Drawing Your Knife
As lonehunter said earlier, grinding out a knife is easy. You simply remove everything that doesn't look like your knife. That can be tricky though if you can't envision what you want it to look like. I find it extremely helpful if I first draw it out on a piece of paper.
I suggest that your first few knives are full tang style with no guards. Many people find that these are the easiest to make.
So gather up a piece of paper, a sharp pencil (I prefer mechanical), a ruler and a good eraser. Next you will need some things to trace. It wasn't until recently that I got a set of French Curves (not that kind). For years I was simply tracing household items to get the shapes and arcs that I wanted. Many of the items were various coins, mugs, bowls, spoons, plates or other knives.
The first thing I draw is the outline of my steel so I know the boundaries that I am working in.
Next measure and mark a line where the handle and blade meet. The type, shape and size of knife will dictate where this line goes. Play with some knives that you like and see how large the handles are. Typically around four to five inches makes for a decent handle size.
Now for the fun part. Start drawing the outline your knife. Look at pictures to get some ideas. Possibly trace parts of knives that you already have.
Once you have an outline that you are happy with, erase the lines that indicate the edges of the steel bar.
Fill in the details of the knife such as where the handle material will end and the rivets. Draw the bevel of the edge. You could even draw in some wood grain. These little details will help you envision what it will look like when it is done.
When you are happy with your drawing, you can trace the outline onto another blank piece of paper. To do this I put the original drawing onto a sunny window and then the blank paper over the top. This creates a light box effect and makes it easy to trace.
Cut out your outline drawing and use it as a template.
Trace your template onto a piece of bass wood, plexiglas or some other material that is 1/8” to 1/4” thick and is easy to work with. This wooden template will be what you use to trace the shape onto the steel.
Cut out your wooden knife and play with it. Pretend to use it. Hold it in different positions. Your wife will think you are nuts, but it is quite helpful in the long run.
If you are not happy with your design, now is the time to change it. Simply keep playing with it and trying various shapes until you like it.
In the attachments you can see my original drawing, the paper and wood templates, the ground blade blank, and the finished knife.