2 Pieces of Advice.....

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
....for newer makers or those wanting to start out in knifemaking.

This is not pointed at anyone in particular but rather a seemingly large group of people in general based on my personal experiences/various readings on the forums and similar experiences of some of my peers.

These two points cause people more headache and grief than almost any other issues I can think of. They are a MUST to understand if you want to be successful as a knifemaker, whether full time or hobby maker.

1: Learn how to make stuff FLAT and STRAIGHT!!! I don't care what material or stage in the process you are working on, you will need to make it flat and/or straight in some way. Don't expect that others should provide you materials already in this state or that it will stay that way if they do. Learn to do this yourself or you will most likely struggle as a knifemaker.

2: Master the basic fundamentals of making a knife before moving on to more complex methods and embellishments. I can't begin to count all the times I see someone attempt complicated build methods and fancy embellishments and they don't have a clue as to nice proportions, good flow, pleasing lines, clean grinds and well done finishes. If you don't have a decent handle on those things, no amount of Damascus, filework, hamon or exotic materials is going to mean much of anything. Get a good grasp of the basics THEN move on to the other stuff.

That is all. :D
 

opaul

Well-Known Member
....for newer makers or those wanting to start out in knifemaking.

This is not pointed at anyone in particular but rather a seemingly large group of people in general based on my personal experiences/various readings on the forums and similar experiences of some of my peers.

These two points cause people more headache and grief than almost any other issues I can think of. They are a MUST to understand if you want to be successful as a knifemaker, whether full time or hobby maker.

1: Learn how to make stuff FLAT and STRAIGHT!!! I don't care what material or stage in the process you are working on, you will need to make it flat and/or straight in some way. Don't expect that others should provide you materials already in this state or that it will stay that way if they do. Learn to do this yourself or you will most likely struggle as a knifemaker.

2: Master the basic fundamentals of making a knife before moving on to more complex methods and embellishments. I can't begin to count all the times I see someone attempt complicated build methods and fancy embellishments and they don't have a clue as to nice proportions, good flow, pleasing lines, clean grinds and well done finishes. If you don't have a decent handle on those things, no amount of Damascus, filework, hamon or exotic materials is going to mean much of anything. Get a good grasp of the basics THEN move on to the other stuff.

That is all. :D

Wow, what made you post that good advise?
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
I don't know who made him post it, but I wish I'd have read this about three years ago!

Raw materials are just that, RAW. You cannot overestimate the value of flat and square, even if nothing will be flat or square when you finish. I remember the early days when I couldn't figure out why my pin holes didn't line up and my scales had gaps to the tang, or had to be pounded on with a hammer. The good thing about knifemaking is that stupidity actually is painful. You are forced to learn if you want to stop suffering.
 

opaul

Well-Known Member
I agree John. This is great advise. It's the details that make the difference and fit and finish will show it, good or bad. Knife making is certainly a journey. This forum has been a great place for me to learn and hopefully I'll be able to contribute some good advise myself one day.
 

JawJacker

Well-Known Member
Im saving for a used SG, I was toying with the idea of fabricating one like Travis's as discussed on this forum.Dont know if Im up for the headache with not having a mill. Great advice.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Shoot, just learning to square up my blocks and scales before I cut or drilled them was an epiphany. Just because something is block-shaped does not mean it is flat, square, or anything of the sort. The very first thing I do with any piece of wood now is to make it flat and square. Then I mark my scale thickness and cut them out on the bandsaw- and then I flatten those scales. It may seem like an extra step, but just like magic, everything after that works exactly like you expect it to.

Bladegrinder taught me a great step, too. I don't have a surface grinder. He told me to take my steel and run it back and forth on my contact wheel before you even do your layout. It is amazing how well this works and how close you can get your stock to parallel and uniform thickness. Removes all those scratches hiding under the mill finish you can't see until you are hand sanding your flats, too.
 

Cazador

Well-Known Member
Shoot, just learning to square up my blocks and scales before I cut or drilled them was an epiphany. Just because something is block-shaped does not mean it is flat, square, or anything of the sort. The very first thing I do with any piece of wood now is to make it flat and square. Then I mark my scale thickness and cut them out on the bandsaw- and then I flatten those scales. It may seem like an extra step, but just like magic, everything after that works exactly like you expect it to.

