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Beau Erwin

Bevels, files, and grinding oh my!

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Okay I was just curious what techniques others might use for creating the bevels.

 

I've got a blade I'm working on, and have the flats just about sanded down so there are no pits.

What I'm wondering next is a good way to go about shaping the flats of the bevels to create some nice lines.

 

I have a flat bastard and a small mill bastard (real small) but they don't seem to remove much material at all. Is there a better file to use? They don't bite in too much just a little, so am kind of wondering if this could have been an air hardening, but it's not really hard either, I could bend it if I put it between two boards and stood on it, and was straightening it by hand, but it does have some flex. Don't think I'm going to heat treat it due to not knowing the type. I do have a smaller cut off that I might forge out and try treating for fun.

 

I have a feeling this metal was stainless.

I'm wanting to get some quality steel and was also looking for suggestions on a good one to use for a beginner to get accustomed to.

 

I've been using the 6 inch belt sander to flatter out this current blade and remove the pits. Just curious what the best way is to get some nice clean bevels and good lines.

 

Thanks =]

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I'm a beginner too but I can tell you what I do. If one of the real blade smiths jumps in and corrects me we'll both learn something. Are you forging or doing stock removal? I saw a good tutorial on a stock removal flat grind blade but I can't remember what site it was on. Either way the process is close.

 

After forging, I use a disc grinder to get my flats established on the tang, recaso and along the spine. Using a file (you could use a grinder) I cut a steep bevel at the edge to set my edge thickness and get it streight (see below my blurb on scribing the edge). Now, in theory, the spine and pre-heat treat edge is defined so getting a flat ground blade is just a matter of connecting the spine to the edge (end of the steep bevel that I cut earlier)

 

I start by using the file like a file and work my way down the blade. Afterwards I come back and draw file to make sure it's really flat (I usually get a little high spot in the middle of the blade especially if I don't go real slow.

 

Right now I'm doing flat grinds all the way from edge to spine because it's simple. If the bevel was not giong all the way to the spine I would scribe a line where I wanted it and the rest would be the same only I'd be using that line rather than the spine.

 

I would think that you should aneal or at least normalize your steel before starting just to make sure things are dead soft and make the work easier. Then you would of course need to heat treat when finished. Especially when using a grinder the potential for repeated, uneven heating and cooling also makes normalizing a good idea.

 

I've read about using a drill bit to scribe the edge on a flat blade and, I believe you can make or buy a scribe for the purpose also. I haven't scribed the edge because all my blades to date have had a distal taper and I'm not sure how you'd do that but I think it would be a big help on a flat blade.

 

I get files from the hardware store and the selection is limited but I like big ones for the initial work anyway. Scale is a bit hard to cut so it can fool you into thinking the steel is hard.

 

I don't know what to say about not knowing what steel you have or the condition (heat treating wise) you have. When finished if it's not hard enough or too hard then it isn't really a knife but just a knife shaped object. I've been using some automotive coil spring I have to forge my monosteel blades but there are lots of places to buy tool/blade steel. Popular steels are 10xx series like 1075, 1084, 1095. Smiths use lots of others and I think my springs are 5160 or something. If you don't know what you have, all you can do is try it and see what happens.

 

Where there it is. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Just don't skip the first sentance I wrote where I pointed out that I don't know crap either.

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Here are acouple of knives I made many years

ago. All I had to work with was a file and some

O 1 tool steel.

It helps to put some soap stone on your file

that keeps it clean and lets it cut better.

You need to always know what steel you are

using make sure it is in the anneald state.

Hope this helps some, good luck to you :ylsuper:

Dave

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Everything said so far is good, but yes there are better files! Get yourself a Nicholson Magicut in the largest size you can find, which I think is about 14 inches. A long-angle lathe file is nice too. A big honkin' file really cuts down on the amount of work you have to do. Follow that file with a smaller single-cut mill bastard or mill smooth used in a drawfiling motion, which means hold it at about 90 degrees to the work with the handle in your left hand and the tip in your right as the blade points at you, and pull straight towards yourself. As Mike F. noted about, this cleans up the deep scratches and flattens the surface.

 

As Redwulf noted, use soapstone or chalk rubbed into the file to keep it from getting little bits of steel caught in the teeth, since that causes BIG deep ugly scratches. I usually clean the file every few strokes with a small wire brush or by tapping the end on the floor to clear the filings.

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Also for file maintenance- don't use a "file card". They're a piece of wood with little high-carbon bristles coming out of it and all they serve to do is dull your file (again they're high carbon wires that you're supposed to scrub all over your file). I use a brass brush, follwing the grooves and if there's a really stuck piece I'll use a scratch awl to pick it out. I always use soapstone and only push with the file. Pulling will dull the teeth.

