Am i Crazy???

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by David Nowlin, Aug 24, 2019.

  1. David Nowlin

    David Nowlin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    I love knives and bought a house with a nice work shop in the basement with a roll up garage door. Wanted to do something and knife making is in the running. The guy that owned the house before me made guitars so transition from wood to steel? How hard can that be? Surely i jest.
    I suppose the initial out lay of cash to get machines, tools and blade stock will be obscene. Just in the planning stages would appreciate opinions here from the experienced ones.
    Reloading is another idea, not cheap either!
    Coy Ranch likes this.
  2. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    All depends on what you consider "entry level" equip for a hobby. Reloading ammo is like ham radio, anything from $300 to $500 will set you nicely, or if budget is no concern you can easy spend $3,000 to $5000 to get started, even more for knife making. $2,000 could be entry level stock removal and sending out for heat treating...... or it could easy climb to $20,000 if you really like your toys (lathe, mill, forge, oven, grinder, etc {g}.
  3. David Nowlin

    David Nowlin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Ha ha i may be crazy but not insane? 20k i guess i will continue being a minor collector.
    And continue to admire and envy those that have the gift of the true craftsman.
  4. David Nowlin

    David Nowlin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    It really was for therapy. Guess i’ll be taking up Yoga?
  5. DevinT

    DevinT KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 29, 2010
    If you’re asking, then it’s probably not for you. You’ll make knives when it hurts to not make them.

    SBuzek, Coy Ranch, tkroenlein and 9 others like this.
  6. A.McPherson

    A.McPherson KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 27, 2012
    And you’ll be making them when it hurts to make them too!!
  7. DevinT

    DevinT KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 29, 2010
    Jason Volkert and flatblackcapo like this.
  8. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    Try a portable bandsaw, drill press, and 1x30 grinder from Harbor Freight. See if you like knifemaking. Upgrade equipment from there.
    115Italian, fishface5, seanj and 2 others like this.
  9. FredyCro


    Jan 11, 2019
    Maybe do a knife making course before you invest any money? I got a course as a present and was hooked instantly. That was 6 months ago and since then I am in a continous process of studying the subject and supplying materials and machines, renting a place and so on. I did another bladesmith course in the mean time and profiled/heat treated some blades with DIY methods...
  10. milkbaby


    Aug 1, 2016
    1x30 belt sander/grinder $60 or with 5" disc sander $100
    Drill press $60
    Hacksaw with bimetal blade $20
    Hand files $20 to $40
    Three softfirebricks from $35 shipped
    30k BTU venturi burner from $80 shipped
    Propane tank $free if you already have a outdoor grill or $50 if not
    2 gallons canola oil/quench oil $10
    Big pot for quench oil $free if you already have to $30 if not
    Kitchen oven for tempering $free
    2 to 4 feet of 1084, 80CrV2, or 15N20 steel from Alpha Knife Supply or New Jersey Steel Baron $30 to $60
    Kiln dried cocobolo wood for handle $10
    Copper rod for handle pinstock $2
    30 minute epoxy $10
    Sandpaper $10
    Clamps $10 to $1000 (you can never have too many)

    So for fixed blade knives that's around $300 to $400 or even less if you already got stuff like the drill press, sander, etcetera or just send out for heat treat instead of making a two brick forge.

    You can make a crappy knife like the one below (imagine not in damascus steel and cocobolo handle tho) I finished recently with this relatively cheap equipment plus a lot of sweat and swearing.

  11. AVigil

    AVigil Adam Vigil knifemaker working the grind Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Platinum Member

    Feb 17, 2009
    The minimum I would start with is a variable speed 2x72 grinder, metal cutting band-saw, drill press, digital caliper, dye chem, good sand paper and files

    Send out to heat treat.

    Do yourself a big favor and go to Chris Crawfords website and look at all the instructional DVD he has there. Pick one that you are interested in and watch it several times.

