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Stang Bladeworks

KNIFE MAKER
I opted for no dust collection to avoid potential fires. I made a dedicated grinding room instead with meat freezer hanging doors. So far I really like it. I definitely agree with everyone that you cant have too many compressed air lines. I feel the same way about power outlets also. I upgraded all my lights to led. It was cheaper than I thought and makes everything so much nicer. I put in 10000 lumens in a single garage bay and I am happy with the result. Still I may add more in certain areas. I also sheeted the walls with plywood to make hanging things easy. I opted to paint them with fire retardant paint.
 

cajundad

Active Member
IMO.... Compressed air ABSOLUTLY. Just as Ted said.... once you have it, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it! And pay CLOSE attention to what Bob said about materials for a shop air system...if you intend to do it that way. I've also been in shops when PVC pipe used in the air system exploded, and I had to pick shards of PVC outta myself!

Dust collector system... ABSOLUTLY NO! At least not in the conventional/commercially available type that runs through a piping system, throughout a shop. I have seen a number of knife shops burnt to the ground because of them, and I nearly had the same thing occur. Even if you do have some type of "wet" in the system, or a "spark arrestor", you will forget and the water element will dry up, and if you're willing to bet your shop on a "spark arrestor" you will lose. Mixing in grinding steel, Ti, and various other non-ferric materials and highly flammable other dusts/swarf requires you to think outside the box on "dust collection"

Everybody has their own solution, but I chose a shop vac that runs to a "tray" under each grinder, that can be totally closed off when grinding anything that sparks, also, a 5 gallon bucket of soapy water hangs directly under each grinder. That is the only place in my shop that has dust collection of the conventional type, and it is only on/used for things that do not spark or get hot enough to ignite.

For air filtration, I built/use "box" type filters that consist of old furnace blowers, surrounded by several layers of furnace filters. One I built from scratch, the other was converted from a small swamp cooler.....









You have to understand that the commercially available dust collection systems are designed/built with ONLY woodworking in mind. There are a couple out there designed specifically for metal worker/working, but you are looking at them starting at around $7,500. One of the shop fires I mentioned earlier, was caused when the "spark arrestor" in the $7,500 system failed.

No convincing the world would ever get me to use, or recommend that anyone in a knifemaking shop situation buy/use a commercial dust collection system.

A couple of GOOD shop vacs, and using them wisely, will keep you safer and cost far less then a dust collection system.
Great overview Ed. When and If I ever buy a belt grinder, forge and other things for knife making, I will not do it in my woodworking shop. All of the experience on this forum by many experts is very helpful.
 

cajundad

Active Member
And why do you need compressed air? Here's about a dozen reasons... as a starting point.
BTW FWIW: the Aircat tools (red) are excellent, well made and quiet. A couple of these are from Harbor Freight and are pure crap.
View attachment 77788
I've reached a point with Harbor Freight that I won't spend my hard earned money on their tools going forward. I will spend extra $$ to buy better quality...........
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
I've reached a point with Harbor Freight that I won't spend my hard earned money on their tools going forward. I will spend extra $$ to buy better quality...........
I think that's something that most of us have learned along our journey. I was as guilty as the next guy way back when I started.....buying cheap tool after cheap tool, and then buying them again, and again. I'll let you in on a little secret..... that's why I have such strong opinions on buying a top end grinder the first time.... because I was one of those who spent about 4X as much on grinder after grinder, before I learned my lesson....and it's why I preach buying a top end grinder..... been there done that....and yes, I am a bit ashamed to admit it. :confused:
 

fitzo

KNIFE MAKER
And, yet, 40 years later, my Taiwanese metal-cutting bandsaw, surface grinder & chuck, the bench grinder that powers my old Darex drill grinder, and two floor-standing drill presses are all still running. They were the junk of their day. The bandsaw still sounds like Day 1: tortured and ready to explode. Cuts fine. The surface grinder still has precision in the low tenths. Changed the $150 drill presses over to some nice Albrecht chucks (cost as much as the press) and the runout on those is as good as USA. Not much to say about a bench grinder. :)

Go figure. I always wondered whether there was some actual magic in a "real" Wilkinson metal saw. Neither of the drill presses has a depth stop; wish they had that. Anyone who has stood in front of a manual (stones) surface grinder without coolant to clean up blanks knows how interminable that is. Always wanted to convert that, but it still functions fine.

So while one part of me says, "NoHF", another part is a take on what Ed said, and that is buy the best you can at the beginning or you might find yourself stuck with "adequate" forever.

