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New Cleaver and a Pretty Failure...


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Hey All,


Just finished these 2 up recently.    First we have a cleaver/nakiri made of leaf spring with a desert cat's claw handle.



Nice one to add to the collection:



I've been very pleased with the performance of the big one,  minces garlic and chops frozen meat, and the edge stay's sharp.  Slits and cuts bread dough with ease,  bit me a couple times too.  The owner of the little one also has been very pleased,   hasn't even needed a sharpening yet and is used everyday.   Hopefully it goes well for the owner of the new one.


And here is the Pretty failure,  err or  Pretty Good failure:




I got it very Sharp and Thin.  It shaves arm hair with ease,  but when going at the face it Irritates  WAY too much.    I think it's cuz of the damascus.   I think that's why you don't see many damascus razors,  at least without a monosteel edge.   I believe I got the heat treat and temper spot on,  but when I get to the burr,  I can see it break apart into it's respective layers.   Probably why it's catching the whiskers so much.   Any insights from anyone whose ever made a razor ?    


Otherwise,   it feels great in the hand.     Will keep it around for cutting leather and such,  which is like butter.


Edited by Bruno
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Look good ! whats the blade finish on the chef's ? - or is it some crazy alloy banding ?


Ive never made a razor, but have made a lot of thin kitchen knives - your razor looks really thick, chunky and inconsistent along the edge, have you got a 'choil' shot of it ? Razors are usually hollow ground, and the edge is a bead of light, even in photos.

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Thanks John,


On the cleaver, I finish to 600 grit,  then I soak in ferric for about an hour.   I find it really helps with rust on these leaf springs.   I do clay quench for a differential heat treat.     Sometimes I get, it's not hamon,  but I do get a little pattern of sorts.   Not sure whats going with it.   It's hit or miss on any patterning,  seems to depend on the thickness of the piece.  The ferric really brings out the grain.


Hard to get a good pic of the razor,   Not as thin as it could be I guess,   had a hard time with the hollow grind on this one.



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Nice looking cleavers, Bruno.  I take it that desert cat's claw is a regional wood, possibly with some mean thorns.


Don't look at the razor as a failure, look on it as a lesson to learn from.



HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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Def a nice finish on the Nakiri!


The razor does look chunky in those photos - As I said I have never made one, but just googled straight razor grinds out of curiosity.


The thickest common grind seems to be a 'full wedge' which looks like a full flat grind to zero. They seem to get progressively thinner from there !


Ive spent quite a bit of time getting chefs knives to cut properly, once you get into the subtleties of edge geometry of sharp blades it gets quite interesting, and a bit addictive, and very frustrating. I was grinding to .012" just behind the edge which I thought was thin. I saw other makers talking about 0.006" behind edge, It dawned on me that that's 1/2 the thickness ! - You really have very little margin for error, or material there when you are going for 'sharp sharp'.


I've not summed up the confidence to try and make a straight razor yet!

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It's my understanding that if you're going to do a straight razor with a hollow, the grind needs to come back quite a good distance toward the spine. razors are measured in 8ths, with a common size being a 7/8 or 6/8. So the hollow on a 7/8 razor should probably come back around 5/8ths of the overall width. Yours seems to be much closer to the edge. 

And that's with all the grind types. 


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On 11/3/2019 at 11:02 AM, Doug Lester said:

I take it that desert cat's claw is a regional wood, possibly with some mean thorns.


You got that right Doug.   Don't want to get caught up in it.    Mostly bushes around here, but the old pieces that grew big is almost like ironwood.  Same family I think.

I've had some pieces with a real orange color to them.


On 11/3/2019 at 3:02 PM, John N said:

once you get into the subtleties of edge geometry of sharp blades it gets quite interesting, and a bit addictive, and very frustrating


Yes frustrating indeed.  Just need more practice I guess.   I was hesitant to hollow grind before heat treat, so I left it as a wedge.   Then afterwards the hollow grind was not going well, and I probably lost 1/8" of my original edge just trying to get it right.  Plus the problems with overheating.   Just went fubar from there.    Ended up as the shape you see.   I think part of the problem is my sander setup, only have a 6" contact wheel, and the drive pulley gets in the way sometimes.  Although I've had success with a hollow grind on larger blades.     Again, more practice I guess.   I'll try the next one on a less costly piece of steel.


Did come out pretty dang sharp though,  slices into skin more than shaves.


On 11/4/2019 at 7:14 AM, Cason Hicks said:

measured in 8ths


Thanks for the info and pic Cason,  didn't know about the 8th''s thing.     I have a couple of old European razors somewhere, I'll have to find and look at closely.   Try to get closer to the proper shape.


Although, I could never get those to shave well either,   maybe it's not really hair on my face and just fine wires from years of grinding on there ?


Thanks Guys

    Edited by Bruno
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    Straight razors are very technical blades. They 100% can be done entirely from damascus, if you are having the different layers react differently mechanically, then you most likely haven't gotten the heat treat down perfectly, or you did not allow enough time/heat for carbon migration (unlikely except in very low, thick layer billets). It's possible that the alloys you are using in Damascus aren't ideal, but i don't think that should be a big deal. I would also not underestimate the importance of the grind! Most makers use small wheels for a hollow grind that goes almost all the way to the spine. Just shaving arm hair easily won't be enough for a comfortable shave on the face. Most straight razor users sharpen up to at least 12k on stones and or use a strop (necessary if you are using lower grit stones).


    I would recommend buying some antique straight razors online (they are cheap) and spend a little time fixing them up and studying the geometry and figuring out what it takes to get a pre made one working on your own face. Then you can pretty easily transfer into making your own from scratch. That's what I did at least!


    Hope this helps, and honestly I think you're on the right track. That "failure" will definitely be indispensable as a tool for learning! The other blades look great as well! 

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