Knife grinding can be broken down into two procedures. In this article I will focus on grinding the profile of the blade. The other procedure is the grinding of the blades edge which I will focus on in another article. Grinding the profile is just what it says – grinding the outside edges of the knife to your designed idea. Hopefully you will pick up some knife grinding tips from this article that will help you understand how to get started in knife making.
Designing your blade using a template
You should design you blade shape on a piece of paper before trying to get the design on the billet. Consider the knife blade shape to the tang and make sure they are compatible. Cut out your blade shape from the piece of paper. I always use bluing fluid to mark out my blade shape on the billet. Just cover the area of the blade shape on the billet put the cut out of the blade onto the billet covering the bluing fluid after it has dried. Now you can scratch a nice profile around your template and can see the scratch in the billet really well for profiling. Check your scribed lines and make sure there are no “train tracks”. If there are mistakes in the scribed lines you can lightly grind the surface and start over again. Some knife makers are using a CAD system for designing of the blade profile. Me… I’m old school and design my blades free hand. I go with a design I see in my head and put it to paper. To me it seems faster this way than having to use a computer system for the design.
A variety of tools can be used
After you have designed your blade and are ready to profile the billet you must chose what to use. There are a variety of tools you can choose. What tool you choose will determine how much effort goes into profiling the blade. Starting out with a simple tool such as the hack saw is inexpensive and can be done with much effort. I know – I’ve done it. It’s important to choose the right hacksaw and correct blade for the hacksaw too! I have also used a cut off wheel to profile a blade. This way is with less effort but requires more detail filing of the profile as a cut off wheel provides a rough cut. The next piece of equipment I have used to profile a blade is a bench grinder. This provides a more finer cut but I found that the wheel does not provide a flat grind on the edge. Because the wheel is curved the edges seem to be curved also. So more fine grinding is still need after using the bench grinder. Now I did purchase a metal band saw which I really enjoy using to profile my blades. I get a better finer cut and I find that this is a much quicker way of profiling blades.
Now is the time to start removing the excess steel from your blade profile. Care should be taken to waste as little steel as possible for obvious reasons. I have seen a drill used for stock removal. Although I have never done it as it seems to be time consuming to me. When using a drill bit holes are drill as close as possible together in a line along the profiles scratched edge on the billet. After all the holes are drilled a hacksaw is used to “connect” the holes and cut out the profile from the billett. If you decide to use a cut off wheel be careful to not heat up the steel too much. Using a thicker cut off wheel may prevent breaking of the wheel while cutting out your profile.
Knife making can be a rewarding craft. Getting started is the hard part. Start out by using simple tools using the ones I listed above. After your skills improve then you can start to invest in more expensive tools. Learning about knife making will be a process and you will find out if you really are interested in improving your skills as you go along. I suggest trying to learn from many people. I have researched over and over again and take bits and pieces from alot of artists.