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What do you guys use to design your blades?


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I was wondering what people use to "get there design on paper". I have absolutely no skill in drawing. I've tried using Paint, but couldn't get a straight line to save my life. I've done one design in Microsoft Word that came out okay, but it is very hard to show the dimensions of the blade. Only good for flat representation.

 

So, is there a designing program out there that people use to draw out templates of designs?

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I was wondering what people use to "get there design on paper". I have absolutely no skill in drawing. I've tried using Paint, but couldn't get a straight line to save my life. I've done one design in Microsoft Word that came out okay, but it is very hard to show the dimensions of the blade. Only good for flat representation.

 

So, is there a designing program out there that people use to draw out templates of designs?

 

Basically every CAD or Drawing Program (Adobe Illustrator & Co) which can draw splines and bezier-courves will do...

 

but depending on how far you actually want to take it, a CAD Programm will always have the edge over a "design-drawing" program such as illustrator, as it can draw precisly to measurments...

 

I use various systems today depending whether I'm at home (where I have a nice MAC (I don't like windows)) or at the shop (Where I couldn't yet afford a mac and use a friends old pc).....

 

But for Windows I can recommend:

- TurboCad (the deluxe edition has everything you'd need for folders &fixed blades and even if you do standard technical drawings)... that one is "cheap" and quite capable

- Corel has some sort of technical illustrator out - I've heard it's quite good and not too expensive, but I've never used it...

- Adobe Illustrator (it's the fastest if you just want sketches, but quite expensive too)

 

For Mac:

- TurboCad (doesn't have the same interface or feature set as the windows version - it's a VERY Different product - but enough for blades)

- Vectorworks (it's expensive though) - it's a top thing and costs a fortune, but does everything - precisely and quickly.

- ViaCad (that is maybe the cheapest you can go ... between 70-90$ ... it's basically the same as turbocad but a little bit less advanced (it looks the same... on the surface).

- Adobe Illustrator

 

Other than that there are a couple of Opensource (Read "free of cost") programs which will get the job done, but lack support and often are ok for basic things but not for complicated stuff:

- Inkscape (http://www.inkscape.org/download/?lang=en) is basically a Vector-drawing program like Illustrator, but less capable (it's getting better though) and runs on Linux, Windows and MAC OS X ! it's FREE... and has actually all tools needed if you're just after blades - give it a try

- there's also OpenOffice.DRAW - but I find it rather tedious to use - but that's me ;)

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Thanks for the reply. I'll check out the Inkscape tonight. Hopefully it isn't a large download. I've got very slow dial up at home, and anything over 2 mb is an overnight download that "might" be done by the time I leave in the morning.

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Hi Donald !

I use Adobe Illustrator for all of my drawings or making templates for blades that will be made in a near future !

I tried using Autocad and other CAD softwares but illustrator seems to be the easiest to use for making bezier curves !

autocad is a great software (don't get me wrong) but it seems to be missing tools to create curves that tou are looking for...

 

I've attached a PDF of a drawing i made in Illustrator and converted to pdf for a smaller size ...

Santoku.pdf

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Hi Donald !

I use Adobe Illustrator for all of my drawings or making templates for blades that will be made in a near future !

I tried using Autocad and other CAD softwares but illustrator seems to be the easiest to use for making bezier curves !

autocad is a great software (don't get me wrong) but it seems to be missing tools to create curves that tou are looking for...

 

I've attached a PDF of a drawing i made in Illustrator and converted to pdf for a smaller size ...

 

That is a nice design template. I just checked out Illustrator and it showed it as being a "suite" of software at a "LOW" price of $599. Wow that is steap.

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Thanks for the reply. I'll check out the Inkscape tonight. Hopefully it isn't a large download. I've got very slow dial up at home, and anything over 2 mb is an overnight download that "might" be done by the time I leave in the morning.