Bladegrinder taught me a great step, too. I don't have a surface grinder. He told me to take my steel and run it back and forth on my contact wheel before you even do your layout. It is amazing how well this works and how close you can get your stock to parallel and uniform thickness. Removes all those scratches hiding under the mill finish you can't see until you are hand sanding your flats, too.
John, that's a good tip for those that don't have a surface grinder. I don't have a surface grinder either. A tip I received from Gene Baskett was taking a piece of glass, mounting it to a table, and then placing sticky back shop rolls of various grits on the glass. You can take your steel and run it back and forth on the length of the table.
 

scott.livesey

Dealer - Purveyor
one way to make sure the stock is square and straight is buy precision ground flat stock. length, width, thickness, and surface finish all meet exacting spec when made. as long as material was not bent or twisted in transit, it should be a good start. here are specs from one tool steel supplier: Precision Ground Flat Stock Standard products are precision ground to +/- .001″ thickness and +.005″ / -.000″ width, held square within .003″ / Inch. Our Precision Ground Flat Stock products are precision ground with a Mattison Ground Finish of 32 RMS or better.
 
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Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
41TUS1gef0L.jpg
one way to make sure the stock is square and straight is buy precision ground flat stock. length, width, thickness, and surface finish all meet exacting spec when made. as long as material was not bent or twisted in transit, it should be a good start. here are specs from one tool steel supplier: Precision Ground Flat Stock Standard products are precision ground to +/- .001″ thickness and +.005″ / -.000″ width, held square within .003″ / Inch. Our Precision Ground Flat Stock products are precision ground with a Mattison Ground Finish of 32 RMS or better.
This is just one of the reasons I buy O-1 or A2...you can get them ground...but not all knife steel comes that way. I find that mill grade unground can be flattened well enough using a mag base against the platten. One thing I noticed was the magnetic pull will actually keep the knife pressure even as it is pulling on the platten also...having an adjustable lever on the mag base gives you control. You can move the lever till it just begins to pull on the platten. I have one high end base that will stop the belt if it is full on.

$15 shipped....Amazon prime.

https://www.amazon.com/AGPtek-3-joi...09755&sr=8-4&keywords=magnetic+indicator+base
 
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John Wilson

Well-Known Member
View attachment 62205
This is just one of the reasons I buy O-1 or A2...you can get them ground...but not all knife steel comes that way. I find that mill grade unground can be flattened well enough using a mag base against the platten. On thing I noticed was the magnetic pull will actually keep the knife pressure even as it is pulling on the platten also...having an adjustable lever on the mag base gives you control. You can move the lever till it just begins to pull on the platten. I have one high end base that will stop the belt if it is full on.

$15 shipped....Amazon prime.

https://www.amazon.com/AGPtek-3-joi...09755&sr=8-4&keywords=magnetic+indicator+base


that is genius!
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
excellent advise John.
Flat matters and no supplier, myself included can ensure that every bit of material is dead flat when shipped.
Getting steel (or Ti, or phenolics, stag, g10, etc) flat is part of knife making and should not be underestimated.

A disc grinder will get material quite a bit flatter than grinding on a platen. A typical flat platen will round the top and bottom edge of the material being "flattened" as the belt puckers at the drop and draws in on the bottom of the material being ground.
 

Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
"A disc grinder will get material quite a bit flatter than grinding on a platen."

I have a 18" that I haven't wired in yet....I know what my next non-knife project will be!
 

bodam

Well-Known Member
Anyone use a drum sander to flatten handle material? I've been toying with the idea of buying one specifically for handle material
 

Kevin R. Cashen

Super Moderator
...
2: Master the basic fundamentals of making a knife before moving on to more complex methods and embellishments. I can't begin to count all the times I see someone attempt complicated build methods and fancy embellishments and they don't have a clue as to nice proportions, good flow, pleasing lines, clean grinds and well done finishes. If you don't have a decent handle on those things, no amount of Damascus, filework, hamon or exotic materials is going to mean much of anything. Get a good grasp of the basics THEN move on to the other stuff...

Thumbs up to this bit particularly. I can't tell you how many makers have walked out of the ABS Journeyman judging room unhappy because of this. Learn to walk before you try to run. You can't polish a turd, and yes,I know what the Mythbusters did on that episode but in the end it was still just a shiny turd. A grasp of basic knife design is one of the rarest skills in knifemaking today, through the power of the internet I am seeing many very bad blades being validated that in the past would have doomed the maker to the local Gun and Knife show level until they learned the value of good design.
 

JawJacker

Well-Known Member
I struggle with the whole design thing, that is why I copy (start with) big company blade designs then I modify from there. Creating something eye catching, comfortable, useful is no EZ feat. I think its why some makers work hard to find a design that works then thats all they make, just varying the embellishments from that design.
 

opaul

Well-Known Member
Thumbs up to this bit particularly. I can't tell you how many makers have walked out of the ABS Journeyman judging room unhappy because of this. Learn to walk before you try to run. You can't polish a turd, and yes,I know what the Mythbusters did on that episode but in the end it was still just a shiny turd. A grasp of basic knife design is one of the rarest skills in knifemaking today, through the power of the internet I am seeing many very bad blades being validated that in the past would have doomed the maker to the local Gun and Knife show level until they learned the value of good design.
Good points.
Part of the journey is getting comfortable and consistent weak hand results. not there yet :)
 
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