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Old 05-26-2017, 08:11 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: putnam county NY ....about 45 mins north of new york city
Posts: 1,443
Some equipment questions and opinions

Hey Guys so There have been a few pieces of equipment I have been wanting for a while now and in a month I should have the finaces to get at least some of this stuff. Well the first thing is a press for messing around with Damascus. Doing it by hand is getting old quick. I have narrowed it down to 2 either the Ron Claiborne press ( ) Or the uncle al's press ( ) Does any one have any opinions? ever used them? seen them? I have asked a couple people already and haven't heard anything bad about either one. The uncle al's is $1500 cheaper but the ron Claiborne press comes with 8 sets of dies. Wich I guess I could make my self. Just wondering if any one that I haven't already asked has any experience with either of these OR even another press I may have over looked.

So second I have been thinking about changing my KMG from the 3 speed pulley system to a variable speed. I have never used a variable speed one. Is it worth the cash it would take? what would I be able to do with a variable speed that I may be limited on with the pulley.

Another thing on the KMG is the rotary platen ( ) Does any one have this or has any one used it? I have a few ideas of where it may help things but I would love to know what its good at from someone that has actually used one.

Lastly Is I want to get a disc grinder that I can set up vertical like a table almost. So I don't have much knowledge at all on disk grinders and I have seen everything from one on Beaumont metal works for $1000 to a grizzly one for $200 bucks...What would the key things I would need to look for. I would like to have it to help with flats on the blade. I have seen It done and looks eaisier and comes out better I think than doing it on a platen (not that it cant be done on a platen I have done it up to this point) So obviously I would need the disk to be dead flat but other than that I have no clue about these things......................THANKS GUYS!
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Old 05-26-2017, 08:59 AM
WNC Goater WNC Goater is offline
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: NC Mountains
Posts: 469
Okay so you know I'm a newb myself, so take that into consideration.

The variable speed for the KMG. Most people that have it, love it. Others who don't have it, say they don't need it. Most who end up getting it, don't know how they did without it. There are a few, very few, that I've heard used it and weren't overly impressed. I rarely, in fact, almost never change my belt setup on the pulleys and so I'm in the camp of, "Content with what I have but maybe don't know what I'm missing."

The rotary platen. You know me, I pretty much make simple full or hidden tang fixed blades. Thus I cannot personally see what advantages I'd gain with the rotary platen. You do a much more extensive variety of blades and folders. I will say, watching YouTubes of knife makers, professionals that is, (Fisk, Sorrels, Jacklore) I've never seen anyone using a platen like that. Not to say they don't, just haven't seen it. For what that's worth.

Press/power hammer. How are you making damascus now? Hammer and anvil? Is there a possibility of finding and forming a relationship with someone locally that has one? I have an artist friend locally who has one and said I can use it any time. I haven't yet. But if I did use it for damascus, I'd ask if I could use it a couple of days and I'd make enough damascus to last a while. Those power hammers are very handy, especially for someone blacksmithing, by that I mean drawing down heavy steel where it saves a LOT of time and effort/sweat over hand hammering. But I would guess they are limited in typical blade work, the BIG EXCEPTION being making damascus. Just forming a blade by forging isn't so much muscle as techniques.

My point is, you'd have to be making and using a LOT of damascus and selling it to justify the cost. So if I were to make damascus, or have need of one, it would be a lot more cost effective for me to use my friend's once or twice a year. Kind of like a small bulldozer or Bobcat type equipment. You may need one once or twice a year and it's much more cost-wise to rent one than buy one. So if you could find someone that has one you could use, it may save you some moolah$.
There may even be a regional knife club or blacksmithing organization, or even community college that has one you could use or buy some time on.
Having said all that, it would be a great toy to have if you have the means to own one!

So there's my 2 cents

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Old 05-26-2017, 10:11 AM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Now live in Las Cruces NM.
Posts: 1,259
Dave on the variable speed for your KMG remember you may need a bigger motor as when the speed slows down the power to the motor goes down too. You have a 1 1/2 HP motor now so the pulley system at low speed you actually have more torque than at high speed. Just a heads up. If I convert my 1 HP 2x48 grinder to 2x72 I will use a 3 speed pulley system and power won't be an issue.

As for the presses I've talked to you about them before. I use the power hammers at the college near me when they have blacksmithing classes, I get forge time free because I trade teaching advanced TIG welding techniques. So for you to use a college class which is doubtful where you live it would cost you.

Buying thick S7 steel and HT for the dies, is that something you want to do? I say the S series of steels as they are shock absorbing and I know where you can buy the stock fairly cheap and $20 flat rate shipping. If you want to go this route there are plenty of industrial presses that could be used as well as the Uncle Al's Press, otherwise go with the claiborne. I know you can't have a power hammer as it is too loud for your living situation. Which is too bad as once you get good with them they are very fast. Also as Goater said, how much Damascus do you intend to make? I make a billet from time to time, but I only know a few patterns and if I make the billet too big I end up with half ladder and half

I did see a Youtube video where the guy used a rotary platen and he seemed happy with it, but I do remember wondering if it would leave a slightly convex grind. That's all I can say to that.

