10 Knife Making Supplies for Beginners

By Bradley Richardson, Making Your Own Bush Knife

Welcome to the world of knifemaking: a rabbit hole of tools, techniques, frustration, finger slices, freak-outs, passion, and pride.  My favorite part of knifemaking is just how unique every single knife can become. If I head into the shop this week and make a knife, I am 100% certain that no other knife I make will ever be exactly the same as this one.

That being said, there is plenty for anyone to learn when it comes to the craft of knifemaking. My advice is to challenge yourself in small increments. If you cannonball into this craft, you may never make it out alive. If you take your time and learn from every mistake, knifemaking can become a rewarding and at times meditative craft.

I’ve narrowed things down to create a very budget-friendly and modest group of ten tools that will get anybody started making knives. Many people may already find most of these tools in their home, and if not this entire list of tools can be bought new for around $150. You can always make upgrades as you move along, but these ten tools will prove their worth in any knifemaker’s shop. Make sure you’ve read the safety material first in my Making Your Own Bush Knife Book. If you go blind or burn your shop down, you won’t get much more use out of any of these tools.

 The Knife Maker’s Giveaway

Fox Chapel Publishing and Jantz Supply teamed up to bring you a knifemaking starter kit! A lucky winner will receive a prize package detailed in the left column valued at $214.54! Contest ends May 31, 2020. Click here to enter!

Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine

Making Your Own Bush Knife

From outdoor excursions to everyday use at home, bush knives are practical, useful tools. Now, you can make your own!

  • Go-to guide for the beginning knifemaker, metalsmith, or craftsman to forge a bush knife in your own backyard
  • Learn the techniques of forging and stock removal, as well as how to select, quench, and grind steel into a bush knife
  • Helpful information on the types of forges and fuel
  • Written by an experienced blacksmith and knifemaker, Bradley Richardson, who you might recognize from the History Channel’s Alone

Tools for the Beginning Knife Maker

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 01

1. File

The first tool on the list is a file. More specifically, a single-cut file, also known as a bastard-cut mill file. This tool can be used for fine-tuning a blade profile as well as to form bevels.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 03

2. Rasp

A rasp is a much coarser form of file, used to shape wood and other materials. Rasps are great at shaping most handle materials.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 03

3. Forge

If you plan to buy a forge, you might spend $200– $300 on a very basic model. However, I’d recommend any beginner to fashion his or her own forge using firebricks and a blowtorch. I go over this in detail on pages 52–53 on my book, Making Your Own Bush Knife.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 04

4. Quenching Container & Medium

In order to heat-treat your knife, you’ll need a safe, metal container for quenching. It doesn’t need to be huge unless your blades are huge. The rule of thumb is to use one gallon of quenching liquid per pound of steel you plan to quench.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 03

5. Tempering Oven

A pro-quality tempering oven can cost thousands of dollars. But if you have permission to use the household oven or even the toaster oven, you’re good to go.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 02

6. Drill

A drill is a great tool for any shop, and anyone who is at all handy probably has one lying around. A drill press will always provide a more accurate hole, but a hand drill will do the trick if you need it to.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 04

7. Vice

A vise is an awesome tool to have. Anytime you’re working with a handheld grinder, or a hacksaw, it is important to securely mount your workpiece into a vise.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 04

8. Clamps

A few little clamps don’t seem like much, but they are very helpful in securing handle material to a tang. 

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 03

9. Sharpening Stone

This should be a given, but you can’t call a knife complete without sharpening it. I recommend a two-sided whetstone that features both a low (400 or so) grit and a high (1000–3000) grit.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 04

10. A Community!

And finally, one of the best tools that you can have is the already existing community of  knifemakers.  Whether you’re on social media or at a knife show or convention, fellow knifemakers are often always happy to answer questions to help you get to the next level. 

Yearn to Burn: A Pyrography Master Class

The Home Blacksmith

Forty practical, easy-to-follow projects are presented, showing aspiring blacksmiths how to make tools, such as hammers and chisels; farm implements, such as gate latches and hoof picks; and items for home use, including drawer pulls and candle holders.

Woodburning Realistic Animals

Blacksmith's Craft

The iconic, must-have guide for modern handcraft artisans, The Blacksmith’s Craft has been teaching the fundamentals of blacksmithing since 1952 for good reason.  

Little Book of Pyrography

Farm & Workshop Welding

A comprehensive, visual handbook for welding in the farm, home workshop, school workshop, blacksmith shop, or auto shop.

Landscape Pyrography Techniques & Projects

Back to Shop Class: Metalworking

Go back to learning the basics of working with metal, from understanding the properties of various alloys and the tools to work with them to the fundamentals of shaping, cutting, and fastening it into various shapes. 

Get Exclusive Email Offers And Receive 15% OFF On Your First Book Order!