The Heritage Blade

Make your own antler- or bone-handled hunting knife.

Photo courtesy of Mark Weiss
Click here to view Mark's portfolio
Mark Weiss

A handmade knife, its handle crafted from the headgear of an animal obtained in the chase, is a treasured heirloom that will pass the stories of its maker from generation to generation. Anyone with a steady hand and a few simple tools can make one in an afternoon session at the workshop.

[BRACKET "Step 1"]
Cut the Handle
Select an antler or horn and cut it to length with a hacksaw, then file and sandpaper the piece until it fits your hand.

[BRACKET "Step 2"]
Choose the Blade
I advise buying a blade (Jantz Supply carries a wide selection; 800-351-8900; knifemaking.com), instead of trying to shape one. Choose a blade and tang with dimensions compatible to your handle.

[BRACKET "Step 3"]
Make the Finger Guard
Cut a finger guard from a piece of brass stock using a hacksaw. Shape it with a file, then drill a series of vertically aligned holes through its center. Using these holes to start the file, rasp out a slot for the tang.

[BRACKET "Step 4"]
Drill the Handle
Position the blade and tang, with the finger guard in place, above the handle so that the spine aligns with the handle's back. Using this for reference, mark a slot for the tang in the cut end.

[BRACKET "Step 5"]
Fit the Tang
Clamp the handle in a padded vise and drill a hole into the cut end. Using a piece of masking tape wrapped around the bit to mark depth, drill progressively shallower holes to either side of the center hole, then excavate a slot with files. Epoxy the tang and guard into this slot.*

[BRACKET "Step 6"]
Finish
File and sandpaper the handle until smooth and polish it with carnauba wax. Buff brass parts with a buffing wheel.

*Note: Do not epoxy the tang yet if you wish to decorate your knife with brass pins. Instead, Click here and follow the steps listed.

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Want to show off the knife you made following these directions? Send a digital photo to nate.matthews@time4.com and we may post it here on the site!

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