Fit And Finish - October 2011 Topic Of The Month for October 2011
Posted 05 October 2011 - 05:06 AM
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Posted 05 October 2011 - 05:35 PM
The best tip I can give, based on personal experience, is to have a Master Smith like Bill Burke look over one of your presentation knives. I thought I had nailed my finsih only to find out that I need glasses!
Seriously, I know it's been said over and over on here and other forums, but having a critique done, especially in your presence will change your game and elevate you to a new level if you take the advice to heart and keep it as constructive critisism. I thought I was doing pretty well until I asked for honest, no punches pulled advice and critisism. Nobody wants to hurt anyone's feelings but I for one don't seem to learn much from biased opinions. So, I asked and got exactly what I asked for... And, I truely appreciated the honest/blunt critisism.
With all of that said, if anyone has a tip or jig that can help to keep a hand rubbed finish all rubbed in the same direction I'd appreciate the help... thus all of the above.
Posted 05 October 2011 - 07:04 PM
Rick, that can be a problem, especially on longer baldes. What I have found helpful is to clamp a 2x2 piece of pine that is longer than the blade in my bench vise. I then clamp the tang of the blade to the 2x2 with a c clamp. (You will likely have to shim the end of the tang to compensate for distal tapers in the blade and tang)
I then do my finishing of the blade allowing my finger to ride against the 2x2 on the spine side. With the 2x2 longer than the blade, you have a guide to follow the entire length of the blade.
To keep from scratching the finish of the blade that is agianst the 2x2, put a piece of masking tape or duct tape on the blade before clamping it to the 2x2.
Posted 05 October 2011 - 09:08 PM
- Hand finishing begins after forging, grinding, heat treating, and the cutting edge is established on the grinder.
- There are many different techniques and tools used and I have learned different methods to perform this task from several ABS Mastersmiths and Journeyman Smiths. Which method is the best? You will have to try different methods and do what works best for you.
- I want to show you not only what works for me but also other methods used by ABS members that may work for you.
- Most start at 220 grit but some start as low as 120 or as high as 400 grit. Some use automotive paper that comes in sheets and others use Klingspor shop rolls.
- I usually start at 220 grit and begin on the bottom of the Ricasso then top of the spine.
- I place the knife on a jig that I made that has a flat metal surface with leather on the bottom and clamp the tang down tight with no flex in the blade. The jig is set in a bench vise and I use leather wedges under the blade to keep the blade surface flat with no flex.
- Lubrication used- Some use water, Windex, WD40, or nothing. I have tried all of these and now use WD 40.
- Tools- Among the tools used as a sanding stick by some for hand finishing are: files, metal bars, hardwood sticks with rubber or leather attached, Popsicle sticks, Corian blocks, and used planner blades. You can turn the sanding stick up on its edge to address a trouble spot in the blade.
- Excellent lighting and Optivisors- You need excellent visibility to see your work. I use two light sources which include a lamp equipped with a 100 watt spotlight bulb and another lamp with florescent lights focused directly on the blade and wear Optivisors.
- Lights in Atlanta in the judging rooms are brutal and show every imperfection in the finish.
- I start usually start with 220 grit paper over a large flat file. You must be very careful but it is very effective.
- Contour at the cutting edge.
- At 320 grit and above leather over or glued to the sanding stick provides a little needed give.
- Last pass or stroke for each grit from 400 and higher is one full length motion from the ricasso to the end of the point with a little water, oil, or other lubricant on new paper.
- Use blue tape on the finished blade side before starting on the other side or the lubricant will wick and etch the finished side and it will also prevent scratches on the finished side.
- Use 3M Micro pads for the final grit- available at Rio Grande Supply Co.
- How many strokes? Some say 50 full length strokes per grit but you do it until done
- Touch up after handle is on can be done by clamping a magnet with blue tape on it in a vise.
- Go down or back a grit to get out stubborn scratches in the blade.
- Use a fine tip magic marker to mark or highlight scratches or dips in the blade that need extra attention.
- Do the ricasso first each time you start a new grit
- Carefully clean the surface of the blade off in between grits
- EDM Stones – 180, 220, 320, 400 and 600 grits from MSC in ½ x ¼ x 6.
- Finish the clip separately- Some hand finish the clip to the same grit as the blade and others finish to a higher grit such as 4,000 grit.
- Note on Clips- use a French curve and magic marker to initially draw the clip on the blade- begin to establish the clip on the grinder at 60 and 120 grits and then use files with the blade in a vise, EDM stones, and finally paper during the hand finishing process.
- Last oil on the blade.
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Posted 06 October 2011 - 08:05 AM
Fit and finish is one aspect that I have seen change dramatically over the years in the ABS, I used to find a guard gap or fish hooks on most blades I looked at, but these days it is less and less and I find I am having to advise more on overall design more. One firm rule to stand by is if you can see it, you need to fix it, it is that simple. No greater words of self delusion were ever spoken than "well I can see it but nobody else will". If there is a scratch or gap anywhere, get rid of it, that really is what separates Masters from Journeyman more than anything, a Master will see those issues and will not rest, extra time meaning nothing, until they are gone. So the real secret to the next stamp is training your eye to see them and disciplining yourself to eliminate them all.
I think my eyesight deterioration has helped me a bit in that I have to wear magnifying visors when I am working now, this causes small imperfections to look enormous so that I am spending time fixing issues that are often hard to resolve with the naked eye.
