Carving knife - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 01-25-2020, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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Carving knife

So I recently decided to start trying my hand at carving. So far I have been just power carving with my dremel. I've done pretty decent so far. Now I want to try my hand at using knives and gouges. My question, I'm going to make my own carving knives. Starting with a basic straight edge knife. Should I put a single or double bevel on the edge? Is there an advantage/disadvantage of one over the other?
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post #2 of 15 Old 01-25-2020, 08:01 PM
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I have made all of my carving knives, not the gouges, but the knives. I find that a double bevel is best for me. I don't just carve in one direction, as a person would need to with a single bevel blade. I do a slight double bevel each side of the blade as it is much easier to sharpen with a slight bevel.

All of my carving knives are sharpened at a very steep angle. When I sharpen I just barely lift the back side of the blade. This does make for a very thin fragile edge but they are beyond razor sharp.

There are many things you can make a knife out of. I have several industrial hacksaw blades where the teeth edge have been welded on and are tempered highly. I like high carbon steel, I don't like stainless steel for a knife. Stainless is too soft and won't hold an edge for long.

Once you get your knives sharpened completely, you won't have to resharpen again, unless you nick the blade or something. All you will need to do is hone the blade.

Just a word of caution, never, every use a blade to pry with, they will snap very easy. Above all use safety when sharpening and carving, you won't know you are cut until you see blood. Also if you use a mechanical sharpener, don't get the edge of the blade hot, if it changes color, you just ruined that blade.

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post #3 of 15 Old 01-26-2020, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Jim. I am using an old circ saw blade. I have a few other types on carbon steel I can try. I'm noticing the blade is quite thick. Another option I have available is a concrete trowel. Its thin, maybe 2 mil thick...if that. Would this be more ideal?
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post #4 of 15 Old 01-26-2020, 04:33 PM
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The trowel is probably not good steel. If you have an old file, that makes a great knife. I have heard some who have made knives from a concrete nail, that would have some good steel in it. A reciprocating saw blade, a saber saw blade would be good. It is a lot of fun making knives, at least to me it is.

An old handsaw blade would make a good knife, a hacksaw blade also. You can go to ebay and if you find one of the old straight razors, they make great blades, but to buy an old straight razor that was in good shape would cost way more than the knife would be worth.

Check out some of the good carving knives online, most don't cost much at all. The reason I make my own is it is fun, and I can make it the way I like it.
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post #5 of 15 Old 01-26-2020, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
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Stainless is too soft and won't hold an edge for long.
I take affront to that assertion. Improperly heat treated stainless, or the wrong alloy for the application, is too soft and won't hold an edge. Properly done a good stainless steel makes every bit the knife that carbon steel does.

Nothing wrong inherently wrong with stainless, but again, it has to be the right stainless and it has to be heat treated properly. The exact same thing can be said of carbon steels, a blade made of 1018 is useless, a blade made of 1095 with improper heat treatment is equally useless, a properly made 1095 blade will split a thread dropped on it. A properly done AEB-L stainless steel blade will do the exact same thing as the 1095 blade
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post #6 of 15 Old 01-26-2020, 05:50 PM
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totally agree with Jim.
a hacksaw, recip.saw, handsaw will last you for the rest
of your life. I scored a bundle of Canary Wood at WoodCraft
a few months ago with the idea to make a bunch of carving and chip knives.
today, I finished up a leather skiving knife and was totally disappointed
in the color of the wood after using BLO. oh well, back to the drawing board.
selecting the correct wood for the handles is just as important as the blade.
as for the bevel: when you get into the groove of making your own blades,
you will make some with the double bevel, upper single and lower single,
and all kinds of angles to suit your style of cutting wood. don't settle on
just one type or style - experiment.

my daughter has absconded most of my knives. but here are my two
favorites. I made the top round one many moons ago and the bottom one
used to have a much larger blade. it has been sharpened many times.
a friend of mine, Cdr. Ralph Gaither, was a VietNam POW for 7-1/2 years
and took up carving when he finally got home. he made this knife back
in the '80s and gave it to me. I should stop using it as it has so much
emotional sentiment. but, it just fits my hand so perfectly, I can't help it.
I will make more of his design as it it is very comfortable for me.
looking forward to seeing some of your projects !!

