Built my own carbidizer

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
I've been ready to pull the trigger on purchasing a Carbidizer for a while now, but they have been out of stock in most places, and since I'm one who always weighs the cost versus return on any tool purchase, the nearly $400 made me hesitate.

With the Kansas City show close at hand, I wanted one for facing the locks on my folders. After a bunch of snooping around the web, the light came on. I have a Personalizer Plus (etcher), which is nothing more then a variable DC power supply. I ran to my local Ace Hardware store and picked up a Dremel vibratory etcher (looks exactly like the one the Carbidizer uses), and found some old broken carbide end mills.

After some trial and error, heres what I did.....

-Replace the scribe point in the vibratory etcher with a piece of broken carbide end mill (I use a lot of 7/64" carbide end mills, so thats what I used).
-Attached the positive lead/clip from the Personalizer plus to the tip of the vibratory etcher.
-Attached the negative lead/clip from the Personalizer plus to the work piece (in this case a scrap of titanium)
-Set the variable dial on the Personalizer plus to 3 (I've been through all the setting on the Personalizer Plus, but 2-3 seem to work best for my needs)
-Turn on the vibratory etcher (the dremel), and lightly apply the carbide tip to the item I want to carbidize..... it seems to work just like all the Youtube videos I reviewed. (Note: it seems that a sharp broken edge of the carbide lays down a better "coat" of carbide then a pointed or rounded end)

So, since I already had the Personalizer Plus, and the broken carbide end mills, I built myself a Carbidizer for the sum of $24.99 (the cost of the Dremel vibratory etcher).

I also remembered something Tracy had written about carbidizing the edge of a blade...... I found an old EBK (made of 1084) and gave it a go. I coated a single side of the blade's edge, then sharpened ONLY the side opposite the carbide...its ugly, and a rough edge due to the carbide on one side, but man does that thing cut and cut. The carbide really does a nice job of keeping titanium lock faces from being "sticky" too.

Man I love this knifemaking thing..... nearly 30 years of doing it, and I still get excited when I learn something new! :)
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
Ed- glad you tried that. I ordered an etcher a while back with the idea of trying that way of Carbidizing. Seemed like it would work. I've got several power supplies laying around, and one I built for stencil etching. Hey, I'll bet that would work for putting a hard surface on that trigger sear? What do ya' think?

Ken H>
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
I think you're right Ken! I never thought about that until you mentioned it. At first I wasn't sure if the carbidizing operation would "build up", and make the locks on my folders slightly longer.....but so far its not....at least not anything to the point were I've had to regrind the angle on the back of the blade. I was actually hoping it would "build up" more then it does...... I have a couple of framelock folders here in the shop that could use a bit more length on the lockbars. :)
 
Thanks for the heads up Ed, I'm gonna have to try that. I've been wanting to give carbidizing a whirl didn't wanna lay out that much $$$ for something I may not like or use very often. Being a hoarder, I have a good supply of broken carbide bits myself and I think I can swing $25 for a Dremel. LOL
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
Well, I just tried it and it works like a treat! I carbidized the edge of a stainless (13C26?) piece at .082" - it laid down a nice color on top that looks like it was doing right. I took a file, and it does NOT file! HARD stuff. Next is to carbidize the trigger sear - think that will make that one good and won't need to make another.

Ed, thanks for the thread to get me started on trying. I think I'll be using this a bit more often now.

Ken H>
 

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
Great idea Ed. That's something I may consider in the future too. I guess and old dog can learn new tricks, eh? Good for you Pal! Thanks for sharing.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
Carbidizing a lock face really helps with the sticky issue. You can add a few thou to the lock face but after that it just won't build up much with the smaller versions. I have an industrial one that might add up to 6 or 7 thou but that is really pushing it.
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
Tracy, any idea what voltage 'n current this industrial carbidizer runs? How large is the carbide tip being used?

The Dremel tool I used was with about 19 vdc and only low current - didn't check current while using. It did build up about .001" as checked with mic.

