Mailorder Knife Kits ... Any Thoughts?

Joined
Oct 15, 2000
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While reading through one a copy of Tactical Knves (supplied to me by Steven Dick - thanks again!
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), I noticed an advertisement from "Jantz Supply" for "weekend project kits" and "custom kits" for do-it-yourself knife assembly projects.

My question is this: are these products worth the expense, and if so, will I learn anything from them should I decide to purchase one?? I see that all of the materials are supplied in the kits, but the steel is only 440C Stainless (which, if I'm not mistaken is relatively soft and doesn't hold an edge very well ..... is that correct?:/)

What are your thoughts? I figured that it might be a fun, educational, and relatively inexpensive way to create my first knife, but if you feel that it is a poor value or a waste of time ..... by all means, let me know! And if you have any other alternatives similar to this that would be of better overall value to me as a novice knife-maker, I would appreciate the help!!

Thanks in advance!!
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“Belül szívem hibád az örökkévaló erõs vastartalmú sok vasaló és orvosság."


Crushing the weak since 1970 .... the Demon has spoken.

[This message has been edited by Metal-Demon (edited 11-13-2000).]
 

Old Knife Guy

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Any project that spurs learning is a good project. Over 25 years ago, I bought some modest reloading supplies to defray the cost of shooting. In doing so, I had to read books on firearms, I learned about parabolic drop, telescopic sights and I even started to cast my own bullets--which are far more accurate that mass produced swaged bullets. I now have an entire room in my home devoted to shooting, with three separate loading presses. I'm a better shot, a more careful sportsman, and I'm more careful about the environment when I take my 4-wheeler off road. I probably spent more money than I saved, but the experience was enriching.--OKG
 
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Good point OKG ..... ANYTHING I learn is of value at this point in my knife-making journey. I never considered that .... thanks!
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“Belül szívem hibád az örökkévaló erõs vastartalmú sok vasaló és orvosság."


Crushing the weak since 1970 .... the Demon has spoken.
 
Joined
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Metal-Demon,
I would heartily recommend it. Besides making an ungodly mess on the kitchen table, it is both rewarding and educational. And potentially an entrance into making knives from scratch.

You could get a kit from Janz, Texas Knifemakers, etc., but for something special you might want to check into contacting various custom knifemakers. Many makers are happy to grind and heat treat a blade (and even finish it if you dislike sandpaper) and send it as a kit for a bit less $$ than their completed product. Then you can apply your choice of handle material.

Mike Irie used to make some outstanding blades for kits; now that he is up & running again you might want to try contacting him. See this thread: http://www.bladeforums.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/001577.html
 
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M-D,
The kits will give you the basics of knife construction. They are a good way to learn. BTW, 440-C is a good steel if properly heat treated. The blades in the kits are probably OK.

Paul
 

Taz

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Apr 28, 1999
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Hi metal demon. I will tell you about these kits. I have done several from Jantz, including the razor edge boot knife, Lynx lockback, 5" steak knife, renaissance dagger and a kitchen knife from texas knifemakers supply and a paring knife from Russels green river. They say 440C(6a) in their catalog. 440C is a very good steel is HT and cryo'd, but I have been very dissapointed in the kits blade steel quality. 6a is a kinda junky steel. other kits list soligen steel, high carbon, chrome vandium, etc, but it is hard to tell the real steel type and how well the HT and cryo is. The HT and cryo make the knife. Texasknifemakers supply cryo's their blade for an extra price, so you might try those. Also, some brands that are carried in the catalogs are better quality than others. In general, the steel seems incredible soft and dulls pretty quickly. The paring knife I did was the best out of all of them for edge holding, its a high carbon steel, maybe 1095, that rusts easily, but takes a very nice edge and holds it pretty well. The grinds weren't perfect on the kit knives, some are blatantly messed up, others have slight imperfections. Some plunges are uneven, etc. The razor edge boot knife i got was very soft. I was able to hand file serrations and then a recurve in the blade with relative easy with some old hand files. The renaissance dagger seemed to be a much harder steel, but due to the size of the handle and the blade, i never really cut anything with it because the handle was too small to hold.

In general, the kits are a great way to learn about how to make a knife, but i got sick of them pretty quickly. Is the quality good? from what I have seen, the quality is pretty lacking. Do they hold an edge? Some do and some dont. Are they fun to make and easy to make? Yes. Worth the money, maybe. Some are and some arent. try the kits that are lower in price to leanr how to make them, then move up to the better kits and maybe even the non finished customs. That way you learn and don't mess up an expensive knife. The kits are great to learn how to make a handle, drill it, shape and polish it and how to polish a blade.

Get a few kits and have fun with them. Try out filework on them if you want, too! But just remember, you get what you pay for. the quality isn't the best, but it is decent and the cheaper ones and the green river are pretty good quality. Other kits might have better steel, like the chrome vanadium might be 1095, but no one is really sure. Good luck and email me if you need any help! Also, go to the shop talk and do a search for kit knives. lots of stuff there, lots by me, too!
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M-D, a while back Koval's used to have blades done by Ken Largin. These were very nicely ground and heat treated. I've made a lot of kit knives and these were the best I ever found. After you get the knife done, you will need a sheath and doing your own leatherwork is a lot of fun also. Go for it!
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Thank-you very much for your help Summerland, Paul, Taz, and Richard!

Everytime I read a reply to one of my posts, I am reminded why BladeForums is such a fantastic place ..... great people with informed opinions and a wealth of knowledge!
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"A Szívemben A Vas Es Az Acél Orök Ereje Van."

Crushing the weak since 1970 .... the Demon has spoken.
 
Joined
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I have done a couple from jantz. I had a great time, and I made a huge mess. My first attempt was sorry at best. Some of my others came out pretty sweet. The Cost is nominal if you only count the purchase price and not the sweat. I made nice leather sheaths for them and gave them away as gifts. The recipients all oohhed and aahhed. Go for it !! I used to love to build models as a kid ..... this is kinda like a model for grownups.


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ALex

http://home.att.net./~a.boriqua

Updated 10/15/00
 
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I've had good luck with 3"-4" Swedish/Finnish 'pukko' blades. I got a bunch of them a long time ago from a now defunct mailorder outfit, but I know Ragnar has them now. They are carbon or stainless (I prefer the carbon) laminated, and I have made both thru-tang and blind tang knives with these blades, using cocobolo or staghorn or ebony for handles. A small square of brass or even a lamp ferrule makes a good guard. I use old ski laminate for spacer material...very colorful and tough stuff. They make up into a really useful small knife. You can regrind the swept point to a nice drop point easily. I have only a hand-drill powered disc sander. I've also reground bayonet blades to make bigger camp knives...but it takes time and patience. I don't think I'd go the 'full kit' route...it's more fun to scrounge materials once you have a good blade in hand.
 
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MD I have to say 440C is a good steel. Not what I use often, but a good steel none the less. Edge holding and rust resistance are good. I think you have to look at ATS-34 or VG-10 to get a noticable improvement. By this I accept that M2-D2-CPM-440V et al are better still!

W.A.

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"To strive to seek to find and not to yield"
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Oct 15, 2000
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Well, I think I'm going to go ahead and order one of the kits ......... just to see what I can do with it. Perhaps it'll be a good lesson, and I will no doubt have lots of fun in the process.
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Thanks for your help everyone!

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"A Szívemben A Vas Es Az Acél Orök Ereje Van."

Crushing the weak since 1970 .... the Demon has spoken.
 
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