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Beginner in need of tool list!!


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Hey all! I hope I posted this in the correct section. I’m so grateful this site exists!! I recently took a knife making class and I’m hooked. We had 15 hours to complete our knives, and there’s more I’d like to grind on mine. I’ve been researching beginners tools for a month, there are so many options I feel more confused than when I left the class. We used thousand dollar equipment which was nice, but I’m looking for cheaper options. Suggestions of tools and brands would be very helpful. :) 

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Tool list at what level stock removal or forging? If you are grinding your knife to shape your tool list will be a lot smaller and cheaper than if you are forging the blade then finish grinding it.

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First question I always ask is:

 

a) are you good at scrounging and fabricating simple things like a chunk of steel, a source of heat, a decent hammer, etc.?

or

b) do you have money to spend?

 

I started forging with a piece of railroad track for an anvil, a coal forge made from an old air tank and a vacuum cleaner, a Tractor Supply hammer and some flea market tongs. Over time I would earn a little, trade a little, keep my eyes open, and slowly build a decent shop. Still nothing compared to what some of these guys have, but I'm happy... just not done yet.

 

If you have the bucks and the skill to justify it, you can skip straight to the good stuff and get busy. Anvil, forge, grinder, etc... your talking a big start-up investment if you do it that way.

 

On the other hand, you could be making stock removal knives with a very minimal investment and a lot of hand work.

 

But, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it B)

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This might be worth watching if you're just starting:

 

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Forging or stock removal, you will need files. Check out:

 

A selection of abrasives (80 grit to 600 at least but as high as you want)

 

An angle grinder is quite useful.


A drill or (preferably) a good drill press

 

A vice


This video by Walter Sorrells will help


and, of course: Welcome to the madness.

Edited by Charles dP
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Thank you!! I prefer using my hands over the ‘high tech’ stuff just because I have more control over the finished product, and who wouldn’t want to spend as much time as possible in their happy place? :p Slow and steady wins the race I’ve entered myself into! Up-cycling is my specialty, but new to the knifemaking aspects of it. At our class we were told it’s very difficult to find good scrap steel nowadays where a lot is made in China. I like the idea of starting small, being as creative as possible, and feeling my way through the tools I’d find more useful. At this time I have $500 to spend. Really appreciate everyone’s input! 

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Bwaaa Haaa Haaa Haaa, the craft snares another one :)

 

I'm a tool junkie, so follow the other's advice on minimalist ways to get started.

 

I just wanted to encourage you to start slow and small.  The tool disease will create it's own momentum to buy bigger and better toys, and there is no need to help it along at this point.  I suggest you reserve 80% of your budget until after you have made a dozen knives.  By then you will have developed a much more informed opinion on what will work the best for you. 

 

Welcome to the madness!

 

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As others have said, Welcome to the madness.

 

If you are going to be forging, you may want to consider https://www.oldworldanvils.com/online-shop/f6vyywlyq2rlj8j944w102cnog43yc instead of a full anvil. You will be amazed how much knife work you can do on one of these (and not nearly the outlay ).

 

You will probably read this a lot on this site, but consider buying known steel. It's a known quantity (you know how it should act in the forge and HT), and it's REALLY not that expensive. 48 x 1.5 x 0.25 inches of 1084 at NJ Steel Baron is $35. You will make a lot of knives from that (unless you're making swords :lol:).

 

If you really want to use junkyard steel, take a look at this to help you get started https://www.anvilfire.com/article.php?bodyName=/FAQs/junkyard_steel.htm

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Welcome Britt.

 

Fair warning, forging can be an addiction.  If you insist on continuing, I would suggest you find your local metal supplier.  You will need them for all sorts of stock and tools they would have on hand.  For stock removal, you would ideally want a good belt grinder.  They can be built fairly easily with or without a welder and even using wooden wheels.   A Drill Press helps immensely, even a small one will out work anyone with a hand drill.  If you want to stay old school, then you need a vise, just all around useful.  Avoid cast iron ones if you  can  for heavy work.  Cast steel, or forged would be a better investment..  Post vise's are nice, but not necessary for stock removal.   Double what Alan said about files.  You need them.  I've picked up most of mine at yard sales or swap meets over the years.  If forging, what is the heat source ?  Gas or Solid fuel ?  And what size stock are you looking to work?  Your answers will decide what sort of tools and supplies you will need.  Forges of either type can be built easily and cheap, depending on the size.   If you are looking for real bare bones kind of work, then you will need a hack saw too.  But I would recommend getting a cheap name brand box store angle grinder and a collection of cutting/grinding/sanding discs.  They help a lot.    Most importantly, I would take advantage of this site and the information it contains, with the right knowledge you can make most of the tools you might need.    Tongs are always useful too.  About 1000 different variety out there I think.    Bolt everything down.

 

Good luck down the rabbit hole...

Edited by Bruno
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As others have said, welcome.  You should have a look at the pinned topics in the various forums.  I'd start in Tools and Tool Making.  Here are a couple to get started on.  The fact that I wrote them is hardly important.

 

That should keep you for a while, but there are a lot of other good ones as well.

 

g

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If you can, I would go back and talk with the instructor you took the class from.  His/her shop would be an excellent place to see what you need.  If that's not possible, visit your local blacksmith group, most often, some of them will also be bladesmiths and will have a wealth of knowledge/advice to share.

