Discussion in 'Custom & Handmade Knives' started by TK Steingass, Dec 23, 2017.

  1. TK Steingass

    TK Steingass Knifemaker - Buckeye Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 16, 2010
    Greetings All:

    Recently I've decided to buy myself a round knife for leather working. I did some Google searches and found quite a few different threads on round knifes - seems everyone has their opinion on what constitutes a good one. Some swear by the old ones that go for a king's ransom, some swear by the $300 models that are made in the US, France, Germany, etc. Then there is the topic of steels to use. The more I looked into it, I found out how less I knew about the design, the size, shape, the thickness, and what worked well.

    When I get contacted by a client who asks for my recommendations based on my years of hunting experience, I make recommendations and end up with a happy client who gets the knife for the type of game he's hunting. I don't usually offer advice unless it's asked for because this old war horse has found out that "Advice is something fools won't use and wise men don't need." Less drama this way too - I get all the drama I need by watching the news. :D

    That said, I decided to get Paul Long's advice on round knife construction. We agreed that a thread, building a round knife to Paul's specifications, would be a benefit to you knife makers out there that do your own leather work. Why pay $300 for a good round knife when you guys can make one for yourselves? Paul will be chiming in on this thread, particularly on the design elements that he feels works best when cutting leather. I have chosen AEB-L as the steel - it holds an edge nicely, is easy to sharpen and is fine grained. Paul likes it too - he has a skyving knife made out of AEB-L that he likes and fully supports the choice. One advantage is that AEB-L can be bought in the thickness that Paul likes best for his knives. There are other good steels out there too - rather than debate that aspect here, feel free to choose YOUR favorite steel to make YOUR head knife. :)

    Paul provided me tracings of his favorite round knives - I am attaching them to this thread for you fellas to copy and use as profile templates. Here you go - the profiles are on 1/4" square graph paper.

    Paul - please provide your comments on design and the configuration of the round knife we agreed to build. Also, your views on the difference between a round knife and a head knife would be appreciated. :)



    Head Knife 1.jpeg Head Knife 2.jpeg
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
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  2. i4Marc


    Oct 19, 2011
    I'm paying attention.
    Justin Schmidt and Dawkind like this.
  3. john april

    john april KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 27, 2006
    i use a razor knife, if this is easier, count me in.
    Dawkind likes this.
  4. Darrin Sanders

    Darrin Sanders Knifemaker Moderator

    May 6, 2009
    I've been planning a half-round knife like the top one. Can you give the actual dimensions please? Also, you mentioned Paul's favorite thickness but didn't specify. Could you share that as well? Thanks in advance for any info. shared.
  5. TK Steingass

    TK Steingass Knifemaker - Buckeye Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 16, 2010
    Hi Darrin - You can count the 1/4" squares on the photos for your own layout or, shoot me an email to [email protected] and I'll email back you the tracings which you should be able to print out full size. Paul recommends .046" thickness.....I'm going to use .040" AEB-L
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
    keithf and Darrin Sanders like this.
  6. vilePossum


    Jan 14, 2015
    Check out horsewright stuff/thread about round knives, there was also a pass around. Could save you from some issues.
    I think the skivving knife might have originated from that... Both Paul and horsewright are of course excellent sources for knowledge and I can say for horsewright that from the little contact we had that he is a genuine nice guy and heard the same about Paul.
    Sonnydaze likes this.
  7. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    Thanks, TK. this should be an interesting thread. I'll try to address some of the questions or concerns from posters so far.

    Getting past the learning curve which is very short, there is a world of difference between the round knife and the snap off blade utility knife. The round knife allows for push cuts which are a lot easier and Waaayyy more accurate, than the pull cuts of a utility knife. Once you get the round knife down, you will never return to the utility knife.

    First, over all thickness. I prefer.........NO, I will only use a round knife that is somewhere between .040" and .046" thickness. Anything thicker just hangs on the wall and does not get used. A thicker blade tends to drag when cutting leather, at least for me. This is a highly personal preference, but one which
    only has .005" wiggle room.

    On the tracings Tk provides in this thread, My absolute favorite and most used shapes (and sizes) are the Knipschield, and the Fields Made and a
    third, the modified C.C. Osborne "half blade". Although I have a total of ten round knives, these are my "go to" knives. The Knipschield curved handle and the angled blade of the Fields, both accomplish different cutting chores with ease. One side is great for longer straight cuts and the other for tighter radius, cuts. The angled blade allows this on the Fields and the curved handle of the Knip Knife allows the same action. The modified Osborne is great for straight cuts on the rounded side and equally great for tight work on the pointed side. Incidentally the Osborne is the only "factory" knife I own.

    The Dave Ferry, (Horsewright), skiving knife (AEB-L steel) is the absolute finest example of a skiving knife I have ever used. EVER!

    The difference between a Head knife and a Round Knife nowadays is pretty much just in the spelling . They are actually pretty much the same thing so the names could be interchangeable. Long, long ago the head knife was more like the Knip Knife with width point to point at about 3 1/2" inches or so, and the round knife was more like 4 1/2" to 5" our even 6" point to point, and larger overall.

    Hidden tang or full tang makes no difference at all.

    More as needed as the thread progresses.

    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
  8. Darrin Sanders

    Darrin Sanders Knifemaker Moderator

    May 6, 2009
    T. K. - I was thinking that the drawings were on a 1/4" grid but wanted to be sure.

