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Tar for holding a knife blank


Conan Dunlap

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1 hour ago, Conan Dunlap said:

I recall a while ago I saw someone post something about a tar like material that was used to hold a knife blank for hand sanding.  I tried searching for this but I don't remember what it was called.  Does anyone have any experience with this or a recipe for this?

 Cutler's resin? 

 

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Pitch is probably what you are thinking of.  There is also dop wax used in the lapidary arts to hold stones while grinding and polishing them.  Both are heat sensitive so hand sanding or wet grinding only.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for all of your replies.  I have been working a ton lately and haven't made time for my knife work.

 

I think it was a pitch based substance, I saw a post where an individual would heat the material, mount the blade in it, and hand sand one side at a time while the pitch substance held the knife solidly. 

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The guy who taught me to engrave uses 5-minute epoxy.  Mix up a big blob on a piece of wood that fits your vise, set your piece in it, go have a cup of coffee, engrave, polish, etc, and when you want it to release hit it with a propane torch flame for a few seconds and it'll pop right off with no residue.  

 

Bondo (auto body filler) is the same idea, just takes a little longer to set.

 

But, since your original question was to hold the blade for hand sanding, for that I just clamp it to a board by the tang.  I can see where a big pitch tray would have advantages for certain blades, like all-steel integral handles, but it seems like more trouble than it's worth to me, at least for that specific purpose.  

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On 10/1/2022 at 1:07 PM, Alan Longmire said:

 

But, since your original question was to hold the blade for hand sanding, for that I just clamp it to a board by the tang.  I can see where a big pitch tray would have advantages for certain blades, like all-steel integral handles, but it seems like more trouble than it's worth to me, at least for that specific purpose.  

It may well be.  I am always struggling to get the blade firmly clamped so that it doesn't wiggle slightly during hand sanding.

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On 10/2/2022 at 6:13 PM, Conan Dunlap said:

It may well be.  I am always struggling to get the blade firmly clamped so that it doesn't wiggle slightly during hand sanding.

When I first started making knives I bought a poplar 2x2 because I thought it would make good wood for handles. It turned into the most useful tool in my shop, as I now put it in a vice whenever I want something to clamp down to; the whole thing is stained dark grey from eight years of steel dust. I find that little scraps of wood placed strategically under the tip can help prevent wiggling for blades that are long and/or thin. 

 

I use a pitch bowl for carving and engraving, the recipe I use for pitch is 750 g pine rosin, 1000 g plaster of paris, 50 ml of vegetable oil, and a spoonful of black pigment powder. You may save some money (maybe) and you get control over the consistency if you want something special. You need to be super careful working with hot pitch though! For engraving on swords, I have seen people get a thick layer of pitch on a board to hold the blade, though as Alan said, clamping will be a lot less hassle. 

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10 hours ago, Aiden CC said:

When I first started making knives I bought a poplar 2x2 because I thought it would make good wood for handles. It turned into the most useful tool in my shop, as I now put it in a vice whenever I want something to clamp down to; the whole thing is stained dark grey from eight years of steel dust. 

Lol, I have a really nasty looking piece of 2x4 that just happened to be within arms reach the first time I needed to start hand sanding a blade.  It lives under my bench vise now, and is similarly stained black from all of the steel dust that has soaked into it.  I clamp it on edge in the vise, and use quick clamps to hold the blade down.

 

+1 on little wood shims to keep the blade stable.  Little bits of scrap leather work as well.

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-Brian

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1 hour ago, Brian Dougherty said:

Little bits of scrap leather work as well.

 

That's what I use on my board.  I even planed one edge of the board true flat, but that's not necessary.  I actually have two sanding boards.  One is an oak 2x2 about 18 inches long with a divot near one end, used for smaller knives and integrals, the other is a four foot length of pine 2x4 that fits between the two vises on the bench for long blades.

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