 

If you're forging, forge in the bevels then, as mentioned above, normalize a couple cycles to get the steel soft-ish. Use an old honing stone or some 100 grit sandaper down the length of the blade to remove the scale (oh yeah, scale kills files!). Follow this with your files leaving a little extra steel so you don't burn away the edge. Heat treat as normal (and I'll usually scrub the scale from the quench off the blade before tempering with some 100 grit. It's not perfect but it allows the heat to actually reach the steel.) Then it's time for some more sanding to make sure you got the scale off and then I go to my stones to work the final bevel in and start sharpening before polishing.

 

That's MY story and I'll change it if I'm shown a better way :lol:

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An overnight soak in vinegar softens the scale fairly well, I have found.

..my wife threw one of my blades in the trash a while back because she thought the plastic bag of rusty vinegar was leftover marinade! Lucky I found it in time.

 

Happy pounding,

 

Tracy

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Well the files I have are nicholson, so Ace carries that brand, Ill check for a Magicut next time I'm in getting charcoal.

 

I have one knife I did removal using an old file, blade is done well as far as I'm going anyway, few tiny scratches, but it's gonna be a user, so I expect it'll get more. Might put it to the stone some more, Grandpa has an oilstone I might use on it some. Arkansas variety.

 

The blade I forged out and was going to put bevels on, seems like the files weren't cutting very well at first. Might try it some more and look for one of those magicut, all I have are a small mill fill, think it's single cut, and then a crosshatch flat bastard.

 

Think the steel is stainless. I wanna do a spark test and see how it sparks on this little off cut. Blade came out scimitar shaped, but I curved the tang area down a little and am going to make the full thing have a bit of an S curve to it. Really hope it comes out decent.

 

Just did some forge work tonight, bit chilly out so kinda nice for it. =]

Forging out an integral work knife that I'm gonna give to my dad. Was his *thinks* 1/2 - 3/4 inch round long steel (maybe iron) stake he had. Gave it to use as a fire poker, but I started forging it =P

 

Gonna try oil quenching then water. Hell maybe I should just do a little test on some of the rest of the length. Cut it off from the rest tonight. Pleased with how it's coming so far. Laying out in the gravel in the drive way at the moment. Was gonna bring it in but it was still warm.

 

Hoping it'll be a little softer than the other.

Now for annealing, is that just air cooling from nonmagnetic, or do I need to leave it buried in the embers after bringing it up and then turn off air and let it cool even slower that way. I read thts how you do non-ferrous, but not sure if steel is done the same way.

 

I'll ask at Ace if they carry soapstone. Appreciated if someone will tell sources of it.

 

Now what exactly is scale? Is it just the dark oxidation/carbonation on the blade, or is it like actual flaes that come off, cause I'm not getting that. Just some pits from hammer blows and I'm guessing the scale, but I'm doing as Don does and keeping my anvil wet. I hear that helps according to Don.

 

I also read where someone soaked their blades in vinegar to pop off scale?

Oh next post mentions that =P

 

Sounds like at some point I might need to invest in a nice grit range of stones.

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Now for annealing, is that just air cooling from nonmagnetic, or do I need to leave it buried in the embers after bringing it up and then turn off air and let it cool even slower that way.  I read thts how you do non-ferrous, but not sure if steel is done the same way.

 

Got it backwards, dude. B) That IS how you do most simple steels. Most non-ferrous metals are annealed by heating to a low red and quenching in cold water. Air-cooling from non-magnetic on simple steels is called normalizing, and leaves steel soft-ish. Since you're using mystery metal there's no telling what exact procedure to use. For instance, air-cooling from non-magnetic on an air-hardening steel gives you a fully hardened steel.

 

Ace will have soapstone in the welding supplies, it's used to mark steel. They most likely won't have a magicut or lathe file. Gotta get those from a machine shop supplier. Look up industrial supplies in your phone book.

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So for filing, I'd want to anneal the rough shape blade by heating it up to nonmagnetic, leave it buried in the embers, shut off my blower and close my lid. (my forge gots a lid =P) which will allow it to cool even slower, softening the steel so it'd be easier to file?

 

So far my plan is to now if the above is correct, aneal the blade, shape it a bit with files. Normalize 3 times, and then go an edge quench. Going to make a little tester from some of the leftover bar stock and see which it hardens best with.

 

Was thinking that since I'm not certain the steel compostition that an edge quench might be best.

 

Planning on ordering me some quality steel from Admiral or somewhere, but curious what'd be a good starting point. Seen lots that like the 10xx series, so maybe something in that range.

