Getting the nod from my father, I followed him to his knife workshop. My hands were already sweaty with anticipation. It was finally time, my dad was going to teach me how to grind a knife blade.
I wish I could say I was a natural but that first time grinding a blade went about as well as most firsts in life. But I learned a lot of lessons that first time that pay dividends to this day.
If you are looking to learn how to grind knife blades then you came to the right place.
Learning How To Grind Knives
When getting started with knife grinding you need to keep your expectations in check. This skill isn’t the most difficult to learn but it does take practice and patience so hopefully those aren’t in short supply.
If you already have your knife making tools then take these tips and get to your workshop and start grinding.
Knife Grinding Safety
Let’s get this out of the way so we can get to the good stuff. Always wear appropriate safety gear! Grinding is safe when done the right way but you don’t want to lose a finger or shoot your eye out so always wear safety glasses when working a blade on a grinder.
Grinding Knife Blades The Right Way
Start out with some old pieces of scrap bar stock. It’s important to gain the feel of the grinder before working a blade or blade blank.
You will want to practice applying different amounts of pressure and moving the blade along the grinder with the bar stock. Do this until you feel comfortable manipulating the metal on the grinder. Pay attention to how the steel reacts to different amounts of pressure. Practicing is going to pay off big so do not skip this step.
Metal heats up when applied to a fast grind. This can draw the temper so give yourself a bit of time between passes to allow the steel to cool.
It will also be helpful to have a pan of water on hand to dip your steel when it heats up. If you have practiced a good amount on scrap bars you are already getting the feel for how much pressure is needed to work a blade. The key here is to not be afraid to grind a knife blade.
This is the same process used by the big knife makers. Grinding is what gives your blade it’s shape so work that blade.
Many knife repairs will also require grinding as old blades take on a “moon shape”. Grinding the blade edge straight can breath new life into an otherwise unusable blade.
Another frequent repair job involves removing pits from old blades. Grinding them away with a series of belts is the way to go. Start with a 240 grit belt and work your way down to about a 500 grit.
Tip: Courses grits remove more steel so apply less pressure when using
Once your blade has been ground to it’s desired shape it’s time to take it to the grease wheel. This will smooth out your blade.
A grease wheel is also used to create an even finish between the bolster and the handle
While most modern knife makers use a silicon carbide impregnated nylon wheel for this step, I recommend using a grease wheel as they are significantly less expensive and can produce the same results. The primary difference between the two it that a grease wheel must be coated more often.
A grease wheel is a hard muslin buff 70 -90 ply that is glued together. You can purchase charging compounds for your grease wheel or make it yourself. Either way be sure to coat your wheel before finishing your blade on the grease wheel.
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