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Newbie's First Efforts...

Discussion in 'Working the Steel' started by bobbybirds, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. bobbybirds

    bobbybirds Best New Maker

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    Hi all,

    In my member introduction, I made it be known that I have never attempted making my own knife. So finally after accumulating tools, lurking here and other places and reading whatever I could lay my hands on, I took a piece of scrap steel (of what composition I have no clue) and went to town.

    Basically, I took said piece of steel and glued a paper template I had a tracing of courtesy of a friend onto it, and hack sawed to within about 1/8th of an inch. Then I used a simple 1x42 belt grinder with the coarsest belt to bring it to the edge of the paper template. I then used a divider and scribed a line down the center of the blade edge to use as a reference. After that I used the same belt and attempted to grind the basic shape and profile of the blade portion itself, leaving about 1mm of meat on the future cutting edge. which is where I am at now.

    I know this is far from awesome but I am pretty please for my first practice effort.

    My questions are probably going to be obvious, but was my sequence up until now okay? And if not, any tips would be muchly appreciated. Secondly, how am I best to proceed from here? Do I just continue to climb up in grits and clean up the grinding marks?

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  2. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Hi Bob,

    So far so good. One caveat, the steel is critical to knifemaking.
    You likely won't be able to harden your knife and have it hold a durable edge.

    However, you can get some practice with it.

    Get some brass rod or stainless rod and layout and drill for your handle pins.
    Your bevel looks pretty good. Keep working up the in the belts. If you have a 320 belt that should be okay.
    Try wet sanding with 400 and 600 grit. Automotive department kind of sand paper.
    You can get a nice satin finish with a little water and elbow grease.
    Wipe it dry when you're done or it may rust.
    Put masking tape on to protect the blade when you're finished hand sanding.

    Find some nice wood and drill it to match the pinning holes that you laid out and drilled in the tang. Shape and sand the fronts of your scale pieces as best you can now.
    (You won't be able to get in there once they are attached.)
    Cut your pins a little longer so they would stick a bit when the handle is together. Give the pins a little scrub with sand paper.
    Mix up some epoxy and attach the handle pieces. Pressing the pins through. Epoxy will be everywhere and that's okay.
    Give a light squeeze with some clamps and wipe any excess epoxy. Let it harden completely.

    Now go to work shaping the handle with the sander. Focus on the pins first. Give them a chance to cool between grinds.
    (Black rings appear around the pins when they have gotten too hot.)
    Once the handle feels good in hand, sand with finer grits. Polish the handle up to around 600 grit.
    Give the handle some finish like boiled linseed oil, tung oil or what you have handy.

    Remove the masking tape and put the cutting edge on the blade. This can be done with the sander (carefully) or a coarse stone.
    Hold the blade about 20° and work the both sides of the edge until it's sharp.
    Carefully wipe it down and take some photos.

    Congratulations, you are completely addicted.

    Order some 1084 steel and make another one. It's $0.78 an inch.
    https://www.knifemaker.ca/Tool-and-Carbon-Blade-Steel/1084-Carbon-Steel
    Heck you could probably drive up and visit Rob and Marilyn in Sundre.
    Your second knife will be twice as good as your first.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

    Dan
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015
  3. bobbybirds

    bobbybirds Best New Maker

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    Hey Thanks dancom!

    I realized this steel could be crap even before I started, but I wanted to experiment before I pulled out the good steel.vI plan on trying my own heat treat on this one anyways and worst case scenario, it will just be a knife that sits on the shelf to remind me of my first efforts. I actually bought a few 24 inch lengths on 1084 from knifemaker and have both brass and stainless pin material coming as we speak.

    As for attempting my own hardening, if I lucked out and found this steel to actually be okay, should I be doing this before or after I grind a final edge? I have lots of sharpening implements (Japanese water stones, diamond plates etc) from my other hobby of neander handtool woodworking, and tons of experience using them, so I am not worried about being able to put a final on the blade, but in my own mind, logic says doing to fine of an edge before heat treating could cause an issue.

    Again, Being an amateur woodworker already, as well as a collector, I already have some really nice woods to come up with a nice handle. I know everyone talks about stabilized woods for handles, I am assuming if I use something really hard and heavy like cocobolo or bloodwood or the like I wouldn't have to worry about stabilizing it, but what if I use something like a maple or cherry or the like? Would it make sense to stabilize those first?

    Thanks for your time!
     
  4. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Awesome, you are well under way!

    I normally bring the primary bevel grind to about 1/16" before heat treating. This can minimize the risk of warping a very fine edge during quenching. After quench and tempering, grind the bevel the rest of the way say down to 0.02". Then cut your secondary bevel around 20°. That's a general purpose angle for most work. More recently I've been doing all the bevel grinding post heat treat. It's harder on belts, but easier on thin stock. 3/32" chef's knives can go wonky pretty easily.

