file knives

Discussion in 'Knife Maker Shop Talk' started by Rey, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. Rey

    Rey Well-Known Member

    Is there a truth to make knives from files without annealing and heat treating, and temper in oven? The files come hardened from the manufacture already as we all know. Now, is it possible to take an old good brand farrier rasp file and just begin hollow or flat grinding and constantly dipping in water to cool, continuing process of shaping knife and polish and prepare handle holes to final blade edge to produce a knife as hard as it was from the factory? Without doing all the annealing, heat quench, temper in oven etc. Just as using a saw blade and cutting it to shape and finalize the knife from it and still keep its factory hardness. Rey in Texas
  2. JDW

    JDW Well-Known Member

    You can grind a file, if done very slowly and keep dipping it or dripping water over the wheel, and not lose the hardness. But you won't be able to drill holes in it, and the blade will most likely be to hard for a knife, other than maybe a small skinner. I guess to answer your question, yes it can be done, but not the most practical method, or the best results.
    That being said, I work with a guy who done this from a file, he did not drill tang holes, he made a hidden tang and ground little notches in it to grab in the epoxy to hold it in the deer antler. He is not a knifemaker, but wanted to make one for his self, the grinds have a lot to be desired, and the finish too, but he claims it holds an edge good, even though I can see places where it got hot during grinding, it turned purple in spots along the thin edge. So give it a try, and see what you come up with.

  3. Doug Lester

    Doug Lester Well-Known Member

    Another problem is that some files are only case hardened mild steel and you will grind away the hardened surface grinding the blade. Also, if it is of good steel that is hardened all the way through, a file is generally harder than you want a knife to be for some applications.

  4. McClellan Made Blades

    McClellan Made Blades Well-Known Member

    The main problem with good files to make into knives, without Hting or annealing, is the way they are Ht'd to begin with. Files are very hard to give the multiple (little) edges the ability to be sharpened and resharpened. Files are not ment to be bent so they don't take to it to well, I've actually seem them shatter when a farrier pop a horses butt for acting up,that is osme hard steel! Now saw blades do have some ability to bend a tiny,tiny bit. Most of the good ones are or were L-6, which is good knife steel. I agree with Dale, if you keep them cool while grinding, actually if you don't allow any heat build up, meaning dunk it after each pass, and keep your blades short, so no flex is possible in the knife, you can make a decent serviceable knife with either steel.

    Now for the holes needed in the tang, "can" be drilled with a carbide bit...but these bits, depending on size are EXPENSIVE! And drilling into this type of steel is more than frustrating, if you flex these bits a tiny bit they will break, if you get a hole started and the heat builds up too much, it will work harden. That's when your drill pess will start rattling and the drill bit will start squealing a painful screeching sound, using cutting oil should help...maybe, you can anneal the tang by heating it up to non-magnetic and then a little more, and the bury it in the middle of some hardwood ashes, or better Vermiculite. Wood ash is easy for anyone to get, Vermiculite is carcinogenic, and not recomended in areas that may have kids. It's not good to just have around, breathing it in is hazordous to everyones health! I went with wood ash, it should take it a day or so to completely cool, if it cools faster than that, you need more ashes and/or an insulated container.

    I have saved many files from many farrier friends, they give them to me if they don't send them back to be reshapened, so I have a few around the shop, if I ever run out of known steel, I'll go to them then! But not until I have to.

    Mind me asking why you aren't using known steel like what Aldo sells? Some of his 1084 makes an awesome knife, and heat treating it is as simple as it gets. Almost foolproof, that is why I started with it and still use it, like many makers do, including the big time guys you would think would be using something fancier, but because 1084 is pretty hard to beat for a using knife, with an inexpensive price tag for the annealed steel. Check with Aldo after Blade, buy some of his 1/8", 3/16", or 1/4", you'll be surprised how much better your stuff turns out. Hope this helped, Rex
  5. Rey

    Rey Well-Known Member

    Many thanks for you alls replies greatly appreciate it. Making knives from 1084 steel would it be the same steps as making a file knife? Meaning, anneal using my heat forge, heat to non-magnetic to quench in mineral oil, that's what I use and then off to the oven @400degrees for 2hours until hay color on file steel and last step to satin finish and sharpen blade. I would appreciate the steps for making knives out of 1084 and thanks again. God Bless you all. Rey in Texas
  6. Dealer - Purveyor

    Rey, making knives out of recycled steel is an honourable undertaking, but success requires quite a bit of experience and a healthy dose of luck. The 1084 won't need to be annealed. You can shape and drill it just as it comes to you. You can read lots in here about heat treat, but the trick is to evenly heat the blade to about 50 degrees MORE than non-magnetic - and then get it into the oil promptly -very promptly - and yes, you have the temper about right. You won't get the absolute best out of a blade like this, but you may well get a serviceable blade and that would be very cool on a first attempt.

    Known steel is way easier to figure out, and you have you hands full just making your first blade. From Aldo, the stuff is almost free. :biggrin:
  7. Doug Lester

    Doug Lester Well-Known Member

    Steel like 1084 will have enough carbon in it that it can form a significant amount of retained austinite that will convert to untempered martensite cooling from the first tempering cycle. I would do at least one more cycle to temper that martensite. Often people will routinely perform three cycles just to be on the safe side but I think that two should do for 1084.

  8. Rey

    Rey Well-Known Member

    thanks gentlemen for the good info about 1084 and I will order from aldo. Rey

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