Carving knife-knives-001.jpg

.

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post #7 of 15 Old 01-26-2020, 08:58 PM
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I agree with epic48, stainless steel can make very good blades. Many SS's can be heat treated and you can also work harden them with a hammer. You can heat treat any steel having enough carbon. There are good (& not so good) videos on how it's done. Sounds simple but... Sometimes I get good results, sometimes not. Try it, rewarding, when it works. Almost any spring steel has enough carbon. Small things can be heat treated with a propane torch. Heat to cherry red, until a magnet isn't attracted to it, swish it around in oil (they make quenching oil that is less flammable but motor oil works) it will be glass hard. Not good, too likely to snap. Now temper, simple, crude method, polish the surface so you can see color change. Heat from the back side and watch the color change (best done in low light.) As the light "straw" yellow color moves toward the sharp edge, stop when it gets there. Covering it with ashes or sand to let it cool gradually helps on heavier parts.
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post #8 of 15 Old 01-26-2020, 09:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
I take affront to that assertion. Improperly heat treated stainless, or the wrong alloy for the application, is too soft and won't hold an edge. Properly done a good stainless steel makes every bit the knife that carbon steel does.

Nothing wrong inherently wrong with stainless, but again, it has to be the right stainless and it has to be heat treated properly. The exact same thing can be said of carbon steels, a blade made of 1018 is useless, a blade made of 1095 with improper heat treatment is equally useless, a properly made 1095 blade will split a thread dropped on it. A properly done AEB-L stainless steel blade will do the exact same thing as the 1095 blade
I stand corrected, I only spoke from my experiences. I tried SS steel a couple times and didn't like it so I didn't try again and I didn't go the extra step to see if there were different types of SS that were better. I just stuck with carbon steel. It is good to know there is a good grade of SS that is fit for a good blade. Thanks for the heads up.

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post #9 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 10:17 AM
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I have used Starett brand power hacksaw blades. They are yellow in color. I have found that they are hard to sharpen, but they hold an edger well. The scary part is putting the blade in a vise and breaking it off! Wear eye protection!!!
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post #10 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 11:22 AM
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I have used Starett brand power hacksaw blades. They are yellow in color. I have found that they are hard to sharpen, but they hold an edger well. The scary part is putting the blade in a vise and breaking it off! Wear eye protection!!!
The industrial hacksaw blades I have are about 1 1/2 inches wide and about 2 foot long or in that area. I use a diamond wheel on a side grinder to cut them and shape them. It does take a good while to get the blade into shape and finished, but to me it is worth it. You are right though, it is super brittle. That is why the blade shouldn't be used to pry with, it doesn't take a lot to snap the end off.

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post #11 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 11:58 AM
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about the stainless steel:

what I have wanted to do for years is take a stainless kitchen
chef's knife and cut it up, being careful not to get it hot.
anybody have experience doing that ?
I see restaurant surplus knives at the flea market for a buck apeace.
so the intrinsic investment is minimal - just some fun time, like Jim says.
but, if it is not suited for carving knives, it is a wasted effort.

.
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post #12 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
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I stand corrected, I only spoke from my experiences. I tried SS steel a couple times and didn't like it so I didn't try again and I didn't go the extra step to see if there were different types of SS that were better. I just stuck with carbon steel. It is good to know there is a good grade of SS that is fit for a good blade. Thanks for the heads up.
There's actually a lot of grades of stainless that make for excellent blades, problem is stainless is harder to heat treat than carbon steel is, when maximizing performance of the steel. Even something like AEB-L requires 1950f temperatures in an oxygen-free environment for a 10 minute soak, followed by cooling in either an 11 second oil or between chilled aluminium plates, then further treatment in a liquid nitrogen bath, then a tempering cycle at 450f, and it's one of the easier ones.

