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ATLSteve

Knife Making Bevel angle Newbie question

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Ok, I am going to make a bevel jig. I have watched several youtube channels; I think I know how to make one, but please, any suggestions are welcome. I am basing my jig design off of Walter Sorrells version.

The question is, how do you determine what angle to set the jig at?. Do you keep increasing the angle until you reach the desired edge thickness before the heat treatment? or do you set it at the desired bevel angle, for example, 20º

Thanks 

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6 hours ago, ATLSteve said:

Do you keep increasing the angle until you reach the desired edge thickness before the heat treatment?

 

This.  And it's not just edge thickness, but bevel height as well.
If you are making one to use with your 2x72.  Experiment on mild steel of the same stock thickness and height.  Measure how far your have advanced your set screws and write those down so the next time you have stock of the same dimensions, you have a good chart to go by.

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10 hours ago, Wes Detrick said:

 

This.  And it's not just edge thickness, but bevel height as well.
 

What if you reach your desired edge thickness (before heat treatment) before your bevel height

 

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Then you change the angle to fix it. Lean the edge away from the belt a bit, in other words.  

This is why I don't recommend jigs except for production work.  Freehand is much easier once you've got some practice behind you.

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I know the Sorrells design you're talking about, and the best thing about it is the lack of moving parts. I originally made my own jig using two plates of mild steel, hinges, eye bolt, etc. The biggest flaw in this is the amount of moving parts. All assembled tightly, there was still slack that eventually found its way into the jig. This is because when using parts that do not have tight tolerances, and are not meant for this type of wear/tear, they will begin to show their true quality. 

If you're looking to make one, make it with few to no moving parts. 
If you're looking to buy, then just do yourself a favor and buy one, cry once. White bone knives has a great looking bevel jig, among many other makers. 

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Just my opinion here.

Forget the bevel jig. Build yourself a center line scribe and mark the centerline of the edge. Make sure you have two lines running down the edge with about the thickness of a dime between them.

 

For a full flat grind, grind the bevel to the line on each side and keep about 1/4" away from the edge of the spine. Go to HT. Straighten, re-scribe the center lines and repeat the grinding process pushing the bevel down to desired edge thickness and just about 1/16' to 1/8" away from the edge of the spine. Finish as desired.

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Also just my opinion here, but I second everything Joshua said. 

 

I think bevel jigs limit your skills.

 

Learning freehand is a little tricky at first, but it pays dividends once you get it.

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And just to jump on the dog pile, what everyone else is saying about free handing is the best advice of all.  Free handing will force you to develop a "feel" for it in ways that jigs never will.  You will also have a nice pile of failed pieces of sh*t on your bench as well to show how far you've come.

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5 minutes ago, Wes Detrick said:

And just to jump on the dog pile, what everyone else is saying about free handing is the best advice of all.  Free handing will force you to develop a "feel" for it in ways that jigs never will.  You will also have a nice pile of failed pieces of sh*t on your bench as well to show how far you've come.

And then you can take all those pieces of s$&@ and try forge welding them into a single piece of s$&@

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Oh! I never considered doing that with my pile! I normally just try to ignore it :lol:

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Yes I understand that free handing is best, but I think you have to have a rough idea of what you are trying to accomplish. I have read when starting out to use a jig to start the bevel and then move to free hand to finish it. That way, you have an established angle to work from. This makes sense to me  

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In the trades , there is a old way of thinking that goes use the biggest tool you can till one more stroke will ruin he work, never use a knife if an axe will do, never use a file if a knife will work. ...ect. Sure hand skills need development, but .....there will be plenty of time and need to develop the finer points, my personal experience,after hand grinding several blades , started using a machine angle vice to rough in bevels and centers , and low and behold everything got ...”better”.... so what is good? What are the goals? Is tool selection a part of being good? Are we tool makers or tool users? Does a bevel jig,....define the work? Or limit our capacity for craftsmanship or possibly open doors to further exploration...? Questions 

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1 hour ago, James M. jones said:

Does a bevel jig,....define the work? Or limit our capacity for craftsmanship

 

In my opinion, yes.  If all we were doing was grinding bevels on a straight flat bit of steel like a planer knife, a jig is absolutely required to maintain the uniformity demanded by the machine it has to fit.  With hand-held knives, especially forged knives (this being the bladesmith's forum and all), you'll find yourself unable to account for distal tapers and the changing geometries of a rapidly narrowing blade that curves to a point, since the jig can only produce a flat straight line.  Sure, you can make a tapering jig, and follow it with a bevel jig set to account for that taper, but none of them can account for a curve.  Well, I suppose someone could and probably has come up with a 5-axis CNC grinding jig that can do that, but that takes all the craftsmanship out of it.  Is it better? It may be more uniform.

 

Note to Steve: This is not an attack on your desire to use a jig for this blade, or on stock-removal only knives.  This is simply my personal opinion on why I do what I do and has no bearing on what you or anyone else wants to do or why. ;)  Your question about "wouldn't a jig help you figure out the right angles to then move on to freehand grinding when you feel ready" is a good one, and the answer is yes,  it would.  