Ed is so very correct in his great advice about a grinder: save up and buy top tier of your choice. He's one of the very, very few people who has a KMG older than mine; by about three weeks IIRC. Pecking order, rightfully so. ;) Those were exciting times on KN when Rob first came on board and showed that grinder, weren't they, Ed?

There're so many bright new shiny grinders everywhere nowadays my head is spinning. I have two KMGs. No, mikey, you don't need a Northridge. LOL
 
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MTBob

Well-Known Member
At the risk of offending folks, here are my 3 Harbor Freight Rules -
1) If it's got wires connected to it, don't buy it,
2) If it's got matching machined parts, don't buy it,
3) If I care about quality, don't buy it.
What do I buy? Blast media: Aluminum Oxide, glass beads and walnut shells (can't screw that up too much). I also buy gloves & some other throw away stuff where quality doesn't matter.
Sure, some of their junk will work well for a long time. But, in my experience, even if it does "work", you'll always be fighting some crappy little quality issue that is a constant frustration- or, compromises the project you're working on.
Just my humble opinion, YMMV!
 

fitzo

KNIFE MAKER
There's been a HF about two miles away for the last ten years. I'm going to have to go out there and check it out.

Edited to add a story: loong time ago I bought a set of drill bits in a indexing box from the company then known via mailer as "Harbor Freight and Salvage Company." Got my drill set in. Boootiful! Shanks turned to 1/4 and raised flutes polished oh-so pretty. Chucked up a normal 1/8" bit and drilled my pilot. Stepped to 1/4 and the flutes came off as the bit went through the bar of CRA. 9/64 "-same thing. All of 'em. No hardening on the raised flute bits.!! DOH Nice box, though. I saved that. Every so often I pull out a bit and trash it just for fun. Man, those things looked so pretty...

You're right, MTBob, but when you're 30 with your first house, first shop, chronically broke, and a burning desire to make blades and no background in machine tools, a funky drill press is better than no drill press. And, that's how those of us who start youngish tend to get roped into cheap tools. I made my first two knives on a 3x24 Sears belt sander held upside down in the jaws of my vise. Used all open-grit wood belts to grind two damned files into knives. Didn't even know about coated abrasives yet. Man, those were days of excitement and passion. :)
 
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Owl

Gold Membership
I'm with MTBob about not purchasing any Horrible Fright tools that have to be plugged in.
However I do buy some cheap stuff like spring clamps.
For me about 75% of them survive the first use, and I figure I'm still ahead cause they're so cheap.
Here's a good article that explains HF in terms we can all understand:
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
HF has some gems. They are few, but exist nevertheless. Part of the reason that they are gems is because they simply work and are affordable. The other reason that they are gems is because every other available equivalent is also Chicom junk even if you buy it somewhere else. (every other box store)

The vertical/horizontal bandsaw is a gem. There is no US alternative even close in price. It’s not a precision machine. Its job is to cut metal, which it does more than well enough for what it costs.

The toolboxes are an absolute no brainer. In fact they are far superior to alternatives at twice the cost, and for anyone who ever fell victim to the Snap-On cult they are a harsh reality check that some things simply don’t need to cost a fortune for what they do.

Where HF shines is consumables. Gloves, abrasive discs, cutoff wheels, tie wraps, etc. because they are selling the same Chicom products as everyone else only they price them accordingly.

Buy the best you can. Always. But more often than not these days all of the choices come from the same handful of factories.
 
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cajundad

Active Member
I think that's something that most of us have learned along our journey. I was as guilty as the next guy way back when I started.....buying cheap tool after cheap tool, and then buying them again, and again. I'll let you in on a little secret..... that's why I have such strong opinions on buying a top end grinder the first time.... because I was one of those who spent about 4X as much on grinder after grinder, before I learned my lesson....and it's why I preach buying a top end grinder..... been there done that....and yes, I am a bit ashamed to admit it. :confused:
Along with my previous comments, the last time I was at a H/R store buying a very cheap item, I told the cashier to PLEASE tell the manager to start buying ANYTHING not made in China and PREFERABLY made in the good ole USA. He was annoyed at my comments and when I saw that I told him to tell the manager one other thing: I WILL STOP BUYING HERE IF IT DOESN'T CHANGE! China is an enemy of my beloved USA and want to destroy us so why the heck are we supporting them! Just to save a few bucks? Ok, I will now step down off of my apple crate. ;) :cool:
 
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