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homemade waterjet cutting

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Atlas Knife Company, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. Atlas Knife Company

    Atlas Knife Company KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 16, 2010
    My father-in-law has worked for decades in the oil and road industries. He currently runs a research lab at Iowa State University. He's pretty good at what he does, and I believe him when he says he has done something in the past. I asked him if he had a waterjet table at his shop and he said they don't. He then went on to explain how they used to cut 3/8" steel in the field back at the oil wells. They would use a 2500 PSI pressure washer and garnet sand poured into the stream after coming out of the nozzle. A far cry from the 9000 PSI they use to cut bridges, but still in the realm of feasible. They could cut steel with no problem in a matter of minutes this way. He said the cut was about 1/4" wide, obviously much more coarse than we're used to, but still an intriguing idea. My pressure washer is only 1300 PSI, but I know a guy. . . .


    Has anyone tried this?
     
  2. Carl_First_Timer

    Carl_First_Timer

    Dec 6, 2010
    The theory behind this is sound, since the original idea was if a small gently flowing stream of plain water can cut, and shape rock, then a high powered stream infused with abrasive can cut anything. Just know that your fittings will disappear/be worn away.
     
  3. Atlas Knife Company

    Atlas Knife Company KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 16, 2010
    I think he was talking about pouring the garnet in after it left the gun, otherwise your fittings would be clogged quickly.
     
  4. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket Moderator

    Apr 15, 2010
    We're not building bridges here. Professional water-jet services are so precise (within a thousandth of an inch, not 250 thou) and affordable (a few bucks or even pennies per blade, depending on volume) that I see no reason to home-brew it. I'm certain you could make much quicker, easier and cheaper cuts with a $20 angle-grinder, when dealing with typical barstock that knifemakers use.
     
  5. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    If the cut you get is 1/4"wide I wouldn't bother and just use the angle grinder.
    I get thinner cuts with that.
     
  6. Battle Creek Knives

    Battle Creek Knives

    Feb 23, 2010
    hmm, I have a 3800psi 11.5hp waterblaster that has a wet sand port.... I know I can blast a hole to china but now steel?? sweet :D
     
  7. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    For cutting a 6' piece of rail road iron into an anvil, maybe...for cutting blades from bar stock....why would you.

    It would cost a lot just in the garnet or SC abrasive.
     
  8. Atlas Knife Company

    Atlas Knife Company KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 16, 2010
    Yes, I know waterjet service is affordable, but that's not why we're here. It's the spirit of doing it yourself. If we wanted to take the easy way out, we'd all just buy pre-cut blanks. It's the spirit of saying "Yeah, I cut this in half with the garden hose!"
     
  9. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    OK, post photos and keep a log of the expenses.
     
  10. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket Moderator

    Apr 15, 2010
    Yeah, exactly. I hate to rain on anyone's enthusiasm, but there's a point where it just gets silly to reinvent the wheel.

    Next, you'll be combing the beaches looking for black sand... oh, wait... never mind. :eek: :foot:

    :D
     
  11. Daniel Fairly Knives

    Daniel Fairly Knives Full Time Knifemaker Moderator

    Jan 9, 2011
    I usually use knives from my current order run to carve the next ones out of steel.
     

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