We’re drowning in trash and junk. Look in your neighbor’s garage or head down to the scrap yard and you’ll see so much refuse and detritus that it’s not even funny.
But what if you could take those pieces of scrap metal and make them into something practical and rewarding? Well, you can.
If you put enough work and skill into it, you could turn nearly any piece of scrap metal into a functional knife. Will all pieces of scrap metal make great knives? Heck no! But with the right piece of metal, you can create something useful and even beautiful.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at these knives made from old junk you can find in your garage or the scrap yard.
1. A knife made from a file
Many knifemakers start by constructing a knife from a file. It’s not exactly making a knife from scratch, but it gives you a place to start. Files are made from different steels, such as W-1 and W-1, but a Nicholson file is 1095 carbon steel. That’s a great steel to work with. Way back in 2011, I wrote about how to make a knife from a file.
Here’s a great tutorial of a file knife made with common tools.
2. A knife made from a shovel
There’s a classic video that shows how to make a knife from a shovel and some concrete, but I appreciate how this video from Rusty shows what you can make at home without many tools.
3. A knife made from a railroad spike
The railroad spike is another fairly common starting point for knives. You can often find these lying near old railroad tracks (though be aware that it may be considered stealing to take one), but you can also grab some at a local scrap yard. You can also get some railroad spikes from McMaster-Carr for pretty cheap too.
You can do some pretty cool stuff with the handle as well. Take a look at this knife with a ram’s head made from a railroad spike by Chandler Dickinson.
4. A knife made from a horseshoe
Horseshoes don’t make the best knives, due to their mild steel, but that doesn’t stop tinkerers from making them. A horseshoe knife likely won’t hold an edge too well, but making them can be great learning experiences.
This excellent video from Miller Knives (I appreciate the lack of Muzak and relish in the actual sounds of the workshop) shows how to make a razor-sharp knife from a horseshoe.
5. A knife made from a wrench
The wrench is another common household tool you can transform into a knife. It depends on the type of wrench you use, but the steel can be hit or miss. They’re fun to create but may not make the best everyday cutting tools.
The YouTuber Trollskyy is a legend when it comes to repurposing old junk into knives. This video of him making a great knife from an old wrench won’t be the last of his we feature in this post.
6. A knife made from rebar
Rebar is one of the most prevalent pieces of steel around. These long steel bars are used to reinforce concrete. When a building is demolished, the rebar is often extracted for recycling and reuse. That’s where a knife comes in. Rebar is usually made from a mild steel, but it depends on the type.
This dude shows you how to make a rebar knife with no power tools at all. It’s not going to be a reliable survival knife, but it will make for good practice and experimentation.
7. A knife made from a saw blade
A blade saw is another fun piece of scrap metal you can turn into a knife. Just like all the items here, the steel can be hit or miss. A lot of the older saw blades are made from steel that would make a good knife blade. You can find a lot of saw blades at scrap yards, swap meets, and even garage sales.
The guy in the video below makes a pretty good-looking knife from a circular saw blade.
8. A knife made from a chainsaw chain
Chainsaws are another common item you can find pretty easily. While it may be your inclination to make a knife out of a chainsaw blade, the real fun comes from the chainsaw chain.
That’s right, you can make some pretty interesting knives from the chainsaw chain. The result is a blade that looks patterned, reminiscent of a Damascus steel blade. Here is a good video of the process.
9. A knife made from a leaf spring
A leaf spring is an arc-shaped piece of metal commonly used for suspension in cars. These are a favorite among knife makers because they’re typically made from high-grade steel. You can get these from a salvage yard, or you can contact a local mechanic who specializes in suspension repairs. You can also just buy one outright.
Trollskyy is back to show us how he transforms an old leaf spring from a Jeep into a pretty awesome knife.
10. A knife made from a lawn mower blade
Lawn mower blades make surprisingly good choppers. These are not hard to find either, considering mowers tend to break a lot. Some are beat up and bent, but that doesn’t mean you can turn it into a pretty good knife.
The guy in the video made a parang previously from a lawn mower blade, but when a neighbor gave him another old blade, he turned it into a chopper.
11. A knife made from a ball bearing
Tiny ball bearing systems are found within many types of folding knives, but you can also make a knife from a large ball bearing. By using the circular outer shell of the ball bearing, you can make a high-quality knife. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at Trollskyy’s work.
12. A knife made from steel cable
We can’t forget steel cable. As long as you avoid using galvanized or coated cable, you can make a pretty awesome knife. Just like the chainsaw chain knives, these will usually have a pretty cool pattern that looks a little like a Damascus blade.