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Alan- do you have more info about the magicut files? Are they harder than regular nicholson files (or other brands)? All I was able to find is that they have a special tooth offset allowing them to "cut like a double cut but leave a fine surface like a single cut". Which is great if I'm not going to then polish a blade but don't want it to be that rough.

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Edgar: Yes. Go with Admiral's 1075, it's pretty easy to deal with.

 

Kristopher: I don't think they're much harder than other files, and they do leave a smoother surface than a doublecut but not as smooth as a single cut. The best thing about them is how fast they remove metal. Think hand-powered 36-grit belt that leaves a 120-grit finish. I'd still use a big smooth-grade mill file to drawfile the blade after the magicut and before sanding.

 

Note to those unfamiliar with files: They come in different grades of fineness. We're all familiar with the "mill bastard" file. "Mill" is the shape, and the degree of tooth size and spacing goes as follows: Coarse, Bastard, Smooth, Dead Smooth, and Fine. Bastard and Coarse come in double-cut or single-cut, referring to the way the teeth are cut. If they're an X-pattern, it's double cut, which cuts faster but leaves a rougher finish than single cut.

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Alan, was this part pretty right on?

 

"So for filing, I'd want to anneal the rough shape blade by heating it up to nonmagnetic, leave it buried in the embers, shut off my blower and close my lid. (my forge gots a lid =P) which will allow it to cool even slower, softening the steel so it'd be easier to file?"

 

Also is ...ah was gonna ask about a spring steel but apparently 1075 is one.

 

"HR 1075/1080

Typical Chemistry: C .70/.88 Mn .40/.90

Stock Gauges: 1/8", 3/16", 1/4"

Sheared from plate. Other sizes & full plates up to 1/2" thick available."

 

Might go with 1/4 in if I get some as I can always thin it down, and it leaves me with thicker in case I need it.

So does this mean it has between .7-.88 carbon content and .40-.90 not familiar with Mn guessing manganese?

 

Would it be considred a high carbon steel? Thought anything close to 1 was high, and that's kinda mid high.

 

ooh I bet what that means is 1075 = C .70 and .40 Mn

and 1080 = .88 and .90 MN

 

Really need to order me those two files, the book I was wanting, and some quality steel such as that above.

 

Thanks for all this info, it's a big help.

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Tracy, will just plain old white vinegar suffice? Like you can get in the real big containers at wal-mart?

 

I figure it will, just double checking =]

 

and the thanks was for all of you. =]

 

Got a blade ready to file, just thinking I'm going to try annealing it first so it'll be softer and maybe easier to file. Then I'll do a soak in vinegar to soften scale, and have a go at it.

 

It's an integral work knife I forged out for my dad. from some steel bar stock he was using as a large stake. Gave it for a poker for the coal sin forge and I started forging it =P So hoping to give it as a gift.

 

Going to try an edge quench on it I think, Might forge out a tiny blade from some of the rest to test on. Already has a real nice balance, just in front of the handle area, which I'm going to wrap with something.

 

Something I'm wondernig. If I file the whole thing, so it's got a smooth shape to it. And then normalize it some, will it come out with a black oxidation coating on it? I won't be forging on it anymore. Was just thinking it'd look nice with the coating and just the cutting edge cleaned, kinda like some Tai has done. Looks like a good work knife and being integral makes it tougher. Might have to ask him a little eh?

 

Thanks!

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Yep, you got the annealing thing right.

 

You almost got the steel right, too! :) What that means is, the steel can be considered 1075 OR 1080, depending on how much carbon there is. Each batch from the mill has that amount of variation. In other words, the C = .70 - .88 means that's the range of carbon that is allowed by their specs. Mn is manganese, yes. It has the effect of increasing hardenability and depth of hardening, which is a mixed blessing depending on what you want to do.

 

I tend to call anything over .7% C a "high-carbon" steel, but there's no real agreement that I've noticed.

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Everything said so far is good, but yes there are better files! Get yourself a Nicholson Magicut in the largest size you can find, which I think is about 14 inches.

The Nicholson Migicut is a great file for heavy stock removal.

The last sword I made was completely hand filed with a Magicut.

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Is it common for a file to snap in half?

Maybe they're a little more brittle than I was expecting.

Noticed mine had a slight curve, so thought, I'll just give it a nudge in the vise to straighten, well I sat it between the teeth, wasn't tightened down on it, just about a half inch open. Put a slight amount of pressure and it just snapped right in half. Straight across, really smooth break too. has a small oval area of slightly rough in the center of the crosssection, but the rest around it is real smooth.

 

Kinda wonder if it was a defect in the file. Maybe hard enough to be a bit brittle.

