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This title may surprise some of you, coming from me as it is with my constant emphasis on learning to grind freehand.  And I still think freehand is the best way to do large blades, and the only way to do certain complex historical grinds.  Folders, however, are another story.   They have to be precise, and it's darned near impossible to grind folder blades while holding them in hand, since they have extremely short tangs and get too hot to hold very fast.

 

I was bumbling along with a make-do extended handle thing (basically clamping the little blades to a chunk of 1x3/8 flat bar), but that didn't give me the control I wanted.  After blowing another folder blade grind last week I determined I had to make something that would improve my chances of success with folders, which at the moment sits at about 80% satisfactory, 20% failure, with failure defined as having to re-do a blade or spring or, in one case, faulty action after assembly.

 

So I built a folder blade jig.  It's a copy of Chris Crawford's, as seen in this video:  

 

 

When he said he got the idea from Alex Daniels at Batson's hammer-in a few years ago I was sold.  Alex was the best historical bowie reproducer I've ever known, much of which depended on building tools to make things like all-silver sheaths or stamped pommel parts like the originals.  Anyway, you can watch the video to see how it works, but I got to try mine today for the first time. Worked absolutely like a dream.  Cut my grind time by at least 75%.

 

  jig 1.jpg

 

Here's the freshly-finished jig with a profiled blade installed.  I have a box of #2-56 socket-head cap screws ordered to replce the M2 slotted screw holding the blade. The pivoting support arm screw is threaded #10-32, and the angle adjustment screw is 1/4-28.  The body is 2" x 1/8" angle, flattened and squared. The baseplate is 1/8" paper micarta. Chris used two hinges, I screwed that up (JB-weld can run into hinge barrels, did you know that?) and had to make a new baseplate and used a larger, single hinge.  It has a little play, but not enough to bother.

 

jig 2.jpg

 

Side view. 

 

jig 3.jpg

 

In use.  Here you can see the little brass pad I put under the angle adjustment screw. It's a hardened cup point like a set screw and would chew a hole in the micarta if I didn't.

 

And now, first blade completed!

 

jig 4.jpg

 

When I got into the higher grits it took longer to change the belts and adjust tracking than it did to grind.  What used to take me an hour or so with lots of dipping in water and corrections for slips and angle adjustment took about 15 minutes, including turning the blade over halfway through.  And this was the first time I've tried it.  I'm happy! B)

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I had that worry as well, thus the rough surface and broad screw head.  I think the bolt in the tang also helps.  I also used a fine pitch screw, since thise provide higher torque than coarse threads. So far so good!  Once it has a little rust it'll hold even tighter.  Well, the support thing is stainless, but the angle is not.

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Well now, that is one very cool grinding jig. I noticed that you ran the point of the blade further off the end of the jig than Chris did in is video. Any issues with that?

 

Edited by Joshua States
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No issues at all.  Rock solid. But then that blade is only two inches long.  This jig can take blades from 1.5 inches up to about six inches or so.  Of course, the bigger the blade the greater the force, which might cause issues with the support arm.  If I run into issues like that down the road I'll let you know.

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I have mixed feelings about this.......I pride myself in free hand grinding, but those little folder blades is a whole different game.

Never before messed up my fingers so much, bunch of white spots with a red dot in the middle where I ground through to the quick, nevermind the semi-cooked fingertips.

 

Still, once you get jiggy with the dark side it's downhill from there.:ph34r:

 

Nice jig Alan 

 

 

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damn, new tools almost never work that smoothly. good job. I haven't checked in enough. I knew you mentioned making some folders when I said they were the one thing that intimidated me. I would remake the Sutton Hoo sword before I would make a slip-joint or lock back. More chance of getting it right, too (not necessarily a lot, but more).

 

Looking forward to seeing what you make. Registration for Ashokan Sword is open. Register and come see us!

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4 hours ago, Kevin Colwell said:

damn, new tools almost never work that smoothly. good job. I haven't checked in enough. I knew you mentioned making some folders when I said they were the one thing that intimidated me. I would remake the Sutton Hoo sword before I would make a slip-joint or lock back. More chance of getting it right, too (not necessarily a lot, but more).

 

Looking forward to seeing what you make. Registration for Ashokan Sword is open. Register and come see us!

 

I've done maybe eight complete folders over the last two years, and have posted a few of them.  They are a different kind of complex compared to Migration Era pattern-welding, and as such they each make a nice break from the other.  And remember I've done the faux garnet cloisonné as well.  One of these days when I get good enough at folders I can see a folding seax with garnet cloisonné panels...  If I get really good it might even be a switchblade seax... :ph34r::lol:

 

I wish I could take any credit for the jig design, but like I said, Alex Daniels introduced it to Chris Crawford, and I took it from there.  But yes, it's rare that a new tool performs as advertised when made by the mechanically inept!  Just shows how good a design it really is. 

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3 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Registration for Ashokan Sword is open. Register and come see us!

 

Forgot to address this, sorry...

 

As much as I'd love to, I don't think I'll be making it this year.  It's always a blast to hang out up there, though.

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