I walked with my father down to his workshop with my first pocket knife clutched in my hand. The knife my father just gave was made in the very workshop I was headed toward.
As I walked into the shop he flipped on the lights and told me to watch close. He fired up a loud piece of machinery I didn’t yet know the name of and started working a blade. That day my dad walked me through what seemed like the magical process he followed to make my first pocket knife.
Now I make and repair knives myself, and all those machines he used are still in my workshop making knives much like the ones he made back then.
Power Tools Needed For Knife Repair
There are a number of specialty and homemade power tools used for knife repair and you can spend a small fortune if you buy every tool recommended on the internet. Luckily there are a select few power tools you absolutely need to repair and restore knives. Invest in these and only get more specialty tools when you know you need them.
Read my recommended hand tools for knife repair
Belt Grinders For Knives
When making or repairing knives you will be doing a lot of grinding. From blades and backsprings, to cover scales a belt grinder or drum sander is a must.
The belt grinder will be the workhorse of your knife shop and be sure to get one that fits a 2″ x 48″ belt. This belt size will handle everything you throw at it.
Belt grit should be anywhere between 60 and 700 and the specific grit depends on the task at hand.
Tip: Use a finer grit to remove those pesky deep pits in blades
And be sure your grinder has a rubber contact wheel for maintaining a uniform blade finish.
If you won’t be doing a lot of grinding at first then a 6″ or 8″ drum sander can be substituted for the belt grinder. It’s a lot less expensive so by all means use it if you think grinding isn’t in your future.
Anchor it on your arbor and it will work just dandy.
You will also need to buff your blades and you can either get yourself a commercial grade buffer or rig up a train of buffers.
To do your own you will use a line shaft, pulleys, pillow blocks, and an old motor. Your line shaft ends will need to be threaded for locking nuts.
Use a 6″ or 8″ wheel at 1750 RPM or 3600 RPM respectively and do not have wheel guards. Instead use a piece of flat bar stock and mount it on the back of the wheels. This will help if a knife gets hung up in loose buffing wheels.
A disc sander will allow you to sand your handles smooth and uniform. Use a standard 9″ table disc sander as this will allow your sander to double as a saw for cutting handle ends which is a must if you will be hand fitting handles and cover scales.
Install a flat bar on the table for a guide to hold your knife against while sanding.
For general cutting a 12″ or 14″ band saw is the way to go. It makes quick work of handles and steel. I use mine for trimming down my handles and scales which goes much slower on the sander. If you don’t already have a band saw keep in mind this tool comes in handy outside of the knife shop as well so don’t cheap out.
As far as blade size goes I prefer a 1/4″ width with a pitch or fourteen teeth per inch.
There are few things in life I enjoy more than stepping into my shop. That’s where I do my favorite work and the fact that it has all the tools I need means I can stay down there getting to knife repair. Stock up on quality tools and you won’t regret it either.
For more knife tips check out these articles