use more than a forward and back motion to cut the steak.

Results :

I have used this knife several times.  For the sake of the test I didn’t steel the blade or sharpen it.    Kitchen Cutlery often goes from one task to another in the home kitchen,  rarely getting the edge reset.  I wanted the simulate such use.

The rib-roll was room temp, a little colder possibly.  I could have slightly froze the steak to firm it up and make it easier to cut but again, most of us do not have the time to make sure our meat is perfect firmness to cut.. We thaw and cut.

The Damascus blade cut thru in just one push and pull for seven steaks and then 4 more roasts with no problems.  I had some issue keeping my cuts perfectly uniform all the way thru , but that was a skill thing the local butcher probably spent years perfecting or there is a trick I don’t know?  So the knife tested out well.  I was happy with it.

Improvements :

If I were to continue to cut larger muscle groups, I would try to build a 10″ blade or longer.  I would also make sure my blade is no thicker than 1/8th”.  the thicker blade does help fold the meat over and out of the way, but at a cost of friction on the cheek of the knife.  Its not a big deal but improvement is an improvement.  The thinner blade in my opinion would be a sharper edge and a better slicer. Theory , yet to be tested!

Keeping in mind, this blade was intended as a general use knife.  Initial design was  to be master of none, but adequate at most.  The above improvements will go towards a specialized blade down the road.   Oh and yes, my cutting board needs some love.  She’s seen better days.

I will continue to try to cut more of my own steaks for the sake of research and development.  Maybe do some dry age steaks?  cutting steaks with a damascus blade

So you want to make knives?

My interest for knives drove me to attempt the crazy and get geared up with tools and materials to try my hand at building a few knives.

Before starting I did the usual research, read books, and browsed the discussions out there on the subject matter.  I had a lot of help from Last Resort Blades …  I believe I wore the guy out with my 100 questions a day.  Jason was a good sport and guided me thru the trial by fire that were and still are my first knives.

Steve Johnson of Johnson Adventure Blades was also a big help!  The man is an engineer when it comes to just about everything knives!  Constantly reminding me to not over think it!

I believe it important to give credit were credit is due.  I am just getting off the ground but I wouldn’t be were I am with out the help of the two mentioned above.

Day 1)

So I headed out to buy me some equipment.  Going after the stock removal technique ” figured it would be the most DIY friendly ” I listed my needs in order of what I thought important.

