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The Newbies Arena New to Knife Making? Here's all the help you need ...

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  #1  
Old 01-20-2017, 09:21 PM
efarley efarley is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Portland, OR
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What is a cheep (under $500) way to get into the craft?

Hello,

I've always had a fascination with blades and sword making and as an adult I've learned to love cooking, so as it goes I'm interested in creating my own knife(s), but as I watch videos and read about the craft I'm finding there isn't a lot of information on a cheep way to get your foot in the door and see if it's for me, and most tools are priced for professionals that sell blades which isn't something I intend to do unless it turns out I make awesome knives. Instead of selling knives I envision a future where I make myself a nice set of knifes and make some knifes to give to family and friends as gifts from time to time.

From what I can tell I need 3 expensive things.

Forge: These actually don't seem crazy expensive and I've found some that look decent for a few hundred dollars, but that is still a lot more than I'd like to spend unless I'm making blades regularly. I've seen some videos on making a coffee can forge which seems like it would work great for the forge. Has anyone tried these, would they work fine to forge and harden a 8 inch blade w/ full tang?

Anvil: I am still struggling to believe how expensive these things are! It's unbelievable how much a simple hunk of steel with a rounded pointy bit costs. I've see some people making functional anvils out of rail road track, so if I can find some track cut into a short piece then I could make an anvil, but I'm not sure where I'd find that so some other options would be great. Again I intend to make a chefs knife with a blade about 8 inches long, so whatever I use needs to work for that.

Grinder: All I keep finding is these big giant grinders with like 70 inch belts that take up tons of space and cost thousands of dollars, this seems like so much overkill for someone just trying to make their first knife and see how they like it. I keep thinking that I should just be able to get a table grinder from Lowes like my dad had. I know the belts would wear out quickly due to how short they are, but other than having to buy a bunch of belts would this work?

Hopefully I make a few knifes out of rail road spikes and get bitten by the bug and decide to buy all the fancy tools but for right now I'd like to forge & harden an 8 inch blade and not spend over like $400-$500 for everything I need. Suggestions?

Also before anyone suggests it, I'm not interested in the cutout and grinding method of knife making. No offense to anyone that does it, as clearly some incredible knifes are produced this way but it feels like cheating to me. A lot of the draw to knife making I have comes from the process of using only fire and sweat to turn a block of metal into a functional piece of art. Using a cutting wheel and grinder just doesn't strike the same cord.

Last edited by efarley; 01-20-2017 at 09:41 PM.
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  #2  
Old 01-20-2017, 09:36 PM
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cnccutter cnccutter is offline
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Welcome,

You might want to fill out your profile some so we can help you better. You might even find out there's a knife maker close to you that could help out.

As for getting started on the cheap, it's all a matter of how good of scrounger you are. You can get an idea of ways to do some things on the cheap if you pick up a copy of Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop. Things like anvils don't need to be expensive. Maybe a large chunk of steel from the scrap yard. In the end it will be a trade off of time and money. You get to pick what you have more of.

Again, welcome

Erik
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  #3  
Old 01-21-2017, 12:23 AM
damon damon is offline
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please don't take offense by this, but you will NOT start off making awesome knives. they will be ok at best. (at least that's how most of us start) however if you end up having the craving to make, and willingness to progress and make each one better than the last, then you one day might. its a lot of work, as erik said, itll take a lot of money, or a lot more time. that's the trade off when buying tools. I too recommend the wayne goodard books. great source to start. oh and you WILL be doing stock removal. all the hammer is doing is pushing the metal around so you end up with less stock to grind away. you still need to grind/file to remove tool marks, fine tune the shape, and so on.
now.... if you DONT KNOW yet if you want to make knives, then youll be better off not buying any tools yet. start with one of the wayne goodard books. you can find them on ebay for around $8, or go to local book store and flip through the pages before you buy it.
let us know where in the world you are, and finding a maker near you wholl let you into their shop to introduce you to the process.
FORGE... (gas will be easier) here is a good dvd to get you started making your own forge http://www.rayrogers.com/books.htm

ANVIL...... deceptively simple looking. TRY MAKING ONE THAT WEIGHS +100lbs. then think about how much they cost. as for using a found object.... you want something forged, not cast.

GRINDER... you can get by with a 1x30, and a 4x36, but youll eventually need to upgrade.
youll want to get good files too. youll use them so much more than you think.

VISE.... got to have something solid to hold what youre working on securely.

as for increasing your budget..... get you a few 100 railroad spikes and hammer then out into knife shaped objects. (people love those things) do the same with some horse shoes, and old wrenches... sell those and use that $$$$ to invest in better steels, and tools.
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  #4  
Old 01-21-2017, 09:06 AM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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Stock removal is cheating? By that logic not making your own steel would be cheating even if you forge your blades. Most guys trim up their steel before they forge their blades because it saves a lot of time. As Damon said, after you do your forging THEN you start with the stock removal anyway. So, another way to look at it is that doing stock removal in the first place just saves a lot of time and money (since you don't need an anvil).

