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File jig or free hand?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by 7mm-08, Sep 8, 2012.

  1. 7mm-08


    Aug 21, 2012
    I have looking at this forum for for a long time and have been a member for a little while now, but this is my first post. I have to say I have gleaned a ton of useful information. After much research, and after making 4 or 5 knives from blanks, I have finally broken down and am making my first 2 blades from scratch. I have made pretty good progress, and am getting ready to start on the bevels before too long. These are both going to be scandi grinds. I have used a angle grinder and a disc sander attachment for a drill for the rough profiling, but everything else is going to be with files, sand paper, and a stone. I was originally going to set up a jig for filing the bevels, but am now wondering if I would be better off to do it free hand. Also, if doing it free hand, would it be better to do it all draw filing, or to file regularly, and then finish off the bevels by draw filing?
  2. Daniel Fairly Knives

    Daniel Fairly Knives Full Time Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 9, 2011
    I would recommend free hand filing for a flat grind but for a scandi I think a jig is best.

    I have been free handing my scandis on the grinder for a while now and I think now that I am good at it I may switch to a jig, lol! To me a scandi is a jig grind...
  3. 7mm-08


    Aug 21, 2012
    Thanks for the reply. Just out of curiosity, why do you say that?
  4. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    file regularly, and then finish off the bevels by draw filing
    I like to finish off with a small triangular singel cut file.
    Have a piece of brass, copper or so handy to pick bits of steel from the teeth. They leave nasty scratches.
    Drawfile to the shape you want, make sure the file is clean an drawfile lightly again. That should leave a smoother finish.
    If you want to cut on the pull, have the handle on the left. Push, on the right.
  5. Mudbug007


    Nov 29, 2010
    Personally if you're going to just file the bevels on a scandi, I'd say use a jig. I think it's going to be difficult to keep both grinds consistent by filing them freehand.

    If you were using a grinder, I'd say learn to grind freehand because I think it's more versatile than grinding with a jig. In my case, it allows me to make small changes on the fly rather than stopping and re-setting a jig. I've done both and prefer freehand when using a grinder.

    Here's a link to a file jig you may find useful. There are also links on that page to other tutorials. File Jigs and File Guides
  6. Daniel Fairly Knives

    Daniel Fairly Knives Full Time Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 9, 2011
    I wanted to learn to grind knives freehand so that is how I do it.

    A jig is good on the scandi as it keeps the bevel even... that is something of great importance on that particular grind if you want the steep zero bevel that is easy to sharpen with a stone. I think they are traditionally made with a simple file angle jig.

    You can do the grind with a grinder too, it is a great skill to learn as a maker. I learned and grind everything freehand and feel it was great for me to learn that way.

    Free hand filing - the key is to feel the flat and keep the file at that angle... once the angle is set it is not too bad. I'd probably use a jig at first and finish freehand.

    The more knives I make the less I care about jig vs freehand grinding, I say whatever gets the job done!
  7. Ed Fowler

    Ed Fowler

    Jul 21, 2001
    Jigs can help you achieve uniformity, but usually at the cost of freedom to do it your way. I feel it best to learn how to use a file.

    At the ABANA conference this summer one thing that impressed me was I did not hear one man back dragging a file or saw while working steel. A beautiful sound to me.
  8. 7mm-08


    Aug 21, 2012
    Thank you all for the input. I appreciate it.
  9. Brian Avila

    Brian Avila

    Jan 2, 2011
    When I used my files to work on my knives I developed a jig. I didn't get the even strait lines free hand that I got with a jig. I do believe in using free hand grinds when you move to a grinder though.
  10. quint


    Nov 29, 2011
    I use my grinder to about 220grit on the initial grind before HT. Then I move to metal blocks with sand paper for touch up and to finish up after HT. I struggle with grinds. I cant say how many knives I have binned due to this. I am finally getting better with the bubble jig though. Its taken me a bit and there are situations that it isnt perfect for but overall once you get ahang of it it really helps. They are getting better.

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