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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-11-2012, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
B&C 120 Class
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 215

Before I go into how to grind the steel, let's first talk about grinding methods. We are going to be removing steel as opposed to moving steel which is utilized when forging. This obviously requires something that can cut steel.

The old fashioned way is using files. This works quite well but requires a lot more time and elbow grease. Typically you would file out the shape of the knife and then the bevels. Then you would use sandpaper to remove the file marks.

Many people have belt sanders in their shop/garage and will try to use these for making knife blades. However stationary belt sanders are typically used for sanding wood. The belts are typically 4 inches wide by 36 inches long and often have a round sanding disk on one side. These actually work okay for polishing steel, but they don't work well for grinding steel.

Belt Sander - $125

The most common tool used now by custom knifemakers is the belt grinder, not to be confused with the belt sander. Belt grinders can cut through metal and wood alike. The belts are often 72 inches long by 2 inches wide. There are provisions for grinding flat surfaces as well as rounded surfaces by running the belt over a large round rubber wheel. The motor horsepower is also much greater with a belt grinder with motors that are commonly 1 to 2 horsepower. By contrast the belt sanders typically have 1/3 horsepower motors.

Burr King Belt Grinder - Over $4,000

Coote Belt Grinder - $500 plus motor

A more common household item for removing metal is the stone wheel bench grinder. These come in a variety of sizes and horsepower. They do not work for finish grinding, but they are effective for the bulk removal of metal, such as grinding out the profile and the majority of the bevels.

Stone Wheel Bench Grinder - $70

A good way to start would be to purchase a stone wheel grinder and a set of files. These will always come in handy, even if you purchase a belt grinder at a later date. I made many knife blades with a stone wheel grinder, files and sandpaper before purchasing my belt grinder.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-12-2012, 06:01 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Oregon, Ohio
Posts: 8,380
Keep it coming, thanks for ALL the info
Hunting Man is offline  
post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-17-2012, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
B&C 120 Class
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 215
Marking Steel

It was asked that we talk a little about marking your knives. There are three basic options.
  1. Stamping
  2. Acid Etching
  3. Electro Chemical Etching

About 15 years ago I purchased a custom made stamp with my initials. I paid about $60 for it at the time and it has served me well ever since. Stamping is inexpensive. There are no additional supplies or consumables to keep purchasing. There are no dangerous chemicals or acids that can stain your blade if not properly cleaned. It is fast. One good whack and it is done. It has two downsides though. You can only stamp steel before it is heat treated. So if you are purchasing finished blades, you can not stamp them. The other downside is that you can not change the stamp. If you want another mark, you have to purchase another stamp. These are available from different vendors. Try searching for "custom steel stamp". Here are a few places to start.

Steel Stamps and Marking Dies - Columbia Marking Tools
Infinity Stamps - Quality Custom Metal Stamps for Marking Steel, Jewelry, Leather, Clay, Wood and Plastics
Buckeye Engraving Custom Steel Hand Stamps

Acid Etching:
I have personally never used this method, but lonehunter uses it. Hopefully he can chime in and give us some more detail. David Boye writes about this method though in his book "Step by Step Knifemaking" and Bob Loveless talks about using UV light and chemicals in his book "How to Make Knives". Basically you coat the blade in a protective coating such as wax and then scrape off the coating to expose the steel where you want to etch it. An application of acid etches the blade where the protective coating has been removed. Proper clean up is important when you are done. You can also use stencils instead of wax. This is performed after the knife is finished so it works on pre-finished blades as well.

Boye Knives How to Make Knives (9780873413893): Richard W. Barney, Robert W. Loveless: Books

Electro Chemical Etching:
Electro chemical etching is very common and is probably what I would choose if I did not already have my stamp. In this method you place a stencil and electrolyte on the blade. Then you pass an electric current through the steel and the electricity etches the blade through the electrolyte where the stencil is not protecting the blade. You can make your own stencils, have them custom made or buy pre-made ones. Like acid etching, this is done on finished knives and good clean up is important. This method can be a little expensive but they do have good budget models. has a lot of good information on their web site about this.

Etching Supplies : USA Knife Maker Supply, Operated by a knifenaker for knifemakers!

All of the techniques take practice. Each one has it advantages and disadvantages.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-18-2012, 09:54 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Oregon, Ohio
Posts: 8,380
Thanks. the electro-etch may be the way to go for me. Time to do some reading..
Hunting Man is offline  

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