    Mr. Long - If you were me an only wanted one or two knives to do everything, which design features would you incorporate into it/them? Also, about how thick are the handles? I'm guessing they're in the 5/8" range but I've never even seen or held a head/round knife.
    GABaus likes this.
  9. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    @Darrin Sanders, The size of the Knip Knife and the shape of the Fields Made knife combined would come close to my ideal knife. Actually either knife just as is would be very hard to beat. See the tracings posted above for the actual shapes of the two knives. They both are in the .040/.046 range of thickness.

    The handles are 7/8" wide at the bolster, and 1/38" at the bulb end (7/8" thick at the bulb) on the Fields Made. The Knip Knife is 3/4" wide at the bolster and 1 1/2" wide at the bulb (7/8" thick at the bulb), also note the curved handle on that one, as it allows the same versatile blade angle geometry of the Fields Made so that both cut the long straight cuts on one end and do the finer radius cuts on the other. I like each knife just about equally.

    Notice I did not mention handle length. That is very personal. It should be long enough so that when the knife is held with the bulb in the hollow of your palm, your index finger can just touch the cutting surface along side the blade.. That's going to be a little different for everybody, I think.

    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
  10. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    Interesting threat, following.
    I'm using a small self made drop point knife for my leatherwork at the moment
  11. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Great thread guys, I'll be watching too.

    Couple things when ya go to grinding. I have found it much safer to stand off to the side instead of standing in front of the grinders like you do for a normal knife blade. These guys, tend to get caught and tossed at ya. Kinda a learning curve there too. I've made quite a few of these knives now and while they don't seem to get caught and tossed as much anymore, I still grind these standing off to the side.

    I use AEB-L too and all my leather knives (roundknives and skivvers) and I run em at 63 RC. Peters does my heat treat. Takes an excellent polished edge and at this hardness will hold it a very long time.

    First couple I made were symmetrical, because that was what I was use to, having used roundknives most of my adult life. After several discussions with Paul I went with a more asymmetrical style. All my own personal roundknives are now asymmetrical and I don't think I would like going back. Just more useful. And grinding a symmetrical roundknife freehand will get you using all the top keys on your keyboard when talking about it.

    I too would encourage all who make their own sheaths to learn to use a roundknife. It is literally the one tool that is on my workbench always, I never put it away.

    One of my own:

    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
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  12. TK Steingass

    TK Steingass Knifemaker - Buckeye Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 16, 2010
    Great input Dave - much appreciated. I'm leaning towards an asymmetric for my personal knife too and your input to grinding will most probably keep my femoral artery intact. Tell us about that knife that is below the round knife - looks interesting.
  13. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Ya bet TK. That's a bleeder by Horseshoe Brand leather tools. Its used to do a blood knot like on the bottom of that folder sheath in the pic.
  14. Craig Daniel

    Craig Daniel

    Feb 17, 2016
    Very interesting, I will be hanging around for this one as I always use a razor knife when doing leather jobs.
  15. Darrin Sanders

    Darrin Sanders Knifemaker Moderator

    May 6, 2009
    T. K. - Many thanks for starting this thread because I was headed in the wrong direction without even starting. LOL

    Mr. Long - I'm going to take your advice and make the Fields design with the basic Knip dimensions. I'm going to do a mortised hidden tang and purposely leave the handle a tad long so I can adjust the length a little at a time until I get it to where it feels "right".

    Dave - Do you do a convex or flat grind? Also, approx. how far up do you take the bevels?
    coldsteelburns likes this.
  16. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005

    @Darrin Sanders, the photo above is Dave Ferry (Horsewright) working with his round knife. The handle is tucked up tight in the hollow of his palm and as you see he is able to touch the leather being cut. This allows you to "feel" as you cut for much more control and accuracy. All push cuts.

    Leaving the handle long and making short adjustments until it is just right is a VERY smart move.

    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
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  17. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    @Darrin Sanders I've gone more and more to a very tapered flat grind. I guess it could be considered a convex grind of sorts. I do use the platen and have it set at about 45 degrees to vertical. Using this type of grind I've gone away from a bevel. The whole blade is the bevel if that makes sense. When new they have a very small secondary bevel for the edge. Stropping or buffing turns this to a convex edge pretty quick. The pic above that Paul shared is an older knife that I made while I was still beveling them. Last week I ground that bevel out on that knife and tapered it from the handle to the edge. Last two I made and shipped right before Christmas.


    They always build their own sheath before they ship to make sure they are good to go.

    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
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  18. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    I have a question, recommended thickness is 0.040” or just a bit thicker. It looks l8ke the grind is only 1/2” up or so. Is there a reason you couldn’t use 0.060” steel, and bring the grind higher? The thickness through the leather would be the same.
  19. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005

    Warren, it seems that should be true, however for whatever reason, I have found the thicker knives even with higher bevel seem to drag. I'm not a knife maker so I can't explain why, but in my personal experience the thicker knives just don't work to my satisfaction.

    Dave may be able to give a much better explanation.

  20. coldsteelburns


    Aug 2, 2010
    This is such a timely thread, as this was going to be my next project. I searched quite a bit but couldn't really get a good idea of the dimensions, thickness, bevel height, and so on as you mentioned, TK.

    Providing those tracings is so incredibly helpful, and I'm sure watching this build progress will be as well.

    For mine, I'll simply be using 15n20 from a band saw blade since I only work with carbon steels and it's the only steel I have that's wide enough. It's at about .0625" thickness I believe, but I'll probably end up hogging off some of its thickness prior to beveling. Since I'm still a novice with leather, I'm sure it'll work out fine for now 'til I develop any type of discernment in working with leather.

    Thanks to TK, Paul, and Dave for already making this an excellent thread.

    I'll definitely be following along!

    My YT Channel

    ... (It's been a few years since my last upload)

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