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The Newbies Arena Are you new to knife making? Here is all the help you will need.

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  #1  
Old 11-27-2016, 11:55 AM
dpitt417 dpitt417 is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
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The Final Polish

I have a handful of knives built but very much a rookie - not getting the final polish my picky self would like. I would like to hear some of the more veteran's opinions of once you have the knife construction complete - what is your path to final polish? I mostly use 1075 or stainless if it matters. My goal is a mirror finish on the blades and I hate even small scratches. Assume I have most of the fine scratches worked out but now looking to making it really shine. I see some hand polish, others like the buffing wheel; some use high end high grit belts and then move to a buffer or hand. I am a detailed person - ok with getting into the weeds but really looking for your steps to making a knife ready to show. Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 11-27-2016, 12:25 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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First of all, if you 'hate even small scratches' then don't polish your blades because they will scratch every single time you use them. There are basically two categories of knives with polished blades: 1) very cheaply made knives trying to look better than they are and 2) very expensive knives that spend their lives in a display case.

If you must polish your blades then do it before the knife is assembled. To try it after assembly means that the results will fall firmly into category 1) above. This is because there will be areas you cannot reach, and areas you do reach but don't want to like the front of your guard (which will be a different and softer material than your blade and will probably get cut by the compounds used on the blade).

If your blades are ground any way but full flat then amateur polishing efforts will blur any grind lines you might have.

So, I won't go into an encyclopaedia of polishing right now but I will provide the basic essentials: learn what compounds are designed for the materials you want to polish. Learn what type of wheel is used with those compounds. Put only one compound on a given wheel, never use that wheel for anything else. Prior to any attempt at polishing make sure there are no scratches in the blade, you cannot polish out a scratch without making the surface wavy, having 'most of the fine scratches out' doesn't get the job done - you'll just have shiny scratches.

Blades can also be polished using belts but this takes a lot of experience with different belts.

Bottom line is this: newbies always want to polish their blades long before they have acquired anywhere near the amount of skill it takes to really and truly create a mirror finish correctly. If you want to advertise to the world that you are a first time knife maker with little experience then polishing a blade is a very ordinary way to do that.

I don't know if you've done any testing yet on your knives. If you haven't your time will be much better spent in testing to find out if your heat treat process is really working. Otherwise, polishing might just be dressing up something that looks like a knife but won't function like a good one should .

Sorry if this all seems rough but polishing is a huge amount of work and expense to do it correctly. As a new maker there are much more important areas where you could apply your effort and money ...


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  #3  
Old 11-27-2016, 03:48 PM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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I have done a fair amount of mirror polishing and there are many ways to do it and it can be done very good either way you can use compounds belts diamond polish or any combination of these, mirror polishing does take some experimenting with what you have to get it right looking at the first one or 2 that I polished I thought came out great but putting them next to a more recent one there is a diffence it takes some practice. so really it all depends what you have to work with...I could tell you one way to do it but if you don't have any of those materials it will be useless to you....as ray said polished knives have there place, in the beginning I tried to polish much more than I do now because I liked the look but once I saw how quickly you scratch them all up with ANY use I don't do it as often. let us know what you have to work with then we will be able to help more
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  #4  
Old 11-28-2016, 11:17 PM
PoolQs PoolQs is offline
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I can no means say I am any pro. This is one that I reconditioned for a family friend.
He insisted on a mirror finish. This was the first one I had ever done.

[IMG][/IMG]

This was a royal time killer. I had about 8 hours into this finish. I don't have many of the
good tools and machines like other makers. I did it by hand with continual grits starting
from 120 every grit in between all the way to 3000. I then buffed with white compound
then pink. I then put a coat Ren wax on and buffed with a cloth.

Good luck,
Troy
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  #5  
Old 11-29-2016, 07:42 AM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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If a customer wants a mirror finish I add $120 onto the price, but I use diamond compounds and do it twice as fast.
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  #6  
Old 11-29-2016, 09:32 AM
dpitt417 dpitt417 is offline
 
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Thanks for the posts - please keep them coming. Like to know exactly what products and where the best place to purchase them is.