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I will repeat the welcome that others have given. 

While I have no intention on being the downer here, if that's you in the picture, I'd try to stick with as simple/minimal as possible for a while, at least until you get your own place.  One thing I learned in the past few years, after being diagnosed with a mild seizure disorder and having to give up driving, is that it's not easy to move even a small shop of blacksmithing stuff when you no longer have your own truck.

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If you have a flea market nearby, they can be a good place to get things like files--those too rusty to file can still be forged into other things-- and hammers (often lots cheaper to buy a head without a handle and get a new handle at a different table). Unfortunately people seem to think anvils are gold now, so I haven't seen one at the flea market for several years. Every so often a post vice or coal forge shows up, but they have become pricier too as interest in forging has grown.

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I got lucky at a shop similar to Harbour Freight in Canada called Princess Auto where I scored a very nice actual 110 pound steel anvil for a fraction of what people wanted for an older one online. Obviously YMMV on that, farm supply stores up here have 3lb cross-peen hammers for $15 that work perfectly well so it can be quite cheap.

 

It was a lot easier to find used kit in the before times, at least up here in Canada. Lockdowns don't make for effective scavenging... though neither does it being -30 lately.

 

I'm new to this myself and watching this with interest. 

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Thanks for everyone’s input. Brian, I love being able to call the items I will find, my toys!! No longer will it be a ‘tool box’, but ‘toy box’ will take precedence! :D Budgeting and practice sounds about right. I like the idea of making a dozen knives before I go further. Thank you for that!!! And I’m so very happy to have had an opportunity in my area to practice the craft and take part in the madness. 

Bill, thank you for the resources, I’ve been doing a lot of research on where to find anvils and I’ve found that asking everyone you encounter, even random people at gas stations, is the best route. Not to say that I’m antisocial but in the tone of Sinatra, that wouldn’t be ‘My Way’! :P I’d love to make a sword at some point. Finding/making a big enough heat source would be fun! Bruno, I’ve forged once and I’m hooked! No sense in denying that urge! It sounds like you know your blacksmithing. Thanks for your knowledge. Finding a local metal supplier is on my list of things to do now. (No scoffing, as I said I’m a beginner! :p) I learned from the class that a drill press is absolutely necessary. (At least for me at this point!:lol:) Since the day I read your post, ‘bolt everything down’ has ringed a little tune in my ear every day. If anything opposing happens in the future I’ll hear, ‘he told you so’, ! :P. For the cutting/grinding/sanding discs, is there a specific brand you’d recommend? I hear the quality of the discs makes the machine, and correct me if I’m wrong. Geoff, thanks for your smarts and the resources. Where anvils are very hard to find I appreciate other options. Making the burner system would be awesome if I had that kind of confidence in myself doing so. I hope I get there. The class I went to has an additional class where we make our own forge in a very clever and inexpensive way. (Empty and full propane tank...not for swords). Advice about this method is also very welcome. I’ve seen things made with a blow dryer and felt more comfortable, but maybe that’s because I’m a girl... :lol:  Nonetheless, I appreciate the time you took to send over your own resources. I‘ve had a look at the forums on this site, but felt none were to my specific knowledge, and made my own post. (I am a beginner here! :p) But this could change as I research and learn more! And thank you for contributing. Gerald, I will be contacting our instructor however, during the class it was, “you get these classes for so much, or you get your own tools for much more”. I’d really like to take the knowledge I get from here and there and pursue from home. It truly seems it would be more inexpensive this way, though knowledge is priceless. Billy, you’re no downer, and I’m sorry for your misfortune. I agree, I’m going to start small, that’s what I’m comfortable with. Michael, I am a fan of flea markets, but they are rare in my area. Every so often they’re open. We get more drift wood than anything else, but I’ll keep my search on! Thanks! Jason, I’m near Canada and have been looking into farrier shops nearby, but what a stretch and price for an anvil. I’m on this site now and will continue to follow and contribute with hopes of feedback in the future! Down the rabbit hole I go. <3

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I was just watching a knife making book review on YouTube and though it may be useful for people starting out. The book is called ‘Knives You Can Make’ and is written by Tim McCreight.

 

Here’s the link to the review:

 

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Welcome to the madness.... 

considering all the wonderful advice you have already been given regarding forges and tools and toys and fun, one additional item I know helped me out a ton when I first started is this.  Infact I still use this process any time I am trying to figure out how I am going to grind something I have never ground before ( like false edges on a harpoon point ) or working with very thin material that I will hose up on my belt grinder. 


 

 

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Here's another minimalist video I came across earlier:

 

 

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I would like to recommend to you [i]The Master Bladesmith[/i] by Jim Hrisoulas and keep it by your bedside for light reading.  As far as tools go you might find some hammers at a hardware store that aren't too heavy.  I also started out with  files.  Get the biggest bastard file that you can find for the initial hogging off the steel and getting rid of the dings.  Smaller files in 2nd and smooth cuts will help you refine the surface before going to sandpaper.  Speaking of files, get a file card and use it frequently and look  up draw filing.

 

Glad to have you aboard.

 

Doug

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One other thing that I just noticed in rechecking you photos.  Get rid of that glove on your hammer hand.  It will rob you of control.  A welder's glove is better for your off hand.  It will protect your lower arm better and will be faster to get off if you overheat it, and you will overheat your gloves.

 

Doug

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