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Knife Forged From Bicycle Spokes - a Truly Bespoke Knife!

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I set out to make a knife using an unusual material, something I hadn't used before. And a quick search on the web yielded few results of anyone forging a knife from bicycle spokes. At the beginning I wasn't sure if the spoke material was suitable for a knife blade so I did a quick spark test (see step 1) and found there should be sufficient carbon content. However, when later testing the hardness of the quenched blade, it didn't harden to my satisfaction. (EDIT: See below) Even though the finished knife isn't going into active kitchen service, I went on to complete the knife as I was intrigued by the pattern in the blade. And I'm hoping you may learn something from reviewing the steps in my process.

Can bicycle spokes be forge welded into a knife? Yes!

In this instructable I'll show you how I forged 90 bicycle spokes into an 8 inch chef knife. This knife features a full tang, integral forged bolster, stabilised New Zealand native timber and stainless steel pins.

EDIT: We've been using the knife in our kitchen and it's working great, cutting well and comfortable in the hand. We'll be using the knife on a regular basis.

Observations:

The spokes are coated to prevent corrosion. This coating gave off some nasty fumes when heated and also contributed to some gaps in the forge welding which can be seen in the photos. Cleaning the spokes back to shiny steel would probably have resolved these issues.

Step 1: Prepare the Spokes

My donor material came from a couple of old bikes. I removed the tyres and cut the spokes out of the rims.

I cut the spokes into lengths of 110mm then bundled them together using wire. I mig welded one end to hold the spokes in place then attached a length of rebar at the other end to use as a handle when forging.

All up I had 179 lengths of spoke.

During welding it became apparent that some nasty fumes were being burned off the spokes. Good ventilation is needed here so as not to inhale the fumes.

Note
I wanted to check the presence of hardenable material in the spokes. Performing a spark test on the belt grinder resulted in star-burst sparks, a good indicator of the presence of carbon in the spokes.

zakbobdop6 days ago
This knife has definitely spoken for itself ;D Great job!
Minnear Knives (author)  zakbobdop6 days ago
I see what you did there! Thanks for your comment.
That is cool thanks for sharing. I tried to make a billet from spokes about a year ago and failed miserably. I cut a chrome-moly tube off the bike and stuffed it full of spokes, I proably should have cleaned the spokes first.
Minnear Knives (author)  liquidhandwash6 days ago
The can method of forging spokes (and using the bicycle frame) is a brilliant idea. Maybe it wasn't hot enough? Or the alloy in the spokes stopped them welding properly? I was lucky that the spokes I had available welded together well. Thanks for sharing your story.
DickM118 days ago
Wow, thanks, this reminds me of an article I read about the Sutton Hoo Sword which was pattern welded using twisted iron rods. A replica was made with difficulty and the patterning on the blade is glorious.
Minnear Knives (author)  DickM116 days ago
I didn't know about the Sutton Hoo Sword...it's a fascinating blade!
lclaiborne7 days ago
Spokes come in many different alloys. You can just buy the better ones, they’re used to hand build high end wheels. Having spent years riding such wheels, the spokes would make one heckuva knife! Fabulously resilient metals.
Minnear Knives (author)  lclaiborne6 days ago
Thanks for the information.
rnshagam10 days ago
I would guess that the nasty fumes you experienced were from chrome plating on the spokes. Any chorme plated material should be treated with utmost caution when welding or soldering, etc.as it is highly toxic as a respiratory hazard. See https://www.pchrome.com/health-risks-associated-chrome-plating/ But beautiful work!!!
Spokes aren’t chrome plated. Cheap ones like these can have a laquer or plastic dip to protect from corrosion. Chrome playing spikes adds a lot of money and weight, only a low rider show bike would be bothered, and it’s custom work.
I say the fumes are from zinc or cadmium, not chromium. Many spokes are galvanized, which is a coating of zinc to inhibit corrosion. The zinc/cadmium boils off and then oxidizes, giving zinc oxide dust. Chromium's melting/boiling points are similar to iron, so I can't imagine chromium fuming off. The same goes for manganese or vanadium, which may be alloyed in the steel.
ironsmiter12 days ago
You likely could disassemble, case harden, and return to active service.
A good case hardening may not last the "lifetime of the blade" but should
give a good decade, unless in the hands of a professional chef.

One thing I've always wondered. Why mark substandard product?
I've only ever used my touchmark (or engraving) on products I am proud of.
Even in ceramics, I would rather engrave my mark later, if I thought the
fired piece may not come out to my satisfaction. Sure, I've made plenty of
utility grade stuff, and it is OK, and I even tell people I made it. But to receive
my mark, it has to meet my expectations.
I suppose, I have see plenty of examples of markings that are struck out later.
For instance, grey market knife blade kits supplied with factory second blades
that have their marks struck out. That would probably be better than what I've done.
Minnear Knives (author)  ironsmiter11 days ago
Thanks for your comments. I added my mark because I am proud of the knife and the workmanship I put into it and because the pattern is so unique.
I'd be proud of it too!
billbillt10 days ago
NOT ENOUGH CARBON OR ALLOW TO MAKE A GOOD EDGE KEEPING BLADE, BUT KIND OF COOL JUST TO LOOK AT...
RobertN12410 days ago
Beautiful work and really quite a unique medium to use. I would have never even thought of forging spokes of a wheel. Great job.
pstolle10 days ago
You can also use the wires at the edge of the tires, it is very tough steel. Somewhere there is a guy on youtube he called it Damascus steel. Interesting methode.
DanPro11 days ago
Beautiful job! Your previous knife Instructable is also quite impressive. I would love to have either displayed in my kitchen.
joen12 days ago
It's sad that this knife won't be used for its intended service. It is still a beautiful knife. I hope there are other ways to put this knife in service.
Minnear Knives (author)  joen11 days ago
Thanks for your comments. I'll be using the knife in my domestic kitchen, and I'm expecting it should perform ok. I'll keep an eye on the sharpening requirements as I go...it could perform better than I expected.