  1. Grinder –  You can not remove with out a remover.  I dug deep here. A professional grade grinder can be thousands of dollars.  The last thing in wanted to do was go there and find out this wasn’t for me.   I looked at all options.  After all this was number one on the list.
    1. What I learned .  Grinders are a big electric motor with attachments .  These motors can be single , double  phase.  Double phase means they can vary current and thus speed.
    2. Precision– The upper end professional grade grinders are built to high tolerances.  They are high and tight and it will show in the work .  Symmetry in plunge lines, bevels, and handles are a mark of pride amongst the top knife makers.  You really do get what you pay for in this area.
    3.  I settled for a Grizzly.  Reason for that was the $699 price point and the fact that I noticed a lot of them sitting in back corners of knife makers shops on YouTube videos.  Its not a bad starter grinder at all.  No attachments that I know of and tracking is terrible out of the box but with a little tuning she does okay.  I would recommend  grinding the graphite off the platen. It wears uneven and causes waves to form in your bevels.  A lot of guys weld some harden tool steel to the platen to make a better one. I have not gone down that road yet.  The steel is too valuable to me right now .  One could argue that logic.
    4. Grinder Attachments –  the more the better.  You do not have to have all the bells and whistles to make a knife but the more intricate knives need the different drive wheels and fun stuff to achieve those angles and radiuses.   Don’t fear for every attachment you do not have there is a hand tool to get you by.
  2. Drill Press –  I almost believe you have to have one.  Especially after my first couple knives.  If those holes don’t line up its a bad time getting everything on the knife.  The good news is a drill press doesn’t have to be expensive.  I bought a mini-drill press for 75 bucks.  She is bare bones but gets the work done.  I’ve actually found the rudimentary of the drill press an advantage at times.
  3. Eyes–  at the minimum wear safety glasses but a grinding shield is ideal in my opinion.  it also helps blow the dust around your respirator .. speaking of that.
  4. Respirator –  metal dust and handle material dust are no joke.  Some exotic woods can even be toxic.  Protect your lungs.  Some guys use the little cloth masks but I  do not feel that is enough.  Take it from a guy who’s wife treats cancer for a living.. don’t take chances with your lungs.
  5. Files– Also a must have.  If you had the time to burn even a bevel could be scratched in with a file.  A chainsaw file works great for radius and tight spots.  A set of files , different shapes and sizes only cost $15.00 or more depending on how precise you want to get.  I started doing file work to the spines of my blades.  I’ve had a lot of fun with trying new patterns.  I screwed some things up but its all part of learning I suppose.
  6. Abrasives –  belts and sheets it is part of it and a costly one too.  Get used to it, you are going to burn thru abrasives at a consistent pace.   I started with 60,120,240 grit belts.  I might have jumped down one more to a 30 looking back but I did okay starting my blades with 60.   Sheets I went all the way up to 1000 for finishing handles.  I go with the inexpensive aluminum oxide belts.  They do not last as long but I can get a lot of them for a handful of bucks.
  7. Forge–  This one could be argued.  The reason I list it ” for stock removal ” is I like the challenge of heat treating my knives.  There are professional out there that will heat treat your knives and get the most out of them.  So its not a must and really in the short term, you are better off.  Me, I like the punishment of a warped blade from time to time.  I’m getting better.  Every knife I learn something new.  Ultimately you want to get a heat treating oven with a digital control.  Its the crockpot of the knife world set it and forget it!  The forge will never be as consistent but way more fun!
    1. * if you decide to heat treat your own blade it might be a good idea to find someone who has  or buy a Rockwell tester.  The file test are better than nothing but not as definitive as a Rockwell tester.  I did end up buying a used one.  Lucky for me it works.  I tested it on a known RC from a production blade.  “thanks for the idea Jason! ”   but buying a calibrated piece of equipment like that is always a gamble.
    2. * thermocouple — knowing your temp in knife making is always good.  I picked one up for $60.00.
  8. Clamps –  buy one after another .  You can never have too many.  #thehardway
  9. Epoxy–  Liquid glass , Devcon… and on and on.  Everyone has their favorite.  I used what had high reviews on Amazon. The Devcon is a two part Epoxy as most are, has worked well for me.  I’m sure there is better out there but for right now I keep my variables to a minimum.  It works, and when I get a few things mastered I will do some experimenting .
  10. Steel –  the 10X steels are great starters, but I highly recommend O1 for anyone starting out.  O1 is easy to heat treat and fun to grind in my opinion.  Its performance is exceptional for what it is and holds an impressive edge in my opinion.  If you are going to send your knives off to heat treat, then I wouldn’t much worry about what steel you are going to use but do consider what the knives intended use is and do your homework.  There isn’t one steel that can do it all from all the makers I’ve talked with.  I’m sticking with O1 right now.  As I mentioned , until I master a few things , keeping variables to a minimum helps keep frustration levels down.  I learned this on a square of D2..
  11. Handle material–  again, purpose should a considered first. There are all kinds of materials out there but one thing I would stress is start out with the least expensive woods and work your way up.  Unless you are an experienced wood worker then a few scales will end up in the trash.  Don’t go out and buy mammoth tooth and drill a bad hole.
  12. Pin material –  Brass, Copper, Mosaic and all sizes.  I started out using the small stuff but learned quickly the larger pin stock has its advantages.  Mosaic pins always bring up your knife a notch or two but like anything can be over done on some knives.  Do what makes sense , a tactical knife doesn’t like panties.. it wants combat boots.
  13. Liner material.  Not necessary but I find a nice touch and helps bond wood to metal by having a fibrous medium between the two.  Liners also help with uneven handle material or cupped metal on the handle.  Both should be removed with a little sand paper and elbow grease but that does not always happen.  I went with a multi pack of colored sheets but next round I will order the colors I want individually.   I bought colors in the multi-pack that just flat out suck and I will not use.

The number one resource I cannot stress enough is finding someone with a little experience making knives of blacksmithing.  I know I mentioned it early on in this post but seriously, its a time and money saver.  If you do not find or know anyone get on the forums or even take a class. They are not cheap but consider reinventing the wheel is going to cost you twice as much time and money as paying for the class.  Unless your a natural .. then why are you reading this anyways you lucky bastard you!


Day 2)  ” this if figurative if you have not picked up on that yet”

Be ready to fail forward!

So I was all excited , my equipment started coming in and the world was good.   I will give myself credit for listening to the pros on all the YouTube videos and started with a very simple design.

My fist observation was new belts blow a lot of abrasive into your face.  Second observation… the pros make plunge lines look easy.  Its actually not easy , not at all.  There is also no trick to doing it , you just have to practice.  The grinder comes into play here too.  My grinder isn’t a precision machine so I have to learn its limits and capabilities.

I have yet to do a laser straight plunge line .  Very close but not perfect.  That is okay because I realized I can make that up with a file and some sandpaper.  Still not as good as the pros but some day dammit! I am committed to learning to grind my blades by hand but I judge nobody who choses to do bevels with a jig.

