- Intelligent Discussion for the knife enthusiast

Recent Members
Welcome them to our community!
Recent Topics
Recent Pictures
Current Quote
""A volunteer is a person who can see what others cannot see; who can feel what most do not feel. Often, such gifted persons do not think of themselves as volunteers, but as citizens - citizens in the fullest sense: partners in civilization."
~ George Herbert Walker Bush
208 Online Now
7 viewable users (
    ) and 0 hidden plus 201 guests are online now.
     Page 1 of 3 All123
    Username Post: Type of steel in Nicholson file?        (Topic#801633)
    Journeyman KnifeNut!
    08-22-07 07:58.44 - Post#1298662    

    I plan on making my third homemade knife. My first two were made out of a circular saw blade. This third one is going to be made out of an old Nicholson flat bastard file.

    I've heard old files can be made into good blades.

    Does anyone know what kind of steel is in Nicholson files?

    Master Member KnifeNut!
    Re: Type of steel in Nicholson file?
    08-22-07 08:32.06 - Post#1298682    

        In response to Kart29

    I've been told that it's 1095, and the person that told me supposedly was told that by someone at Nicholson. Do you plan to anneal first, or attempt to cold grind as is?

    Master Member KnifeNut!
    08-22-07 09:33.26 - Post#1298723    

        In response to Armory414

    Don't hold me to it but I remember reading that they are W-2.

    I'll check and see if I can find the book....
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    Type of steel in Nicholson file?
    08-22-07 09:52.22 - Post#1298734    

        In response to svi40

    Well, one of Wayne Goddards books says most files are "1 percent simple carbon steel, no other alloy elements."

    In a chart that is in the book it lists W-1 as being a common file steel. The only additional element would be silicon.

    Bottom line, it doesn't matter a great deal. A good high carbon file should make a good blade if it's heat treated and tempered right.
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    08-22-07 14:01.13 - Post#1298971    

        In response to svi40

    I have two old Nicholson File Books (1957) and one is an instruction book on what file to use, when to use it and how to use it…

    The other book lists every type of file Nicholson makes…

    This book also hints at the steel… "Files and Rasp are made of high carbon steel of special analysis…" this hints that the steel is more than iron and carbon…

    So no help there, but I have included a page from the book showing all the various trade names that Nicholson makes files… So be on the look out for more than just "Nicholson" and "Black Diamond"…

    Digging a little deeper, I went to my "Machinery Handboook" (1943 -- even includes a section on blacksmithing…).

    I've scanned two pages that might be of help to you all in determining the carbon content of various materials…

    Hope this helps…



    For a knife to be truly “handmade," the knife must be held to the tool or the tool must be held to the knife during its making… if it’s a “hands-off" operation, it ain’t handmade…

    Journeyman KnifeNut!
    08-23-07 03:15.11 - Post#1299287    

        In response to BruceJensky

    Thanks guys. Knowing the type of steel will help me know how to attempt the heat treat and tempering process. If it is W-1 or W-2 steel, then that means water quench, right?

    I have already done a redneck annealing job. I have one of those chimenea clay fireplace things. I built up a good fire and put the file down in the coals. It got good and glowing red hot down in there and I just left it buried down in the embers as the fire died down and cooled overnight. Did this process twice. Not the ideal annealing process, I know but it's about the best I can do. Anyhow, I can cut the file with a hacksaw or another file now so I guess it's softer than it was.
    Journeyman KnifeNut!
    08-23-07 11:10.34 - Post#1299592    

        In response to Kart29

    The W does stand for water quench but in the thickness typical of knives a fast oil generally works with less chance of warping or cracking the blade.

    Our government is heading us towards armed rebellion by it's actions.

    "If you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you. " Nietzche

    Master Member KnifeNut!
    08-24-07 12:14.32 - Post#1300414    

        In response to son_of_bluegrass

    Agreed about using oil.

    I've only annealed/hardened one knife made from a file so my database is a bit limited. That knife was quenched in oil and came out very hard.

    Heat the oil some prior to quenching the blade. I'll take a peice of mild steel and heat it up to cherry and put it in the oil to get it up to temp.
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    08-25-07 10:01.22 - Post#1301005    

        In response to svi40

    I guess I just need to ask this.

    Is there some romance or something in making knives out of old stuff that you really don't know the Composition of?

    I have been making knives for 30 years and would not even dream of using a steel that I didn't know exactly what is was made from and how I should heat treat it.

    You have to forgive me but all of this Baffles me.

    When I make a knife I expect it to be exactly what I want it to be when I'm finished.

    Maybe some of You could give me some insight to all of this making knives from unknown stuff.

    BRKCA MIKE #01
    NJKCA #041

    "I Am America"

    Bark River Facebook Group - Join Today

    RIP Chris + 1

    Master Member KnifeNut!
    08-25-07 17:54.54 - Post#1301249    

        In response to MikeStewart


    There is a romance to making knives from old files as there is a romance to making knives by hand.

    You are a professional and by your own admission, you produce hundreds of knives a day in your shop. As a professional knife producer, I believe that you need to have the security of a known steel to make that consistently, duplicatable knife.

    As for the rest of us, we's small time producers and sometimes we want to experiment with a file (a good quality file, mind you…). And contrary to popular opinion, I can't make enough file knives for all the civil war, revolutionary war, and mountain man re-enactors in my neck of the country.

    They want an honest to goodness "old looking and authentic looking" knife, especially "Green River Trade Knives…"


    For a knife to be truly “handmade," the knife must be held to the tool or the tool must be held to the knife during its making… if it’s a “hands-off" operation, it ain’t handmade…


     Page 1 of 3 All123
    Icon Legend Permissions & Sharing Options Topic Options
    Print Topic

    23617 Views - Intelligent Discussion for the knife enthusiast

    FusionBB™ Version 3.2 | ©2003-2016 InteractivePHP, Inc.
    Execution time: 0.19 seconds.   Total Queries: 168   Zlib Compression is on.
    All times are (GMT-12.0). Current time is 03:53.27