Got the Itch, Need some guidance on what to acquire

Greetings all. I took a 3 day class and made my first knife. Now I want to make them from my own home. I live in Montgomery, MN and am looking to forge small to medium sized knives. Given a budget of $3,000, zero equipment and almost as much Macgyver type skills as equipment, what do folks recommend for me to get started? Looking for equipment that can get me through the beginner stage and service me into the next stages without sacrificing quality. Any and all advice and feedback is welcomed. Thanks and I look forward to your replies.

Brett
 

Justin Presson

Well-Known Member
If you are wanting to forge I would recommend a good forge and Anvil. You could get an Atlas for for probably $350, Anvil for $400 maybe. Good belt grinder 2x72". $1,500-$2k. Porta band with swag table probably around $375. Dood benchtop drill press $100-$150.

That's just a rough go at it. Others might have other opinions. But that should get you started. Oh I did forget something to quench the knives in, quench tank and oil.
 
If you are wanting to forge I would recommend a good forge and Anvil. You could get an Atlas for for probably $350, Anvil for $400 maybe. Good belt grinder 2x72". $1,500-$2k. Porta band with swag table probably around $375. Dood benchtop drill press $100-$150.

That's just a rough go at it. Others might have other opinions. But that should get you started. Oh I did forget something to quench the knives in, quench tank and oil.
Thanks Justin. Any recommendations for specifc brands of Ginders?
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
Don't forget to include in your budget supplies. If you get a 2 x 72 grinder you can expect to drop at least a $100.00 on belts for it.
Also sand paper, drill bits, files and a good bench vise. Of course you may have those already. But you will be needing them
 

Doug Lester

Well-Known Member
Not to be argumentative but I would hold off on the Porta-Band saw. Take a look at some of the home built forge plans. You should be able to build one for less than the Atlas but maybe not a lot less. Look at the Coote grinder. You will have to get a motor for it and build a table but you can save a little money with it and it's a fine grinder. You can look for a block of steel on Ebay or Itsy that weighs around 80-90 lbs. I got an 87 lb block of H13 from a steel supply house in St. Louis that ran me around $140 shipping included. I'm drawing a blank on the outfit that will make up a stake anvil for you, maybe someone will chime in with the name. You could look for a used leg vice to hold you hardy tools just don't use a mechanics vice to hammer on or you'll ruin it in short order.

Doug

The place that I was trying to think of that sells post anvils is Old World Anvils. They advertised a 4X4X4 anvil but will cut one the length/weight that you want. They also deal in European style anvils if you insist on having a horn and a hardy hole. They also sell new leg vices but used ones generally go for a lot less. Just make sure that they're complete.
 
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Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
I do not know about where you live but used anvil prices here are just plain stupid. If you buy a 100 year old anvil and hit it once and it breaks then you are out of luck. Buy a new anvil or ASO and you will be better off. The best deal I see now is at Centaur forge. N.C. Knifemaker anvil brand new with warranty is like $349 shipped to your door. Its a 77 pound european style anvil. Mount it to a stump or stand and make all the knives you want. I have a 140 pound Peter Wright I paid $300 for years ago. Now similiar anvils are selling for $650 plus. I am thinking of selling it and buying a drop forged Kanca.
 

Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
WOW!!! I just checked and the anvil I described above is on sale for $303. The shipping is flat rate $13.95 to your door. You cannot beat that...Do not fall into the "I need a big huge anvil trap". The main advantage a heavier anvil gives is the ability to use a larger hammer. Most knife makers forge with a 2.5 and no more than a 3.5 pound hammer. Yes, the face is a little bigger on a 200 pound anvil but the price is too.
 

soundmind

Well-Known Member
I could go long on my start up experience. I'm in the starting up phase still. If I had to start up again with 3K? I'm not sure but right now I've learned good temp control and efficient stock removal (to learn symmetry) are important.

If I was starting up over again I think I'd diligently seek to acquire a quality/affordable electric heat treat oven and a good grinder and belts. Then I'd leave some in the bank for those tools - like issues that would come up for maintaining them or getting them going.

If possible it'd be good to set some aside for the littler stuff people mentioned. Good sandpaper, good files, etc. And also a chunk for buying known steel.

Hope my experience helps.
 

Doug Lester

Well-Known Member
I'll have to recommend against buying an ASO (anvil shaped object) to forge with. They are made of cast iron which won't hold up. There are some smaller steel anvils out there but when you consider the steel in the horn and the heel they don't have that much mass under your work. Granted, they do beat a railroad track anvil but you just need more size. When I went from a 66 and a 110 lb anvils to that 87 lb block the difference was like night and day with all the mass the block gave me under the work.

The reason that some recommend a minimum of 200 lb anvils for knife making is make up fore the wasted mass that is in the horn and the heal.

Doug
 

C. Killgore

Well-Known Member
The best forge you're gonna get is one you build yourself (also cheapest). Now when you start thinking burners... I'd highly recommend building a blown burner. They are stupid simple to construct and work without being fussy (just be sure to have a needle valve on the propane and some way to adjust air). If you plan to go with a venturi burner, I'd recommend spending the bucks and getting a nice one like a t-rex from hybrid burners so you don't end up having problems with it.

Otherwise, the atlas mini is a good alternative though it is small and not the best for welding in.