 

oh, well than I'm sorry to inform you: it's roughly 22MB ;)

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oh, well than I'm sorry to inform you: it's roughly 22MB ;)

 

 

Looks like I'll be tying up the phone line for about 24 hours. My wife is gonna love that ;) :unsure:Panel

 

If you guys don't hear from me in a few days, then my wife killed me for tying up the phone line to long. :unsure:

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Looks like I'll be tying up the phone line for about 24 hours. My wife is gonna love that ;) :unsure:Panel

 

If you guys don't hear from me in a few days, then my wife killed me for tying up the phone line to long. :unsure:

 

 

my sincere apologies for being close to the reason of your demise :blink::blink::blink:

(hopefully not ;) )

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my sincere apologies for being close to the reason of your demise :blink::blink::blink:

(hopefully not ;) )

 

 

My only hope is that she can't figure out how to knock me off and make it look like an accident. I have so much life insurance out on me I am almost worth more to her dead then alive!?! Makes me have to be really carefully how much I push her buttons. :blink::rolleyes::lol:

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When I'm not messing around with designs on paper, I use a program called rhinoceros3d. I've tried other 3d modeling software, but this one seemed to be the easiest on to catch on to for me. After trying the demo I got a pretty good deal on the software, I guess I've been using it 3 or 4 years now. It is just as good for designing in 2d as it is 3d, I find it a whole lot easier than illustrator for technical drawing. I believe it is popular with the rapid prototyping guys, supposedly the files can be transferred over to CAD rather easily.

 

Here's a few I've modeled in it. I find 3d prototypes a good way to work out how everything will go together in the finished knife.

collection.jpg

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or else, just buy yourself a large pad of graph paper, a ruler and a french curve, along with a pencil, a pen and an eraser, and practise - to my mind there can be no substitute for hand drafting: CAD will never give you the same feel for what you're trying to make, never show you how one line flows into another, never tell you how the piece will balance in the hand, or to the eye.

 

i always start with a single line, from tip to butt, giving me the size of the knife. then another line, indicating the edge. a third indicates the transition from handle to blade, and a final line gives the mass of the handle. this process takes about 20 seconds, and likely all the lines will be wrong, but it lets you see whether there's a knife in there. from there on in its a process of refinement. i find designing knives to be a lot like forging them - drawing out the stock to get your dimensions, then forming the tip; tweaking the profile, setting the ricasso, tang alignment. the only real difference is that paper is cheaper than steel, a pencil is pushed with a lot less effort than a hammer is swung, and an eraser will do in a second what a grinder will take an hour to achieve. plus, no burns and no blisters, and by the time you're done, you'll know every line, every curve, every angle like the back of your hand. and keep with it; some knives are designed on the first try. others i'll draw twenty times before i get everything where i want it. most, i guess, take me two tries; the first to get the idea, and the second to get it right.

 

my final advice would be to always design actual size; what looks good at half scale may look ridiculous as a full sized knife.

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or else, just buy yourself a large pad of graph paper, a ruler and a french curve, along with a pencil, a pen and an eraser, and practise - to my mind there can be no substitute for hand drafting: CAD will never give you the same feel for what you're trying to make, never show you how one line flows into another, never tell you how the piece will balance in the hand, or to the eye.

 

i always start with a single line, from tip to butt, giving me the size of the knife. then another line, indicating the edge. a third indicates the transition from handle to blade, and a final line gives the mass of the handle. this process takes about 20 seconds, and likely all the lines will be wrong, but it lets you see whether there's a knife in there. from there on in its a process of refinement. i find designing knives to be a lot like forging them - drawing out the stock to get your dimensions, then forming the tip; tweaking the profile, setting the ricasso, tang alignment. the only real difference is that paper is cheaper than steel, a pencil is pushed with a lot less effort than a hammer is swung, and an eraser will do in a second what a grinder will take an hour to achieve. plus, no burns and no blisters, and by the time you're done, you'll know every line, every curve, every angle like the back of your hand. and keep with it; some knives are designed on the first try. others i'll draw twenty times before i get everything where i want it. most, i guess, take me two tries; the first to get the idea, and the second to get it right.

 

my final advice would be to always design actual size; what looks good at half scale may look ridiculous as a full sized knife.

 

thanks for the advice. What is a french curve though?

 

Never mind, found it online. Interesting tool.

Edited by Donald Babcock
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Some additional software

One I've used that's based on vector graphics is Freehand 10, it's what I'd used in a computer drawing class.

Done a few little plan designs, one was for a display case I'd made.

I've thought about using it to draw up some knives but not got around to it.

 

There is a free open source based 3d rendering program called Blender.

I've even seen a little movie that was made using it that was pretty cool. (called something like Elephant's dream, very weird short movie)

 

I've done a few small drawings just to play with blade and handle shapes for a boot knife I'm working on.

