How to Make a Knife Out of Chainsaw Bar

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Knife Fashioned from Chainsaw Bar
Knife Fashioned from Chainsaw Bar (Image: David A. Claerr)

A discarded chainsaw bar that has worn out from use is a good source of material to recycle for making knives, machetes and cutting blades. The steel in most chainsaw bars is high-quality steel that will keep an edge well, but has enough flex to bend under stress rather than break or crack. The metal is generally corrosion resistant, and many bars are a stainless-steel alloy. This project does not require heating the metal in a forge. If you have access to basic metal-working tools such as metal-cutting saws, grinders and/or files, you can fashion your own blade by following these guidelines.

Things You'll Need

  • Chainsaw bar
  • Metal cutting saw
  • Grinders and/or metal files
  • Drill and metal-boring bits
  • Rivets
  • Material for handle
  • Brass or soft-metal plate for hilt

Cut a blank for the blade using a hacksaw or a metal cutting bandsaw. Ensure that the bar is secured in place by clamps, a vise or adequate restraints.

Cut out a blank for the knife.
Cut out a blank for the knife.

Shape the tang (handle of the blank) by cutting parallel strips off the top and bottom edges 1/4 inch thick from the end of the tang to the back edge of the blade. (The hilt will slide onto the tang and butt up against the back edge of the blade.)

Reduce Tang
Reduce Tang

Drill three rivet holes evenly spaced through the tang. Use hardened metal-boring drills bits for best results.

Rivet Holes
Rivet Holes

Bevel the cutting edge using grinders or metal files. If a grinder is used, run at a low speed to keep the metal from over-heating. Excessive heat will soften the metal. If you notice a bluish tinge on the surface of the metal, it has begun to over-heat. The use of metal files for the final stages of the bevel is recommended to preserve the innate temper of the blade along the edge.

Bevel Edge
Bevel Edge

Fashion a hilt for the knife from brass or a soft, easily worked metal. Measure the tang in cross-section. Carefully cut out the rectangular hole in the hilt to ensure a snug fit of the hilt as it is placed onto the end of the handle and slid forward to the back edge of the blade.

Brass Hilt
Brass Hilt

Fashion two plates for the handle out of hardwood, horn, resin or another durable material of your choice. Measure the tang and the placement of the rivet holes to ensure an exact fit and alignment. Measure the thickness of the hilt and cut a thin strip off from the handle plates along the edge nearest the blade, the same thickness as the hilt, to allow for the hilt to fit snugly in place. Drill out the rivet holes in the handle plates. Slide the hilt over the tang and butt it up against the blade. Then rivet the handle firmly in place on the tang.

Handle Plate
Handle Plate

Finish sharpening the blade's edge with a whetstone or disc-sharpener. An option to polish the blade is to sand with emery paper. Your chainsaw bar knife project is now complete.

Finished Knife
Finished Knife

Tips & Warnings

  • Use proper safety precautions and wear protective gear. Wear thick workman gloves and safety glasses when grinding, drilling or filing metal. Ensure that the metal is firmly clamped or adequately secured when cutting or drilling.

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