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There is an old woodworkers saying that one can never have enough clamps. 

So, what clamps do I need for woodworking? If you are new to woodworking, you have probably gone to a shop and left more confused than ever by the huge variety of tools. Just the wide array of clamps arranged neatly in rows can indeed get confusing. 

The good news is, you do not need all of them to begin your woodwork project. You can start with a few and grow your collection as you gain competency and the confidence to take on larger or more intricate projects. 

What are Clamps?

Clamps are fastening devices used to hold wood pieces together to prevent separation and movement. They can also hold planks of wood steady for drilling, filing, sawing, chiseling, and painting. 

Generally, clamps have a moveable jaw attached to an adjustable screw. 

So, What Clamps Do I Need for Woodworking?

A woodworker complaining about having too many clamps is almost unheard of. While having many is good, having the right clamps, and knowing how to use them is definitely better. 

Still, as versatile as some clamps are, they cannot serve every function. 

Here are the most common clamps and their functions.

Trigger Activated Bar Clamp

Trigger Activated Bar Clamp - What Clamps Do I Need For Woodworking

This clamp’s bar length ranges from 6” to 50”. It can be operated with one hand, freeing up the other hand to hold workpieces or maneuver around the workbench. 

As its name suggested, the trigger clamps used a trigger mechanism to adjust its jaws. It is also called the one handed bar clamp because it allows for one handed operation. 

This clamp is ideal for both light and heavy woodwork duty. It’s also easy to manure, making it the go-to clamp for both professionals and armatures.

Aside from clamping, some trigger clamps come with detachable jaws that can be placed on the main bar facing different directions. In this setting, the clamp can be used for detaching.

G/C Clamp

c g clamp - What Clamps Do I Need For Woodworking

This clamp looks like an upper Case letter G, which is where it gets its name from. It’s also known as the C-clamp. 

The G/C clamp is very versatile and is an essential must-have when working with a restrictive budget. Different styles of G/C clamps come with throats of varying depths, the general range being 3’’ to 14’’. 

There are also miniature versions at 1’’ by 1’’. These are often for people taking up woodwork as a hobby, however. 

In a workshop, these clamps work best on narrow pieces of wood where one requires to apply a lot of pressure on multiple points. 

Spring Clamps

spring clamp - What Clamps Do I Need For Woodworking

The spring clamp is also called the pinch clamp. This tool features two handles, two grippers, and a spring pivot to connect all the moving bits.

These apply light clamping pressure. You apply force to the handled to release the pressure and hold. 

The jaws are fitted with rubber pads or other soft padding to prevent damage to the item being clamped.  

These are great for domestic use and for holding smaller, more delicate bits when woodworking. 

F Clamps

passive lock bar f clamp - What Clamps Do I Need For Woodworking

This F-shaped clamp has a long vertical bar fitted with two perpendicular bars. The F-clamp is very sturdy and can be used for heavy woodworking. 

You can find it in different sizes depending on the bulk of the wood pieces you will be using. 

These clamps are available in numerous sizes. You can therefore get the idea-sized pump for the job you intend to carry out. These can go from 6” to 48”. 

 

Parallel Jaw Clamp

parallel jaw clamp - What Clamps Do I Need For Woodworking

The parallel clamp is much like the F-clamp, only much more powerful. 

Just like the F clamp, the parallel clamp allows for wide openings. The jaws of this clamp remain parallel when packed with increasing loads. This prevents dimpling and offers a larger distribution area. 

This parallel clamp can deliver about 1000 pounds of pressure. This clamp is often the preferred clamp for large glue-up jobs. 

Aside from their power, these clamps are also very versatile. Their downside is that they tend to be expensive, which is expected for the level of power and the versatility they deliver. 

These clamps also come with large throats that comfortably hold 3 to 4 inches of material. 

A parallel jaw clamp is easy to disassemble as well, and you can turn it around to functions as a spreader. 

Pipe Clamps

pipe clamp - What Clamps Do I Need For Woodworking

These are heavy-duty reasonably-priced clamps. Most people get flustered by their relatively small clamping mechanism. 

Once you pick your required size, you need to purchase steel gas pipes from your hardware store. You then need to slide the clamp into the pipes to have a functional clamp. 

