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Most Efficiant and Effective Way to do Bevels?


Anvil_Fire777

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Hello again,

I have been to many bladesmithing sites and (mainly this one) and looked in awe at the neat bevels people put on their knives. From personal experiance, making a knife is rather boring because of bevels. Everything els is fun and I WANT to make more knives but i just don't have the time nor energy to sit there for 6 houres draw filing nice neat bevels. I have done it before and it is SO tedious. Usually when I then sand the knife with sand paper, I end up with round bevels. How do all you pro knifemakers do it? HOW do you get the angle so precise?, HOW do you make neat, even bevels with sharp sholders in such a short time?

Sorry if i seem a little desperate, its probaly because i am. The urge to make more knives is so strong but the thought of spending houres in the heat, draw filing a thick knife puts me off completly because I know there is an easier way. Somehow. Just can't think of it.

Any help on this one would be greatly appretiated.

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777,
There are several youtube videos on grinding and forging knives.
Like other hand skills it take practice and time.

I know there is a knife group in Australia...have you looked for them to see if you could spend time with one of them?

Wait till you try a sword...one with a curve like a saber or a reverse curve like a yataghan...few reference points while working as the edge drops out of line of sight. A long blade will show you how you pronate when forging (like your show tells you how you walk by its wear).

Ric

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Yep, that's tough and I'm not very good at it. One approach is to go neo-tribal and leave your blades basically as-forged. It takes real skill with the hammer to pull this off and have it look good. Barring that, it's "how to you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice." Some guys make filing jigs to help them keep the angles consistent, like so:

filing jig
filing jig

When it comes to sanding, don't just wrap your paper around a sanding block; multiple layers will have a little give, which will tend to round off the bevels. Use single layers of paper over a hard block. I know at least one guy who uses pressure sensitive paper or, absent that, glues his paper (single layers) to the sanding block with rubber cement.

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Note that Tai Goo, probably the best of the neo-tribal smiths can and does turn
out beautifully polished and perfectly finished pieces when he wants to. Look
for pictures of the "magic blade".

IMHO, the really good work with visible hammer marks, etc. is done by people who
have proven their ability to produce perfectly finished and fitted knives then
chosen to express themselves differently.

To be blunt: lack of craft skill is not an excuse for picking a lazy style. It
never works well.

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While I agree with most of what has been posted so far, I do NOT really like sharp bevel edges on my knives and I don't make them. I like to use the unbacked portion of my belt sander to create a slightly convex bevel and have a smooth transition from the bevel clear to the spine of the blade. A sharp snappy bevel is impressive because we know it's not easy to make... but when a less skilled knife owner is sharpening his knife he is likely to have considerable difficulty keeping his bevel looking pristine... so all that skill and effort to create the bevels ends up making the maintenance of the knife more difficult and tends to look ratty after a few sharpenings anyway! Not a problem with collector knives of course... but mine tend to be made for using.

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I'm familiar with Tai's work and, as I said, it takes great skill with a hammer to pull off the as-forged look -- which was intended to suggest that it's not really suited for new guys, at least if they care how their blades look. (If you have ever seen any of Tai's work as-forged, prior to grinding, it's truly incredible what he can do with just a hammer and anvil.) There's nothing "lazy" about those who have the skill to manage it, if that's the style they prefer to work in.

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rolleyes.giffirst of all..if knife making is something u want to pursue then don't let what ANYONE says stop u ! the first knife I made was just plain awful..spent countless hours on it and it seemed that everything went wrong! lack of knowledge and not having the proper tools can really bind u up but don't let that stop u. do the best u can with what u have to work with for now and sooner or later u will accumulate the needed tools to do a better job..takes time, MONEY and patience...a belt grinder (2 x 72) would help u a great deal but a good one is very expensive. A couple of ways around that is to make ur own (plans available thru US knife makers, Tracy Mickley) or u can get a fairly cheap 1 x 30 belt grinder thru Harbor Freight..hope that helps some.....

Genesmile.gif
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I agree with you Matt. The "lazy" comment was (too rudely) directed to
fellow beginners who immediately try to adopt this style because they
think it's less work. I've seen this too often. You're absolutely
right that forging to shape at the level Tai does it is anything but
easy. Another example I really like is Joe Keeslar's paradox blades:
rough forge finish combined with hand engraving and silver wire inlay.

