Bevel grinding development advice

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by ERRN, Dec 30, 2016.

  1. ERRN

    ERRN Gold Member Gold Member

    246
    Aug 29, 2015
    I got a new grinder for Christmas, the grizzly 2x72 and started playing with it. All of my knives up to this point have been done on my 1x32 or with file jigs. I also have been using a grinding jig for bevels, so have been pretty happy with my bevels. I ground out a Kiradashi freehand last night, and it was pretty rough, but it got me thinking. I want to shed the jigs and get proficient at freehand bevels. My question for the more experienced folks is, would you recommend just grinding a bunch out and working on that, or would you grind one and work the whole knife to completion one at a time? I see value in both, but think the grinding learning curve would be sped up by just spending time grinding. I am wondering either way if I'm going to end up with a pile of shop knives, so might as well just invest a bunch of time roughing stuff out. I'm asking this specifically because I also had a local bladesmith tell me to just work slowly on one at a time and do your best with each step start to finish, and that's kind of the opposite as far as time invested in a process.
     
  2. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks

    Jun 17, 2016
    I found 3 things helpful in learning to freehand grind. 1 rough grinding in a jig and finish grinding after heat treat free hand, 2 the bubble jig, 3 speed control. In no particular order.

    I think you got good advice. If you just grind, rather than a bunch of shop knives you'll end up with a bunch of unfinished blades that aren't worth your time to finish as shop knives.
     
  3. JBC69

    JBC69

    112
    Feb 22, 2015
    Get a Bubble Jig--the best money you'll ever spend if you want to learn to grind freehand!
     
  4. Craig Daniel

    Craig Daniel

    Feb 17, 2016
    I started out from day one freehand grinding and that is the only way I grind my blades, I would just grind one knife at a time and watch your progress. You will learn speed and Pressure soon enough, Mild steel is good to use until you get the hang of it.
     
  5. ERRN

    ERRN Gold Member Gold Member

    246
    Aug 29, 2015
    I appreciate the perspective. I've looked at the bubble jig a few times and from what I have heard, people seem to train themselves out of it pretty fast. I might look into that. For some reason I can't find really comprehensive freehand grinding videos on YouTube. Maybe I need to find a local bladesmith to meet with in person to get all of my technique questions sorted. I'll just keep freehanding and post up my pictures here as I go I think, and look more seriously at the bubble jig.
     
  6. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks

    Jun 17, 2016
    It's not something that's easy to show in a video or learn by observation. It's a lot of trial and error to learn what the feel is about. If you have someone to help you identify what's going on real time that can be a big help.
     
  7. J. Rosa

    J. Rosa

    Mar 19, 2007
    The more you do something the better you get. Knife making involves more than just grinding a bevel. I see a lot of new makers with somewhat decent grinds and bulky handles and a mirror polish. If you want to lose the jigs and don't want to spend a fortune on steel use wood scraps. Patience and more passes helps to even out the grind and get rid of wavy lines. Newer makers try to walk their grind lines up too fast. You want consistency in pressure and speed when you make your passes. If it doesn't look even don't walk it up. For me walking a grind up is just a slight tilt of the wrist. I start with 36 grit belts and high belt speed. With a grizzly your stuck at one speed so get used to it and make the most of it until you upgrade. At some point you will want more belt speed and more control to slow it down. I'm sure you'll get better responses than mine though. And fwiw the bubble jig would be a good buy. Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2016
  8. ERRN

    ERRN Gold Member Gold Member

    246
    Aug 29, 2015
    I think you called out a couple of my issues last night right there. I did my initial cut to take the corner off before starting to grind the bevel, and alternated between trying too hard to cut the plunge line and walk the bevel up too fast. When things looked good, I'd suddenly jack the bevel up on the next pass because I changed the angle too much. The edge quickly got too thin right above the plunge line, and I couldn't go deeper with the bevel after that. I was able to clean it up a. It with a file, but it ended up looking like a scandi bevel. After that I tried to grind a swedge and was just rushing at that point, so it was all over the place.
     
  9. J. Rosa

    J. Rosa

    Mar 19, 2007
    I see. I'd wait on the swedge. The thinning near the plunge is something I solved by not starting a pass right at the plunge. The tendency when you do can be to not put the blade flat on the platen and instead come in at a slight angle. That and slightly over correcting or tilting your wrist instead of trying to get the blade flush on platen. Try leaving a little meat on the edge when you begin and when you have a solid consistent flat grind going or close to it try starting your passes by placing the middle of the blade flush on the platen and then sliding back to the plunge to start a regular pass. You can always thin the edge and true everything at the end by tilting the edge toward the belt after you've successfully walked the grind line up. Hopefully this helps until you get a better feel for things.
     
  10. ERRN

    ERRN Gold Member Gold Member

    246
    Aug 29, 2015
    That makes a ton of sense. A couple time I started a pass at the tip or mid blade and every time I did that, I seemed to get a cleaner pass with good lines. I think stressing about cutting the plunge line made me focus too much on that area, thus the most steel was removed there causing more problems. I suspect with having the very fast Grizzly, I'll need to make myself really focus on slowing way down.
     
