Hi, I'm new to knife making throw ur tips at me!

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Mar 1, 2020
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I recently took over a small shop, i now have a large coke forge grinders and all the hand tools i could want. very lucky to have this equiptment but not from great curcumstances.
i really want to get into to knife making and have a background in steel works just wanting some tips so throw em at me no matter how small. regards les
 

knarfeng

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Let's try this in the knife maker forum...
 

John mc c

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Start by reading the stickies on too of this page
Search for any questions you have that have been adked here before
 
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Aug 12, 2015
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I do stock removal so my advice will come from that... but grinding bevels was the biggest learning curve for me. Having flat steel helped me a lot, especially if your looking for a straight/ parallel bevel. Mark the top and bottom center before grinding. Watch YouTube, depending on what kind of knives you want to make. There are awesome how tos out there.
 

JTknives

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Start by reading the stickys at the top of the forum. I think they even say NEW makers start here or some such thing. Once you read all the sticky links and get well studied you can come back here and ask any other questions you might have.
 
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Absolutely, read the stickies at the top of this subforum first. MOST of your questions will have been asked by others hundreds of times already and answers will be in the stickies. These tips aren't your usual "use 1084 steel" type tips.

My tips:

Do as much leg work as you can on your own in terms of reading stickies, watching YouTube videos, reading books etc. so when you ask questions here they are based on a foundation of basic information. If going the YouTube route I would suggest watching everything by Walter Sorrells and Nick Wheeler. There are a lot of good videos on YouTube but it isn't always easy to figure out what is quality info until you start gaining some knowledge yourself and develop the ability to sniff out BS.

Find a knifemaker within driving distance. Contact them and ask them if they would mind giving you a tour of their shop. Ask if they give lessons. Nothing will shorten your curve faster than hands-on training with someone who who knows what they are doing.

Think about what you want to get out of knifemaking, at least for now. If you just want to make some knife shaped objects and prison shivs for giggles, fine. If you want to bang out a bunch of functional knives for family and friends, that's cool too. If you want to be semi-pro or high end hobby, great! If you want to be a full time maker, good luck. (;P) There are no wrong answers. My suggestion is that you decide fairly early on what level of craftsmanship you'd like to attain and work toward that. Is a knife made with an angle grinder and heat treated in a bucket of used motor oil with some slab handles all you need to get out of it? No judgements here. You can make pretty cool stuff that way. But if you want to make well designed, well constructed, finely fit and finished knives it takes a certain mindset. Making fine knives takes a lot of work. Ask yourself, are you prepared for that? You don't need to spend years making piles of junk knives to learn how to do fine work. It's a matter of setting a standard for your work and being tenacious. Don't make excuses for sub standard work (whatever that is for you), don't cut corners, don't move on to the next step before you have completed that step to the best of your ability (your ability is higher than you think). This will move me to my next point.

Quantity doesn't get you quality. Quality gets you quantity. Don't work in batches. Making the same mistakes 20 times doesn't teach you anything except how to waste time and material. Work on one knife at a time. By forcing yourself to finish each step properly you will end up with more well made knives much faster. Your quality level will be higher and you will end up with a higher quantity of "keepers". Besides, if you are like many of us, our attention is always shifting to new ideas for our next knife. If you make a batch of 10 blades 9 will just sit there while you try something else.

Learn where to spend your time and money. There is nothing wrong with trying new things and learning how to make different things. Eventually you may decide though that making every material in your knife is not time or budget effective. For example, you may want to make the mycarta for your handles. Then you find that it is messy, time-consuming and you are still left with an unprofessional product. Same with stabilizing handle woods etc. Sometimes it is better to leave things like that to folks who specialize in those materials. They can produce much higher quality materials with better equipment and resins. If you are going to spend the time making a quality blade, use quality materials in the rest of the knife.

Mark your work. Not necessary, but if you are proud of your work mark it with your name. Maybe not for just starting out because stamps or stencils and etchers can be expensive. But keep it in mind.

Do not start with that 15" bladed monster Bowie you always wanted. Start with a well-designed 3-4" drop point hunter. Pay attention to proportion, geometry, ergonomics, the flow of lines, symmetry, fit and finish. Make small knives in the beginning. They will be easier to get straight grinds, less warps, less material cost, more practical and quicker to complete. And they make nice gifts.

Do not try to reinvent the wheel. Make sensible, attractive knives based on common designs. They are common because they have been proven to work over many decades/centuries. But by all means, feel free to put your own stank on it!

If you can draw, sketch out your designs on paper. If you can't draw well, try. It is the most direct path for an idea in your head to get out. The lines don't have to be perfectly smooth and the proportions don't need to be spot on. You are trying to capture lightning in a bottle here. You want to get the inspiration onto paper. It is just a gesture thumbnail sketch. Once you have that you can scan it into your computer and clean it up and start tweaking it if you feel more comfortable working that way.