 

I do this ("this" being defined as making blades, be they knives, swords, or axes) to forge blades to shape.  This means no jig can be used, because there is no uniformity from blade to blade, and often from one part of the blade to the next, swords with a non-linear distal taper being a prime case.   Symmetrical double-edged blades would be a pain to make a jig for as well, because as the blade gets narrower the angle of the grind keeps changing.  Add fullers to the equation and increase the difficulty.  When I do pure stock removal as for folders, I sometimes use a jig to set the plunges, and I can certainly see how one would be handy for those tiny blades, if for no other reason than to be able to hang on to them.  I just think, again purely an opinion, that having the ability to freehand a funky-shaped object adds a few new dimensions to your skillset.

 

It all comes down to personal philosophy.  I'm just a part-timer (at the moment), but I've been doing this most weekends for 20 years.  The first eight or nine of those years I didn't have a grinder other than an angle grinder, and I was full-time for two of those grinderless years making tomahawks.  Plus my interests are in stuff that looks handmade.  As close to flawless as possible, but hand made.  Some folks like the opposite, the flawless untouched-by-human-hands look. That's fine too!  

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1 hour ago, Alan Longmire said:

s close to flawless as possible, but hand made.  Some folks like the opposite, the flawless untouched-by-human-hands look.

 

As both a traditionalist bladesmith and a CNC machinist, this is a dichotomy that burns within me whenever I make anything. 

 

I would argue that he who make a blade entirely using CNC equipment is no less a craftsman than he who forges it damn near to finish. 

 

Writing CNC programs is not necessarily easy, it's a skill that takes knowledge as well as practice to get right. Knowledge and application of proper tooling as well as understanding of machining in general is no less impressive than knowing where the metal will move to when you strike it. 

 

Would it be more impressive if someone made a knife entirely on a Bridgeport and surface grinder than if someone used a CNC mill?

 

If the answer is yes, what is the difference between a surface grinder or a 2x72 belt grinder? We consider those who use belt grinder craftsmen. The end result is the same, and both required a human hand to guide the machine. 

 

I smell a philosophical debate on the wind... :ph34r:

Edited by Will W.

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4 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

 

In my opinion, yes.  If all we were doing was grinding bevels on a straight flat bit of steel like a planer knife, a jig is absolutely required to maintain the uniformity demanded by the machine it has to fit.  With hand-held knives, especially forged knives (this being the bladesmith's forum and all), you'll find yourself unable to account for distal tapers and the changing geometries of a rapidly narrowing blade that curves to a point, since the jig can only produce a flat straight line.  Sure, you can make a tapering jig, and follow it with a bevel jig set to account for that taper, but none of them can account for a curve.  Well, I suppose someone could and probably has come up with a 5-axis CNC grinding jig that can do that, but that takes all the craftsmanship out of it.  Is it better? It may be more uniform.

 

Note to Steve: This is not an attack on your desire to use a jig for this blade, or on stock-removal only knives.  This is simply my personal opinion on why I do what I do and has no bearing on what you or anyone else wants to do or why. ;)  Your question about "wouldn't a jig help you figure out the right angles to then move on to freehand grinding when you feel ready" is a good one, and the answer is yes,  it would.  

 

I do this ("this" being defined as making blades, be they knives, swords, or axes) to forge blades to shape.  This means no jig can be used, because there is no uniformity from blade to blade, and often from one part of the blade to the next, swords with a non-linear distal taper being a prime case.   Symmetrical double-edged blades would be a pain to make a jig for as well, because as the blade gets narrower the angle of the grind keeps changing.  Add fullers to the equation and increase the difficulty.  When I do pure stock removal as for folders, I sometimes use a jig to set the plunges, and I can certainly see how one would be handy for those tiny blades, if for no other reason than to be able to hang on to them.  I just think, again purely an opinion, that having the ability to freehand a funky-shaped object adds a few new dimensions to your skillset.

 

It all comes down to personal philosophy.  I'm just a part-timer (at the moment), but I've been doing this most weekends for 20 years.  The first eight or nine of those years I didn't have a grinder other than an angle grinder, and I was full-time for two of those grinderless years making tomahawks.  Plus my interests are in stuff that looks handmade.  As close to flawless as possible, but hand made.  Some folks like the opposite, the flawless untouched-by-human-hands look. That's fine too!  

Quite an astute response, and I heartily agree on all points. 

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Will, you are correct!  I certainly can't program CNC machines, and I am impressed by those who can.  At least one of the major sword companies (Albion) does their consumer grade line entirely on a CNC mill.  And that's great, because it's totally reproducible and makes interchangeable parts.  If I ever go into production I might be giving you a call.  B)

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On 10/11/2019 at 6:10 AM, ATLSteve said:

Yes I understand that free handing is best, but I think you have to have a rough idea of what you are trying to accomplish. I have read when starting out to use a jig to start the bevel and then move to free hand to finish it. That way, you have an established angle to work from. This makes sense to me  

First of all, I don't think "free handing is best" is a universally accepted truth. It just works better for some folks than it does for others. If you eventually are going to move to a freehand method, it just makes more sense to me (from a time and effort perspective) to learn the initial steps with the final step's methodology. You can set the initial bevels in a controlled manner without the bevel jig, and as Alan has pointed out, with the complex geometry involved in curves, tapers, and bevels, jigs definitely have their limitations. You always end up establishing the bevels in some areas freehand. Also, "freehand" is a subjective term. I think there are two camps in the grinding debate. Workrest grinders and totally freehand grinders. I am a workrest grinder.

 

Now comes my opportunity to pitch my videos on grinding. 

https://youtu.be/_5WtQOWoc4s

 

https://youtu.be/il88qhfoJnQ

 

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