View Full Version : Hand Sanding

03-01-2003, 04:39 PM
Is it absolutely necessary to use a block when sanding a blade? I find it a real hassle and I have difficulty sanding the hollow grind area. I have only made 2 knives. One a flat grind with a mirror finish and the other, my rendition of a hollow grind with a satin finish. While there are many things that I am unhappy with on both of them. I can see no ill effects from not using a block when sanding.
I have tried a number of different types of materials for backing but all feel cumbersome.
What am I missing? What do I give up if I continue to not use a block?

Don Cowles
03-01-2003, 06:11 PM
The first thing you'll give up is crisp grind lines. In the right light, the flat surfaces will look wavy. And the worst part is, you can't push hard enough with just fingers behind the paper to really work out the scratches.

Bottom line: you need a block. I use flat ones for flat surfaces, and curved ones (same radius as the contact wheel used for grinding) for hollow grinds. I made mine from hockey pucks, wood, and some micarta-like stuff that is rubber-based instead of phenolic.

In any case, use a compass to scribe an arc of the desired radius, bandsaw to the line, and clean up on a disk sander. You won't regret it.

03-02-2003, 10:56 AM
Thank You Sir
Not what I wanted to hear, but it is what I wanted to know. I will come up with something that works. A local maker has invited me to his shop next week. I am really looking forward to getting some hands on instruction.
Thanks again

03-02-2003, 06:53 PM
I have not hand sanded yet, but I would think that not using a block would be pretty dangerous. I mean, between your fingers and a hardened, highly sharpened piece of steel you got a piece of paper. I remember when I was making a sheath and I was poking the awl through the leather (think I was getting frustrated and lifted it off the table to gain a bit more force) and it grazed my finger. Hurt something awful. Had it across a small board since then.


03-02-2003, 10:48 PM
The last thing you do is sharpen so you can't cut yourself. If the blade is 1in wide make the block 3in wide so you have more surface area to hold on to and more paper to use.

03-04-2003, 07:53 PM
I use what I call my rubber finger.
It is 1" tallX1/2" wide, and about 5" long so I can have a good grip.
It is flat on one side, curved on the other(to match my wheels), and the big flats for the scales and blending.
90% of my hand work is done with this tool.
I have other backings, but this one takes care of most all needs.
It is a 40 durometer hardness.

Backings make it look more professional, for the reasons Don mentioned, and it is safer to use that way.

I have never been able to grain well without a backing.
My fingers streek no matter what.

03-04-2003, 08:42 PM
Thank you Gene.
I just came in from sanding. Using a holder that a local maker gave to me. It is working well though it doesn?t feel as personal as paper in hand. Guess I?ll get used to it.

03-06-2003, 06:58 PM
For hollowgrinds try using a piece of thick leather,like 10 oz or more in weight,it works like a block,but is able to conform to the concave contour,the block as you know don't.

Jason Cutter
03-14-2003, 12:50 AM
The crisper your lines. A fair amount of pressure is still needed to "scribe" the perfectly even surface onto the steel (or wood etc.) I cold never get a leather backing to cut dead smooth so for some surfaces like curves, convex grinds etc. I use a flat debrurred scrap piece of Kydex - it is felxible but is extremely tough at the surface and provides a rigid surface that can still bend across its length to fit into most hollow ground surfaces.

For flat ground surfaces, I use a pair of 6-8inch long matching aluminium "sticks." I have a rubber band wrapped around one end. Slot the abrasive between the 2 sticks and wrap the abrasive around the 2 sticks. I find these quick and easy to use. The elastic wrapping to secure one end also acts as a "guard" to prevent me from ripping open my fingers. Even unsharpened edges can gouge something awful.

Soft backing like a hard leather is good for the very final finish

Not sure if that helps, but thats what I use on everything. Cheers. Jason.