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Choice of Steel (Marking Knives)

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  • Choice of Steel (Marking Knives)

    I'm wanting to make a couple of marking knives (for wood) one RH bevel, one LH. I've thought of grinding thin HSS cutoff blades to the correct profile, figuring they'd hold the edge a lot longer in hard woods such as oak. Of course that's a lot keener edge than when used in metal turning.
    Anyone have any thoughts to offer? Or would I do better with just high carbon steel, such as old files?

    Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

  • #2

    I once had designs on a Luthier's career and had to tool up for it. Razor sharp knives are an essential in this craft. I found that files ground down make superb knives.

    Care must be observed in their grinding especially during the roughing stage, don't want to "burn" overheat the steel.

    I made some other knives of 0-1 steel and those came out ok, but files are handy to use for one does not have to fool around with the hardening. Don't believe I ever tried hi-speed steel.

    Jerry Smith is our resident knifemaker, his forum moniker is jfsmith.



    • #3
      Lynn: I have carved one fish and afew object of hard wood. Put my fish in wood carvers show and won first place for "novice". No body was intersted in my damned fish. They liked the "tools". My "Tools" were ground from old HSS parting tool stock, razor sharp, wrapped in (blushing) Duct tape for handles, with manila folders for scabbards. They were sharp as a scapel, held edge well, did not rust. nice thing is you can dress the blade to what ever you want with a grinder or even a hand stone.

      Brother in Law is a well known carver (professional after he retired). He now uses my knives, in preferenceto some very expensive stuff. BTW, I make an occassioanl knife for special purposes and I use "bondo " for handle. ATF on my hand to keep it from sticking to bondo and grip the hanldeas you would use it and it fits like a glove.

      Alstair might have comments- we used to strip wires for communications projects. mens hands were sore and blistered. Got some Dental stuff for making false teeth (this was in VIetNam so maybeit not so easy to get here) and molded it. Other than being "panty pink" in color it made good handles.

      Niether Bondo not the dental stuff was slippery at all.


      • #4

        You talking about Dental Resin? If so I would suggest going to a lab that makes false teeth to see if they will sell you a small amount, that crap is expensive! It also stinks to high heaven (worse than Canadian meatloaf). The people at the lab will be able to determine the right amount to have etc so you aren't stuck with a bunch of this stuff.


        • #5
          An old HSS power hacksaw blade makes a good wood working blade.


          • #6
            (been unable to see the actual responses all day... tho could see they'd been made) ???

            Thanks for the ideas. I'd tried using small sections of broken/worn out bandsaw blade (about 1" wide). I could get a nice edges on that, but it's a little thinner/flexible than I want. I've never had an up-close view of power hacksaw blade. Is it thicker? .. say > .050 or so?
            One file I stuck in forge, then cooled slowly to anneal, so I could easily remove the teeth. After shaping, I'll try to reharden and temper.
            Sometime ago I cut some pieces from old circular saw blades, shaped, hardened/tempered. But the edges didn't hold up well. Either I lost the hardness in my tempering efforts, or the material was unsuitable. I would've thought saw blades to be high carbon thruout.

            Steve, that's encouraging to hear of your success with the HSS. I wasn't sure how well a really sharp, thin edge could be obtained with that stuff.
            Lynn (Huntsville, AL)


            • #7

              Consider A-2 air hardening tool steel. Excellent for holding an edge in wood. Lee Valley Tools uses it in their Planes - once honed properly they can produce see through maple shavings - even in end grain!

              If you have trouble finding this material you can buy spare blades from Lee Valley and cut them up to suit your purpose (theirs are 1/8" thick).


              • #8
                I picked up some old bandsaw blades from a local machine shop, one about 3/4 wide, one 1 1/4 wide. These are 30 and 50 thou thick, roughly. Have made all kinds of scrapers, custom corner rounders, bevel tools, etc., from pieces cut to 6 inch or so long. This is tough steel, keeps an edge well, and works great for all kinds of things. I must have 10 or more different profiles laying around, and I wouldn't be without them now. Some blades I can drill thru, some I can't. I have made thin kerf cutoff blades from it, although it wanders from being too flexible. By the way, circular saw blades aren't made of suitable steel for cutting edges, unless you use sections that include the carbide tip. I've made router bits like that, but balance is crucial, and length of the piece cannot be too long, or you risk the tip flying off at mach whatever, 400 ft /sec. or so.

                [This message has been edited by darryl (edited 02-08-2003).]
                I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


                • #9

                  [This message has been edited by pgmrdan (edited 11-18-2003).]


                  • #10
                    sorriest knife blade I ever made was from a hacksaw blade next sorriest was from a 10" circular wood saw. .They would not take and edge easy ,but lost it easy.

                    I have been told the newer automobile leaf springs are not good knife material- strange alloys. I know the older are ok. New to me is about 1975, lol. Time flies! Made some samll tools including knives for wood working from diesel valve spring- heated straightened and ground- no pounding to reshape.