Rod, I do some period knives, although I'll bow to other makers. A big argument of mine with the reenactors is that the knife shouldn't look old. The knives weren't old when the people carried them. Also the roughness of the blades is an insult to the smiths that made them. A lot of even the trade knives were well finished knives.
One of the common "tricks" was to take bad steel and press the blade while hot between 2 file shaped dies. The Indians believed file knives were special, so by imprinting a "file" shape to the sides of an inferior blade they could get more in trade.
A lot of those knives were nothing more than large kitchen knives, same with belt and cartouche knives.
Etch in warm vinegar and spray with windex or baking soda water to neutralize the etching. Use mild steel, copper or brass for fittings, handle material should be either horn or wood native the US, usually maple or oak. I've seen rawhide used as a partial wrap on the handle. Most of the tangs were either through tangs and peened on the end or patrial tangs.