Nothing at all wrong with the desire to forge your blades and it is very common for newbies to turn up their noses at the thought of stock removal but, in time, you'll learn ...


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  #5  
Old 01-21-2017, 09:31 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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I agree there is a long learning curve and ALWAYS something new to learn or do better.

as for the forge I agee with daman get rays video and make one just as he says to in the video it doesn't take to much effore and is pretty cheap but a coffee can forge your not going to be heat treating any 8 inch blades....not good anyway.

anvil....get some rail road track that is what I have. but if your going to be using the stock removal method (vs. forging) you don't need a big anvil or any anvil really.

grinder I can speek to I started with a cheap 4x36 and VERY quickly realized that wouldn't work and I got a KMG grinder that is way out of your price range but a lot of people start with a 2x72 grizzly.....that would be much cheaper. not the best grinder in the world bnut many many good knives have been made on that grinder there are also LOTS of blueprints to build a clone of the KMG I think usa knifemaker.com sells the plans and most of the parts (probilly be cheaper to get the materials and parts your self tho....another alternative is to get some metal files and do it that way....takes patience tho

Vise .....for me these are very usefull for all sorts of things....I have 1 small one and 1 med. one in my back room wich is where I do all the hand work then I have 1 big one out in the basement and 1 meg one in the garage and a cross slide vise for the drill press. but then again all of these were there before I started making knives....oh and one really big one out in the shed where the forge is the only thing I have used it for is twisting steel on my couple attempts at Damascus.....BOTTOM LINE knife making is a very expensive hobby
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  #6  
Old 01-21-2017, 09:43 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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I must have missed that stock removal is cheating coment....bottom line especially in the beginning you going to grind away half or more of your forging work anyway... also I kinda get the "traditional" aspect of it but if you really think about it why did people forge knives (and other stuff) hundreds and thousands of years ago....one main reason was so they could combine steel to make it better....a hard center and a soft jacket was done cause they didn't have enough hardenable steel so they used soft stuff on the outside to make is soft and tough while the inside was hard and sharp....so if your trying to keep things traditional wich sounds like what your talking about are you going to do that? are you going to combine different steels to make the knife you want? its a lot of work. Or are you going to forge one kind of steel to shape....some would say that's cheating if your going to do it the traditional way then DO it the traditional way. also the modern steel we have today is strong enough on its own....and a lot of the high end steels are recommended for stock removal not forging forging can weaken it...so if you can make a knife using stock removal that is stronger than a combination of steels that are forged would you? I would? I bet you knife and sword makers from 1000 years ago would use it that way if they had it to
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  #7  
Old 01-21-2017, 10:44 AM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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Another reason that blades were forged in the past was that they didn't have electricity and power tools. You might say it was traditional to drive a horse drawn wagon to the grocery store back in the day but I doubt many of us would choose to do that on a regular basis these days ...


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  #8  
Old 01-21-2017, 10:54 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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good point and like I said IF they had the materials and equipment we have back then I am sure they would take full advantage of it!
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  #9  
Old 01-21-2017, 11:31 AM
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squigly1965 squigly1965 is offline
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If you are having a difficult time finding railroad track. Another option is forklift tine(fork). A guy close to me was selling used ones 7x42" for $75. You would have to get it cut and welded. An I shape seems the consensus there.

As for the grinder. You can get a 1x30 grinder from Harbor Freight for $60 or less if you have the 20% coupon. If you go this route check out Pops for belts. Great people to buy from. Would say you need a 60, 120, 220 minimum would say buy at least 2 of each in case one breaks. And use them like they are free. I know the are not but worn belts can be dangerous. And the can also have undesirable effects on the steel finish.

For the forge material. I would suggest High Temperature Tools and Refractory. Again great people and good pricing. A note if buying brick for your forge. The Hard Bricks are only good for the floor. They more resist the heat than insulate it and insulation is key. If you do use a hard brick for the floor put your insulation material under it as well. ITC-100. I say it again ITC-100
You don't need it but you do need it. It is pricey. The small container should be enough for a forge for making 8" knives. It will save you gallons upon gallons of propane. It is a heat reflection coating. Helps your forge get hotter as well.

I was kinda in the same boat as you about 7 years ago. I've built 2 forges. One 2 brick and a forced air stovepipe one. Actual forging is all I wanted to do. I still want to do it. I love beating steel into submission. Watching it become what I want and what it wasn't. My current housing situation doesn't allow my to forge. But I can still do stock removal. I didn't just catch the forge bug. I caught the blade making bug. Blades by any means at my disposal. There are guys out there using fire pits and a rock as an anvil. To them using more than that is "cheating". Seems you caught a particular bug though. We'll just have to wait and see if it goes viral or if it's an acute infection

A blade by any other name is just as sharp

Chris

Last edited by squigly1965; 01-21-2017 at 11:44 AM.
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  #10  
Old 01-21-2017, 11:32 AM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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As far as the anvil goes you really don't need the pointy thing on the end, also known as a horn or a bick. My favorite anvil is a block of H13 steel that I go from a steel yard that sells it's cut-offs on Ebay. It moves steel like a gem.