There's a lot more than can go wrong, and some grades are just better for use in knives. Fo mass produced stuff, most manufacturers are going to stick with something like 440c stainless and skip some of the heat treatment steps like cryogenic treatment, the detriments start to stack and you get a crappy knife at the end. There are good stainless steels out there though. Check out Kershaw knives if you want an example

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
about the stainless steel:

what I have wanted to do for years is take a stainless kitchen
chef's knife and cut it up, being careful not to get it hot.
anybody have experience doing that ?
I see restaurant surplus knives at the flea market for a buck apeace.
so the intrinsic investment is minimal - just some fun time, like Jim says.
but, if it is not suited for carving knives, it is a wasted effort.

.
A good stainless knife you'd be able to manage that fine, but a cheapie restaurant surplus knife at a flea market probably isn't going to be the best quality. For a dollars worth of investment it might be worth trying, I've heard some of the supply house stuff is amazingly good, but I wouldn't bank on that. A note on grinding though, don't rely on colors to tell you the heat of the metal. Those colors are caused by an oxide layer, and stainless steel resists oxidation, so the temperature you see the colors at isn't an accurate representation of the temperature of the steel. Stainless also builds up heat a lot faster than carbide steel does

Seeing everybody talking about it, I'm starting to think I need to do a run of stainless steel carving knives... Or hell, carbon steel so y'all can see what a real knife preforms like :P

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post #13 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 06:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
There's actually a lot of grades of stainless that make for excellent blades, problem is stainless is harder to heat treat than carbon steel is, when maximizing performance of the steel. Even something like AEB-L requires 1950f temperatures in an oxygen-free environment for a 10 minute soak, followed by cooling in either an 11 second oil or between chilled aluminium plates, then further treatment in a liquid nitrogen bath, then a tempering cycle at 450f, and it's one of the easier ones.

There's a lot more than can go wrong, and some grades are just better for use in knives. Fo mass produced stuff, most manufacturers are going to stick with something like 440c stainless and skip some of the heat treatment steps like cryogenic treatment, the detriments start to stack and you get a crappy knife at the end. There are good stainless steels out there though. Check out Kershaw knives if you want an example



A good stainless knife you'd be able to manage that fine, but a cheapie restaurant surplus knife at a flea market probably isn't going to be the best quality. For a dollars worth of investment it might be worth trying, I've heard some of the supply house stuff is amazingly good, but I wouldn't bank on that. A note on grinding though, don't rely on colors to tell you the heat of the metal. Those colors are caused by an oxide layer, and stainless steel resists oxidation, so the temperature you see the colors at isn't an accurate representation of the temperature of the steel. Stainless also builds up heat a lot faster than carbide steel does

Seeing everybody talking about it, I'm starting to think I need to do a run of stainless steel carving knives... Or hell, carbon steel so y'all can see what a real knife preforms like :P
I appreciate the information, I didn't know there was that much involved to temper SS.

I watch the TV show of Mountain Men, there is a guy there who makes some high dollar knives, pretty interesting stuff.
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post #14 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
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I appreciate the information, I didn't know there was that much involved to temper SS.

I watch the TV show of Mountain Men, there is a guy there who makes some high dollar knives, pretty interesting stuff.
Okay, this is going to sound like petty semantics but its a personal pet peeve of mine; tempering is the last step of the heat treatment process, applying heat to reduce the hardness and increase the ductility and durability of a piece of hardened steel. The process as a whole is called heat treating.

Its a tiny thing, but its pretty important when you get down to it
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post #15 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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So it turns out the trowel steel is hardenable. I figured they were some sort of carbon steel. I used that thing for years as a finisher and it barely ever rolled the edge over. The circ saw blade was a bust. Guess its mild steel with carbide teeth. I like the idea of hacksaw blades. I have a few old files and chisels as well. Looks like I'm building a forge. Lmao
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