    You will save a lot of money and time doing that
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
    12345678910 likes this.
  12. Tenebr0s


    Jun 3, 2012
    I'd second the recommendation to take a class at a good school. Worst case scenario, you find out you don't like making knives. On the other hand, if you find out that you do, you will have taken years off your learning curve.
    Coy Ranch likes this.
  13. Natlek


    Jun 9, 2015
    All you need to make knife is one good file..................
  14. David Nowlin

    David Nowlin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Wow! I go away for 3 hrs and look all the great info i missed!
  15. David Nowlin

    David Nowlin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    I still have to build some useful benches as my shop is bare. And i left my pick up truck in Florida. I got a logistics problem.
    I will look at those videos and see if classes are offered in my area. :thumbsup:
  16. Rhinoknives1

    Rhinoknives1 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 1, 2013
    Even a couple of nice files & some old ones from yard sales. I annealed a couple of old ones. Filed yo pattern with the good two I had, harden with a one brick forge with a mapp torch...I had just read a book. Now, I say , buy a known steel. Grind/Profile to shape. File your bevels. Send out for HT. Finish with sand paper & sanding block. Enjoy..
  17. Brian Stucker

    Brian Stucker Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 20, 2016
    You can also make alot of your own tools. I have made everything except my power hammer and grinders.
    Natlek likes this.
  18. seanj

    seanj Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 1, 2010
    I started making knives with a 4x36 grinder from Harbor Freight, a Harbor Freight drill press, a charcoal grill with a hair dryer to heat the charcoal and some hand tools. I wouldn't recommend the 4x36. I'd look at a 1x30 instead. But that is all I had to begin with. Most of my knives made with that equipment weren't very good, but it got me started.

    It can be a bit of an addiction, so beware.
  19. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    You need determination, files and sandpaper to start
  20. JTknives

    JTknives Blade Heat Treating Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 11, 2006
    Back in the day that was the recommendation. Get a good file and make a jig and file your edge bevels. Back then grinders where recommended very rarely for people just starting out. Now it seams like if you can’t afford a grinder off the bat then you don’t have the budget to make knives. I’m not saying grinders are bad for new knife makers at all but don’t let not having one stop you. Also you will scrap a ton of steel when learning to grind compared to learning to file. Generally speaking it’s not worth investing the money to heat treat your own blades if your at the hobby level. If you make one blade (carbon steel) a month you will spend around $120 (plus shipping) to sent to me to heat treat those 12 knives. $120 does not even cover the cost of a pail of good quench oil. This is what kinda pushed me into the heat treat business. I started to look at the thousands and thousands of dollars I had spent getting set up to properly heat treat blades and wondered how I was going to justify it. We have grown much larger then that now and we “the wife ;)” does not even question upgrades in equipment hence the cnc plasma cutter. Time is money but only if you have less free time then what’s required to do what you need done. I know plenty of full time smiths that send there blades out for heat treating. Do thy make less profit on that knife in the end, nope. When your time is valuable how much of it is worth $10-$20. But on the flip side I know just as many Smith’s that heat treat there own blades. It’s more about getting it done then and there and not relying on an outside vender inside your production circle.

    Sorry if I’m not that helpful when it comes to the other parts of knife making. But the lesson to take away is only spend money on what is exhausting your free time. Sure you can blow money on all kinds of things but stick to the basics and let your shop grow naturally. You will either become addicted or give up long before your neck deep in a money pit you have dug your self.

    One thing that helped us is we made a list of everything we did and all the sub steps. We then sorted them in order of time cost. What we quickly learned is my upgrades where being driven by wants not needs. We have done the list many times and it’s all way changed as things improved. Now at the top of the list is oven warm up time. Fallowed by liquid nitrogen treatment. We have limited space in our dewar so that limits the amount of blades we can process in a 24hr period. That has caused me to look into dry cryo methods and just use the dewar and bulk storage of liquid nitrogen.

    So keep your head up and start small. Enjoy the journey of learning because there is no reason to rush.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2019
    Nick Dunham, Ken H> and Bigfattyt like this.

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