The pipe’s thickness remains standard at ½” or ¾”. However, you can buy pipes of different lengths depending on the lengths you require for individual projects. 

A downside to the pipe clamp is the throat, which is often short and limiting for certain woodwork tasks. 

Another negative aspect of this clamp is that the pipers tend to leave residue and grease from the pipes to the project one is working on. However, you can place rags between the pipes and your wood pieces to prevent the residue transfer. 

Quick Tips for Working with Clamps

As mentioned earlier, knowing how to use clamps is just as important as buying the correct ones. 

1. Work on a flat surface

Despite your best efforts, an assembly table that is not entirely flat can destabilize your clamp and cause racking and twisting. You then end up with a less than perfect finished result. 

2. Apply pressure evenly

Use enough pressure to bring two pieces together along the glued edges. You should see some squeeze out without squeezing out all the glue applied. 

Equal squeeze out along the joint line is one way to let you know you are applying even pressure. 

3. Create Barriers

Dents and stains are a common complaint when using clamps. Whenever you are using a clamp without protective padding, place a piece of waxed paper between the workpiece and the clamp. 

This prevents glue from sticking onto the clamps’ surface. Thin scrapes of softwood can similarly be used to prevent marring or denting. 

The Woodworkers Guild of America has an excellent series on how to glue and clamp wood properly. For example here is a quick video about how to clamp irregularly shaped objects.

 

So in the end when you asked ‘What Clamps Do I Need For Woodworking?’

The answer is ‘It depends on the job’.

As you get more experienced and take on new projects your collection of clamps will inevitably grow. Old woodworkers all have massive collections of clamps for good reason, and now you understand why!

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They say the day you get into woodwork, quitting becomes a problem. Having just a few essential tools for a beginner woodworker is all you need to get started in woodworking.

With good reasons too. Woodworking means different things to different people. This goes farther than the joy of creating beautiful or functional pieces. 

For some, woodworking is a way to create an income or additional income on the side. Others love the cathartic, stress-relieving properties of a good woodworking session. 

For some, it’s a means to get a muscle workout while being creative. 

For others it is just an outlet to make interesting things beyond furniture like for instance, longbows.

Whatever the reason, the correct tools support your end game. If you are just discovering this art, here are the essential tools you should have in your woodworking toolbox.

Essential Tools for a Beginner Woodworker #1 – Safety Gear

This is not necessarily a tool but is an absolute must-have when engaging in any woodwork activity. 

If professional woodworkers put safety first after formal training and years of expertise: so should you. Without this, you risk inflicting small or even severe permanent injuries on yourself.

Gloves and safety goggles will offer ample protection against flying wood chips, dust and debris and minor tool mishaps. 

If you will be working with power tools, hearing protection is required to protect you from hearing loss. A good quality facemask will also protect you from inhaling dust and particles, as well as from paint and varnish. 

Essential Tools for a Beginner Woodworker – Saws 

Woodworking requires a lot of cutting. Saws are, however, not a one size fits all. Different saws accomplish different functions. Here are some saws to start off your cutting tools collection. 

#2 Handsaw:

The handsaw is great for beginners because it’s lightweight and has no cords to wrangle while you work. 

#3 Circular saw:

These feature a circular or round blade with sharp teeth to cut through wood. Circular saws are electric-powered, with different types and brands having different power ratings. 

Circular saws have three types of blades:

  • ripping blades
  • crosscut blades
  • combination blades

#4 Jigsaw:

The electric tools are designed to make curved, straight or winding cuts. They cut with up, down and back and forth movement. You can also make smaller, more intricate interior cuts with the jigsaw. 

Essential Tools for a Beginner Woodworker – Planing, Filing and Sanding

Unless you are going for a rustic look and feel, the planks of wood you cut need some finishing to give it a better appearance. 

This is where planning, sanding and filing tools come in. 

#5 Planes

woodworking essential tools for a beginner woodworker

Planes are tools that use a fixed blade to shave wood fibres. This allows the object you’re making to take shape and become gradually smoother. The most common ones are:

  • Jack plane
  • Block plane
  • Joining Plane
  • Rabbet plane
  • Scraper plane

#6 Orbital Sander

These use sandpaper pads to smoothen surfaces. Being electric, they tend to be faster and do not require as much energy to operate as manual sanding tools. 

