Basic Filework: Vine

The vine pattern is probably the most common type of file work done on a knife spine. I've outlined the steps below so that most everyone can complete this and move on to more exciting filework.

What you will need:
 - Ruler
 - Permanent marker, fine point
 - Round file, about 3/8" in diameter
 - Needle file (half round or triangular)
 - Vise

The Basic Pattern

1). Mark the spine with the marker. Alternate left and right. I used 3/8" (10mm) spacing.

2). Cut semi-circles on the left side every other mark.

3). Cut semi-circles on the right side, every other mark. The cuts must alternate.

4). With the needle file, cut the 'leaves' about 3/32" (2mm) above each big half round.

5). Repeat the leaves on the right side.

6). Carefully shape the lower portions of the big half rounds to smooth the vine.

And now with pictures...

Start by securing the knife in a vise and cleaning the spine with some sandpaper. Make a mark every 10mm (3/8") along the spine.

I marked part of a circle alternating left and right on each mark.

File with the round file and downward strokes holding the file at an angle like shown.  Keep the angle consistent and file until the curve is about 1/2 way into the spine. Repeat for right side and left side arcs.

You should end up with something like this.

Now with the needle file cut the leaves. These are about 3/32" to 1/8" above the large half rounds. I like to use the small half round or triangular needle file for this.

Additional shaping can now be done to give more of a smoother vine effect.


  1. please share more simple patterns

  2. Do you do this before or after heat treating? How do you smooth it up in there? Finally, do you fill this in with epoxy when putting the scales on?

    1. Yes, I do all the filework before heat treatment while the steel is still workable. I use a little sandpaper on a wooden dowel and a file to clean the post heat-treat scale before epoxying. I like Acraglas or West System g/flex as they fill really well.