Super Amateur Knifemaking


The Highlander
July 23, 2010, 10:10 PM
I just got a 1x30 cheapo belt sander and I've got some files and a jewelers saw. Could I make a halfway decent blade with some annealed bar stock? I've done some metalwork before and have sharpened knives on an identical sander. I don't have the room or the means to make a forge, but I'd like to learn some basic knifemaking principles.

Anyone else start out this way? (I heard someone call it stock removal) I've got some pretty nifty designs on paper already and I'd like to see if I can replicate them. Are there some other tools I should look at or any tips on knifemaking without a forge? If I can come up with some decent stuff I figure I'll send em out and have somebody heat treat it for me. (I guess Bos is gone, but I heard his associates are still doing HT)

Any veteran knife makers have some advice or would like to share some experiences they've had with this method. (perhaps common mistakes or things I should look out for)

Lastly, does anyone know a good place to purchase decent steel?I know Jantz sells (I've bought some belts from them) Any other good sites I should be looking at or reading material I should be perusing?

I plan on using 1095 and 440C to start off. Should I be using something else?

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July 23, 2010, 10:24 PM
It is stock removal when you use a grinder, but using a 1 x 30" is going to be doing it the hard way for sure. Get the best belts you can - if you use Harbor Freight belts you'll never get done. Look up True Grit and get some belts from them, although Jantz is good too. There's a ton of knifemaking supply places including Texas Knifemaker's, Sheffield's, Pop's and others.

If you stick to carbon steels like 1095 and O1 you can heat treat yourself by using one or two firebricks hollowed out with a torch in the side. Heat to non-magnetic along the whole blade and quench in peanut or olive oil - whatever is cheapest. Get firebricks from Ellis Custom Knifeworks

Quench often in water while you're grinding or you'll burn you're fingers off! :)

July 23, 2010, 10:29 PM
A few links to get you going - if you can't find it in one of these places there's something wrong! Sheffield's you have to call to order, and most of these (especially Pop's and Tru Grit) are great to call and BS with. If you have questions about what to order all of them will help you out.

Texas Knifemaker's
Knife and Gun
Tru Grit

July 23, 2010, 10:35 PM
Valkman; link to, "knives i've made", does not work. I'd like to see. New link?

The Highlander
July 23, 2010, 11:03 PM
Exactly what I was looking for Valkman! I'd heard of Texas Knifemakers, but the others are completely new to me. Thanks for all the tips.

July 23, 2010, 11:23 PM
grant, I changed the link and it should work now, although it's to a different place than the defunct link. It still shows lots of neat stuff though.

Highlander, glad to help. If I can help more just let me know. Most of us got help from top knifemakers when we started and like to pass it on.

July 24, 2010, 09:24 AM
Try these videos made by Green Pete. They have some good pointers for a begining knifemaker.

The Highlander
July 26, 2010, 02:07 PM
Cool vid messerist.

While I'm here, do you guys have any recommendations as far as belts? (3M, Klingspor, Norton, Hermes, etc.) And what's the deal with those 3M Gator belts?

Also as far as grits go I figured I would get a 120/240, 400, and an 800/1000. Is that too much or not enough? Should I get an even lower grit belt or would that remove metal too quickly?

July 26, 2010, 07:20 PM
You're gonna need 60 grit (or even rougher) for profiling and rough grinding. Then the belts you chose will work although I wouldn't go past 400.

I don't know what's available in 1 x 30" but 3M is always good, Gators are great and Norton Blaze are excellent.

The Highlander
July 28, 2010, 06:18 PM
I've heard good things about the Norton Blaze but I haven't found em in 1x30 yet. Just ordered a bunch of belts my base grinding belt for right now will be a Klingspor 50 grit Zirk belt. I plan on making a couple small blades first and everything else will be Spyderco Tenacious mods. If that doesn't cut it I'll have to track down the 24 grit version.

I may post some of my designs soon and see what you guys think.

July 28, 2010, 08:10 PM
Something to keep in mind , when working with a underpowered machine like the 1x30 , use thinner steel. While making a knife out of 3/16 stock , sure sounds cool , that is a whole bunch of material to remove with a 1x30.

Use 1/8" steel and you will save yourself some headache.

Order lots of belts , they don't last long on the 1x30.

I used a 1x30 for a weekend before I bought a 1x42 , which was much better , but I found adding a cheap 4x36 was a bonus as coarse belts were easier to find.

Check out Barbkat on Ebay , I used to buy cases of belts off her when I used my 1x42 , after switching to the 2x72 , I still use the others from time to time.

The Highlander
July 28, 2010, 09:11 PM
I'm glad I decided to go with the 1/8" 1095 last minute instead of the 3/16". I'm pretty eBay savvy so I'll check her out in a few minutes. Again thanks for all the info everyone. I'm really excited to make my first knife!

July 29, 2010, 12:01 AM
For Blaze belts Tru Grit does not list them - you have to call and ask. Don't know why but it's always been that way, probably because they never know how many they're going to get in.

The Highlander
July 29, 2010, 06:06 PM
Ah that would explain it. I'll get some of those in the next wave of purchases. Have you ever used a leather belt on a sander for stropping? I was thinking about picking up a leather belt in the next order too but I thought I'd get some input from the community first.

July 29, 2010, 07:26 PM
I never tried that, but did use an old belt for stropping.

Smokey Joe
July 29, 2010, 08:14 PM
Highlander--I have just a little 1x30, the cheapo from Harbor Fright. But it does a FINE job of sharpening knives, and cleaning up neglected ones. Haven't tried actually making a knife from scratch yet. I'm quite a newbie to powered sharpening, but what I've experienced has been very interesting.

Anyhow, as part of the assortment of belts I got for it, I ordered a couple leather belts. Tried one, first with white jewelers' rouge, and as that has worn off, without. Either way, the leather does a dandy job of cleaning the fine wire edge off a sharpened knife.

I use the belt I'm wearing for stropping when I sharpen a knife w/my pocket stone (have done that for years and years) and that works just fine, too, but the powered belt is faster, and easier on which to control the angle. And with the "touch" of rouge left on the belt, it polishes the blade a bit too.

You'll have to experiment to find which grits work with which steels to produce the best and quickest results. I'm still in that process.

It's fun when telling non-knife-sharpening people, that my belts go down to 9 micron grit. :D

August 2, 2010, 12:43 PM
My dad makes a good many knives, fixed blade and folders, and I've made a few. The main tools we use are a grinder (with cutting wheel and grinding wheel) and belt sander. You need a good vice to clamp the knife in while grinding on it. You'll think the first few you make turn out beutiful then as you progress and get better, you'll probably realize the first knives look like junk.

If you enjoyed reading about "Super Amateur Knifemaking" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!