As for the disc grinder a 9" is minimum (Tru Grit has ceramic 9") with a 12" (only Zirconia and AO) being the best unless you want to spend the money for a 20" which I have used. They are very good for making flat grinds and they wear out fairly quick, but here's another option Dave, try a 6"x 48" grinder as they have a big flat platen too and do not wear out nearly as fast as a disc grinder does and Tru Grit has all the different types of abrasives for it. Also Dave there are some tricks to putting the discs on and off without a lot of trouble. If you don't know them you'll curse the I would tell you what they are if you go that route.

Now it says Guru and it used to say Master. I think I like Master better, though skilled would be the best description
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Old 05-26-2017, 06:17 PM
argel55 argel55 is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Chandler, Oklahoma
Posts: 236
I will throw my 2 cents in. I have used an Uncle Al press and it was easy to use. Foot pedal control that raises from bottom to top. Claibourne top to bottom. Have you talked to manufacturers about them? I thought there was a long back order. I thought I read where the Uncle Al tonnage had been increased.
Rotary platen I never figured what they were needed for except to convex.
I made a double disc grinder. 9 inch you can used standard sand paper with spray adhesive. I spray disc and slap a sheet on it. Trim to size and go. Extra pieces for hand sanding. One side I keep 60 grit on it. The other side has 1/8 inch rubber which i use 120,240, 400, up to 1000 grit.
A comment on 6by 48 inch grinder. The belt still has a splice to looks flat but not really. Grind on one and take that piece to a disc and see the ripples.
I have a Square wheel full blast, a Jerry Braggs grinder that stays on 800 RPM with a 10 inch wheel, and a built 18 inch grinder. I use them all for certain things.
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Old 05-26-2017, 07:47 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Now live in Las Cruces NM.
Posts: 1,259
Argel55, look at Tru-Grits 6x48 belts, they tell you whether they have a butt splice or not and also tell you when it's very smooth. Just thought you might like to know. I know generally speaking they have bad splices, but since I have started using Tru-Grit even my 1x42 seldom have a bumpy splice and my 2x48 never does from Tru-Grit. Can't speak to the junk lots of other stores sell. Also a 9" disc wears out pretty fast, but I forgot about the spray-on adhesive option which is funny because I used to work at a place that had a 20" disc and they were all spray-on. I have an 8" and order SC PSA discs from Ebersole's for gem stone work from time to time.

Now it says Guru and it used to say Master. I think I like Master better, though skilled would be the best description
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Old 05-27-2017, 07:43 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: putnam county NY ....about 45 mins north of new york city
Posts: 1,443
Thabks guys,
WNC....I wish I could find some one with a press trust me I have looked, I have found 2 people but they are not close one is like 2 and half hours the other farther than that. The slightly closer one is very sporadic I have never actually been to his shop because he will always call at last minute and say hey come down really quick and I cant just drop everything and drive that far just to stay for a hour. This guy is imposible to make plans with.

With that being said. I think I will get the press first as I am owed a very nice chunk of money from a settlement so its kinda unexpected money or "extra" money (IF EXTRA money even exists LOL) So yeh some is going to be saved some paying some bills but I will have some left over for "TOY" money. I was supposed to get 1 lump sum but unfortunately I found out yesterday it will be broken up over 6 months.
Kinda puts the breaks on my ideas.....So I figure the press will enable me to do something that I really cant do now (well at least with any efficiency) The other stuff might make things a bit easier but as it is right now I can do what I need to do for example I can get things flat on the platen even tho the disk might be better, The variable speed might make things better to but I can get by with out it. As far as making Damascus I don't do it that much but that is only because I cant justify time and effort doing it by hand. Its just impossible to do on a regular basis and still have time and energy to make knives. I would use it much much more often if I had the press to help. I have had a bunch of people ask for a Damascus knife as sometimes I carry a lil Damascus dagger I made a while back and a lot of people have asked me to do it on a knife for them but again doing it by hand just isn't worth it.....Since most of my work is in stainless I would also like to TRY and learn a lil about making stainless Damascus. Wich I don't think you can really do by hand
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Old 05-27-2017, 07:46 AM
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Crex Crex is offline
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Acworth, GA and/or Hanging Dog, NC
Posts: 3,494
I'd say you got more like a $1 worth in this thread. All good.
I have the variable speed KMG. Yeah it's great but I find that I rarely change the speed. Mostly just to slow it down for soft stuff - wood, etc. Never liked running it flat out at high speed. What Jim said about motor size and torque is spot on so pay attention.

Carl Rechsteiner, Bladesmith
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