Joshua Terrell

Survival Knife

I started out with an idea for a fixed blade survival style knife. I drew some inspiration from several different blade profiles but my profile is an homage specifically to the ESEE-4 knife from RAT.


This is the first knife where I selected materials and hardware from the beginning. I selected a 5/16 thick plate of D2 tool steel for the full tang blade, stainless steel binding posts for the handle, and G10/Micarta laminate material for the grips. Here is the blades after waterjetting and a test fit.

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The top two are mild steel blanks that I cut out along with the more expensive D2 because I needed something to practice my planned grind and to serve as jigs for shaping the handles. The top was obviously used as a guinea pig as you can see. The third and fourth are the D2 blanks, they were HEAVY.

As soon as I put the handle scales I cut on the third on in this picture I realized that my selection of hardware and scales was wrong. The G10 was thinner than I thought, and the binding posts were just ugly and didn’t feel good sticking out. I realized I need to order countersunk flat head machine screws and standoffs instead of binding posts.

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This jig is the one I made when I first started doing knives, it is supposed to hold the blank at a fixed angle, which it does, however it ends up being too slow to actually be more useful than grinding with a steady hand, so I opted out of using it. With some work I could build a platform to make the jig work but this was a knife project not a jig project so I let it be for another time.

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The grind! I ground one of the D2 blanks with a clip point in addition to the front edge. The clip point it not sharpened but relieves the point of the knife to make piercing or cutting easier. I left the other as is for more of a survival knife feel a la the Becker small survival knives.

The next step was heat treat. We have a great heat treat oven in the shop, as well as a copy of Heat Treating Guide, so this wasn’t the hardest of steps. I decided to go with a hardening temperature of 1025 degrees Celsius and a temper at 540 deg C. This theoretically gives a final blade hardness of about 50-55 HRC.

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Heat treating went as well as could be hoped for. I still am unsure of the hardness until I can use a hardness tester, but the edges are hard and the blades still have some give so hopefully not too brittle, only use will tell really.

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A little handle prep work and hardware check.

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Grinding off the mill scale. I was really really stoked at this point because of how nice the treated metal looked.

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They turned out great! The only step left is final sharpen and hone by a professional grinder and they’ll be ready to use. Look for the sheath writeup in the next week or so.