First time working with metal, made a marking knife

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Project by lumberjoe posted 11-05-2014 01:53 AM 1800 views 4 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I like making my own tools, so it’s time to start making the metal bits too.

This marking knife started life as a 12” x 24” piece of Starrett 01 tool steel. I chopped off a piece with a hacksaw, ground and filed the profile, hardened it (oil quench) and tempered it.

Honing was a nightmare. I should have got it cleaner before tempering. I spent several hours on the stones to get the mirror polish and razor sharp edges.

The handle is cherry. I wanted a flat handle. I could have made it a bit thinner because it looks bulky, but it’s really nice to hold. The end felt light so I chucked up a brass rod in my lathe, cut a tenon and attached it to the end. I then shaped the brass with files to match the knife profile.

It was a lot of work, but I like the way it came out


15 comments so far

View bobasaurus's profile


2587 posts in 2608 days

#1 posted 11-05-2014 02:09 AM

I really like the brass end, that’s a nice touch (which I’ll be stealing in the future :). What was your exact hardening/tempering process for the O1? I use it for knifemaking and have heard a lot of different methods… I can share the final method I’ve come up with if you’re interested, it seems to work well. Is that your brand on the cherry handle?

-- Allen, Colorado

View kiefer's profile


4873 posts in 2091 days

#2 posted 11-05-2014 02:15 AM

Beautiful knife Joe .
The engraving on the handle and brass end cap are certaily a great touch and making it yours .
A tool that will make you happy every time you use it .


-- Kiefer

View lumberjoe's profile


2893 posts in 1672 days

#3 posted 11-05-2014 02:24 AM

Thanks Klaus!

Bob, I got it hot in the fire until it was no longer magnetic then immediately oil quenched it. After cleaning a little slag off and checking with a file to insure hardness, it went in the oven at 400 until it was dark red. Then pulled it out and let it air cool. It’s harder than I wanted it, but good for a knife. I’d be considered if it was a chisel


View shipwright's profile


7095 posts in 2222 days

#4 posted 11-05-2014 02:39 AM

Nice work Joe.
You are off on a very interesting path. Bon Voyage!

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View waho6o9's profile


7125 posts in 2001 days

#5 posted 11-05-2014 02:40 AM

Great job on the marking knife Lumberjoe!

View bobasaurus's profile


2587 posts in 2608 days

#6 posted 11-05-2014 07:13 AM

Sounds good joe, nice job. 400 is a good tempering temperature for O1, though you could go to maybe 450 if you wanted it softer. The scale is a pain, I started coating my stuff with a clay solution to prevent it.

-- Allen, Colorado

View Don W's profile

Don W

17882 posts in 1991 days

#7 posted 11-05-2014 11:59 AM

it looks good Joe.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View lumberjoe's profile


2893 posts in 1672 days

#8 posted 11-05-2014 02:29 PM

Thanks everyone.

Allen, I assume you need to knock the clay off before quenching? I am concerned about decarburization so I left the edges very fat. That resulted in a lot of work after it was tempered. I would much prefer to do that when the steel is free machining.

What kind of clay do you use?


View ColonelTravis's profile


1159 posts in 1318 days

#9 posted 11-05-2014 06:05 PM

chucked up a brass rod in my lathe

That’s gotta be a euphemism for something outside this nice, squeaky clean hobby.
Well done, I like the squarish knives vs. cylinder. Just how did you hone the blade? All by hand on the stones?

View mafe's profile


11061 posts in 2513 days

#10 posted 11-05-2014 07:19 PM

A wonderful knife and a delicate design.
Congrat on the work.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View lumberjoe's profile


2893 posts in 1672 days

#11 posted 11-05-2014 08:37 PM

Thanks everyone! Honing was all done by hand on stones. 200 to 600 diamond, then 1000 to 12,000 waterstone


View bobasaurus's profile


2587 posts in 2608 days

#12 posted 11-05-2014 09:23 PM

Joe, you can leave the clay on during quench (I did and it worked well) and the tempering process. It sands off pretty easily after, since it’s a pretty thin coat. I used ATP-641 anti-scale compound:

-- Allen, Colorado

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5839 posts in 3009 days

#13 posted 11-05-2014 10:22 PM

Wow Nice! Really ideal as marking knife, although I am not an expert by any means I know what I like have very safe fun JockBro Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View CFrye's profile


8597 posts in 1263 days

#14 posted 11-06-2014 12:59 AM

Great looking knife, Joe! The brass added for weight is a nice tip. What is the final size/weight? Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View JoeMcGlynn's profile


219 posts in 1777 days

#15 posted 11-07-2014 02:28 PM

I like it, good looking marking knife.

Unless you’re leaving the knife soaking in a forge at a high temp you aren’t likely to get any decarburization, especially if you’re surfacing the metal to remove the scale. Maybe start with something coarser before you go to your sharpening stones (say 220 grit wet/dry sand paper) next time.

I like the pommel, it’s a nice touch. And the split construction is a nice way to get a perfect fit around the blade.

-- Blog:

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