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$300-500 setup for a rookie maker?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by brandonnash, Nov 10, 2014.

  1. brandonnash

    brandonnash

    143
    Apr 29, 2013
    I have spent the last few months (lightly) researching knife making. I have a bit of extra money now and this is a rarity for me. Was wondering what someone would advise me to get from the very start keeping in mind this budget.

    Before anyone asks...I won't be able to go up in budget. I would love a nice 2x72 grinder but that's not in my cards.

    I am looking at what specifics files, clamps, grinders, safety equipment, etc I would need to get the most out of my money. I know I could get by with a few files and a hacksaw but I am not wanting to go quite that low end.

    I have found a few grinders on Craigslist locally and may go that route. Craftsman 1/3 HP 1x42 for $75, another 1x30 for $40, drill press for $60. Thoughts on these?
     
  2. Atlas Knife Company

    Atlas Knife Company KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Basic Member

    Feb 16, 2010
    Many nice knives have been made with a 2x42 craftsman, $60 drill press and $80 portaband with a makeshift stand.
     
  3. Jason Fry

    Jason Fry KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 5, 2008
    Nailed it. If it was me, go Craftsman, belts, Drill press, drill bits, vise, sandpaper, supplies, and you'll run out of money.
     
  4. brandonnash

    brandonnash

    143
    Apr 29, 2013
    Also found a dremel 400xpr looks to be either barely used or new with case and flex shaft for $85 obo. Thinking of offering $65.

    I don't know how much they were new. Can't find any new so I am guessing they have been discontinued in favor of the thousands series?
     
  5. Jason Fry

    Jason Fry KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 5, 2008
    IMO, anything in a 1" grinder is not going to be worth your time. Craftsman 2x42 and belts from tru-grit or supergrit. I have a dremel also, and rarely use it. I think it was Rados who said "knifemaking is a lifetime of collecting tools, then you die." If you can get tools at good prices, go ahead and get them. You'll need them some time.
     
  6. catalytic

    catalytic

    95
    Jul 19, 2011
    I restore old machine tools, so I'm biased. However, if you have any mechanical inclination (i.e. are not scared of changing a bearing) then I think you can get something like a 2x48 grinder and a drill press of _far_ higher quality than the import ones you list by buying vintage machine tools. I think you could get a both a drill press and 2x48 (i.e. very common size until the last decade) grinder + the bearings and stuff for them for $300. PM me if you want some help finding them -- I spend way, way too much time looking at machine tools and rebuilding them and would be happy to help you search.

    I would then buy a few belts and also a few SINGLE drills (drill bits) x2 the sizes you need (i.e. 2x 1/16" drill and 2x 1/8" drill). This will run you in total about $10 USD. Buy HSS steel, stubby if you can find them, and you don't need titanium/black oxide/cobalt or anything (we have exactly 0 of any of those in my machine shop). Get USA-made ones if you can -- Century is fine, and Norseman is great (both sell singles -- Harry Epstein Co is a great place to order them if you can't find them locally). I would not buy a full set of drills because you won't need most of the sizes and I could easily spend half your budget or more on a quality set (the $15 sets from black and decker are really not worth buying and not what you want for precision work, IMHO).

    I personally would NOT buy a porta-band in your case -- the rough cut out can be accomplished in numerous (much cheaper) ways (i.e. hacksaw, angle grinder, your belt grinder), and I would spend your budget on the tools that do the fine details (grinder and possibly drill press). I would buy a hold down clamp or vise for your drill press so you don't allow the drill to catch in your knife, spin it, and hurt you. Vise grip and Kant Twist make good, inexpensive versions of these. Combine this with a bolt through one of the slots on your table and positioned alongside side of the knife so if the knife spins, it will hit the bolt head and stop. Or buy some machinist hold downs.
     
  7. brandonnash

    brandonnash

    143
    Apr 29, 2013
    Thanks for that info. I will broaden my search a bit and see what that turns up.

    I also would like to know about sourcing steel. The knife places all seem to have high prices for little amounts of steel.
     
  8. Bill Siegle

    Bill Siegle KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 3, 2000
    If I had to equip a shop on the cheap, I'd look into forging. You can move and shape a lot of steel with a homemade forge. An anvil can be a recycled steel block from a scrapyard. Do a search on the neo tribal bladesmiths for FAQs and how tos. An angle grinder and files will straighten out your lines and bevels. No matter what direction you go, a good heavy duty vice and a drill press will be needed.
     
  9. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    An angle grinder isn't expensive and saves a lot of time.
     
  10. brandonnash

    brandonnash

    143
    Apr 29, 2013
    Does anyone have a list or a link to a list of files to get? Was going to go this weekend and try to pick up some.

    Inquired about the grinders and a couple of the drill presses on Craigslist and they had already sold. Got to keep looking.

    I have seen mixed reviews of the harbor freight 1x30 belt grinder. Thoughts on it? Better than not having one?
     
  11. catalytic

    catalytic

    95
    Jul 19, 2011
    What state do you live in? IMHO, there is really no reason to waste your time on HF junk when you can find nice used american made grinders for $120-300. You won't get Burr King at that price, but I do see Porter Cable 2x48" and similar grinders at this price from time to time (Porter Cable used to make industrial machines long before they started selling little import sanders at Lowe's). These were nicely designed industrial machines made to last forever-- I would much prefer them to the current version of Kalamazoo 2x48's for instance.

