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Make a Mountain Man Green River Knife in an Afternoon...Well, Sort Of: Part 1

There is no doubt that the products of the Green River Works were of the best quality available. The reputation of the knife generated various sayings such as "Give it to em up to the Green River", meaning to stab a foe up to the handle where "Green River Works" was stamped, or "Done up to Green River" meaning to do something to the fullest extent possible.

However, the J.Russell & Co. did not start stamping their products with "Green River Works" until some time in 1837 and it is not likely that any were even available to be shipped to rendezvous until 1838 or later, if they were ever even shipped to rendezvous.


from the website, Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky Mountain West Malachite’s Big Hole


This winter I want to build a Lyman Great Plains Rifle, a muzzleloading rifle that is based upon the famous Hawken rifle. Building this rifle will be a great diversion for me, I will have quite a few guitars to make this winter.

So looking ahead to when the rifle is completed and the next muzzleloading rifle deer season, I thought it might be nice to make a Russell Green River knife to add to my "muzzleloading kit".



The piece of steel in the upper part of the photo was in a drawer of my grand father's work bench. I was always told that it was from an old crosscut saw, one that was used for felling large conifers, and that some of my older cousins had tried to make a knife out of it and never completed it.

I remember handling this piece of saw blade when I was eight years old, I will be fifty-two years old in a couple of weeks, I am pretty sure that this blank was roughed out before I was born! For the last twenty years I have wanted to finish the knife.

With an image of a Green River knife in my head I sketched out drawing and traced it onto the blank.




First thing I did was to grind off the old point so I wouldn't stick myself while I worked on the blank.




Then I took my side angle grinder which has a metal cutting blade on it and proceeded to grind away what didn't look like the knife I want.




The knife after the majority of the grinding was done with a side angle and a bench grinder.

I established the edge by draw filing.



Draw filing the knife while it is attached to a make shift knife board.

I spent about an hour this afternoon sharpening the edge on an old water stone, sharpening and sharpening and then I realized that the metal is too soft to hold an edge for long. I was afraid of that.

Nuts.

This weekend I will work on making a forge from a fire brick so I can heat treat the blade.

First I will have to anneal it, then harden it and then temper it.

I really didn't want to have to go to all this work.

If you are interested in making your own knife I highly recommend two books by Wayne Goddard. Click here for those books and this article by Wayne Goddard.

Stay tuned, I will post more photos of this as I can. I hope I can get the brick forge to work!

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