A leg vice also comes in handy. New ones are a bit pricey but there are plenty of used ones on places like Ebay and Crags List.

I know of a knife maker who earned his Master's stamp with two Grisley grinders. I started out with files. Some people have a lot of luck with angle grinders. There are ways around big expensive machines.

Most of your ready made forges are made with the artistic blacksmith or farrier in mind. Their fine for forging but not so great when it comes to heat treating. Anyway, you can build a proper forge for less than you can buy one of those. Look around for plans. Avoid the one's that use a propane torch for heat. The tanks won't last long and you'll quickly find yourself with a large stack of empties. A proper burner can be built with parts from a hardware store. There are a couple of outlets on line that sell the liners and coating that you'll need for the body of the forge.

Doug


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  #11  
Old 01-21-2017, 03:14 PM
damon damon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squigly1965 View Post
We'll just have to wait and see if it goes viral or if it's an acute infection

Chris
love this...

I guess i woule be chronic knife maker, and terminal engraver/jeweler.
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  #12  
Old 01-21-2017, 08:21 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Cheap huh?

Here's a 2x42 grinder for $126, it will be better than a 1x30. Tru-Grit.com sells a big selection of belts for 2x42. Note this is not a high quality grinder, but better than the 1" wide grinders and it can take a 1x42 belt as well for shaping handles. Either that or invest in a lot of high quality files.
https://www.zoro.com/dayton-beltdisc...45/i/G2309045/

As for a forge, look at your local community colleges, some have blacksmithing classes and even knife forging classes. A college near me has both. You may find you do not care much for pounding steel and I noticed you talk about chef's knives. Just know you are not going to be forging stainless, you need to be an expert and have a super hot forge to do it. You also cannot heat treat stainless in a forge without a lot of other stuff like thermocouples and exact heat control. Just so you know. You will be working with high carbon steels like 1084 which is inexpensive so if you mess up it isn't a big deal. As for anvils you saw what everyone said and same for a forge.

Please note you can send your knives out to professional heat treaters like Peters or Texas Knife Supply. Also you will need some good files and a good vise. A cheap drill press would be better than a hand drill. The $50 Knife Shop by Wayne Goddard is also a good place to start. You'll also need to buy some wet-dry sandpaper in varying grits for hand finishing. I may have a grinder, but every knife I make gets hand finished as most makers will tell you that theirs do as well. Up to 600 grit for starters. I even use diamond compound for polishing blades by hand.

You can make a knife almost entirely by hand except maybe drilling the holes, so yes you can do it cheaply. Files, hacksaw, a vise and sandpaper will get it done, my first grinder was a 3x21 belt sander clamped to a table so you can certainly improvise. Even an angle grinder can be used if you already have one.
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  #13  
Old 01-21-2017, 09:21 PM
damon damon is offline
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jim.... you are one of the rare exceptions to live near the school that you do. not a lot of those across the U.S.
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  #14  
Old 01-22-2017, 12:09 AM
efarley efarley is offline
 
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Location: Portland, OR
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Thanks for the advice everyone. I've looked into building bigger forges like the ones you all mentioned but they feel like overkill until I've made a crappy knife or three and decide if I'm going to continue learning or get distracted by something else.

As far was a 2x42 sander, wouldn't a 4x36 sander be better since it's wider, or is it more important to have a longer belt?

I know I need a vice, I just didn't list it since it's a fairly inexpensive purchase that I'll get a lot of use out of even if I never make a single knife.

I seem to have offended some of you stock removal guys, I didn't mean to belittle your method at all, I know some fantastic knives are made this way, and if you're scaling up for commercial production there isn't really any other option but it just doesn't strike me the same way. Also yes I understand that even with forging I'll be using stock removal to create the bevels and edge geometry, that's why I listed a grinder as one of my required purchases

Also I don't intend to make anything out of stainless steel any time soon, I plan to make high carbon knifes. I love Japanese style blades and once I have some experience I want all of my blades to have the layers and hamon found on traditional Japanese blades which as far as I know pretty much always uses high carbon steels (I'm probably wrong though and yes I know you can add a hamon to stainless ). p.s. Yes I know the only reason Japanese smiths traditionally folded their steel was to evenly distribute the carbon and it's totally unnecessary with modern steels but I love the aesthetics.

Now that I think of it, this may be the main reason stock removal doesn't strike the same cord for me, you can't fold the steel and learn to create the beautiful patterns and layers that give the blade it's soul. A stainless blade created with stock removal feels like a plain ordinary blade crafted for mass production to me no matter how nice the fit and finish are. A blade with many layers and patterns flowing through the blade is a work of art that's as beautiful as it is functional. Of course this is just my personal opinion and you're welcome to say it's #### but that won't change it haha.

Last edited by efarley; 01-22-2017 at 12:36 AM.
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Old 01-22-2017, 08:52 AM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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You didn't offend anybody concerning stock removal.

As for the patterned steel, you probably won't be doing much of that by hand. If making that steel is your goal be prepared to spend huge amounts of money (as many of us already have so we can make that steel) ...


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