Jumping in head first…a mistake?

Joined
Jul 20, 2022
Messages
7
So I just began researching and gathering tools and supplies to get into knife making. I have yet to make anything at all, but it seems like a hobby that I will be of interest to me for a long time. I’m a chef by trade, but have recently take a step back and am only working three days a week. I have a pretty large knife collection and would love to develop the skills to make my own.

I have been searching Craigslist/Facebook marketplace for used tools to get a basic setup going. I bought a drill press, bench vice, clamps, bench grinder, files, PPE and materials to build a Gough jig. Now here is my dilemma; I came across a 2x72 Coote belt grinder with extra attachments and belts for $1000 and am seriously considering it. It would be a bit of a stretch monetarily, but I’ve seen a lot of advice to buy once cry once around. I was intending on buying a 1x30 harbor freight belt grinder after I hand file a few knives first. I don’t want to get way too ahead of myself and spend a huge amount of money before even trying my hand at a new skill. Does anyone have any advice for a good path to take?
 

Bühlmann

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Joined
Jan 6, 2022
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185
Make a few blades with what you have, first. That deal is not the last one yuou’ll find and with a little time & experience you’ll know better what features you’ll want in a 2x72 and other capital equipment.

FWIW, I’m in the same boat. It’s hard to be disciplined, but it’s worth it IMHO to not be disappointed and/or frustrated with a high dollar purchase over time. YMMV, of course.

Don’t forget to post up pics of your work!
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2002
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1,207
something said here in "Shop Talk "often is tell us Where you are?? you might have a "Knife Maker for a neighbor !!
Some might be willing to let you try the machine they use ..to see if it fits your needs/desires.. some might not , but where you are could
be full of knife makers..i wish i had that chance many years ago to try before i buy..
 

Drew Riley

Riley Knife and Tool
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Oct 17, 2007
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I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but the first thing I did before making my first knife was to build a 2x72 and a heat treating oven. At the time, I really didn't even have enough tools to build a 2x72, but I worked with what I had. I also kind of pieced things together over several months and grabbed a few of the smaller tools as I needed them.

So what happens if you spend all that time and money building a shop, you make your first knife, and you completely lose interest in knife making? Well, for me, I knew I could find plenty of other uses for any tools I bought. If anything, my 2x72 would just be demoted to an expensive lawn mower blade sharpener. Worst case? I could probably sell it for at least what I had into it.

Fast forward about 15 years later and I now have a garage crammed so full of machining and knife making tools that I can barely walk in it. The worst part is I could easily fill another shop with tools I still want or need.

Now, all that said: What all comes with the Coote you're looking at? $1000 seems like it might be a little steep. Cootes aren't bad machines, but they are kind of limited compared to a lot of other grinders. If I had $1000, I'd probably save a few more bucks and look into a Reeder, or building my own. "Housemade Industrial" sells plans for a pretty decent machine. He also provides partial kits, though I believe it does require some welding.
If you're anywhere close to Northwest Indiana, I'd help you weld one for a case of beer. ;)
 

Lorien

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23,173
the first 3 or 4 knives I made were done using a hand drill, a vise, a couple of files and a bunch of sandpaper so I'd suggest you try making a knife with what you have a see where that leads you.
knife making is hard work, especially when you start, so if you can finish a couple knives using basic tools you'll know whether or not it's for you
 

weo

Joined
Sep 21, 2014
Messages
2,633
I have yet to make anything at all,
If, when you say this, it means you've never worked in a metal shop, then I'd suggest doing this before investing any more money. You might not like the grinding dust, the noise, the burning/scraping/tiny metal shards/slivers, the uncomfortable PPE, etc..
 
Joined
Jul 20, 2022
Messages
7
something said here in "Shop Talk "often is tell us Where you are?? you might have a "Knife Maker for a neighbor !!
Some might be willing to let you try the machine they use ..to see if it fits your needs/desires.. some might not , but where you are could
be full of knife makers..i wish i had that chance many years ago to try before i buy..
That’s a great point! I’m near Asheville, NC and I would love to be able to see some of this equipment in action before pulling the trigger.
 
Joined
Jul 20, 2022
Messages
7
How old are you? Where do you live? What kind of knives do you want to make?

Hoss
I’m 34 living near Asheville, NC and I’m mainly interested in culinary knives. I am going to start out with some basic hunting knives to learn the tools before diving into anything bigger with more challenging grinds.
 

fitzo

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Joined
Aug 14, 2001
Messages
6,192
Hard to throw a rock in NC without hitting a knife maker. Check out the member list at the North Carolina Knifemakers Guild. Also, check out the back of Knives Annual 2022 for a listing by state.
You might consider putting your general location in your profile so folks get to know beyond this thread. Knifemakers frequently really enjpy helping a newbie get going.

Coote's a quite decent grinder for entry. That price should include a motor (variable speed would be nice) and quite a few accessories and belts at that price. Due diligence...
Compare to the Grizzly knife grinder, which offers less, IMO.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 20, 2022
Messages
7
I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but the first thing I did before making my first knife was to build a 2x72 and a heat treating oven. At the time, I really didn't even have enough tools to build a 2x72, but I worked with what I had. I also kind of pieced things together over several months and grabbed a few of the smaller tools as I needed them.

