When pins get hot

KentuckyFisherman

Well-Known Member
I've read some posts where advice is given about how to keep scale pins from overheating, but I swear I can't find them. If you KD veterans know of threads dealing with this, just point me that way, and I thank you.

If, like me, you can't find existing advice, here's my question:

I have no trouble with brass pins getting too hot when I cut them off or grind them down as I finish shaping my scales. But on my current build I wanted silver pins, so I used some 1/8" stainless steel pins. Man, those suckers got blazing hot when I cut them with a Dremel and also when I ground them flush on my belt sander. I kept a wet rag handy and cooled the pins often, but that much heat couldn't have done any good to the epoxy.

Would it help if I switched to something like nickel silver? If stainless is OK, how do you keep them cool when cutting and grinding? Thanks for any tips.
 

tkroenlein

Well-Known Member
I've read some posts where advice is given about how to keep scale pins from overheating, but I swear I can't find them. If you KD veterans know of threads dealing with this, just point me that way, and I thank you.

If, like me, you can't find existing advice, here's my question:

I have no trouble with brass pins getting too hot when I cut them off or grind them down as I finish shaping my scales. But on my current build I wanted silver pins, so I used some 1/8" stainless steel pins. Man, those suckers got blazing hot when I cut them with a Dremel and also when I ground them flush on my belt sander. I kept a wet rag handy and cooled the pins often, but that much heat couldn't have done any good to the epoxy.

Would it help if I switched to something like nickel silver? If stainless is OK, how do you keep them cool when cutting and grinding? Thanks for any tips.
Yes. Sst pins/corbys/whatever are harder to keep cool, sand flush, etc., etc. AO abrasives work dandy on the brass family, and work good on the handle material. But sst likes zirc or ceramic abrasives. I use sst as little as humanly possible.
 

TimGinMN

Well-Known Member
Yes, gotta slow down I've found and do little bits at a time so the heat doesn't build up. I assume stainless is denser and probably heats up faster and holds heat longer than brass. I have scorched the wood around pins ( and called it a "special effect") and melted the innards out of a mosaic pin a few weeks ago... :rolleyes:
 

KentuckyFisherman

Well-Known Member
I run my belt slower on pins...and of course a NEW coarse belt...
Yeah, from posts here I knew using a sharp, coarse belt would help, and I did. I can't vary the speed on my little belt sander, so I'm stuck there. Is there another silver metal used in pins that would be softer and easier to work?
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
A poor man's trick is to dip your hand in the quench bucket and use your wet fingers to cool the pins. The obvious key to this is you can't let the pins get scalding hot to begin with because you'll burn the snot out of yourself. But if they're getting that hot, that's the problem. A lot of handle materials don't like to be that hot, either. A whole lot of knifemaking is about finesse. Learning to slow down. This is often just as much about moderating the heat as it is about slowing down and paying attention. Going slower never hurts.
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
Interesting that you mention this, Bruce. I just might know where I could find a Silver Eagle, or three, or 300. Seems it might take some time to pound it roll it, measure it, hammer it, and such. ;)
I don't want to rain on your parade but a Silver Eagle is almost certainly worth more as a Silver Eagle than as a pin in a knife.
And as a sometime Coin Collector I like intact coins :)
 

Bruce McLeish

Well-Known Member
Interesting that you mention this, Bruce. I just might know where I could find a Silver Eagle, or three, or 300. Seems it might take some time to pound it roll it, measure it, hammer it, and such. ;)
try Rio Grande jewelry supply for all silver ,gold, platinum etc. they already have it sized and shaped..
 

billyO

Well-Known Member
When I used to use files, I never noticed pins warming up. Overheating is almost never an issue (no matter what tool you use) as long as you're not overly concerned about how fast you're removing the excess material.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
use a hand file to get pins down flush with little or no heat, then finish as you would otherwise. i Would normally use a band saw to cut the pins as close as I can and then hand file flush. After that just hand sand.
 

MTBob

Well-Known Member
Working with stainless can be a bugger. I'll generalize - most stainless alloys (and there are bunch) will tend work harden during a cutting process. When it work hardens it will become very difficult to cut and will heat up. So, the trick is to use a very sharp cutting tool and a firm cutting rate. Lubricant helps a lot, but not that practical when grinding a knife.
When grinding stainless that means having belt grit that's not worn out and using a firm but - not too aggressive - cutting pressure. Using either ceramic or Zirconia grit will minimize heating while the grit is still sharp. Grit sharpness is the way to minimize work hardening. If a tool tends to slide over stainless (ie not cut) it will instantly form a layer of hardened steel that progressively gets harder and harder to cut.
Knife pins typically can be purchased in several alloys forms, common alloys are 303 and 416, both have added sulfur to improve machinability. In my experience 303 will tend to work harden more than 416.
Here's a tip: rather than buy small lots of stainless for pins - check out 309L stainless TIG welding rod, available online or at a local welding supply shop at much less cost per foot. It's readily available up to 1/8". FWIW 309L is a goto rod when welding stainless, and even works well on carbon steel.
I've also used Silicon Bronze TIG rod for knife pins. It machines easily, is corrosion resistant and has a pleasant silver / yellow hue.
FWIW - you can identify the family of 300 series (Austenitic Stainless) versus 400 series (Martensitic Stainless) with a magnet. 300 series stainless alloys are somewhat magnetic, but 400 series are mostly not. Unless specifically tagged, by eye, it's otherwise impossible to tell the stainless alloy.
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Newby here. Great tips thank you.

I have used aluminum pins with success. I noticed nobody commented on the aluminum suggestion. Are aluminum pins a problem?
 

soundmind

KNIFE MAKER
I've been working on, again working on, the technique of getting everything pretty close to done before I epoxy - guard, spacers, butt cap, pins. That way I don't heat the epoxy up when I even things out later. Then either install round pins while epoxy is setting or leave a hole and install a pin when the handle is done. I peen the heads just out of preference. And I've become a fan of locating pins to help hold everything while I shape it.
 
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