Regular orbital sanders work in a circular motion, but leave swirl marks that are challenging to remove. A random orbital sander oscillates rather than circulates. This gives you a mark-free, silky finish. 

#7 Hand Files

Good quality hand files are durable and often inexpensive. These are excellent smoothing options especially for beginners. 

The main file choices to have are:

Rasps: these have coarse teeth and rough edges. This is often the first file to be used as it shaves off larger chunks of wood before finer files take over. 

Half-round files: these feature one rounded side and one flat surface. The two ends make it possible to work on both flat and curved wood pieces. 

Mill files: these have two flat surfaces, with one end being courser than the other. These files can also work on tight spaces thanks to their toothed edges. 

Hand files are also often used to sharpen other bits and blades used in woodwork. 

Assembly Tools

hammers and screws essential tools for a beginner woodworker

Once wood planks are sized and smoothened adequately, they need to be put together to form the final product. 

Assembly is dependent on two things: precision joints and fastening. 

The more common ones are:

#8 Hammer

There are different woodworking hammers to accomplish various tasks. The main ones are prying and pounding. 

How well a hammer accomplishes these tasks is dependent on several factors. These are:

Hammer claw: the claw design includes a hammer claw’s length and curve. Finishing hammers have longer claws while framing tools have straighter edges for splitting materials.

Head design: some hammerheads, especially finishing hammers, have smooth heads. On the other hand, framing hammers have serrated faces for prying fasteners and nails. 

Handle design: composite or wooden hammer handlers are great for beginners as they deliver minimal shock. Framing works better with steel handles, however. These have more shock, but steel makes them heavier, increasing their force. 

The main type of hammers are:

  • Finishing hammers which tend to be all-purpose
  • Framing hammers with are heavier and sturdier
  • Tack hammers, ideal for small jobs and have no claws

#9 Mallets

Mallets are often confused with hammers. Mallets feature large wood or leather heads with detachable bits to allow various head sizes. 

Unlike a hammer, mallets will absorb shock rather than discharge it. They also leave minimal striking marks, giving off a more refined finish. 

Measurement tools

It is said that a good woodworker measures twice and cuts once. 

These necessitate some good quality, easy to read measuring tools. The following are absolute must-haves in your toolbox. 

#10 Squares

A good assortment of squares is central to great woodwork pieces. Aside from allowing the creation of various angles, squares have measurements on them, making it possible to use them as rulers. 

The key squares to have are:

  • Framing squares: these are large, right-angled for bigger tools
  • Speed squares to check 45 and 90-degree cuts
  • Try squares for smaller, right-angled for verifying squares 
  • bevel squares to recreate existing angles

#11 Tape measure

measuring essential tools for a beginner woodworker

You should have at least one tape measure in your woodworking kit. This can be:

  • Retractable steel tapes: these are very common and come folded in a shell for easy handling
  • Folding Rules: these are rigid measuring sticks that fold into several sections
  • Flexible reel tapes: these measure over 100 feet and come in both steel and fabric
  • Straight edges and yardsticks: these are ideal for laying straight lines

With just a few simple tools you can get started in woodworking easily. Don’t let not having all the fanciest tools hold you back for getting started creating and working on projects.

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Best Random Orbital Sander

An electric sander should enable you to quickly achieve three vital sanding objectives before the power tool can earn the title of ‘Best Random Orbital Sander’. First, the random orbital electric sander should allow you to realize a flawless professional finish in a wide array of DIY sanding tasks, including:

  • Smoothing down wood surfaces on new furniture to allow proper adhesion of an initial coating of wood varnish or paint
  • Heavy-duty sanding in building construction and renovation, such as smoothing down wooden floorboards, decks, guard railing, staircases, patios, outside benches, etc.
  • Thoroughly removing coats of old varnish and paint from wooden surfaces before the application of a different varnish or paint.

Second, the power sander should feature a high material removal rate to ensure you spend the least amount of time carrying out sanding tasks. Third, the electric sanding tool should minimize the amount of dust produced as you perform various sanding operations.

