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Picture of Friction Folding Knife (Higonokami)

In this era of computers, internet, and... I don't know, airplanes!? a pocket knife is an underrated tool. You need something to open all those Amazon packages, don't ya? (Ironically, pocket knives are not too airplane friendly.) If you're a "maker," like me, then having a versatile tool with you also means that making something new is never too far away.

There's plenty of knife tutorials on Instructables, some of them quite good, but I couldn't find any that felt like a solid introduction to knife making (a practice I recently began and love) as well as a guide to making a genuinely useful knife.

So here we are.

Remember- take it slow, measure twice, and it will never be perfect the first time, so don't be afraid to try again.

Safety First

Always wear eye protection. Ventilate smoke. Stay aware of hot metal.

Step 1: Tools, Materials, Set Up

Picture of Tools, Materials, Set Up

What you'll need:


  1. Small washers (optional)
  2. "Hardenable" tool steel (high carbon steel, maybe 4"x1")
  3. A rivet pin (we'll get to this, but essentially a small, straight cylinder of metal)
  4. Choice of handle (I used brass, a piece twice the width of the blade plus the thickness of the metal x the length of the blade portion + a little bit- for my knife this was maybe 2 1/2"x 3")


  1. Bench grinder (or equivalent, files would work, for instance, but I won't go into that here)
  2. Drill press
  3. Band saw
  4. Hammers (ball peen is ideal- basically a hammer with a sphere on the end)
  5. Anvil/hard and stable striking surface
  6. Layout tools- even a sharpie and ruler will do, calipers really help
  7. Sandpaper, Scotch-Brite, wire wheel- cleanup tools
  8. Strong heat source- I use an acetylene torch
  9. Oil- some people use vegetable oil! I used Parks Quench Oil- 70 I think
  10. Table vice

That's it! If it sounds like a lot, don't worry- almost all the large or expensive tools can be substituted for an angle grinder, drill gun, palm sander, or other affordable tools.

AnandM545 months ago
Nicely did it friend ..!!
Toga_Dan6 months ago
I suggest that drilling should be the first steps, not the last. It's a safety concern. One of the first knives I made was almost finished when I decided to drill holes in the handle. The clamps didn't hold well on the drill press table. The drill bit grabbed the complete + sharpened blade, and spun it. Scary! I was imagining the blade being thrown from the drill bit. Lucky it didn't. Heart stopping moment.

Perhaps by making a cardboard mockup, the hole location can be determined before cutting steel.

Cool knife. Simpler than most folders.
paolobrand-iron (author)  Toga_Dan6 months ago
Thanks for your comment! I totally agree, and after a quick check it looks like I mentioned drilling before grind the blade.
fran=16 months ago
i have been following instructables for many years,and made a couple of things but you have a great way you explain how you made it i enjoyed reading it and will probably read it again as will my grandson,keep up the fine work,maby a short story
seamster6 months ago
Very nice results! And a great first instructable too. Well done! : )
paolobrand-iron (author)  seamster6 months ago
Thanks so much! It was fun and really challenging to write out everything I think I understand in a way I think other people will understand. I can’t say how much your feedback means!
It is indeed a fun process to document and share what you make! I think I've learned a lot more over the years than I may have otherwise, because as I'm working on some project I'm also analyzing how best to teach what I'm learning along the way . . and it gets internalized in a whole new way.