I'd second what was said earlier and get in touch with old world anvils and purchase their 4x4 square stock anvil in a longer length (10+ inches). IIRC those are around $200 and are fantastic for blades. Or, if budget allows, the black robin anvil from USAKnifemaker

Drill press is a must. 2x72 is going to be important. Most of the 2x72's are pretty good. I'd say you probably want to look for one with a VFD. Grinders tend to be a bit subjective IMO depending on how you intend to use it. I don't use work/tool rests. I mostly just use a flat platen and a small wheel attachment. So for me, just about any of them would work.

Personally, I'd try to squeeze in a heat treat oven in the budget. But whether or not you have enough for that, depends on the grinder you pick.
 

Ty Adams

KNIFE MAKER
$3000 sounds like a lot of money, not having any tools it is not going to go far. I just spent 2 weeks at the intro to bladesmithing class in Hope Arkansas. We used anvils from 77 to 265 pounds. Using the larger anvils was a huge time savings vs. using a smaller one.
Personally I would buy a good 2X72, the largest anvil you can afford, a couple different tongs for bar stock, and a good hammer. Mathewson Metal Works has a knife makers forge for $225 and I'm happy with it. If you have any money left buy a good drill press.
 
Thanks everyone for the contributions. This has been quite helpful. I think I've narrowed it down to the following that will likely fit into my budget, with a slight extension.
1. Atlas Mini Forge($285)
2. Either the Black Robin Anvil($460) or the 4x4 Old World Anvil($100 on website)(similar square anvils, the OWA is only 4 inches tall compared to 12" for the BRA). Leaning towards the BRA since they are relatively local and it already has a plate welded to the bottom.
3. A Grinder(nobody seems to recommend a particular brand) After some research, it looks like a fully put together variable speed 2x72 grinder with attachments is roughly $2,000.
4. Misc tools(Hammers and tongs)
5. Drill Press
6. Heat Treat Oven(How important is a heat treat oven?)

So, next questions.
1. You have $2000 to spend on a grinder. Which one do you pick and which attachments or features are most important(Size of motor, size of wheel, variable or not, etc). Please be specific. It seems like the vast majority of finishing work is done on this machine, so I can see allocating most of the busget to this item.
2. Is a heat treat oven necessary? If so, what do folks recommend?


Brett
 

C. Killgore

Well-Known Member
4x4 Old World Anvil($100 on website)
You have to contact them for them to cut you a longer piece. You don't want the 4" long one; you want something 10" at least. The beauty of the post anvils like this is that all the weight of the anvil is directly under your hammer blows. This makes it work like a much larger anvil. My 85lb post anvil feels bigger than my 165lb peddinghaus.
 

C. Killgore

Well-Known Member
I'm always a little hesitant to recommend a grinder. Like I said earlier, I don't use work rests or tool rests on my 2x72s. Some people will find those essential. I use a flat platen for my flat grinds and a small wheel to get into finger grooves and other curves. And occasionally I'll use a larger contact wheel for profiling. People seem to make a big deal about have a second tooling arm but I've never found it useful for myself.

To be completely honest, if it was me starting out with that budget... I'd go with a Coote. And even though I recommended a VFD (as will basically everyone) for the variable speed, I know I'm also happy with step pulleys. I have 2 2x72s with VFDs on them and 1 with step pulleys. I use all 3 grinders and I'm in the process of adding a Coote to that list (because who doesn't need 4? lol). For the coote, they offer a set of step pulleys for sale (it will be about $90 for the set from them). You would have to purchase a motor for it (be sure it's TEFC). And if you get in touch with them, they could recommend a speed of motor for you based on the size of contact wheel you chose and the step pulleys they offer. If you think you might do hollow grinds in the future, I'd probably go the 10" contact wheel version. I'd also recommend picking up the "roller" attachment which is their version of a small wheel. It is also possible to add a VFD to the motor on a coote and forego the step pulleys for just a couple regular pulleys of the same size.

You would be sacrificing some versatility by going with a 2-wheel grinder configuration over the tool arm grinders. For me, I know that I don't need anything else. It really does kinda depend on how you end up grinding.

If you're looking for a tooling arm style grinder on a budget, maybe look into the OBM. They are pretty cheap compared to most and still a decent machine. And if you want to spend a little more, I'm still a fan of the original KMG grinder or a Pheer.

Everyone is going to have a different opinion on grinders depending on what they like.
 
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Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
I did some looking around and I have to admit, IF I was ONLY going to make knives and had no interest in general blacksmithing the BlackRobin anvil from USAknifemaker is very attractive. I like the mass and the fact that it is all in line. IF you are going to try general blacksmithing you WILL use the horn and heel of the anvil. I very seldom use the horn of my anvil while forging a knife so I can surely see the benefit in an anvil like the robin. I do a lot of general blacksmith work too, everything from re-forging plow shears to tool making to decorative works so my answers most often will be from that perspective. Also, I must clearify my previous statement about getting an ASO. I agree cast iron anvils should be avoided at all costs. In MY LITTLE WORLD anything other than an anvil with a horn and heel is an ASO. I am glad someone else made the point about cast iron anvils being avoided. A big old chunk of forklift tine will make a fine ASO...You get the picture.
 

Doug Lester

Well-Known Member
A heat treating oven is nice for any alloy of steel because there is no such thing as too much temperature control when it comes to heat treating. However, they are really only necessary with complex alloys. Steels like 5160, 1075, 1080, 1084, and 80CrV2 are more forgiving steels when it comes to heat treating. You can learn to spot decalesense to aid you in heat treating. The kitchen oven can be used for tempering, if the wife doesn't smack you up side the heat if you try it. If you are not allowed to use the kitchen oven and you don't want to divorce the wife then get yourself a toaster oven.

Doug
 
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