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do i need a belt grinder?


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is it completely necessary for making short swords? can i use a file instead or is it pointless? i would definitely assume a bench grinder would be of no use at all. comments welcome, critique appreciated.

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No, you don't absolutely need one, but you'll wish you had one.

 

Belt grinder is nothing more than an electric rock. Rocks and files have been used to finish swords for centuries... but the important thing to remember is that the closer to final shape you forge, the less material you need to remove. So, pay attention to clean forging, descaling, and forging thin... and you're that much closer to done.

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Hi Clint, I am a beginner too, so please take this with a grain of salt. To keep things honest, also from a person who had never made a short sword.

 

Short answer: No with a but...

 

Long answer: Meaning, you can do anything a belt sander can do by hand. It just might take you a long time. If you can forge very close to shape, and control your heat to minimize scaling, you won't need to do much stock removal. Good files can really move metal fast. Simonds Maxi cut files are a great example. Any regular mill file, used in the draw filing technique, will "plane" the surface you are working on into fine curls. It is wonderful work, if you can relax into it, realize it will take more time to do properly, and just keep at it. If you fight the tool, you get cramps. This will teach you to anneal your steel, which broadens your understanding of the whole process. Some of the very talented makers here work almost entirely by hand. In my opinion, these works have a unique quality, that I cannot define.

 

On the other hand, a belt sander is a tool that you might want to learn how to use. It also takes time to learn, and it is not an easy way to make knives. It IS an easy way to screw up a knife. Try spending alot of time working on a knife, then becoming tired or lazy and say "I'll just take a few passes at it with the belt grinder" and all of a sudden, you've ruined your bevels. All those hours wasted (or are they?, you did learn something after all) because you wanted to take a short cut. I've done that many times.

 

I have a 1 by 42" Kalamazoo grinder. It has a belt speed of around 1800 surface feet per minute, which is on the slow side. As far as belt grinders go, it is on the slow side. I buy good belts for it, and it works well for the small blades I like to make. I have seen a very good knife maker grind a blade on a fast 2 X 72, and it requires an intense amount of concentration, an fine motor control. From my very limited experience, it takes a long time, and a lot of mistakes to get very good at it. My grinder was relatively inexpensive at the time (under $200) and is a nicely built tool.

 

I use a $35 dollar, hardware store brand bench grinder all the time. It works great for cleaning up the profile (outline from the side), because I am not as skilled at forging.

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thank you very much. when it comes to this i don't usually get lazy so i am more than happy with a file =)

 

 

a hand held angle grinder with flat flap sanding discs will do a great job........... 4.5 or 5 inch diameter

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, blacklion is correct, scale is the fasted way to ruin a file. The fire scale gums up the teeth, so I normally start with a rasp. Also, remember to only use the file with strokes in one direction, it makes them last longer than a back and forth motion.

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If you're going the file route, might even consider making a sen, I need to get round to making one, just cause I'd like to, but I primarily use a grinder.

 

It's a single tooth file similar to a draw knife that is for steel and can be resharpened.

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