What Steel Should I Use?

There are many different kinds of steel, each of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. The main categories used (at least in knife work) are mild steel, high carbon steel, and stainless steel. Mild steel is used for decoration and testing ideas. High carbon steel is used for blades, and stainless steel is used for weather resistant items.

• • •

Tool Spotlight – Temper Oven

Tempering is taking a hardened metal and reducing the brittleness while increasing flexibility. When balanced correctly, it changes the metal from incredibly hard and brittle to fairly hard and not-going-to-shatter-when-you-accidentally-drop-it. It is important that the metal stays hard or the edge would dull incredibly quickly. This is why we do the hardening and quenching step. But if we did not temper it the knife would shatter if we dropped or chopped with the knife. This brittleness is the same reason that although obsidian is sharper than almost every hand-made blade, it cannot be used as a knife. It is brittle enough to come off in layers or shatter when used to cut anything other than soft materials like leather.

• • •

Tool Spotlight – Belt Sander

Remember in the Angle Grinder Tool Spotlight when I said that it was the most versatile and most used tool for a new knife maker? Well the belt sander (also called a belt grinder) gives it a run for its money. In this article, I will be comparing the two quite often. While it can’t cut fine lines or move around easily, the belt sander is versatile in ways the angle grinder is not. It can work with several different materials, has many different kinds of grinding, and is easier to control than the angle grinder.

• • •

Tool Spotlight – Bandsaw

A bandsaw is one of the luxuries that can make a knife makers job easier. To be clear, you can make good quality knives and in a normal amount of time just fine without a bandsaw, but having one does a few things for you.

• • •

Tool Spotlight – Angle Grinder

The angle grinder is the most versatile tool in your arsenal. It cuts, it grinds, it sands. It does everything except heat treat and temper your knife. Honestly, if you are on a super tight budget, an angle grinder and some bricks can suffice for all of $100. The reason that this tool is so versatile is because of the different attachments you can put on it. There are different discs for most things that you need to do in the knife making process. These include cutting discs, grinding discs, sanding discs, and buffing discs. I use a 4.5-inch grinder, as I find it to be the most useful for the majority of situations. Though you could get away with a 9-inch grinder, I feel as though most of the time it would not benefit you much more and would rather just make your arms very tired from holding it up while you cut or grind.

• • •