Luckily for you, the Black & Decker BDERO100 Random Orbital Sander ensures both professional woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts can easily achieve all three sanding objectives. This review article looks at the functional features, device specifications, performance capabilities and benefits of an electric sander worthy of the title of ‘best random orbital sander’.

Functional Features of Black & Decker 5inch Random Orbital Sander

The BDERO100 is a 5inch random orbital sander from the Baltimore-based power tool manufacturer, Black & Decker. This electric sander model comes with several features that make the power tool remarkably easy to use. The various functional features that you find on the Black & Decker BDERO100 include

  • Hook and Loop Sandpaper Fastening

Random orbital sander velcro disk fastener

The backing pad of the Black & Decker BDERO100 random orbital sander is a circular disc with a diameter of 5inches. The 5inch backing disc is covered with a velcro-like adhesive material that features countless hooks. The hooks catch onto the loops found at the back of specially-designed sanding paper. The hook and loop attachment ensures your sandpaper is firmly fixed to the base of this electric sander as you sand down wooden surfaces. This sandpaper fastening mechanism also makes it remarkably easy to quickly peel off used sandpaper and replace it with a new sanding disc. This is different from orbital sanders where they take square sheets of sandpaper that is held on with mechanical clips.

  • Dust-sealed switch

The recessed power switch of the BDERO100 random orbital sander is housed within a tight-fitting enclosure. These design features ensure the power switch of the BDERO100 is fully protected from ultra-fine sanding dust. In the absence of sealing measures, super-fine dust infiltrates into the contact points of the button, causing it to fail. Consequently, the dust-sealed switch of the Black & Decker BDERO100 assures you of an extended tool life when you purchase this electric random orbital sander.

  • Random orbit action 

The Black & Decker BDERO100 random orbital sander comes with a powerful 2-ampere AC motor capable of attaining an impressive 12,000 Orbits per Minute (OPM). The patented gear mechanism attached to the high-torque motor of the BDERO100 guarantees the sanding disc moves through random orbits of rotation. The random orbital motion and high rotation rate of this electric sander allow you to achieve three desirable sanding performance outcomes easily:

  1. The complete elimination of cross-grain scratching on all wood surfaces you are sand down. Consequently, you achieve a perfectly smooth sanded surface when you use the Black & Decker BDERO100 Random Orbital Sander to carry out a wide array of sanding tasks.

 

  1. A high material removal rate from target surfaces, which translates to reduced turnaround time in your sanding operations. As a result, you realize considerable time saving when you use this Black & Decker electric sander for your sanding tasks.

 

  1. The rapid removal of material from surfaces makes it possible for you to use the BDERO100 random orbit sander to shape wooden workpieces to precise dimensions. Therefore, you can use this electric sander to perfect concave and convex surfaces on furniture pieces such as chair and table legs, wooden tabletops, headboards, etc.

 

  • Runtime Duct Removal

As you use the BDERO100 random orbital sander, the fine dust that is generated is efficiently sucked into the device via a series of perforations on both the sanding disc and the backing pad. The vacuum system of this electric sander conveys the collected debris into a side-mounted dust bag. Since vacuumed sanding dust is ultra-fine, you can carry out prolonged sanding operations without having to empty the high-capacity dust bag.

best random orbital sander dust woodworking

Once the dust bag fills up, the BDERO100 electric sander goes into automatic shutoff mode. You then empty the reusable dust bag in three simple steps.

  1. An anticlockwise half-turn of the dust bag container allows you to disconnect it from the electric sander easily.
  2. You then remove the dust bag, empty its contents into a waste bin, replace the dust bag into its purpose-built container, and finally reconnect the container to the BDERO100 power sander.

Using the BDERO100 Random Orbit Sander

You begin using the Black & Decker BDERO100 by mounting the desired grit of sandpaper to the electric sander. The sandpaper you use with the BDERO100 should feature a fabric back that allows firm hook-and-loop attachment to the backing disc. Note that this Black & Decker power sander comes with free ten circular sanding discs included in the package.

