DIY Flat-Iron Bush Knife? This guy did it.


A gentleman using the Imgur handle “HarryFeltersnatch” made this beautiful bush knife from a garage sale “Wonder-bar”

It is possible to get into knifemaking on the cheap, using all manner of discarded steel. The results vary depending on the quality of the materials and the skill of the maker. In the case of a Mr. “HarryFeltersnatch”, the material was a garage sale flat-iron pry-bar and the skills include heat-treating in a homemade forge, and the by his own admission “ugly ass leather work”.

He spent a whopping $20 on the project, $12 of which were spent on the piece of leather for the sheath. He documented each step with some great photography, including a cool .gif of his makeshift forge in action. You really need to go and check it out if you have a couple of minutes.


Harry obviously knows what he is doing. The forging and quenching sequence of photos and description thereof demonstrate a high level of knowledge and the finished product obviously speaks for itself.

He includes one detail that completely eclipses my knowledge of metallurgy. He mentions testing the steel for magnetization between heating and quench. I understand that it is possible to really mess up a piece of steel if you  mistreat it, and I am guessing that magnetization is an indicator of an error in execution, but I do not know why.

Maybe I can get Will to chime in and explain. Or if one of our edged intelligentsia would like enlighten me, by all means please share. Thanks!

And once again… you really do want to go and have a look at this fine bit of work.



  1. Dyspeptic says:

    Magnetization is an old blacksmiths trick for determining if the steel is at proper temperature for quenching. When a conventional high carbon steel reaches it’s transformation temperature it becomes non magnetic. Therefore if the magnet sticks then the steel hasn’t been heated to a proper quenching temperature. If the magnet doesn’t stick then the proper hardening temperature has been reached and the blade can be soaked at that temperature for the requisite time period and then quenched to full hardness.

    It’s a crude technique that you wouldn’t see used by a professional heat treater but it does work.

  2. Roger says:

    I saw this yesterday on imgur, which has some nice consistent EDC content and sparse knife stuff overall. Bookmarked it and was going to link it here or email it to someone who writes for the blog.

  3. Jeff O. says:

    I love the way that walnut turned out, and I thought putting the snap in the ferro rod handle was smart. His sheath looks like my first one did, but the design is good – a couple inexpensive tools from Tandy will make his life easier, but that sheath will last for years.

    I did some looking, and it sounds like most pry bars are made out of carbon tool steel. It should make a great blade. Tempering the whole blade to the same temp might give him some issues, since the spine may be too stiff. The method I learned was to put the blade on the back/spine edge in a pan of sand, then put the pan on the fire. You watch the colors like a hawk, and when the edge turns pale yellow, you pull it out and quench. That way the spine is a bit softer and has some flex, but the edge is good and hard.

    Cool project. As my boys get older, I might have to take them on a knife making journey.

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DIY Flat-Iron Bush Knife? This guy did it.

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