Micrometer or mallet: how precise are you ...

Mar 2, 1999
I've got a couple of knives under my belt and am starting to see where my problem areas are. One is precise fitting. So I ask the makers out there, when you're grinding or profiling components, do you use precise measurement with rulers or micrometers, or do you do things largely "by eye?"

How much precision do you get into? Any good references for learning good measurement or fitting practices?


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Measure, measure, measure, mark, mark, mark, then grind. Long time ago I eyeballed the grind. Once I came around and started measuring and marking the blades it sure got easier to get the grinds close to the same on both sides. I still can't get em exactly the same but they're close. I mark the edge with a scribe and the sides with a sharpee. Clean the steel and let the ink dry good and even heat and water won't remove it. Mark the top of the grind and the plunge lines on both sides. I also don't grind all the way to the lines till I'm using a 220 grit belt. Leave a little room for adjustment.

Take care!! Michael

Always think of your fellow knife makers as partners in the search for the perfect blade, not as people trying to compete with you and your work!

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Apparently Michael has enough precision for the both of us! I hit the steel with a file and I don't even lay out the design or anything. I just grab a hacksaw, cut off what looks to be good at the time and start in on it and see what develops. Of course, I don't sell high dollar stuff, either. I wish I had a mallet so I could hit my knives just for good measure, but alas...

Dr. Steve Agocs

I'm just starting out so I'm a bit more like Steve in my approach to cutting and grinding. But I can see that to reach my ultimate goal of folders it's going to take some discipline and much more precision than I usually care to follow. Let's here what the big makers have to say......

Peter Atwood

email: fountainman@hotmail.com

Most of my experience is with liner-lock folders. From what I've heard several other makers say, folders are generally more difficult to make than simple fixed blades. (Some fixed blade knives are rather complex!)

I use measuring instruments to read within .0001" of an inch in some applications, such as surface grinding. Still, I never have built two folders where the parts were interchangeable.

To me, fit and finish are not an accomplishment, they are a constant endeavor. Many makers with much more experience than I, remind me of this whenever I ask them about how they build such tight fitting and accurate knives.

To get a better understanding of the different levels of "accuracy" needed to make a knife, buy one of the popular knifemaking books, visit some of the on-line tutorials, or (better yet) ask to visit a knifemaker's shop!

Tom Anderson
Hand Crafted Knives

I still heat and beat my Blades out by eye.And haven't found a precise way to mark them out so all my grinding is by eye.I also haven't found a good way to flatten all the pieces with a precision marking system so I do all the fit up by eye also.I do measure the length of my blades and the width also the length and width of the handle.I also use calipers to check the tang slot hole size.So I guess that I generally do all mine by eye and feel.

Bruce Evans Handcrafted Knives
The soul of the Knife begins in the Fire!!!!!
Member of,AKTI#A000223 and The American Bladesmith Society
If the guts work within .0002 (blade thickness and hole spacing) the rest is the fit and finish . The knife has to function like a machine first. Then add all the goodies.
Once you have a process , just follow the same path. Upgrading is a constant lifestyle!

Some elements have to be the same every time to make a good ones.

Tom is right they dont interchange if there custom. Some parts, pivots, screws ect do. But each is a knife that is a work of art to itself.

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