What is a random orbit sander

Once you successfully mount sandpaper to the BDERO100, you then turn on the power switch before you place the power tool onto the target surface. Doing so ensures the 2-ampere high-torque motor warms up adequately. You then firmly grip the round top of the electric sander as systemically sand down the wooden surface using easy to-and-fro motions. 

Verdict on if the Black & Decker BDERO100 is the Best Random Orbital Sander

There are several reasons why you should consider the BDERO100 electric sander the best random orbital sander in the market. The two most significant reasons are:

  • The remarkable ease with which you can achieve immaculately smooth sanded surfaces while carrying out a wide array of sanding operations using the BDERO100 power sander.
  • The notably short turnaround time when using this Black & Decker electric sander for your sanding tasks, allowing you to realize considerable time savings.

Note that in addition to exceptional sanding performance, you can also use the Black & Decker BDERO100 random orbital sander to shape workpieces in your DIY woodworking projects.

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What is a Random Orbit Sander?

A Random Orbit Sander is a woodworking power tool featuring a circular piece of heavy-duty sandpaper mounted on a round metallic pad connected to a high-torque AC motor. This handy woodworking tool, also known as a Rotary Sander, significantly reduces the time and effort you would spend carrying out manual wood sanding on wooden surfaces. You can use a random orbit sander to efficiently perform a wide array of sanding tasks, including:

  • Stripping layers of old paint from wooden surfaces when intending to apply a fresh coat of the same or different colored paint
  • Removing varnish from furniture surfaces to allow proper application of a new wood finish
  • Smoothing down wooden surfaces before applying a coating of wood varnish or paint 
  • Tackling large-scale sanding tasks on wooden building projects such as wooden floors, staircases, decks, patios, railing, and so forth.

Random Orbit Sander versus Orbital Sander

Another electric sanding tool that is remarkably easy to confuse with the random orbit sander is the Orbital Sander. You can use an orbital sander to carry out similar sanding tasks as those performed using a random orbital sander. However, differences in the mode of operation of these two power sanders make each electric sander more suited to specific sanding tasks. 

Therefore, you need to learn the unique differences between random orbit and orbital sanders if you want to optimize your sanding tasks. Luckily, the woodworking knowledge presented in the next section of this article ensures you always choose the right electric sander for the right job.

Visual Differences Between Random Orbit and Orbital Sanders 

Distinguishing between a random orbit sander and an orbital one is the first thing you need to know before you can adequately utilize these powered sanding tools. This feat involves looking for distinct external features that characterize these two electric sanding tools.  Visible traits you can use to identify either type of sander correctly include: –

  • The shape of the Mounting/Backing Pad

Both sanders require you to attach a piece of sandpaper to the mounting pad before you can embark on a sanding operation. The mounting pad of a random orbit sander is circular, while an orbital sander is square or rectangular.

Orbital sander Square mounting

sandpaper mount of a common orbital sander

  • The shape of the Sandpaper

The shape of the sandpaper you use with either electric sander depends on the mounting pad’s shape. Consequently, the mounting pad on an orbital sander requires that you attach a rectangular 9inch by 11inch sandpaper. On the other hand, you can only mount disc-shaped sandpaper when using a random orbit sander for powered sanding tasks. 

  • Sandpaper Fastening Mechanism

Loading a piece of sandpaper to a random orbit sander involves aligning perforations on sanding discs to tiny hooks on the underside of the mounting or backing pad. The recessed hooks on a random orbit sander ensure the circular sandpaper stays in place as you meticulously sand a wooden surface.

Random orbital sander velcro disk fastener

Random orbital sander velcro disk attachment

In comparison, the fastening mechanism on an orbital sander consists of two wire clips located on top of the backing pad. These stainless steel clips firmly hold the two ends of rectangular or square sandpaper to the pad as you perform a sanding operation.

Sanding Capabilities of a Random Orbit versus an Orbital Sander

In addition to differences in exterior appearance, a random orbit sander’s sanding abilities differ markedly from that of an orbital sander. This performance difference arises from how each power sander operates, as outlined below.

Using a Random Orbit Sander

After you attach a sanding disc to a random orbit sander, you power up the tool and press the tool’s sanding end onto the target wood. The sanding’s high-torque AC motor causes the rotation of the sanding disc over a target area equivalent to the diameter of the disc. Proper sanding using a random orbit sander involves moving the rotating sanding pad of this electric sander systemically over a wooden surface.