Don't think I have the receipt still. Still works, it's just now in two short pieces.

 

 

Also, gonna test it myself, but was wondering if mild steel will harden very much? had a piece of metal I was just doing some practice forging on while waiting for my other practice blade to heat in between forgings and was wondering if it might harden much if I edge quench it. I believe it's mild steel from the sparking.

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Is it common for a file to snap in half?

Maybe they're a little more brittle than I was expecting.

Noticed mine had a slight curve, so thought, I'll just give it a nudge in the vise to straighten, well I sat it between the teeth, wasn't tightened down on it, just about a half inch open. Put a slight amount of pressure and it just snapped right in half.  Straight across, really smooth break too. has a small oval area of slightly rough in the center of the crosssection, but the rest around it is real smooth.

 

Kinda wonder if it was a defect in the file.  Maybe hard enough to be a bit brittle.

Don't think I have the receipt still.  Still works, it's just now in two short pieces.

Also, gonna test it myself, but was wondering if mild steel will harden very much?  had a piece of metal I was just doing some practice forging on while waiting for my other practice blade to heat in between forgings and was wondering if it might harden much if I edge quench it.  I believe it's mild steel from the sparking.

34624[/snapback]

 

Get good quality files, they're worth every penny. Havent had a big 14" Nicholson bend or break on me yet. And they're great blade material when they wear out.

 

If you're working with mild steel, it wont harden well enough for serious constant use as a knife. But having said that it you can still try and see what you get after heat treating... If you have a lot of this stuff, maybe you can make yourself some useful tools like tongs and stuff, its all good practice in the end.

 

Resist the temptation to have more than one iron in the fire, I tended to do that when I got started too. You'll get better results if you concentrate on one thing at a time.

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All files will snap if you try to bend them, that's one of the definitions of the term "file-hard." It's a good illustration of the heat-treat conundrum: how hard do you want it versus how brittle do you want it? The harder the brittler, generally speaking. Tempered back to be tougher, it wouldn't be quite as hard.

 

Keep one of the broken ends to show you what a good grain structure is supposed to look like. The really fine grain should ideally extend through the whole blade, though. It sounds like you had a file made of 1095, which is shallow-hardening and would show the effect you describe on the broken ends if it wasn't carefully treated to refine the grain all the way through.

 

As for mild steel, if it's A-36 structural it can harden a bit depending on what fell in the crucible that day. It's notoriously inconsistant stuff, so if you do have a hardenable piece, don't expect all of it to be that way.

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Had a feeling it wouldn't be the best stuff for hardening, but it was just mainly something I was messing around with just for the hell of it.

 

Made an integral from it, that I was gonna give my dad for a work knife, so as long as it's fairly durable, he can just sharpen it when he needs on a whetstone.

 

Had a feeling the reason it snapped was due to the heat treat on it, but was surprised about how little pressure was needed. Really isn't much grain even noticeable, it's just all a matte grey color, with a small oval of tiny roughness. Wish I had a way to photograph it. Was probably like you said about the 1095.

 

Was just a nicholson flat bastard file.

 

Have to be sure not to do that with my two good files that are on the way *laughs*

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Oh, was gonna mention that dad said the source of this bar I was using was the king that they drive into the ground under mobile/modular homes that tie downs are hooked to.

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I use files almost exclusively for stock reduction. Getting the steel soft to begin with is the first important step. Water hardening steels can air cool, but oil hardening steels need to cool a bit slower. I just leave them in the forge to cool instead of bringing them out. Secondly, it is important to "Descale" the blade prior to filing. The scale is harder than the steel itself and will dull the file. The fire scale can be taken off with stones, chemicals or sand blasting.

 

I've noticed, just over the last year that the quality of the common popualr hardware store files (like Nicholson) has gone way down. They don't come as sharp and they don't last near as long. Considering they average about $10 a pop,... what a real bummer! It's dull after one blade!

 

I may have to completely switch over to some high grade Swiss precision files, like "Grobet", which cost about three times as much. I've used a few before and they are "much" higher quality.

 

Grobet!... Because I'm serious about files! :)

http://www.grobetusa.com/Products/grobetsw...isionfiles.html

You can't do a sharp job with a dull file!

 

Filing tip:

You can use the edge, corner or round side of a file in place of a sen type scraper for rapid stock removal.

Edited by Tai

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Tai, if you need some files I have a ton of good old files. they are in great condition and can cut anything.

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Tai, if you have a Sears near you get Craftsman files. When they dull up, take them back for new ones. If I had one near me, that is what I would do, its what I used to do anyway. Best part - they don't ask any questions about it! But you can only get the same type file, so buy a set of everything that you might need then keep exchanging them.

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