Beginner questions

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Justin W, Aug 29, 2019.

  1. Justin W

    Justin W

    Jul 30, 2019
    Hi everyone. I took a basic course in knife making, so of course I am hooked! Here are a few questions I couldn't find direct answers in stickies or searches.

    1. Steel. I plan to use AEB-L as a stainless for mostly cooking/food prep knives. I have a carbon steel knife currently, so I am interested in non-stainless as well. Do you recommend trying both types as a beginner? Which carbon steels do you like for cooking knives? I will be sending out for HT, so I figured 1084 was a little silly to be sending out when I "could" do it myself. My first inclination is to A2, since it is cheap and available.

    2. Grip materials. For beginners, do you recommend wood or synthetics/composites? What is a good source to order material? I may have access to some walnut, ash and cherry (plain grain stuff, aged at least a year). Is that a good place to start? I like the water resistance of synthetics, but wood just has character.

    I am planning to start small with paring, table knives, then moving up to petty, filet, boning and hopefully into gyuto, santoku, slicers over time. Thanks in advance!
  2. Busto

    Busto KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 26, 2011
    I really like 52100 for a carbon steel kitchen knife. You can grind thin and holds a wicked sharp edge. For Kitchen knives of Carbon they should never see the inside of a Dishwasher!!! If you wipe carbon blades clean after use you should only see a Patina form over time which helps to cut down on rust. Wood on Kitchen knives gives them a warmth over synthetics and has been used for centuries, but again should never see the inside of dishwashers a little soap and water and wipe dry. If you plan on using stainless AEB-L would be a good choice and send it out for Heat Treat and Grind Post Heat Treat.
  3. Justin W

    Justin W

    Jul 30, 2019
    Ah, I had forgotten about 52100, it looks like a very good alternative. I am aware of maintenance for carbon steel and quality knives in general. But, even being cautious, handles get wet and surface treatments of wood can wear with time. Wood is just a bit more susceptible to water damage than synthetics. My question also is trying to find other beginner friendly aspects like machining, finishing, etc.

    Any recommendations for sources of handle materials like basic wood or synthetics? I'm not looking for premium stuff, which seems easy to find. Just the simple beginner stuff.
  4. mooniesdl3


    May 12, 2016
    Stabilized wood would work well, personally I'm working on my first kitchen knife, I had Jarrod cut a blank and heat treat it and I'm putting a G10 handle on it because I know water will have little effect on it. Lots of places sell basic wood, stabilized wood and synthetics already sized for knife scales.
  5. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
  6. milkbaby


    Aug 1, 2016
    For carbon steel kitchen knives, if you're sending out for HT, then you can try whatever you like. Many makers are trying 26C3 which has become readily available recently, as it's similar to Hitachi white/shirogami cutlery steel with a pinch of chromium and a slight bump in manganese. You can get a nice hamon and should be relatively easy to sharpen to a very fine edge like shirogami. There is nothing wrong with sending out 1084, 1095, or other steels like that for heat treat. The advantage is the 10xx steels are usually cheaper. If you figure on having to scrap some steel due to screw ups, it's easier on your wallet to screw up cheaper steel than more expensive steel. ;)

    When it comes to natural (not stabilized) woods, kiln dried black walnut will make a beautiful handle, but it takes a bit of work to get it really looking nice. If you go to harder and oilier/waxier woods, you can get away with just sanding it to high grit (or even just to 400 grit) and buffing. You can get some cheap desert ironwood, cocobolo, african blackwood, katalox, bocote (and a bunch of others I left out) online or at a local wood store like Woodcraft and it'll only be around $3 to $10 worth of wood per handle. For woods that are not as hard and oily as the ones listed, if you wet sand a few coats of an oil/varnish finish like Birchwood Casey Tru Oil or Watco Tung Oil Finish, into the wood, then buff some paste wax over that, it will help seal the pores and give it a nice semi-water resistant finish.

    If you want to try synthetics, you can use micarta, G10, carbon fiber and other types of resin scales. I personally like wood best so I only like that stuff as a decorative addition on a multipart wood handle. Remember to use a respirator especially when it comes to stuff like G10 and carbon fiber so you don't get the fine particles stuck in your lungs. In fact, remember to use a respirator when generating any type of steel dust or sawdust in general during knifemaking activities!

    You can find handle materials from the same places you find knife steel. Assuming you're in the US, check out folks like Alpha Knife Supply, USA Knifemaker, Pop's Knife Supply, Knife and Gun Finishing Supplies, Jantz Knife, Maker Material Supply, Texas Knifemaker, Texas Farrier Supply, and a bunch of others I'm forgetting about.
    Jason Volkert likes this.
  7. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    For carbon blades, try 52100, 15N20, or 26C3
    For stainless, try AEB-L or CPM-S35VN
    For handles, try Canvas Micarta or Linen Micarta.
    For handle fasteners, use Corby bolts.
    For HT try JT Knives
    Bow Commander likes this.
  8. Storm W

    Storm W KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 19, 2019
    If you think that you might have some discarded blades then AEB-L is inexpensive. If you are not doing your own heat treatment then there isn't really any performance to be gained with simple carbon steels. Pops has A2 and S35VN for a great price along with Micarta and belts. Micarta is nice to work with and inexpensive. Atlas billiards has some very inexpensive wood like cocobolo for around $3 a block. It's not super fancy but it's nice stuff for the price.
    Coy Ranch likes this.
  9. Kevin Kf knives

    Kevin Kf knives

    Jul 2, 2018
    Etsy has handle material. I find stuff on Instagram and Facebook too. I've also just asked other guys where they get stuff I like.
  10. Justin W

    Justin W

    Jul 30, 2019
    Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. 52100, micarta seem to fit my criteria to try out.
  11. Storm W

    Storm W KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 19, 2019
    I don't know what you have for a grinder but just so you know you will have to leave simple steels thicker for the quench. Air hardening can be taken to near thickness before heat treatment.

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