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Bevel Braindump - The Bevel Is In The Details...

Discussion in 'Working the Steel' started by ToddR, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. ToddR

    ToddR Putterer, Tinkerer, Waster of Time Staff Member

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    Hi guys. I've recently spent a lot of time in the shop working on a larger number of smaller knives. I discovered that I think I like smaller knives better. They seem more useful for the kinds of things i need a knife for typically. The other really nice thing about that is that I get a lot more practice making them because they take less time to work on. I'll post some pics soon. I think I jumped from having 3 knives complete to (by the end of next week) maybe 7 or 8 in just a short time. For me, trust me, that's breakneck speeds. For some that's what you do before coffee in the morning... : )

    But, after all my practice, i still have a problem with my bevels. Well, not a problem but a curiosity. I like bevels with the rounded angles. Very smooth looking and I really do prefer that style. But, I have to admit, it's really bothering me that no matter what i try, i can't seem to make a sharp bevel line on my grinder. I've read tons of posts and watched youtube videos til my eyes blurred but I can't figure this out. It's now just the fact that i can't figure it out that makes me really want to. I know this is an often discussed topic for newbies and I realize that you guys are likely sick of being asked the question (i've asked it at least twice) but, it would really help me out if you could all braindump any tips/tricks you have on how to get a nice straight bevel using your grinder. I know the basics (make sure the belt doesn't overlap, use a stiffer belt, use a grinding jig etc.) and have tried all of them in various combinations. I'm just starting to think that i'm missing something crucial.

    Either that, it's my tools : )

    Again, I know this is a pain in the butt question but, i'm out of ideas. As usual, I appreciate all the help you guys give me. I'm really glad when I'm actually able to help a new guy myself now. Great feeling.
     
  2. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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    Did it by accident in a manner of speaking, had a nice straight bevel and wondered if I moved the belt off to the side of the platen if it would make a better radius.

    Did a nice radius and because I was doing it free hand and messed up I ended up with a bit of a curve from holding the blade at an angle.
    And hopefully some chimes in with way better description real soon :roflmao
     
  3. ToddR

    ToddR Putterer, Tinkerer, Waster of Time Staff Member

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    See you have the opposite problem. You can do a nice straight bevel and accidentally get a radius. For me, everything i try ends up a radius. I can't seem to make a straight bevel on purpose. I don't prefer them even, it's just bugging me that i can't do it.
     
  4. Mythtaken

    Mythtaken Staff Member CKM Staff

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    You know all the standard answers about belts, stance, tension (you, not the belt), etc. The only thing left is practice. Just keep doing it until you develop the muscle memory for it. Some people use paint stir sticks or other strips of wood that approximate a blade. You can also pick up a couple lengths of cheap mild steel; grind some bevels in one end, chop it off, grind some more. Rinse and repeat until you can do it consistently.
     
  5. ToddR

    ToddR Putterer, Tinkerer, Waster of Time Staff Member

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    I think I have finally made some breakthroughs figuring this stuff out. I've been making a lot more knives lately (I'll post once i finish them up and finish my light box) with the express purpose of practicing my grinding. I have purposefully been making smaller knives just so i can get more practice in. Anyway, here's what i think I've learned (please feel free to review, i'm trying to make sure i understand this)

    1. firstly, i learned my tool rest is not perfectly perpendicular to the platen. It was out just a skootch so i actually just pried it over and it is now square. It never really occurred to me to check this way before. If your brain makes your hands and the jig follow the edge of the rest rather than the line of the platen's surface, the two sides will end up approaching the belt at different angles. I checked it for square from the platen surface to the surface of the rest but not in the other axis. Hoping this helps.
    2. I get a rounded corner on my grind the more i stay flat to the bevel. I really like this look. It is less round if i have no "hangover" on the edge of the platen.
    3. If i have no hangover on the edge of the platen, i can make straighter bevels overall but there is still a round corner if my blade is flat to the platen.
    4. If i want a straight bevel with no round corner, i "tilt" the blade so that it's only contacting in one small spot. I pull the blade across the edge of the belt only. This seems much more aggressive and i have to be careful to not sit still for too long or i get a deep gouge that take a long time to grind out. This method helps me to move the grind line higher when one side doesn't match the other. Or, if i need to keep it lower i stay flatter to the platen. It also, obviously, helps me square off the round corners of the grind.
    5. I was worrying way too much about making the grind lines perfect on the grinder. I found a youtube video ( I'm sorry, i can't remember his name now and I feel like i really need to credit him - i will look on my tablet) where the older gentleman suggested exactly this. To not worry about perfect grind lines. With hand sanding, he blended somewhat different grind lines to the spine and it almost always turned out looking the way he intended. I guess i always underestimated how much material would come off in hand sanding.

    Conclusion: - the round corner of the bevel is produced by staying flat to the platen. How big the radius is depends on how much overhang i have (that second one i'm not 100% on). By using only the edge of the belt, i get a straight bevel edge with less of a round "corner". Using varying degrees of these techniques (or 100% of one or the other) is what i need to do to get a consistent grind. But also, don't sweat if the grind lines aren't perfect. Hand-sanding blends them in.

    I've been practicing these techniques for about a week now. I think I'm really beginning to understand them. If I'm mistaken about the points above or if you have more input, please let me know. I'm really working on improving my grinding and bevels.

    My latest knife could be the most symmetrical grind i've ever done (will post later this week once it's cleaned up and has a handle). I also went back and reground one i put in my fail pile using this new knowledge and i saved it. I had to change it from a wider bladed hunter to a pointy skinner but the bevel lines are pretty good.

    I dare say, I think I'm beginning to understand this somewhat. Still can't get the radii out of my bevel edges but, that's okay. Until i get sick of them, I do prefer them that way.
     

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