Think I'm just gonna go with a design like one of my last. Relatively straight blade with a slight curve to handle.

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Now thats interesting, I did not think I would find 3d modellers here, but I guess it's the same story where ever you go, people who love to work with their hands.

 

I used to use light wave 3d because of how easy it was for me to use manually, instead of programs like inventor which use exact measurements and are very limited in creativity.

 

 

What I used to do to waste time, don't ask why.

 

mp5.jpg

mp52.jpg

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Hi guys ! could help noticing some nice renderings !

This is something i started a long time ago in 3ds max, a model of a 2002 subaru impreza...

 

render4.jpg

 

render10.jpg

Edited by Steven Sharpe
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  • 2 weeks later...

Some thoughts on the whole design process -

 

I believe every craftsman here has a bit his own way in doing this - I guess what works for one does not mean it will even be good for another.

 

however,

 

When it comes to designing vs. "just make it" aproaches I feel that both can be taken to an extreme where it basically will overshadow any other dependant process.

 

When I make folders for example, I do all the basic first layouting on the CAD System - I can virtually test movments, locking mechanisms and print exact drawings from it.

But no matter how good and nice it looks on the screen, the real object, the real proportions and whether it fit ones hand or not is often a different thing - so I've come to the point where after the CAD Drawing I quickly & but rather precisely make templates of all the parts from plastic boards... it's not the weight, it's not the perfect height, but it gives me an idea how the thing will look in reality.

Once or twice before I've tried the 3D Modelling approach on the CAD - it works, but I prefer a plain 2D Drawing for blades and models made from real materials afterwards - as no matter how realistic it looks on a screen, I still can't touch it with my hands - something which I find rather important with knives.

 

Then there are less complex items - take standard chefs knife-shapes .... I make so many of these, I've got the proportions and ships "sticking to my mind" ;) - I just cut the stock, forge it to shape, grind it and do the rest - there's no drawing, there's no design, there's no sketch on an anvil - it's just a picture in my haead. The same as if I'd forge a chisle or whatever - it's "basic tools" and I've done it often enough.

 

Sometimes there's also what I call "free" approach, I forge bit of patternwelded material and from there just take it, see what comes to my mind, let the hammer do it's magic, and see what comes out - sometimes I leave it at this, or modify it much further by grinding... some of those have been the best things - some the worst ;)

 

other than that, for my more beautiful, elaborate things, I prefer a paper of a large technical drawing roll on my table... and just free hand sketching .... I am not good at hand drawing perfect lines, but I'm quick at jotting down the ideas, modifying the shapes and what not - as others have mentioned I feel it gives a different "relationship" to the object...

If I want to show it to a customer however, once I've decided I like what I've made, I'll go and draw a correctly dimensioned drawing with the CAD and do a print or PDF or whatever with it - my hand drawing skills aren't on "presentation grade level"... so I prefer to show the customer a clear professional, maybe even coloured/textured drawing, but I would never take it into 3D - first it's a lot of work, and second I feel it to be limiting, in a sense that it will provide a very specific look on a screen, which will no matter what look different in reality.

 

I use 3D CAD for my machinists stuff and when I make machines and whatnot... it helps me to test mechanics, check weights, check stability, check stresspoints, do simulation runs, see where potential assembly and working problems are... I did the whole Hydraulic Press first in 3D CAD and derrived cutting and manufacturing plans from it afterwards... it helped me big time to get it "right" first digitally and then go and do it in reality. but a press is a machine, it's plain mechanics and not as much a "design influenced" thing as a knife, which has to FEEL GOOD or even great in my hand, has to "fit", has to balance, has to inspire.

 

 

 

To make a long post short: the essence for me is, that there is no "one method" - there is no single working solution - rather there are many valid methodes depending on what is it you need to achieve.

for me this has come down to:

Machinery & Serious mechanics - 3D CAD approach

Folding knives and complex blades: - 2D CAD

Most other high grade knives - Hand sketches until I'm satisfied, followed by a digital version if it goes to a customer or if I want to "keep" the design

Simple things: a simple hand sketch

and last but not least: approach by feel - let the knife grow - just see where it leads you... I often have a basic idea in my head, and will follow it to some extends, but am open to see how the metal shapes and maybe take it a very different point.

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