dtec1 - as for materials, I have and will purchase whatever is best. I want the best value but willing to spend to get the best solution.
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Old 11-29-2016, 04:52 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Dave=dtech used my diamond compound idea and with a little adjustment he is quite happy with the time it takes being reduced by half for a mirror polish, plus he has found some other uses for the fine 1-3 micron compound stuff. 1 micron is like 14,000 grit and 3 is around 8,000 grit.
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Old 11-30-2016, 08:32 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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Dpitt417 check your messages I sent you a message if you want ill tell you exavtly what I have found best and quickest it will be belts diamond compound in certain key grits and a lil rouge.....I have tried many many ways and as jim said he suggested the diamond compound and yes the first time I tried that figuring out the exact order of belts diamond and rouge yeh it took half the time now I can do it in a third of the time easy, and yes some diamond coupounds work great for other stuff most recent I found it brightens up a hammon beautifully. just check your message and let me know if you want the exact grits and all that
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  #9  
Old 12-03-2016, 02:33 PM
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Andrew Garrett Andrew Garrett is offline
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Final grinding to finished dimensions at 220
polishing: 400, 600, 800 in AO or J-Flex, then 9 micron and 3 micron in 3M belts (might be forgetting a step in the micron belts)
To the buffer: Mirro compounds in gray (hard metals) and green (soft metals)
I finish with pink scratchless.

Wheels must be cleaned with a rake before use.

I don't do many mirror finishes--too 'factory' for my tastes--not enough 'texture', but now and then...


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  #10  
Old 12-05-2016, 03:58 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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I was at a knife show and this "knife maker" had buffed every single knife he had to a mirror polish. He took all the edges off so you couldn't tell where the bevel started or the plunge line and the spine was rounded off. Just pretty much took every line or division off the blades and the funny part was there were still scratches in some of them. He had nice handles on them too, some sambar and some walrus ivory . He clearly spent a lot of time on the handles, but the blades were not very good. I don't know if he sold any as his prices were high.
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Old 12-05-2016, 05:34 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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That's exactly what I'm harping about all the time. Nothing wrong with mirror finishes if you really know how to do one. Blurred details and polished scratches are not a proper mirror finish and what you intended to be fancy is now a testament to just how much of a rookie you actually are.

Noobs: if you are making your first few knives, possibly even your first few dozen knives, and you're thinking of polishing the blades, don't. Almost no chance you'll be able to do it right. Wait at least until you know how to do a really clean satin finish on your blades before you try to polish. Know why? Because that's the first step to being able to get a clean mirror polish ...


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Old 12-05-2016, 11:41 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Listen to Ray all you new guys.
My first mirror polish was through the process he is talking about. You have to learn to sand it down to at least a 600 grit before any buffing and you must make certain there are no 220 or 400 grit lines still in there. I took that knife to 2000 grit before I buffed it. A lot of work, but it had clean lines and sharp edges on the spine, the plunge cut and beginning of the bevel. It was of course a flat grind. It was beautiful and the guy I made it for scratched it on his first deer.lol

I figure I made about $4 an hour on that knife, could have been $15 if I would have just done a nice satin finish. My customer didn't ask for a mirror polish I just thought since he was my boss etc.... I'm older and wiser now, I do not make mirror polishes unless requested and I add that $120+ onto the cost, more if it's bigger.

As I've said before, I take my blades to a 400 grit finish and then use a 30 micron (500-600 grit) heavy concentration diamond paste on leather and shine it up and take the edges off the 400 grit lines. Looks nice. Each maker has his own preferences and style. This is mine or I sometimes like to jewel knives as I like the look and some don't. Just me.
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Old 12-06-2016, 08:45 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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Ok so some of you that have been around for a while know. I was stubborn with many things in the beginning and mirror polishing was deffinitly one of those things, in the beginging I wanted to polish everything and I thought it looked great. I still polish some things but no where near as much BUT after doing so many (and it takes a lot of experimenting even going from one grit belt or one compound on the buffer to another and then having to go back cause you missed something.) there is a lot of back and forth now when I do polish a blade and look back and compare it to a older one....HUGE difference those early ones that I thought looked so good actually look horrible I just thought they looked good cause I had nothing to compare. its taken a lot of work to get it where it is now and still it would benefit from improvement. but I think now I agree one step at a time learn satin finish's first and then step up step by step from there. and as ray and jim were saying a lot of my early ones in the process of buffing had washed out the grind lines. so when you do that by accident it looks horrible. however I have washed out grind lines on purpose on both satin finished blades and polished ones and it CAN look good if done right personally if its thicker steel and the pluge lines are deep and you wash out the horizontal grind line a little bit but NOT the pluge lines I think it can look good (but just a little washing out not all) but again for those of you that remember when I started I am sure I drove some of you crazy with all the questions (especially you ray) and was stuborn about not doing things in order of the easiest way to learn..i mean perfect example first knife ever was a VERY crude "knife shaped object" made from a file the second one I decided it was a good idea to make my own Damascus billet and make a knife from that (ray remember that I am sure you were laughing for that one) I spent sooo much time making the same mistakes you learn a lot quicker going one step at a time! that's my point I guess
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