    Here's an example:
    http://vintagemachinery.org/photoindex/detail.aspx?id=16754

    Change the bearings ($20 for all and 45 mins of your time if you're on a budget), put a new mild steel platen on ($10 of steel), and they will keep up with anyone else's grinder for the next 50 years.

    Also, Craigslist is great, but definitely not the best place to be looking for this stuff. There are a few machinery forums with very active classifieds sections, and people there know the guts of their used machines (so you don't buy something, take it home and only then learn that it's trashed). I also see nice, american made, cast iron benchtop drill presses sell for $100 every week or two.

    Also, re: files, I've had good luck finding NOS Nicholson (before they moved production overseas) files on the big online auction site. Century still makes them stateside, I think. Bahco are not US made, but reputed to be of nice quality.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  12. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    Minimum files I would recomend:
    One large flat bastard file
    One chain saw file for the plunge line (only file 2/3 the hight you want the line to go)
    One small single cut file for draw filing. (I prefer a triangular one)
    Then sandpaper: 120, 180, 240, 400, 600 higher if you like
     
  13. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    Minimum files I would recomend:
    One large flat bastard file
    One chain saw file for the plunge line (only file 2/3 the hight you want the line to go)
    One small single cut file for draw filing. (I prefer a triangular one)
    Then sandpaper: 120, 180, 240, 400, 600 higher if you like
     
  14. dluxhvac

    dluxhvac

    80
    Jan 1, 2013
    My Father is an old time cnc machinist he was moving into his retirement house and getting rid of a bunch of old things. I took home a box full of Nicholson files if you havent already bought some i could send you a couple to get you started. I will take care of shipping. I have been lurking here for a few years now and learning lots of good things from all the knowledgeable and extremely helpful people here it would be nice to help out someone else.
     
  15. Josh Mason

    Josh Mason

    Jun 15, 2011
    Look into the Coote grinder. I love mine.

    I did a whole lot of spinning my wheels with anything other than my 2x72 machine.
     
  16. aarongough

    aarongough

    Mar 12, 2013
    I personally think that a filing jig and files is a great way to get started. You're not blowing a bunch of money on a tool you won't like later on, and learning to use the filing jig is much easier that learning to get a nice grind on the grinder, so you're more likely to enjoy your initial experience.

    I have a video showing how to make a filing jig here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9iNDRwwBQQ

    I have also added complete tool lists to each of my videos (in the description) if you want more info on what might be needed.

    I agree that a drill press is a great investment! At every step of the way I'd recommend buying the best tools you can afford.
     
  17. Justin Presson

    Justin Presson

    878
    Dec 4, 2013
    Another vote for the file jig. I made my first few with it and they turned out good and I learned alot. Good files, alot of sand paper, good hacksaw or HF porta band conberted to upright with good blades and a drill press is a must.
     
  18. brandonnash

    brandonnash

    143
    Apr 29, 2013
    Thanks guys. My sons football season finally ended this past weekend so now I can start looking around for all the goods.
     
  19. EastCompassoKnivery

    EastCompassoKnivery

    77
    Feb 26, 2014
    Well, I don't exactly know what I can tell you that others haven't already. If I had to completely restart my shop I would get a drill press definitely, a vice definitely, and Some form of belt sander. I wouldn't recommend a harbor freight one though. I have been using a 4x36 which is a weird size for knife making and I have been able to get some good grinds, but this is after some modding and about a year of practice. I do not know of anyone personally who has used the craftsman grinder you spoke of earlier. However I would recommend that grinder just for the belts it uses instead of a 4x36. An angle grinder can get you really far in knife making, just a couple of GOOD QUALITY cut off disks and some grinding disks will remove metal very easily and cost effectively. Someone recommended a portaband and someone shot down the idea. I am in the market for one and have found the dewalt deep throat to be my choice however I have not purchased it so I don't know how well it functions. I have cut some knives out on my neighbors bandsaw and it is amazing, however it isn't some thing I would recommending buying right off the bat unless you have a relatively high budget.

    Another thing to consider is the little things i.e. epoxy and lighting and things of that nature. I could go on about little things that are helpful but not necessity however, if you plan on putting a handle on your knife your going to need some form of glue, pins or no pins, you will need it. I recommend G-Flex epoxy. Its strong and will hold better than the stuff you can buy at the hard ware store, trust me. Also lighting, if you cant see things that's when accidents happen. You can get small clap lights and install a bar over your mend to move them around and adjust your lighting, it will make things better and wont strain your eyes. Speaking of eyes you'll want something to protect them and your lungs. Get some form of safety glasses definitely and some masks for breathing. Just something to keep your lungs in good condition.

    In conclusion based on what I have read and learned my self and if I where in your position I would get... bench vise, drill press (I would recommend getting titanium bits, they will save you time and money), various sizes and shapes of files, an angle grinder with disks an whatnot, sandpaper and lots of it, a belt grinder, mask and glasses for safety. If needed get additional lighting. I say this assuming you have a bench to work with if you don't I built mine for $10 and that was the top panels, everything else was scrap 2x4's.

    Hope this helps some.
     

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