I am a firm proponent of the press fit for guards, not that I agree with solder snobs and I often will include solder with a press fit so long as it is invisible. Training oneself to do a proper press fit builds the skills to make a seamless guard attachment under almost any circumstances. Doing this, I have found ways to seamlessly fit guards to blades without ricassos and even guards that are not flat or straight on the front. Never give up on something and say that it can't be done, that is a symptom of thinking inside the box and as soon as you throw off your self imposed restrictions by coming at it at a totally different direction the solution seems so obvious that you will feel silly.
Posted 08 October 2011 - 06:22 AM
AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!!
That paragraph should be framed, gold edged, and required reading!!! We often get so stuck within ourselves, and our preconceived notions, that we either can't or won't see beyond them.
Way to go Kevin! Great words, and great advice!!
Posted 14 October 2011 - 07:53 AM
The simple solution is to have the blade RIGHT before you mount the guard. Have the guard RIGHT before you mount the handle.
You can easily check and probably correct any problems on the blade if you will make absolutely sure it is right before you mount the guard. If you are not sure about the blade; have someone look it over. Adjust as necessary.
Make your guard and fit it up. Straight,clean and finished. If it has any issues, knock it off. Adjust as necessary. Then mount permanantly, RECHECK; then proceed to the next step.
Fit your handle/ handle-ferrule to the guard. In line with the blade, mostly shaped, with NO wiggle or wobble. The knifemakeing rule is that if the handle moves at all and there is a 50/50 chance it will glue up straight; it will go wrong 75% of the time. If you are not satisfied with your handle fix it before you stick it permanant.
Taking off finished guards, ferrules, pommels and handles teaches me and you to be more careful with each step of the process.
Posted 14 October 2011 - 03:24 PM
Brian, I really like the simplistic approach of your solution. I'll be giving that a try on my next blade. Thank you!
In my head I was trying to engineer something with bearings and guide rails etc. Oh how we let ourselves stray from the simple/quick/easy solution in search of perfection. From my experience, developed muscle memory/control can produce results almost as exact as any machine... That is as long as our eyes are capable of seeing what they need to see... Scroll to Dan's recommendation for proper lighting and optivisor! AMEN! (nice tutorial Dan! Thank you for posting that!)
Mike, Mr. Murphy is alive and well in my shop as well. your comment: "The knifemakeing rule is that if the handle moves at all and there is a 50/50 chance it will glue up straight; it will go wrong 75% of the time." I couldn't have asid it any better!
Thanks everybody! Good thread so far.
One trick that Bill Burke passed on to me that might help someone out there...
To tell if your guard is square and true to your blade before glue or solder... Mirror polish the face of the guard. When you press it on to the tang up against the shoulders of the blade, you can sight down the length of the blade to the mirror finished guard face and if the guard is on straight then the reflection of the blade will continue in line with the physical blade. I hope that makes sense to anyone who hasn't tried it. If it's not on straight, the reflection will run off to one side or the other or up or down, etc.
Posted 14 October 2011 - 09:08 PM
After finish grinding with 120x, I go to my plunge cut block to true them up
and establish flats coming away from them. Then I go to 150X with a 1 1/2" wide
sanding block. I use the wide block to set up the flat from end to end. I also do
the swedge, then the ricasso. I go through all grits (except the last) on one side
then the other. I use narrower blocks for 320X on. The reason is that varying the
block width seems to help avoid sanding pattern ripples. My sanding lube is WD-40.
After both sides are finished to the next to last grit, I do the bottom of the
ricasso, and the spine. Both are always rounded.....the spine so that the user
can comfortably push against it with the heel of his hand, and the bottom of the
ricasso is just done to match.
After the blade is finished to the next to last grit, I tape it up with blue
masking tape, then file in the guard shoulders.....1/8" or a little less from
the top and bottom.
After the guard and handle are ready to install, I'll remove the tape and go
through tie final finishing steps...First with an aluminum bar (steel would work
too), then with a leather covered micarta block, followed by a rubber block...all three
1 1/4" wide blocke using the same grit (usually 1500) and WD-40 for a lube.
Sanding motion should be in one direction only with all grits. For strokes that go lengthwise..
the full length of the blade, the block should be lightly pushed from tip to plunge cut. The trailing
edge of the block should be lifted just before the lead edge arives at the plunge, and held
up slightly as the block is firmly drawn back to the tip. Repeat this carefully...patiently till
till finish is acceptable.
Posted 16 October 2011 - 10:31 AM
I too press on (or rather drive on) my guards. By making the slot in the guard narrower than the ricasso and driving the guard on the tapered tang, the guard material distorts to the shape of the tang and results in a perfect fit. This usually distorts the face a bit and has to be cleaned up a time or two.
Even when adopting this method of fitting guards, I sometimes still had gaps or what sometimes looked like gaps where the guard seated against the shoulder. The times that I had actual gaps, I discovered, were from not completely filing down the shoulders. I found that when I thought I had filed down to my file guide, I actually had not reached it yet because I was rocking or tilting the file. At the time I was using a little file guide made from 3/8” tool steel bars. I have since gone to ¾” bars with carbide. This wider surface area gives a much better “feel” for filing the shoulders. Just make sure they are where they should be before removing the file guide.
The problem that I had that made it look like I had a bad fit even though I had no gaps was that I had slightly rounded the edges of the shoulders that I had filed. This was unknowingly done when finishing the blade. To prevent this from happening, I do not file my shoulders until I have finished the ricasso area to at least 400 grit. Then to prevent the file guide from damaging my finish, I wrap a piece of cardstock around the ricasso before installing the file guide.
I use anti-scale compound to help protect the ricasso during hardening, and when hand finishing, I only sand the ricasso area on a hard flat surface and only sand in the direction of point to tang. These methods help me to keep from rounding the square shoulders.
Again, lighting and magnification make a huge differece and I rely on both quite heavily.