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I agree with you Matt. The "lazy" comment was (too rudely) directed to
fellow beginners who immediately try to adopt this style because they
think it's less work. I've seen this too often. You're absolutely
right that forging to shape at the level Tai does it is anything but
easy. Another example I really like is Joe Keeslar's paradox blades:
rough forge finish combined with hand engraving and silver wire inlay.


Sorry, Dan; my reaction may not have been entirely fair. There are some guys who do really ugly, crude forged finishes, and in some cases it probably is laziness. (In other cases, well, sometimes I guess there's no accounting for taste.)

I had not seen Joe's work until you mentioned it. Thanks for the pointer. That's good stuff!
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Let me climb on this band wagon: I think that to go back in my time I would never want anyone to see any of my early work forging. And that did not include blades. I tried all of the basics, s hooks tent stakes and anything i could think of to forge. They were just awful. Each time I tried an failed at something i moved awzAy from that item and tried something else. An you can guess how that went. Yep failed again. after a lot of that I came to the idea that mayb e it was not the item i was making that needed changed. It was me. I did not have the skills to do wot seemed so easy. So then it was basics. Like for instance if yoiu could not forge a scroll on the end of a s hook why would i want to make the s hook. So I learned scrolls. Make one on end of two foot bar, then on eon other end, then whack both of them off and start over. I got to the point that I could make scrolls right each time then made s hooks. They got better and better. I forged more and learned more. I saw success right away with the new plan..When I got to blades I had trouble making hidden tangs right so I stopped right there. learnde to make tangs. cut them off and make more. then with a good tang I could work out a blade. For stock removal knives it was the same thing. Was a waste of time to hollow grind a piece of knife steel til it was ruined. So back to mild and learn how. I have made alot of knives, both forged and stock removal. and I have not developed the skill necessary to complete and show a knife in the as forged condition. As said above it is a talent that has to be developed and I have not done the time for that. However I have seen some knives on this forum that looked pretty clean and nice with that syle of finish. Then again I have seen some that pretty much paint a picture of skills needed. It is a decision that I chose along time ago. I am willing to scrap a piece that does not represent where I think my knife making is at the time it is made. Perfection is a decision. Wot will you have folks remember you for in your work? Wot are your goals?
If wot you make comes out just as you imagined and you are pleased with it then it is a picture you have painted, show it well and often. If you look at it and are not pleased then wot will you gain by putting on a handle and making a sheathe? Only you can decide that. Your shop your rules. And by the way I have not scrapped all of the ones I have made and did not like. I have them scattered around the house and shop. I call them tuition. I paid in time and materials to learn something on each of them. My goal is to not make the same mistakes too often.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hand made knives take a lot of time and patience. Hand filing will take many many hours of hard tedious work. If you can file a blade in 6 hours you are doing pretty good. As mentioned before it takes a lot of practice. I had a great teacher who told me once that he did not make knives any faster. He found that when he was able to get faster at a particular step of the process he just spent more time perfecting other aspects. He is one of the most talented makers I know and am proud to call him a friend. By the way his name just happens to be Tai Goo.

Keep at it. There has been some great advice given. Find what works for you and perfect your process.

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Forging bevels on blades requires good hammer control. Hammer control requires practice. This summer I had my first student with no knife making or metal working experience. He wanted to learn to forge knives. I told him that first he would have to learn to forge. Only then could we talk about knives.
His tasks were as follows- Hammer control, making round stock into square, hammer control, making square stock into round, hammer control, tapering, hammer control, drawing, hammer control, upsetting, hammer control, etc.
When he had spent about 60 hours of actual hammering, I told him it was time to try a knife. I had him make a full size drawing of his design and calculate the minimum size of 1/4" 1084 stock he would need and I turned him loose. The only help I gave was verbal.
Here are some pics.
Gage-1.jpg
Gage-2.jpg
Gage-3.jpg
Gage-5.jpg
This young man stood 6'-5",260# and was 12 years old. He turned 13 last October.
Mike

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