    As for the wood, it's entirely up to you the maker, but as a rule the hard and oily woods are just fine without stabilization. In my experience, Maple is fine without stabilization unless it's spalted or a weird-ass burl piece that has soft spots in it. I've had some cherry burl that was very soft and I ended up stabilizing it with Stick Fast. Depends on the wood. I like to do the nail test. If it gouges easily under a fingernail it's too soft. Tighter grained woods are good. I keep a small stock of ebony, blackwood, maple, yellow birch, bocote, cocobolo and so one. None of these are stabilized. Tung oil or Beechwood-Casey's Tru-Oil is what I use to finish, but BLO and CA (super glue) for finishing can be used. Stabilized pieces are simply buffed to shine.

    I am looking forwards to seeing how your project comes along.

    If your experience is like mine, you will learn more from your first knife than then next ten knives combined.

    Dan
     
  5. bobbybirds

    bobbybirds Best New Maker

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    More progress...

    Lots of mistakes but I am forcing myself to not chuck it and just start again from scratch. I do that while woodworking too much and I find it has lead me to getting frustrated and forever not completing things so I figured no matter what screw ups I make, I am going to take this from start to finish, warts and all. It is the only way to learn.

    I did find today I wanted to get a little ahead of myself. I still need very much to refine the blade itself, but I could hold back no longer and had to start matching up wood for a handle. Definitely the woodworker in me has control. I chose a piece of bloodwood. It is not fancy grained or anything, and while the pics don't do it justice, when oiled the red ribbons really come through nice! I took it to basic rough shape and now need to attach and refine it (after more work on the blade itself of course).

    Anyways, all comments and critiques are welcome and indeed appreciated! I know I have a lot to learn so please do not hold back...

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  6. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    I think that should shape up nicely. The bloodwood looks good.
    Make sure to finish up the scale fronts before pinning them on. Damn near impossible to get in there after.

    Dan
     
  7. Icho-

    Icho- Staff Member

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    I think you are right on track. I wouldn't spend too much time on this one since it is a mystery steel and will likely not hold an edge. Excellent job so far. The only thing I would say and it may not even be a problem is how the wood comes to a point in the finger area. Because of the grains it can chip off during use. Not a big deal but it is just something I try to avoid. Keep it coming.
     
  8. bobbybirds

    bobbybirds Best New Maker

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    Hey all!

    So I am all done but for putting and edge on! I went at it today pretty hard. Being as it is a complete mystery steel, I figured I would try a simple heat treat just for the experience. Basically I just used a weed torch and brought it up to bright cherry red and had a magnet standing by. When the magnet wouldn't stick I dunked it in canola oil. Really though, it is just going to be something I used for experience rather than a well functioning knife.

    Overall I am pretty happy! Lots of mistakes and the blade is a bit hinky but really for a first attempt I am super stoked! Look forward to a bit of feedback!

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  9. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Bob,

    Hey that turned out not too bad for your first knife. It could use some finer polish on the blade, but overall the finish is good.
    How is it for balance? The handle end may be a bit heavy. Sometimes I drill some extra holes in the tang to reduce the weight and keep the balance in check.

    I can't wait to see what you get into with some good steel. It will certainty be worth it.

    Good work!

    Dan
     
  10. bobbybirds

    bobbybirds Best New Maker

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    Thanks Dan! I am really stoked I got it done. I know the blade could still use a bit of work for sure. I did actually drill 3 extra larger holes in the handle before epoxying and pinning the scales so the balance point seems to be about 3/4" behind the front pin. It feels quite nice in hand. The scales I took up through the grits to 600 and finished with 0000 steel wool and mineral oil...
     
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  11. Mythtaken

    Mythtaken Staff Member CKM Staff

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    Great job, Bob! That looks one heck of a lot better than my first knife. Or my second...

    Enjoy your success, then take another look at it with your critic's eye. Look at weight, balance, symmetry, how it feels in your hand, how it feels to cut with, etc. That will give you some ideas for what to improve when you start your next one.
     
  12. bobbybirds

    bobbybirds Best New Maker

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    I have printed off a variety of patterns now and need to decide on my next project. This warmer weather has been nice allowing me a bit more shop time! Hope it carries on for a bit...
     
  13. Putterer

    Putterer New Member

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    Awesome job on your first knife. I hope I can do as well this winter with my first one.
    Cheers.
    Gary
     
  14. poppa bear

    poppa bear Member

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    That's an awesome job. Keep up the good work
     
  15. Grizz Axxemann

    Grizz Axxemann Active Member

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    Looks good! I hope first attempt goes half as well :D

    What was your original stock thickness? That spine in between the scales looks about as fat as I am. :)
     
  16. bobbybirds

    bobbybirds Best New Maker

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    That first knife was a piece of scrap that I didn't even measure, but she definitely has a fat @$$! Lol!
     
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