I mean, it is really kick ass if an artist can draw a straight line free hand but who turns their nose up at a guy who throws a rule down and draws a perfectly straight line with ease?

All that said I actually did well with grinding profiles and bevels.  I have always liked working with metal and found it fun.  I have yet to make one perfect but have received some compliments, even accused of buying blanks and putting handles on.  Pissed me off at the time but thinking back on it, what a compliment.  Just one way you can turn an A$$ hole into a hero.  ha haa. Do not get me wrong, I’ve a long ways to go to be where I want to but one day at a time!

Handles and Scales !

This is where the struggle gets real for me.  I probably have set a record for most scales thrown in the trash by a rookie.  I still struggle with them.  I know a lot of guys that think this is the easy part , but for me … not so much.

Really the struggle is what keeps me going and a lot of the fun for me.  I could care less how good or how fast others learned the craft.  I’m on my own journey and having a blast doing it.

Just when I thought I had the handle thing licked I was humbled once more.  I drilled my pins too close to the edge of the blade and so in sanding my scales to profile , exposed the pins to the world.  Dohh !

No big deal, it wasn’t the end of the world, the blade and handle were still good and structurally sound.  I did not expose all the pin just more than I wanted.   Really, I might use this down the road as something different on a knife in a more exaggerated and intentional  manner.  My point is , look for the upsides on your mistakes.  paring-knife-pins-too-close

For the Love of YouTube

In all the hours of video I watched the rule of ego still stands.  Some need fed , others feed.  Making a knife is an intimidating process but once you get the hang of it,  it is not that bad.  I have noticed that the Knife community has a lot of guys  more than willing to help a rookie out.  This is more the norm than the exception.

There are also those that want to make knife making sound so complicated that you or I in, our limited capacity, could never achieve such levels of skill.  This level of douchebaggery is exceptional and self-serving.  Keep scrolling thru until you find a video with a guy who’s goal is to teach and not preach.

I swam thru the endless sea of advice and used what would work best for me.  For example heat treating-  there are all kinds or recipes out there for heat treating O1 .  So I created a spreadsheet and found all the commonalties.  That would be my starting point.  Over the next several blades I refined my recipe based on my equipment and observations.   I’m still experimenting with the end goal being to be as consistent as I can be given the variables I can control with a gas forge and some quench oil.  Sure, a digitally controlled heat treat oven would get me there quick but what’s the fun in that?  That and I’ve spent enough on the first round of tool best let my pocket book heal.

My first blade.. didn’t harden.

I thought it did but comparing it to my last blade, is far from where my blades are now.   I would much rather prove myself wrong because I know that improvements have been made and the process is going down the right path.  I call this an easy win and you need those to keep the train going.  It was easy because only small adjustments were needed to drastically improve the hardness of the metal.  The hardness tester proves or disproves my progress.  I was very lucky to find one as inexpensive as I did.

I did run into warping issues.  I first observed my little gas forge was tight and thus creating hot spots on the blades.  Without even heat I learned the metal would deform in the area of the excessive heat.   So I pushed the blades further into the forge past the burner.  This heated the blades more evenly and faster.

Still , I was getting some warping.  Not as bad as previous but enough to cause problems.   I started heating my blades up to color change and letting them cool off 3X , the last time I didn’t let the blade cool completely and started the knife on the way to critical temp.  Results were better but not perfect.  In talking with a friend , he mentioned making sure I put the blade in the oil- tip straight down.  Any angle other than straight down could cause problems.   So the last blade took the plunge nose first and bingo.. straight blade.

I probably could have attended a workshop or two and saved myself some heartache.  However, I feel like in the end, it was a greater accomplishment and I  know why the knife will do what it does because I have seen it first hand! Sure there are probably better ways to build a knife than what I’ve shared.  Eventually I will discover those techniques or maybe even find a better way.

So to put this post to bed I want to discuss knife making as I see it.  For one, yes you can make a knife from files , saws, and sandpaper.  We have all watched the videos.  Its possible, but not practical.  The truth of the matter is if you are serious and want to make a knife faster than one a month , then expect to spend a couple grand on mid-tier equipment.  The next thing is , its going to take a lot of time and practice to make great knives.  its all muscle memory, experience, and skill.  You cannot pay for any of those three.  You will have to become a student of the craft.

You have to be okay with never knowing it all.  I have talked with a lot of guys who say every blade offers something in the form of experience.

Make what you like.  If you are a hunter and love hunting knives , make hunting knives.  Every knife will take a good number of hours from start to finish.  You might as well be enjoying the knife you are making.  If not I believe the hobby becomes a job and will show in your work.

These are just my observations of my limited experience making knives.  Nothing I say here is the bible.  If you know better let me know on anything in this post.  If you have anything to add, every suggestion is welcome!