forged bike chain kitchen knives

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Project by bobasaurus posted 11-10-2017 05:08 PM 3810 views 6 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

For the Lumberjocks 2017 Knife Swap I forged this pair of kitchen knives and sent them to my buddy ToddJB. In a funny twist of events, he gave me the bicycle chain originally… well before I knew my swap recipient. And now the chains are returned back to him in a slightly altered form.

I started by heating bicycle chain layered on top of a 1080 steel backer to nearly 2400 deg F then hammering them together to forge weld into a single solid billet of steel. I then forged out the tang, the knife profile, and a bit of the bevels before going to the grinder. After rough grinding, I heat treated these in the forge and kitchen oven, corrected a major bend in the bigger blade, and then did the finish grinding. After the knives were shiny, I acid etched them to bring out the pattern.

The bigger knife has a 5” diameter hollow grind on the chain side approaching the cutting edge. The edge is single bevel (made for lefties like Todd), with the cutting edge entirely made up of 1080 steel since the bike chain steel is unknown. The back is solid 1080 steel with my logo etched on.

The smaller knife has chain on both sides with a 1080 core, which didn’t work out as well as I had planned. There ended up being a bit of chain on the cutting edge, so I did an interrupted water quench briefly on the edge only then proceeded with the usual oil quench. This hardened everything, including the chain bits.

The handles are redheart finished with arm-r-seal, then buffed and waxed. The bigger knife handle is a solid piece of wood using hidden tang construction with just epoxy to hold it in (should be fine for kitchen use). The smaller knife is also hidden tang, but is made with a sandwich of two pieces each hollowed out halfway with a router plane. It is pinned with brass. I used a high-strength flexible epoxy mixed on a lab scale for accuracy (west system g/flex).

Laying out the chain:

Forge welding:

Rough-forged knives (bananas from hell):

After rough grinding:

Warp after heat treatment:

After correction:

Etching my logo:

The result of logo etch:

The final pattern:

Planing some redheart for the handles, looks like bacon shavings:

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

26 comments so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4161 posts in 1096 days

#1 posted 11-10-2017 05:15 PM

Those are beauties, Allen. Nice work!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View HokieKen's profile


10982 posts in 1652 days

#2 posted 11-10-2017 05:29 PM

So awesome Allen. I put a small forge on my Christmas list. Just for hardening steel. You make me want to go all the way with projects like this though! Maybe in 30 years when I retire :-( Awesome work man, as usual. Beautiful steel and beautiful wood.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View ToddJB's profile


8540 posts in 2644 days

#3 posted 11-10-2017 05:52 PM

Allen, is a master among mere poppers. These knives are amazing and work stupid good. I use them frequently so far, and see myself using them for a lifetime. Though I am a little pissed that the chain isn’t really usable any longer.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View tyvekboy's profile


1925 posts in 3527 days

#4 posted 11-10-2017 06:17 PM

Very nice eye candy. Thanks for sharing your creations.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View bobasaurus's profile


3604 posts in 3698 days

#5 posted 11-10-2017 06:21 PM

Thanks for the comments guys. Here is the knife and scratch awl I received from RichCMD, they are really nice:

Spalted cherry scales on the knife, and box elder on the awl. Great work overall, looking forward to using them.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View Woodknack's profile


12913 posts in 2894 days

#6 posted 11-10-2017 06:45 PM

Wow, that is impressive Allen!

-- Rick M,

View jeffswildwood's profile


4066 posts in 2491 days

#7 posted 11-10-2017 07:09 PM

Allen, you are truly the master.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View oldnovice's profile


7499 posts in 3882 days

#8 posted 11-10-2017 07:23 PM

Those are a very unique and beautiful!
The chain link appear to be more dangerous just from seeing the links like scales on a snake!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View PPK's profile


1527 posts in 1323 days

#9 posted 11-10-2017 07:37 PM

Fascinating! All of it turned out really well.

-- Pete

View Brit's profile


7802 posts in 3357 days

#10 posted 11-10-2017 08:36 PM

You sir are one talented individual. Very inspiring work.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View chrisstef's profile


17960 posts in 3520 days

#11 posted 11-10-2017 08:44 PM

Boy did i screw up on not joining this swap. Those knives are sick!

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View bushmaster's profile


3673 posts in 2797 days

#12 posted 11-10-2017 10:48 PM

I wouldn’t believe it, if I hadn’t seen it. Beyond comprehension. Very interested as I taught metalwork for many years. Knives where a no no at school.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View Woodenwizard's profile


1360 posts in 3557 days

#13 posted 11-10-2017 11:09 PM

Great workmanship. They really display your versatility. Way beyond my capabilities. As someone who bicycles a lot, I truly like the use of the chain.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View doubleDD's profile


8661 posts in 2557 days

#14 posted 11-11-2017 01:16 AM

That’s a amazing knife. It’s one of a kind for sure. That would be a cool bikers knife.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View GR8HUNTER's profile


6463 posts in 1226 days

#15 posted 11-11-2017 02:23 AM

all I can say on this one is WOW ….GREAT JOB :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

showing 1 through 15 of 26 comments

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