Knife Making – Making A Fighting Dagger!


I am going to make a Fairbairn-Sykes inspired dagger from an old file. Remove the plastic handle. Annealing the steel, not nescessary in this case since I will forge it a little bit. I have a magnet on the forge. When the file doesn’t stick, it has reached critical temperature. Now I leave it in the forge to cool down slowly. This softens the steel. The file cuts it easily. Now onto forging. Hammer from the sides: work down the tip into a ‘fine’ point. Hammer the faces (broad sides) to maintain thickness. This is a half-round file, so I try to hammer down the edges close to the middle of the total thickness. I have found that forging in the bevels is a lot easier on regular flat piece of steel/flat file. Marking the length of the blade (18 cm) Checking where the handle should begin. Forging the file down into a ‘rat-tail’ tang. This drawing out is done overe the edge of the anvil. (railroadtrack in my case) Note, I draw the handle part some more off camera. Laying out the centre- and the outline Onto the belt grinder, I do most work with a 40 grit belt. This removes material nice and fast. First grind to the outline. Thinning out the tang. Grinding the piece flat. Grind the bevels equally on each side. Adjust until the line meets in the middle on both sides. First ground horizontaly, now vertically to even out small bumps in the knife. Now hand sanding. This takes a while. I put two long strips of sandpaper roll on a piece of MDF. Grits 60 and 120. I cut off a piece of flat bar to make the guard. Lentgh +- 5cm I use some paint marker as lay out fluid. Lay out the centre and the width of the tang with callipers. Drilling the centre hole for the tang, 4mm Drilling the outsides for the tang. 2mm using a fiber reinforced wheel on the dremel to remove as much material as possible. Now I use small files to shape the hole to match the tang as accurate as possible. Keep checking! Outline for the guard. Grind out the shape, I also made it a bit thinner. The stock was approx 5mm thick I stopped at approx 3mm A piece of oak for the handle, 2,5 by 2,5 cm and 12 cm long. Drawing the classic tulip shape onto the blank. Not a lot of wood to remove, so I used the grinder. otherwise I would have used the bandsaw. The real FS knife had a round, brass handle. I left mine octagonal, that shape felt good in the hand and so left it at that. drilling a hole down the centre from both sides, because the drill was to short (4 mm) I’ll burn the handle onto the tang in a minute. Heating up the tang. Voila! Perfect fit! preheating the quenching oil, grapeseed oil used here. Aiming for a red colour, again constantly checking for magnetism (critical temperature) and an even heat over the full lentgh. Once critical temperature is reached, I keep it in the fire for a few seconds and then straight into the oil. The blade is hardened when a file doesn’t bite into the steel (not shown here) To reduce hardness (brittleness) I put it into the oven at 190-200 °C for 1 hour. Or look for a straw yellow/brownish colour. Final sanding: Wet-dry sandpaper grit 120 Check for even sanding pattern keep going until all coarse scratches are removed. Wet stone 240 & 800 grit. Ofcourse W/D sandpaper in higher grits is just as good. 800 grit now. This is 1000, I have one higher (3000) but stopped at 1000. Mixing some 1 hour epoxy to glue one the the cross guard and the handle. Clean off excess with acetone. (Nail polish remover is what I used) Leave to cure. For best results use a dramatic pose. Put a washer over the end of the tang. Peening over the end, to lock the whole assembly together mechanicaly. Almost done. A bit of oil/wax mixture for the wood. This is my interpretation of the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife finished. Some beauty shots. Thanks for watching! Don’t forget to like, comment, subscribe or check some other videos!

12 thoughts on “Knife Making – Making A Fighting Dagger!

  1. This is awesome! Out of all of the things I've seen people make out of files this has to be the first one that I've seen made into a dagger. It looks awesome!

  2. Weer een leuke video! Als je de vijl aan het opwarmen bent ging je altijd even kijken naar iets op de oven? Of lijkt dit enkel zo?

  3. Question:
    I am currently in the process of making a dagger of sorts but I'm struggling to work out how to fix a rounded wooden handle. I don't want to use glue (it seems like a tacky method) and I don't have anything to thread the tang either.

    The tang is about 0.5 by 0.5cm and its square. Do you think I can I could simply drill a hole in the handle and hammer it onto the square tang securely without it splitting with pressure?
    Also, could I somehow heat the tang, would this cause the metal to contract then swell or something to create a tighter hold?

    Finally I wont be using a pummel of any sort on this dagger, just so you know (all just one handle).

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