forged bike chain kitchen knives

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Project by bobasaurus posted 11-10-2017 05:08 PM 4433 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

5849 posts in 1431 days

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

Those are beauties, Allen. Nice work!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View HokieKen's profile


15053 posts in 1988 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


8702 posts in 2980 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


2045 posts in 3862 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


3647 posts in 4033 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


13472 posts in 3229 days

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

Wow, that is impressive Allen!

-- Rick M,

View jeffswildwood's profile


4579 posts in 2827 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


7649 posts in 4217 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!

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

View PPK's profile


1790 posts in 1659 days

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

Fascinating! All of it turned out really well.

-- Pete

View Brit's profile


8168 posts in 3692 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


18100 posts in 3856 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


3950 posts in 3132 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


1366 posts in 3892 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


9640 posts in 2892 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


7783 posts in 1562 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

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