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Fit & Finish Fit and Finish = the difference in "good art" and "fine art." Join in, as we discuss the fine art of finish and embellishment.

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Old 09-10-2006, 10:03 AM
Mario DeAngelis Mario DeAngelis is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 26
Steel and Steel Thicknesses for Newbie


My 15 year-old son and I will be starting making knives soon and I want to purchase some steel to start getting practice on while using a belt grinder for the first time.

I was thinking of purchasing some 440C steel to use mostly to practice on and to make some knives where the steel wasn't the main focus but to also perhaps purchase something like ATS-34 when we felt sufficiently skilled to try our hand at making a knife of better quality.

I would appreciate any advice on if these two steels would be good choices at our skill levels.

Also, I would like to know what steel thicknesses are about typical for making folders and also average-size fixed-blades. I am thinking that 5/32" thickness might be good for small folding knives while 3/16" thickness may be good for a sheaf knife?

Thanks for the responses,

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Old 09-10-2006, 12:24 PM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Satellite Beach, Fl.
Posts: 1,119
Mario, it is great that your are and including your son.Now , I would strongly suggest you not use 440c at first, as it would be a waste of money.440c is a quality steel and too expensive for practicing. Either go to your local Home Depot and get some mild steel or order some 10xx series steel from a knife supplier.Will be much cheaper to learn. The mild steel cannot be hardened but will give you an idea of what to expect without breaking the bank.When you feel you have reached the level needed then graduate to 440c or ATS 34. Good Luuck. Dave

To add, I would start off with 1/8" stock
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:32 PM
Joel Joel is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Central PA Mountains
Posts: 142
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I'll second what Dave says. I started out on worn 1/8" Sandvik steel files I could get at a surplus store for 50 cents a piece. Nice thing about them is that once I got my grinding looking semi-decent, if I ground them cool enough I could make using knives out of them by just tempering them. The thickest steel I use for my fixed blades is 1/8", and a lot of them are 3/32"....I full flatgrind only.
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Old 09-11-2006, 12:43 AM
john foxwell john foxwell is offline
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Junee NSW Australia
Posts: 77
I'll also back what Dave and Joel have said. Blade steel is too expensive to practise on.

When I started, I bought about 8 feet of scrap 1/8" x 1 1/4" mild steel, cut it into 7-8" lengths and started grinding. The cost was minimal and it was easy to bin the result when things went wrong (and they did). I'm not sure I would have been so comfortable throwing a piece of 440c or ats34 into the same bin.

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Old 09-15-2006, 03:27 PM
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NJStricker NJStricker is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Central Ohio
Posts: 2,193
I'd start with the high carbon 10xx myself, such as 1095, rather than the low carbon mild steel. Let's say you do use a piece of mild steel for practice. And let's say that you do grind something decent, and you really like the looks of it. You can't harden it, so you will still end up throwing it away! 1095 is cheap enough to practice on, and still come out with a knife in the end if you are careful and go slow.
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Old 10-11-2006, 06:53 PM
Mario DeAngelis Mario DeAngelis is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 26
Well, my son and I ground our first blade doing a flat grind on a 3/16" thick blade.

Not too bad results so far but we could probably continue with it a bit more.

I have already cut out the same blade profile in 1/8" stock and I can already see this would probably be less work to grind.

I have been grinding at only about 5/8 speed on our KMG grinder and am wondering if we should really be grinding at the highest spedd because the cutting seemed to be going a bit slow and maybe more time for error. We are using a 60 grit (AZX) belt as Pop from Pop's Knives felt a 40 grit belt might be too aggressive for beginers.

I also noticed that I wasn't getting many sparks while grinding and thought that this was either a result of too low a belt speed or the HomeDepot low-carbon steel we were practicing on.

Could someone let me know what a good grinding speed (in fractions) is on a VFD-controlled, 1725rpm, KMG belt grinder?

Much appreciate the responses here and on the previous emails.


PS - I got a pretty good tip from Steve Pryor on how to make cheap but effective a dust collection system. Steve says he uses a regular box fan and tapes a furnace-filter to both sides. I had both so I also did the same although I only taped one filter to the suction-side and the fan and had this close by the grinding platten while grinding. This must have caught most of the air-born dust becuase i did not notice any in the air afterwards and the filter was visibly dirty from the dust collect. Thanks for the tip Steve and can't wait for my new Pyroceram plate!
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:29 AM
R. D. Finch R. D. Finch is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: West Liberty, Ky
Posts: 107
What type of grind are you doing, hollow or flat? I use 60 gritt belts and a lot of 1/8 steel. I find that the slower speed works better for me. I move my hands when grinding that just seen to work for me, also I use a piecs of mircarta to hold under the opposite side of handle, it helps to keep the blade from being jerk out of your hand. I bought the flat grinding dvd from geno to try it some time(have been doing hollow grinds) found the dvd pretty good.

Ricky D. Finch
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Old 10-13-2006, 05:18 PM
Mario DeAngelis Mario DeAngelis is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 26
We are starting out with flat grinding as it is more the rage right now.

I also bought the Geno DVD as well and am waiting for it to arrive. I had hoped to look it over before we start our second knife but it probably won't arrive in time.
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