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Old 06-19-2010, 22:39   #1
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 91
Equipment to begin knife making

What would you recommend for equipment to begin knife making? I would assume a grinder although I don't know what type would be more desirable. What other items do you find necessary and or very useful when making knives?

Also, I tried to add this question to the heat treat thread but was unable to. When heat treating, is the desired Rockwell hardness obtained by the heating at 300 to 500 degrees?
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Old 06-20-2010, 06:57   #2
George Tichbourne
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 75
I can't figure out exactly how this forum works, seems to operate on a different set of rules that govern all others regarding responses.

Knifemaking equipment can be as simple as a vise, a couple of quality files, some sandpaper and a drill. My shop is based on a belt grinder, a couple of drill presses and a milling machine.

The key piece of equipment is a metal polishing grinder run by a 7 1/2 HP motor at very high speed. I have made thousands of knives on it but recently have decided that I need another smaller grinder for work that requires more finess so I am in the process of building a new smaller unit.

I will be posting photos later on today, just a couple of more things to do to finish it off today. So far I am very happy with how it is coming out but as it is a first off it has some design features that I am not 100% happy with so the next one will be much improved. When I am satisfied with the design I plan on selling them to other knifemakers.

Actually the grinding of blades is not the most difficult part of knifemaking, handle assembly and finishing takes about 6 times longer than grinding the blade. This is why I suggest to beginners that they begin with a kit knife to learn the difficult part of fit and finish first then go on to making their own blades.

I do not heat treat myself because I use 440C stainless steel which requires heat treating in non oxygen atmospheres.

Heat treating has two phases that are essential and one optional phase.
Phase one is heating until the metal atoms randomize (usually 1600 to 2000 F) then cooling (the cooling method depends on the metal used).
Phase two is tempering to remove brittleness in the blade, again depending on the steel it could be from 300 to 700 F.
OPtional phase three is cryogenic treating for air cooled steels to optimize the conversion of free carbon in the mix to wear resistant carbide crystals. This enhances edge holding.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of knowing the metal you are using and the proper heat treating specifications for that metal to produce as high a quality knife as possible.

George Tichbourne - Custom Knifemaker
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