Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Patch Knife

I repurposed a battered Old Hickory paring knife into a patch knife for black powder shooting. The lead ball is wrapped in a piece of fabric (the patch) which serves as a gasket. The fabric is cut to size using the patch knife.

Here's the original knife.

Why salvage it? Because Old Hickory knives have very good steel in them. They're worth saving.

The handle was splintery and helpfully said, "Vegetable" on the side. I removed it. Then I scribed onto the blade a 'roach belly' profile and took the blade to the grinder. Here are before and after pics. The deep blue layout dye allows me to see the scribed line.

I made a new handle out of some cherry I found in the shop. The handle is held to the blade by two brass rivets. I made the rivet burrs out of some brass strip stock and the rivets themselves from 1/8" brass round. I cut the diamond-shaped inlays into the handle using an X-Acto knife and a 1/8" chisel I made out of some bar stock.

Finally, I peened the rivets down, filed them smooth, and sanded one last time. The cherry was finished with oil and wax. Here's the result.

This is my first knife. I'm proud of it. Hopefully it will provide decades of service.


  1. Very nice! I would love to see some of the in progress pictures.

    Did you have to heat treat the blade or did you just grind it down to the new shape?

  2. I didn't take any in-progress pictures - there really wasn't much to the project except finding the ambition to try. For example, the handle was blocky. Then it was oval. Meh. Not worth a picture.

    I covered the blade in a layout fluid and scribed the cutting edge's shape which is suspiciously similar to the arc found on our dinner plates. I ground the blade to the line making sure it didn't get hot. I didn't have to heat treat it. I didn't intend to use the grinder for fear of detempering the steel but the blade was so hard I couldn't file it or cut it with a really good hacksaw and blade. (When I was grinding the bevel I got careless for about 1/2 a second and burned the tip off. There was so little steel there to sink the heat...)