knifemaking in general

Jun 29, 2015
Wow. So I just started making a couple knives this weekend for the first time. It was probably the most fun I've ever had doing anything with my hands. One problem I have though is that I feel like I have a million questions I want to ask. I guess experience is the only way to answer those questions. I was able to make a small neck knife, and a 6'' butcher knife I can use for work though which I'm pretty proud of considering they're my first 2 knives.

Some of those questions I'd like to ask here. If they get answered, awesome! If not, then I don't mind doing the digging!

1. how to get rid of deep scratches from a 50 grit belt after profiling and beveling

2. how the f*%# do people free hand grind bevels and they look so good. I even tried putting my knife on a piece of angle bracket as a cheap jig and it still turned out "meh"

3. cleaning up plunge lines - how do you get that nice sharp plunge line and are still able to clean it up? I can't seem to get into that little crevice to clean out scale and what-not

4. dealing with belt wobble - some of my belts track perfect, others wobble just a little. One belt I have started wobbling after not wobbling for a few

5. bench grinder buffing wheels are terrifying......yes that's not a question but ugh *quivers*

I think these are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head. laugh me out of here if you want
Sep 10, 2000
My suggestion is to read the "stickies"" above. I believe you will find all the answers there. Still the ones that aren't there can be posted here. All the best and welcome to the forum.

Greenberg Woods

Wood Fanatic and Rosewood Addict
Dec 27, 2013
1. 80 grit belts. I go 36, 50, 80, 100, then go through my trizact belts

2. Practice. What I learned was to start the bevel much steeper than it will be, like a 8 or 9 degree angle and slowly move it back. You can talk to Fred Rowe and get a bubble jog, those help a ton.

3. Hang the belt a little bitt off the platen for a soft plunge, keep it taut to the belt for a crisp one

4. What kind of grinder do you have? were they heavy belts or light one?

5. Yep. I know the feeling. I have mine mounted on a pedestal and make sure to only use the very bottem. I dont buff blades, so its not really an issue. Mine is only used for edges and handles.

john april

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Feb 27, 2006
hi, i am "new" compared to most of these guys, but here is my take on the questions.
1) what works for me in getting rid of scratches is to stop with the 50 grit earlier than you have been, and start with 80gr or 100gr sooner. even though it is a flat belt, some scratches will be deeper than others, so if you bring your bevels near final shape with the 50gr, and just use the 80/100 to shine up the blade, you will miss those scratches and not see them until later. same is true when i switch to 220, do more sanding than you think you need, the be sure the previous scratches are gone. this has saved me hours of hand sanding on each knife when trying to do a mirror finish.
2) you have to learn to feel and know what is going on as you sand by adjusting your hand positions. its like sculpting without seeing what is happening until it is done. i used jigs for awhile. the best thing to use in my opinion is a " bubble jig" it will train you to hold the knife at the same angle every time until you can feel it for yourself. it took me about 20 knives to get the hang of it.
3) this is still my worst area, so i will not comment :D
4)if some belts track perfect, that means its not the machine. i bet they are cheap bargain belts. they usually wobble. klingspoor, 3M, hermes are good brands to try. anything pops knife supply sells is of decent quality. also, if you leave a belt tightened on a machine when not using it, it stretches the belt out of shape and it will wobble, this will happen even with good belts.
5) dont fear the buffer. fear yourself being foolish enough not to be hanging onto it the right way with enough pressure to prevent the wheel from tearing it out of your hands. the wheel pulls things into it, it does not spin them away like you would expect. the more it pulls in, the harder it pulls. if you are not expecting it, it rips it out of your hand like lightning. always expect at every moment it will try to rip it out of your hand. practice, but on some goggles and a heavy apron. casually take one of those flat paint stirring sticks and casually buff it like it is a knife with a weak grip and notice how it grabs the edges and tries to pull away and how fast it happens. brace your elbows tightly against your waist for improved strength and learn how to buff away from the edge so the wheel will not grab it, and how to keep a firm grip on the paint stick so it does not snatch it away.
Jun 29, 2015
Oh man...I'm glad you told me about leaving the belts on the machine. I bet that's why they're wobbling.

The grinder is an Oregon blade maker grinder BTW.

The belt that wobbles the most is a 320 grit trizact belt. It has a really flexible backing so I bet that's why it wobbles so much.
Aug 29, 2015
When I have a wobbling belt I tighten it up a bit and most of the times that fixes the wobble . If that doest work, try leaving it on the grinder (running) for 5-10 min .:)
Nov 10, 2011
as mentioned, the easiest way to get rid of 36 grit or 50 grit marks is not use them. it will also depend on how thick your blanks are. the batch that i just put in the tempering oven are 1/16", so a 100 grit zirc belt at moderate motor speed (400rpm) was all i needed to set bevels. I also use a 14" file to break the edge before I start grinding. I use jigs and tilt the platen, never had a lot of sucess free handing except final finishing and sharpening.
Nov 7, 2012
#2 is repetition and practice, some knowledge of course
it takes like 20-30 blades before you figure it out
so better to get mild steel and practice making bevels

for #3
you can also hand file in the plunge lines, it's alot less risky and works great if you like the sharp right angle plunge look, vs the radius plunged.
use a carbide file guide and a high quality USA made file.



J. Hoffman

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Jan 1, 2011
Post some pictures of what you did. It will help if we can look at it. Read all the stickies (again). I don't believe in using mild steel for practice, 1095 is not really any more expensive than mild steel.

Josh Rider

Stuff maker
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Sep 2, 2014
1. Switch the a higher grit (80,120) or so much sooner than you think. They're still going to remove a lot of steel when you're starting out because you'll be flipping the knife back and forth to make it symmetrical.

2. Practice free handing and you'll be surprised how fast you can learn, you'll be jumping for joy when you can grind without a jig. (Nothing against jigs, I learned on one) but when you get a feel of how the belt and steel relate to your's hard to explain, but you'll feel what the tool is doing. That's what she said.

3. J-flex belts that you hang over the ledge of your platen/wheel and soft pressure. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the blade side opposite of the plunge or you'll get an indention from the other side of the platen.
Or as others have mentioned, get a file guide. I don't have a carbide faced one, just a cheap one from jantz, but it works fine for now.

4. Some belts are squirrelly, more tension might help or your wheels may be out of alignment. Might just be the belt.

5. I'm scared of buffers too. But I want one.

I would practice one knife at a time. It's easy to get ambitious and want to do a batch, but the knives you make when you start are probably going to look a lot different than the knives you make when you grind for A year or two.