Ken H>
 

Raymond Richard

Forum Owner & Moderator
Hey Ed, Sounds like something I'd like to mess around with. If I understand what your saying its doing basically the same thing as the chemical products in which you have to heat the steel up to a cherry heat and apply the chemical? I don't understand why the need for the vibration from the Dremel vibratory etcher to make it work. I've had at least a couple of them over the years but would be quicker if I bought one new.

Thanks, Old dog looking for a new trick
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
I can't anser that Ray. I just dug through information I found on the net, and pieced things together from there. I suspect the "hammering" action of the vibrating tip causes an on/off contact...... I tired it with the vibe off on the dremel etcher....and the carbide rod I was using turned orange hot, and burned a big divot in the Ti. I also learned that if I turn the personalizer plus up to 4 or 5 on the dial, it seems to do about the same thing, to a slightly lesser degree.

Today I experiemented a bit more... I have a bunch of those carbide curcuit board drills laying around...... I took a #60, and it was like the entire fluted area just melted onto the Ti.... makes me wonder if there is a certain grade of carbide that works best.... those bits were C5, but I've noticed that most of the carbide "rods" available are a C2 grade.....anybody know if the carbide grade makes a difference? Tracy?
 

Daniel Rohde

Well-Known Member
GREAT IDEA!!! It would make buying the Personaliser Plus a even better deal!! I have really wanted to try carbidizing and now I will.

DR....
 
I can't anser that Ray. I just dug through information I found on the net, and pieced things together from there. I suspect the "hammering" action of the vibrating tip causes an on/off contact...... I tired it with the vibe off on the dremel etcher....and the carbide rod I was using turned orange hot, and burned a big divot in the Ti. I also learned that if I turn the personalizer plus up to 4 or 5 on the dial, it seems to do about the same thing, to a slightly lesser degree.

Today I experiemented a bit more... I have a bunch of those carbide curcuit board drills laying around...... I took a #60, and it was like the entire fluted area just melted onto the Ti.... makes me wonder if there is a certain grade of carbide that works best.... those bits were C5, but I've noticed that most of the carbide "rods" available are a C2 grade.....anybody know if the carbide grade makes a difference? Tracy?
I guess you could contact the people who build/sell the carbidizer and ask them if grade makes any difference. Might even be able to buy the grade that works best directly from them.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Whew...... I don't know Darrin. I did one of my old EBKs, which has a 2 3/4" blade, actual hands on time was only about 3-4 minutes for a single side of the edge (I only did about 1/4" from the edge up), but I had to stop and cool the blade a couple of times in water....It was getting too hot to handle, and I was worried about wrecking the temper. I'll tell ya straight up, it looks ugly on a blade. :)
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
Yep, sure does look ugly on a blade. I just did one edge of my folder. I did the secondary bevel which is only 1/16" wide which I covered completely. After finishing there was a nice burr on other side. I touched that side to a fine stone, then touched to a leather. Doesn't shave, but it will cut strips from typing paper - "IF" you're careful. Not anywhere I'd think of as suitable, but it does cut. Let's see how well it holds up - if don't like it, won't be much trouble to remove on 2X72".

Ken H>
 

stezann

Well-Known Member
Is a rough surface desirable for a lock face? does it gall the tang face and just "invert" the sticky mechanism?
 

Bailey Boat

Well-Known Member
Ed, when you say "Dremel vibratory etcher" are you referring to the engraving tool they make?? That's my guess but want to make sure..
 

C Craft

Well-Known Member
Hows about some pics here or perhaps a video. I want to understand more about the carbidzer you are building, as well as what you are using it for! I am not sure I want for doing blade edges but I can see how it might be useful for wear surfaces!!!

Seriously I would love to see a video of how it is put together as well as seeing it used!!!
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
I'll try to get some video of it...... it might be a couple of weeks, as I'm knee deep in getting ready for the KC show. The main use for me will be facing titanium locks on folders..... Ti liners are notorious for being "sticky". I've already done 3 Ti framelocks with the carbidizer......no more sticky locks! :) Still lots of experimenting to be done..... right now I'm using a broken end mill for the carbide, and have played a little with various power settings.......but am far from being sure about everything. :)
 
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