  11. Matt Rochester

    Matt Rochester Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2014
    I start at the last 2" of the blade and move to the plunge and then back out. You need to learn to put the blade on the belt without removing metal. Very gently put the blade on the belt until it settles in on the bevel. Once it's sitting flat against the bevel move towards the plunge and start applying a little more pressure. Don't stop at the plunge. Hit you mark and then pull the blade along the belt until the tip comes off. Remember if the bevel is higher in one area than the other you have either put more pressure on that spot or it has spent more time on the belt. If you want the grind line to go towards the spine then apply more pressure on that side by gently rolling spine towards the grinder. If you want to thin the edge then just do the opposite. Use sharp belts and practice a lot.
     
  12. JBC69

    JBC69

    112
    Feb 22, 2015
    I've had mine for over a year and have used it to grind 30+ knives and I still use the heck out of it. You may outgrow it quickly, you may not--but I promise you will not find a better training tool to learn to grind freehand. Pick one up and 20-30 feet of cheap steel and have at it. When I first got my 2x72 I used to mangle steel like it was free and would be lucky if 1 in 3 blades I made looked decent ... then I bought a bubble jig and literally instantly started turning out perfect, or nearly perfect grinds. I waste a whole lot less now and it's a rarity to ruin a blade--I attribute my success completely to the bubble jig and lots of practice.
     
  13. Fred.Rowe

    Fred.Rowe Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    May 2, 2004
    Since I am the inventor you might think I am prejudice in what I say here.
    I can grind free hand and am quite proficient at it. I can grind with a Bubble Jig and I am quite proficient at that as well. I always grind with a BJ. The reasons, I can grind a blade much faster, with better overall grinds and I have not thrown a blade in the junk bucket for 6 years. When you complete the initial bevel grind, with a BJ, you end up with a matched set of bevels and not a "blend" of angles across the bevel surface.
    Basically, a BJ is faster, more accurate, with far fewer corrections. This tool is not just about grinding bevels. I grind the distal taper the hidden tang surface, the ricasso, false edge and at the end I set the cutting edge with perfect accuracy.
    If your trying to grind matched sets, its the Bubble Jig. Repeat grinds, Bubble Jig.

    The Bubble Jig will "teach" you to free hand grind. But the thing is you can grind it faster and better with one. Why would you want to go from faster and better to slower and not as good. Like I said; I can grind without a Bubble Jig, but why would I want to.

    Good luck and happy grinding, Fred
     
  14. ERRN

    ERRN Gold Member Gold Member

    246
    Aug 29, 2015
    Thanks Fred! I ordered the jig set from your site last night. I'm looking forward to trying it out!
     
  15. Fred.Rowe

    Fred.Rowe Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    May 2, 2004
    The bottom line for me is this. Knife making is far more than grinding bevels. It's about being creative. Choosing line and geometry, handle material and the many wonderful steels available today. It's color and symmetry, those little twist and turns that make a knife so singular that people call it art.
    Using this tool will move you forward in one large leap as far as grinding matched bevels is concerned. What comes after is the creative part. Thats where the fun is and that is where the satisfaction comes. Much of the reason I bought this tool to market was just that, I wanted to share what it did for me. I changed from a frustrated would be knife maker into a real craftsman once I made the grinding part easy.

    Thanks for your order, Fred
     
  16. Daniel Fairly Knives

    Daniel Fairly Knives Full Time Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 9, 2011
    I ground about 20 knives (without finishing them) as well as I could then decided I needed to make them better... after that focused on individual knives which included a second stage of hand filing and sanding to ensure a clean flat grind.

    I still base my knifemaking process between balancing repetitive practice combined with pushing myself beyond my boundaries and striving for perfection on all.
     
  17. ncnurseryman

    ncnurseryman

    144
    Jul 2, 2012
    How are you liking the grizzly so far.
     
  18. ERRN

    ERRN Gold Member Gold Member

    246
    Aug 29, 2015
    Love it. It's such a different tool than the little 1x30 I've been using. After I got it tracking well, it's pretty awesome. I think I am going to make a different tool rest for it.
     
  19. ERRN

    ERRN Gold Member Gold Member

    246
    Aug 29, 2015
    Ok...the Bubble Jig is the bees knees! I got it today and started grinding a blade. I watched in the videos he mentions cutting the first bevel at 10 degrees and get an even edge about the thickness of a dime and then step down in angle to walk the grind up. Is this how you guys typically do it when free handing? I'm using a fairly thick piece and have a nice even bevel at 10 degrees, but need to change angles to walk up. I'm wondering if I should just go to where I think the final angle will be..like 4 degrees. Or is there theory behind moving up gradually in angles?
     
  20. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks

    Jun 17, 2016
    There is a theory to make belts last longer or cut faster by working up in facets.

    I actually do it the opposite way because it's easier for me to see where I need to grind more or less when the edge is against the belt and not off of it.
     

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