So what happens if you spend all that time and money building a shop, you make your first knife, and you completely lose interest in knife making? Well, for me, I knew I could find plenty of other uses for any tools I bought. If anything, my 2x72 would just be demoted to an expensive lawn mower blade sharpener. Worst case? I could probably sell it for at least what I had into it.

Fast forward about 15 years later and I now have a garage crammed so full of machining and knife making tools that I can barely walk in it. The worst part is I could easily fill another shop with tools I still want or need.

Now, all that said: What all comes with the Coote you're looking at? $1000 seems like it might be a little steep. Cootes aren't bad machines, but they are kind of limited compared to a lot of other grinders. If I had $1000, I'd probably save a few more bucks and look into a Reeder, or building my own. "Housemade Industrial" sells plans for a pretty decent machine. He also provides partial kits, though I believe it does require some welding.
If you're anywhere close to Northwest Indiana, I'd help you weld one for a case of beer. ;)
I’ve definitely got a similar mindset to you. I prefer to do my research and get a good base of the tools I need from the start and build up with all the trinkets as time goes on. Luckily I have a very large barn that the previous owner used as a glassblowing shop.

The Coote comes with a large custom tool rest, 4 sizes of small wheel attachments, 1.5 hp 220v motor with a 6” wheel drive, and it looks like he attached a wheel with different radius slots for the belts on both sides to adjust the speed of the belt. Oh and maybe 20-30 belts of varying grits and brands.

It’s certainly not a killer deal, but it would save me the time of sourcing all the parts and figuring out how to put it all together. I’m pretty far from Indiana, but my neighbor used to do some welding so I could probably convince him to help me out. 😁
 
Joined
Jul 20, 2022
Messages
7
Hard to throw a rock in NC without hitting a knife maker. Check out the member list at the North Carolina Knifemakers Guild. Also, check out the back of Knives Annual 2022 for a listing by state.
You might consider putting your general location in your profile so folks get to know beyond this thread. Knifemakers frequently really enjpy helping a newbie get going.

Coote's not a quite decent grinder for entry. That price should include a motor (variable speed would be nice) and quite a few accessories and belts at that price. Due diligence...
Compare to the Grizzly knife grinder, which offers less, IMO.
Thanks for the resources I’ll take a look. I will update my profile. What makes a Coote not the greatest choice to start with?
 

fitzo

Gold Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2001
Messages
6,192
Thanks for the resources I’ll take a look. I will update my profile. What makes a Coote not the greatest choice to start with?
My apologies. I was editing and left in a wrong word, since removed, but too late. :)
Coote's a FINE grinder for entry level. You'll have not thrown away good money at a 1x30,1x42, or screaming fast 2x42 like all too many of us have. Would you likely want one of the popular high priced spreads eventually if you stick with it? Maybe, but a Coote is a lower end pro machine that has stood the test of time and a whole bunch of knives have come off of them for many years.
 
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Drew Riley

Riley Knife and Tool
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Oct 17, 2007
Messages
4,110
The Coote comes with a large custom tool rest, 4 sizes of small wheel attachments, 1.5 hp 220v motor with a 6” wheel drive, and it looks like he attached a wheel with different radius slots for the belts on both sides to adjust the speed of the belt. Oh and maybe 20-30 belts of varying grits and brands.
What makes a Coote not the greatest choice to start with?

Sounds like it's set up with a step pulley? That's how I started with my first grinder. It gave me 3 speeds: "not quite slow enough", "fast enough for coarse belts", and "whoa, this thing might achieve lift off". The first time I picked up a VFD and 3 phase motor for variable speed, I immediately regretted not spending the money on day 1. It really is a game changer. Now days, you can get a Chinese VFD for about $60 to $100, and a used 3 phase motor for another $100 (give or take depending on how long you shop around).

Is it worth the $1000 for what he's offering? I suppose I can see that, but like you say, it's not killer deal by any means.
Now days, $1000 to $1500 can pretty easily get you into a tilting tool arm style grinder that will be quite a bit more versatile and easier to set up and use in the long run. Granted, in that price range you'll likely be doing some assembly, but I've always figured that the extra time and effort is pretty negligible when you consider that the grinder will likely be running for the next 20 or 30 years (or more).
Granted, the Coote really isn't a bad machine, and like I say, you can pretty easily convert it to variable speed if you don't like the step pulley set up. I'd maybe offer $750 or $800 and see what the seller comes back with.
 

ScarFoot

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Sep 16, 2021
Messages
178
The top photo is my original “shop” taken in May and the second one is in the last few weeks. I also have an 8” buffer that isn‘t in the photo. One of the most useful tools I have acquired is a carbide faced file guide. I’ve found that files are my friends since they‘re the only way I have to get flat and/or straight lines. Once I get a good flat on the bevel or plunge line established it gives me something to work to or reference on the belt grinder. I went with a 2x42 to start. It was cheap but works well for my current skill level. I intend to get a 2x72 with a vfd next year. 4B97BFF2-1670-490C-B0A4-C095432FA2B6.jpeg ED5F7F78-EF6B-4732-979E-8AB7EF43355C.jpeg
 
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