Creating a High School Knifemaking Program 

Last year we were invited to attend the BC Technology Education Teachers Association Conference to display our products.  During this time, we met many high school teachers who said they would like to have a knifemaking program in their school but didn’t know how to start one.

We met Gavin Scorer, a high school teacher on Vancouver Island, who invited Curtis to give a weekend workshop for seven Grade 10 students in April.  Gavin’s school previously had a knifemaking program.  He is now continuing that tradition and using the process set up by the former Metal Work teacher.  Gavin explained that “to participate in the program both the student and the parents need to sign a contract to ensure the student participates in a meaningful and safe manner”.  We’ve provided a template of the parent contract below.

Due to time restrictions, Curtis provided rough blade cutouts but, the students did the rest themselves.  Over two days, each student learned how to shape their knife, heat treat, quench, harden, and sand the blade.  They prepared their handles from raw materials and learned how to shape, attach and refine them.  They went home with finished knives at the end of Sunday, pleased with their accomplishments.  They returned on Monday to make their sheaths and asked if they could start a lunchtime knifemaking program to make their next knife.  Students said they wanted to make a knife because “they would learn new skills and make something that they would use.”

Gavin said knifemaking “teaches students many aspects of working with metal, power tools, metallurgy and it creates fine-tuned skills”.  He is working on a guidebook that will give details on each step of knifemaking for high school students.  If you have questions Gavin can be reached at: 

 High School Knifemaking Program - Parental Permission Form

Knifemaking Program,                                           Secondary School

Although knife making (tool making) is a minor aspect of skill building and of the BC curriculum, these activities do embody certain unique skill building and practice that help to round out a student’s understanding of metalworking. After the completion of core curricular activities, a student may elect to make a knife while meeting the following conditions.

Terms and Conditions:

  1. Parental permission in writing is obtained on this form. 
  2. Knives do not leave the metal shop while under construction without the instructor's expressed permission.
  3. Knives are stored under lock and key in the metal shop.
  4. Parents are responsible to pick up the knife at the school when it is completed. 
  5. Knife blades will not exceed 4” or 100mm in length and be a utilitarian design. 
  6. Any knife seen on school property is subject to confiscation with no recourse for retrieval by the student or parents. 

Please fill in the bottom of this form and return it to                                the Metal shop. 

I, (print)                                                                     permit my son/daughter (name of student)                                                                          to build a knife and agree to the terms and conditions listed above.

(Signed)                                                              (dated)                                     


1. Costs to build a knife are from $40.00 and up and are the student’s responsibility to pay before commencing the project.

Usual costs are:

a. $20 for consumable sanding belts and knife blade material

b. $10 for leather sheathing and related material

c. $10 - 15 for knife handle material and pins.

2. Skill building and educational values are :

Knife design research, CNC plasma cutting, CNC router engraving, chemical etching, leather work, riveting, hardening and tempering, hollow grinding, sanding, polishing, sharpening, honing, cutting theory, and practice.

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