Be an enthusiast and a student of knives. Study the knives of makers whose work you admire. Make a folder on your computer and save knife pictures you like to that folder. Use those pictures as inspiration or reference.

Be appreciative to those who help you. In most industries secrets are closely guarded. Knifemakers are the most generous people you will find. Most of them freely share information and techniques earned at great expense of time, money and energy. So always be polite even if you disagree.

Once you have some experience under your belt, pass it on.

Have fun. No matter how hard or expensive it is, it's worth it if it is fun. When it stops being fun, stop or figure out how to make it fun again.
 
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Wear PPE (Personal Protection Equipment), lung problems suck... Grinding great bevels is on the other side of hard, no real way around it, get some mild steel and practice on things you won't mind if they suck or don't turn out well. Use Paint stir sticks to put handles on the mild steel once you get it looking like a knife, it will give you practice shaping handles. You will screw up, you will learn from it. Some say to keep your mistakes as a visual lesson of your mistakes, hang them on the wall of the shop to remind you years from now of where you came from and how you have improved.
 
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Buy a good respirator and use it.
Protect your eyes.
You will bleed (if you play with snakes, you're gonna get bit), be prepared.

This is such an important message, please wear your respirator.

Wear PPE (Personal Protection Equipment), lung problems suck... Grinding great bevels is on the other side of hard, no real way around it, get some mild steel and practice on things you won't mind if they suck or don't turn out well. Use Paint stir sticks to put handles on the mild steel once you get it looking like a knife, it will give you practice shaping handles. You will screw up, you will learn from it. Some say to keep your mistakes as a visual lesson of your mistakes, hang them on the wall of the shop to remind you years from now of where you came from and how you have improved.

All great stuff, only addition I have is get a good height gauge and surface plate. These tools can do more than you could ever dream of - the height gauge with a carbide scribe is a serious tool.
 

Hubert S.

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All great stuff, only addition I have is get a good height gauge and surface plate. These tools can do more than you could ever dream of - the height gauge with a carbide scribe is a serious tool.
Dustin, do you have a recommendation for a height gauge? I am looking for one, can't quite justify the price for the Mitutoyo. There are a number of models below $100 on amazon with mixed reviews.
 
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Dustin, do you have a recommendation for a height gauge? I am looking for one, can't quite justify the price for the Mitutoyo. There are a number of models below $100 on amazon with mixed reviews.


This was the boat that I was in - I bought the iguage one that was like 55 bucks but it doesn’t have a carbide scribe. I just bought the analog grizzly version for like 90, and it seems decent. I’d like others opinions, but this seems like it’s going to work.
 

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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For a height gauge just use a drill bit. Take a bit that is a few thousandths over or under the stock thickness. Lay the drill on the edge of a flat hard surface (a granite surface block from Woodcraft is less than $20) and clamp it in place. Pull the blade blank edge and spine down the drill tip, flip it over, and draw it down the edge again. This will leave two scribed lines just a tad apart. Grind to the lines leaving the center space.
On the spine the scribed lines are great for keeping distal taper straight and even.
 

Hubert S.

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Dec 14, 2019
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This was the boat that I was in - I bought the iguage one that was like 55 bucks but it doesn’t have a carbide scribe. I just bought the analog grizzly version for like 90, and it seems decent. I’d like others opinions, but this seems like it’s going to work.
Thank you, Dustin. I'll take a look at the Grizzly.
 

Hubert S.

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Joined
Dec 14, 2019
Messages
824
For a height gauge just use a drill bit. Take a bit that is a few thousandths over or under the stock thickness. Lay the drill on the edge of a flat hard surface (a granite surface block from Woodcraft is less than $20) and clamp it in place. Pull the blade blank edge and spine down the drill tip, flip it over, and draw it down the edge again. This will leave two scribed lines just a tad apart. Grind to the lines leaving the center space.
On the spine the scribed lines are great for keeping distal taper straight and even.
That's what I have been doing for marking the center line of knives and it works well enough. I would still like a proper height gauge for other applications. I am building a grinder and could have used a height gauge several times instead of scribing with one jaw of the calipers riding against the edge of the work piece.
 
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Dustin, do you have a recommendation for a height gauge? I am looking for one, can't quite justify the price for the Mitutoyo. There are a number of models below $100 on amazon with mixed reviews.

If you go amazon, you might get bit by Chinese scammers.

Go with a reputable retailer with warranty, go dial and not electronic.
Grizzly and Shars will have decent deals.
Watch out for free shipping deals on the stone.
 
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May 12, 2016
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This is such an important message, please wear your respirator.



All great stuff, only addition I have is get a good height gauge and surface plate. These tools can do more than you could ever dream of - the height gauge with a carbide scribe is a serious tool.

I did just get one of these in (height guage from Grizzly) and looking forward to putting it to use, much better than trying to scribe center lines with my caliper.
 
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I did just get one of these in (height guage from Grizzly) and looking forward to putting it to use, much better than trying to scribe center lines with my caliper.

this is why I bought one, flat and easy to drag on a surface plate.
 
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