• Matt - Selfe Made Knives

5 Simple Workshop Tools I wouldn't be without

Updated: Mar 1

This is a brief guide to the top 5 simple tools used in my knife making workshop.

Digital Callipers

I cannot count how many times a day I use these. From checking the thickness of pin stock and drill bits. You do not want to drill your holes too big or small for your desired pin material. I check and re-check again before drilling any holes

Digital callipers checking the thickness of pin stock

I also use them to check the thickness of blade stock. It isn't always quite the same thickness as listed on the packaging!

I use them to check handle material. When glueing up my G10 liners I have to make sure that the scale material is flat. However, you also need to ensure that it is level to ensure straight holes when drilling. This isn't normally a problem with man-made materials such as micarta and G10, but when you have ripped a set of scales off of a gnarly piece of wood you need to ensure that it is flat and level, so out come the callipers.

Checking wood thickness with callipers

Height Scribe

Does what it says on the tin. I always scribe guidelines on what will be the cutting edge of my blades. This gives me something to aim for when removing the steel and creating the bevels. The scribe I use is made by a great UK maker called Mike Palmer. He makes all manner of useful things for the knife maker, a real asset to the UK knife maker community

Height scribe

Thin Tip Permanent Marker

Such a useful tool in the workshop. I draw around my blade on the scale material so I know where I can cut off the excess. I mark how I want the front of the scales to look.

When making friction folders I can mark the small area where I need to remove tiny amounts of steel to ensure that the blade opens and closes in the correct position.

I use it to draw a guide as to where I want to place my makers mark logo on the blade.

I also use it to write what steel each blade is after cutting out and after heat treatment. This way I always know what steel I am using for each build. Also, any steel that is leftover and goes back onto the shelf gets its name written on it.

Using a marker pen to write what steel is used on the blades


No matter how many clamps I have, it is never enough. I have over 20 spring hand clamps that I use for glueing G10 liners to handle materials. They are also used in the final glue up of the handles to the knives.

Clamps, loads of clamps

I have screw G clamps that I use to clamp knives in the glue up. They are also used to secure my portaband metal band saw to my workbench.

Clamping my bandsaw to the workbench

I use speed clamps for my Kydex press. When making Kydex sheaths you need to clamp your press quickly whilst the Kydex is still hot and malleable. These pump clamps have proven to be invaluable as a custom Kydex sheath maker.

Cotton Buds

Is a cotton bud a tool? Well in the way I use them I think they are. They are great for cleaning up the front of the scales when you glue the knife up.

Using cotton buds to clean up the glue squeeze out

They are also great for cleaning up lanyard tubes from the dust and detritus that gets stuck in them.

They are also used for electro etching my logo. I made myself an electro etcher for saltwater etching blades, and it is the cotton bud that I dip into the saltwater when etching.

Using cotton buds to etch my makers mark

See just how useful they are, I always have a tub of them in the workshop.

Want to have a go at making your own knife? Why not read this blog post?