Setting your grinder to the proper height...FOR YOU- a short video


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I consider setting up your grinder, to the proper height FOR YOU to be one of the most important factors in learning to grind. I've also found that veteran knifemakers who adjust their machines height as I describe in this video benefit too.
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Well-Known Member
Thanks for the video Ed. This is something I never really thought of much, but after watching the video I checked mine out. My grinder is about 5 inches too high

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Hi Jer!

The "proper" height for a grinder was something that one of my early mentors taught me.....and until recently, I never realized the impact it has on how well, or how poorly a person grinds. I just thought it was something everybody knew.... but I guess it's not. I was made aware not long ago when I was chatting with another Bladesmith on the phone, who was having issues with grinding (he had just purchased a new grinder), and when I asked if his grinder was set to the correct height.... I got dead silence. :) That conversation is what lead me to make this little video.... realizing that so many folks don't know/realize just how important having their grinder(s) at the correct height is.

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
excellent video. Setting my grinder to the right height wasn't just great for my grinds, either. My back and neck pain dropped considerably. I still catch myself tensing my shoulders too much. I step back from the grinder and have to remind myself to relax and find my position again. Fatigue is a real problem. I used to hurt all over after grinding.


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I used to hurt all over after grinding.
Exactly! For me grinding is always mentally exhausting, just because it requires complete concentration. When it comes to the being physically tired, I think for me it was because I was standing on concrete and grinding. I solved that issue by buying a chunk of horse stall matting, and placing it where I stand at the grinder..... it was like more hurting back and legs.

I think the problem for most beginners is that on the surface, grinding a blade seems a simple task..... but there are so many aspects to it that if it doesn't turn out right the first time, they are overwhelmed as to why. That little bit of info in the video is just scratching the surface.
Good video Ed...thanks! My height happened to be okay. The rigidity thing I figured out pretty quick. The other thing I liked in your video was the abundance of good light!

On another note, something I learned years ago while doing a lot of manual deburring while running a cnc machine was to train my upper back and neck and shoulders to relax. When you are doing close up bench work the tendency is to tighten everything to make the same rigid set-up you are showing at the grinder. Most of the tight muscles we use are not necessary. But if we are not spotting that tendency we are fatigued way more than we should be. So when holding something you are working on by hand, stop for a few seconds and see if your neck and upper back and muscles between your shoulder blades are tight. Then just relax everything from your elbows up. Most work can be done just using fore-arms and wrists and hands. We have to keep reminding ourselves to relax. Over time, spotting too much tension in the muscles will also become habit....relaxed is how any sport is perfected. If knife grinding is a golf swing I can only whack the sucker 60yds...but I am relaxed and enjoying it.

Just thought I'd toss that in with the stuff you just shared as they kinda go together. Someday I hope to hit a 340 yard-er at the

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Frame of mind is so important at the grinder. It really needs to a Zen moment where there is only you and the blade. Apologies for the hippy dippy stuff, but it requires intent and focus. I was reminded of that painfully yesterday. It was just one of those days where I wished I was anywhere else but this knife needed to get done. For two seconds I'm thinking about something else and WHACK. A year ago the blade would have been in the trash bucket. I was able to save it, but every time I look at the blade I see where it is versus what I had originally intended. Not to mention all the unnecessary time and effort it took to make it right on both sides.

Sometimes you have to make a decision: either get your head in the game or go find something else to work on, because second chances are rare on the grinder.


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either get your head in the game or go find something else to work on
A BIG AMEN to that! There are days where I think "Mr. Murphy" is riding around in my back pocket. Time has taught that on those days, it's more productive to grab the fishing pole or a gun, and go do something with them versus trying to bull my way through. :)
What's tough is many of us have to do our grinding at night AFTER working a long day. I started getting up early and grinding before I had machines up and going and it is so much easier. My mood/how much coffee/how tired/etc.....all affect grinding.

When I was an apprentice I got stuck bottom tapping (by hand) A LOT of 2-56 holes in 4340 steel. they let me do it a few hours each day rather than all day long. Took me about two months 2-3 hrs a day. I was bout twenty and had good focus. I literally had to quit drinking coffee for that job...uggghhhhh. was so glad to finish. Had to concentrate SO HARD to not break taps. The parts were expensive so broken taps had to get elox-ed out and then finish tapped by hand again. you can feel a 2-56 tap flex in tough steel and there is no way around it.

Sometimes grinding feels harder....

ps...I was too young to know about a tapmatic head then. I was very angry when I discovered such a thing existed at the next shop I worked for.:mad: I'm sure the ol' man knew about them. There wasn't much that guy didn't know in a shop. well, they ARE expensive....

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
What's tough is many of us have to do our grinding at night AFTER working a long day. I started getting up early and grinding before I had machines up and going and it is so much easier. My mood/how much coffee/how tired/etc..
That is a very good point. Working in heavy industry and manufacturing all of my life- I know what it's like to want nothing more than to come home and sit. Just sit. Staring at the wall was just fine. A glass of cold sweet tea turned staring at the wall into Heaven. There is no way in the world I could have made knives at that time. I didn't even want to make a sandwich.

These days I'm in a different career. I work as an analyst now and the only thing on me feeling worn out is my butt from sitting in front of a computer. Knifemaking gives me that challenge that I actually do miss from my former life. But I'll be the first one to admit that the reason I have so much energy to make knives is because I don't do squat all day. Back then I used to see guys with the manicured lawn, or guys who had these labor-intensive hobbies and wonder how in the world they did it. Now I know- most of them didn't do much all day. There are those rare birds like my Dad who has turned wrenches all his life, only to go home and do it all night too, but that's the exception.

wall e

Well-Known Member
I see another newb error I am commiting. Grinders to tall an I am reaching out a bit.
I felt all confident and puffed up cause I had managed to get it figured out to sway not totate because near the end of the rotation you lift about an inch or so. Bye bye tip.
Now to go reset the bench and grinder height.
As for the timing or oh craps on a blade it is when I resort to the honey dos, or my other projects due to owning a home. Lol
Some days though a lil cordite therapy is in order to get rid of Mr Murphy. If my 6 yo has any say its may become fishing too. She is ready to start catching trout. Lol

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Active Member
Thanks Ed. This video explains some issues I've had in the past. Since I'm setting up a new shop, I can now build my benches to the correct height.


Active Member
A timely issue for me as I am a new knife maker setting up my shop. I set all my benches too low on purpose so I could adjust the height of my tools as needed. I can try different heights by unbolting and adding material under the tool or removing it as my body tells me. Well done.