Grind and finish help

Discussion in 'Hammer & Tongs' started by HWooldridge, Jan 21, 2017.

  1. HWooldridge


    Jan 1, 2017
    Hi all,

    This is my first post here so I'll be brief with the introduction. I got interested in blacksmithing during the 1970's and grew an ornamental iron business on the side of my normal "day job". I got old and the hours got old so after 35 years, I basically pulled the plug, shut down my website and dropped back to 40 hours a week instead of 70-80. However, I did keep all of my tools so I have a well equipped shop with forges, anvil, vises, power hammer, grinders, lathes, mill, etc. None of what I did in the past can be considered blade making - although I did build some axes, machetes, a kukri and several pig-stickers for local hunters. All of those held up in the field over the years but they weren't much to look at.

    At this point in my life, I would like to start making knives with more of a purpose. My wife and I have 4 grown sons; one of who is a professional hunting guide, so I have an outlet for real world testing. Two of our other sons have worked in the restaurant biz for many years and they are asking me for kitchen knives.

    My great weakness is grinding and finishing so my question is whether there are any recommended tutorials available that provide some guidance? I have a reasonably good grasp of heat treatment principles and am planning to stick with 5160 and other simple carbon steels. My shop built 2x72 grinder isn't variable speed and has only a 9.5" contact wheel (although I am confident I can build a flat platen setup). I am open to suggestions in adding other equipment such as buffers or whatever is commonly used by most folks.

    And I don't like to ask questions without also trying to give back - so my "tip for the day" is that the Rutland furnace cement found at Tractor Supply makes a pretty decent floor coating for gas forges that use Insulboard or similar refractory. I wanted to repair my gas forge so I thinned the cement enough to make it easy to spread then painted the floor with several thin layers using a putty knife. I let it air dry for a week then fired it a couple times before putting it into service. So far, it has held up to normal use without chipping. I have read that some folks use the Rutland product to generate a hamon. However, I don't forge weld in the gassers so have no idea how they react to flux.

    Thanks in advance.

    Hollis W.
  2. Callum.D


    Jul 17, 2015
    I'd recommend to get/make a flat platen. It is much easier to grind consistent bevels on that rather than a wheel and it will come in handy on those kitchen knives. If you want really consistent bevels a grinding jig is useful however if you like the versatility of freehand grinding there is little you can do other than practice. That being said Walter Sorrells did a video regarding belt grinders in which he covers some of the basics regarding freehand grinding:

    In terms of finishing a blade little other than copious amounts of both elbow grease, sandpaper and beer can suffice.
  3. HWooldridge


    Jan 1, 2017
    Thank you. That gives me a place to start.
  4. jorasco312


    Jun 9, 2006
    My advice: find a local (or maybe not so local) knifemaker who really grinds well, is willing to teach you and pay his fee. That one on one personal attention will put you several years ahead on the learning curve, reduce your learning errors thereby reducing wasted time, effort, expense, and increase your confidence, quality of product and professionalism. I would also suggest checking with former students, I.e., word of mouth. Some folks simply cannot convey their knowledge.
  5. HSC ///

    HSC ///

    Nov 7, 2012
    i'm with Jorasco312 on the advice,
    you will get what you pay for on the training, just like anything else
    I believe in TX there are many very good knifemakers.

    also consider ABS video on Tim Hancock grinding.

    also I found in knifemaking, it takes me at least ten times, and often twenty times to get good at any one thing.
    so figure it might take 20 blades before you figure it out
    but I'm on the slow side of learning :)
  6. HWooldridge


    Jan 1, 2017
    All sounds like good advice. Johnny Stout is right around the corner from me and a fellow named Bruce Fuller who is a bit further away in Blanco. I know Johnny but have never met Bruce. Johnny hosts a knifemaker get-together every year, which I have attended a couple times.

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