To choose the best knife blank for knife-making projects, consider the following factors:
- The purpose of the blade.
- Your budget.
- The most accessible materials and buying options.
This post will discuss the above considerations in greater detail and the ins and outs of buying the perfect blank for your project. Let’s tackle the considerations first.
1. The Purpose of the Blade
Knifemaker hobbyists use blades for different purposes, and your choice of knife blank should match your usage as outlined below:
- General, everyday tasks. If your interest lies in using the knife frequently and as a more jack-of-all-trades knife, you need something lightweight, durable, and versatile. Avoid anything too heavy or expensive, like Damascus steel. A carbon steel pocket knife may be a better fit for your needs.
- Survival, hunting, and self-defense. This line of operation requires a far more specialized blank. It needs to be as durable and sharp as possible to withstand tasks like cutting wood and gutting animals while being as light as possible for utility and a quick draw.
- Cooking and culinary arts. This is also a specialized blade and requires a blank that is resistant to rust and chipping. It also needs to be especially sharp and light as possible to avoid fatigue during chopping and cutting.
Weight distribution, length, thickness, and tang are all factors that need consideration when buying a knife blank for a specific purpose. Let’s take a deeper look at how these factors may dictate your choice when buying blanks for specific intended use:
Kitchen Knife Blanks
Kitchen knife blanks are most effective and versatile at 6-8 inches. Although they should be relatively lightweight to minimize fatigue during use, they should be heavier on the blade for easy chopping and cutting.
The average kitchen knife weighs 1.54 pounds. The overall weight of the blade will also depend on whether the blade’s tang is hidden or full. It is important to remember that many kitchen knives have a full tang, making them slightly heavier. The edge that the knife has will depend on the specific purpose.
The thickness of these blanks will generally be even less than a survival knife, around the same as an everyday-use knife. The main difference is the weight distribution and the sharpness of the edge.
Survival Knife Blanks
The average survival knife weighs 0.366 pounds, with a blade length of 3.5 inches.
Note that the weight of a survival knife blank also depends on the tang and how many blades the finished product will include.
The buyer’s preference is usually a smaller and lightweight (but still very durable) blade so that it is easy to carry around and quick to draw. With a survival knife blank, the emphasis is placed on strength, so weight distribution is more even than in a kitchen knife.
Have a look at Junkyard Fox’s YouTube channel for information about hunting knives:
General Use Knife Blanks
A general-use knife such as the Morakniv, and many other knives like pocket knives and folding blades, are commonly around 4.1 inches, 2.5mm thickness, and 0,25 pounds.
Like survival knife blanks, these need to be lightweight yet durable. Tang also makes a difference in the weight, but there is more room for deviation in an everyday-use blank than for a specialized blank.
Like survival knife blanks, weight distribution in this blade is relatively even. The blank needs to be lightweight and versatile for ease of use and a quick draw.
Check out Sharpy Knives’ section about knife weight and dimensions for more information on choosing a suitable blank.
2. Your Budget
A lower budget range (blanks ranging from about $7 to $16) doesn’t have to inhibit making a great knife. This budget range is ideal for someone who wants a knife for everyday tasks that are not too demanding.
A medium budget range (between $20 to $50) allows somewhat more freedom and a greater chance of getting a specific outcome. This is the price range to shop if you need a hardy, specialized blade.
A high budget (anywhere from $60 to the hundreds or even thousands) allows for the most wiggle room. Usually, just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s better. But when it comes to knives, price is usually a good indicator of quality and durability. This price range is excellent for specialized tools or even blanks purely used for decorative purposes.
3. The Most Accessible Materials and Buying Options
Access to physical stores and workshops can be a massive advantage. It means you can get in-depth advice and assistance and handle a blank before buying it to see if it suits you. This is not a luxury you can have with online shopping, although it isn’t always necessary given the high volume of online resources on this topic.
Having online access may be less personal, but it is possibly more useful than accessing a physical store. You cannot handle the blade before you purchase it, but you have access to a wealth of information that will tell you everything you need to know.
Still, lack of access to the online sphere isn’t the end of the world: you can learn a lot from shops and workshops. The bottom line? Make the best use of what’s available to you in terms of shopping options and materials.
Where to Find the Best Knife Blanks and Information on Knife Blanks
We’ve covered the best types and attributes of the hobbyist’s knife. Now, let’s look at the best places to find these items.
Where to Buy Knife Blanks
Buying knife blanks from a reputable source ensures you get the best value for money and an authentic, long-lasting product.
Amazon and other accredited online retailers like SMKW and Crazy Crow are the best sources to purchase these blades. You can also buy from the brand websites themselves (e.g., Spyderco.com will likely have the best insight into Spyderco products) and from physical stores like Knife Country USA and Jantz Supply Inc.
Here’s a table comparing the pros and cons of each source.
|Reputable, convenient, and often offer items at a lower price than an original wholesaler (e.g., Takealot regularly has sales and discounts).
|You cannot physically interact with the product until it arrives after purchase, and it might be second-hand.
|Online branded stores
|Reputable and convenient. The item comes straight from the source, ensuring quality and authenticity.
|You cannot physically interact with any products unless you have already bought them and had them delivered.
|Physical branded stores
|Reputable, plus you get to see the different products in person and test out how they feel in terms of weight, size, etc. Also, knowledgeable store assistants provide guidance (especially for beginners).
|It is possibly inconvenient if travel is involved. Stores that sell a particular brand may have a limited selection that only displays their products.
Collecting Information on Knifemaking
As stated earlier in the article, it is also essential to do your research before buying blanks and starting your knife-making odyssey.
Online reviews and forums are a way to ensure the product being advertised provides all the perks and serves all the practical uses advertised on the website. They are also a great way to find out through others’ experiences which blade might suit your specific needs best.
Here is a list of the best and most reliable sources of user reviews on blades and knife-making:
The suitable knife blank for your project hinges entirely on the purpose of your blade. The key factors are durability, sharpness, weight, thickness, tang, and length. Ensure that you do extensive research on blades and blanks to get the best possible outcome for your knife-making project.
For more, check out How to Choose the Best Metal File for Knife Making.
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Christian grew up in the Ozarks where he spent much of his childhood on his grandparents’ homestead learning about guns, hunting, and the great outdoors.
An avid traditional bowhunter, much of his writing covers this and other similar topics, but he also covers just about everything from history and economics to motorcycles.
See more of his work at ChristianMonson.com.