During a sanding operation using a random orbit sander, a mechanism below the AC motor ensures that the sanding pad moves in random concentric orbits over the wooden surface. This precise but random rotational motion ensures that this electric sander avoids creating distinct sanding patterns on the surface that you are sanding. 

As a  result, using a random orbit sander allows you to realize an impeccably smooth surface with minimal cross-grain scratching. Furthermore, this electric sander’s random circular motion allows you a high material removal rate from a wooden surface.

Using an Orbital Sander

As with a random orbit sander, you begin your sanding task with an orbital sander by first attaching rectangular or square sandpaper to the backing pad. You then power up this electric sander and press it firmly against the target wooden surface. However, unlike a random orbit sander whose AC motor generates a circular sanding motion, the motor of an orbital sander causes the mounting/backing pad’s to-and-fro movement.

As a result, you achieve a sanded surface bearing distinct sanding patterns with clearly visible cross-grain scratching when you use this electric sander. Furthermore, the sanding end of this woodworking power tool’s basic to-and-from movement translates to a low material-removal rate when you are using an orbit sander.

What is a Random Orbit Sander and Why use One Over an Orbital Sander?

Using a random orbit sander for your sanding tasks provides you with notable advantages over using an orbital sander. First and foremost, you attain a significantly higher rate of material removal from wooden surfaces when using a random orbit sander than possible with an orbital electric sander. Second, choosing a random orbit sander for your sanding tasks allows you to realize a smoother wood sanding finish than with an orbital sander. The outcome is that a random orbit sander allows you to use far less time and effort to perform similar sanding tasks than would be necessary with an orbital sander.

Consequently, a random orbit sander’s faster and smoother sanding performance makes this electric sanding tool a better fit for powered sanding tasks than an orbital sander. However, a random orbit sander’s circular pad is why this electric sanding tool falls short when intending to smooth out corners and angled surfaces.

Here are 2 budget options for sanders depending on your needs. Both are the top of the class on Amazon and very reasonably priced.

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Blacksmithing is a hobby that is growing in popularity all over the world, as people develop a new interest in exploring this ancient art form and learning to work and shape metal with their hands. It’s a fantastic way to develop a deeper understanding of the art and science of metalworking, and to make things that you can enjoy for years to come.

If you have an interest in taking up blacksmithing, but don’t know where to begin, a beginner kit is a great investment in the first set of tools and equipment you need to become a blacksmith. A beginner blacksmith kit gives you everything you need to get started, in a complete, convenient package. Just add a hard flat object to hit stuff on (really any piece of steel will do fine to start) and a way to heat the metal (check out some easy to make forges here) They also make great gifts for aspiring blacksmiths. Here are some of the best beginner blacksmith kits.

Each one offers a different set of items from just basic hammers to including tongs and safety gear. Have a look and choose the ones that fit what you need to get started.

​​​​

Goplus Tools 5-Piece Blacksmith Starter Kit

Beginner Blacksmith KitThis beginner blacksmith hammer set from Goplus is a complete set of hammers for different purposes. The set includes:

  • 2 ball pein hammers for reshaping metal surfaces, riveting, and rounding edges of metal pins and fasteners
  • 1 rubber mallet for shaping mortar beds, or working with wood, soft metal, or tiles
  • 1 sledgehammer for small demolition jobs like breaking concrete and drywall or for driving stakes
  • 1 cross pein hammer for shaping and bending unhardened metal, or for shaping brick and stone blocks

The heads are made of forged, polished steel for strength and durability. The handles are made of fibreglass, with solid cores that absorb vibration and shock and reduce fatigue. The handles are covered with non-slip plastic and have rubber grips for a lasting, secure hold.

These hammers have great grip and shock absorption that let you to work comfortably for long periods and are an excellent size and weight for maximum efficiency.

Whitlox Hammer & Tongs Blacksmith Starter Kit

Blacksmith Starter KitThe Hammer & Tongs Blacksmith Starter Kit from Whitlox is a 6-item bundle great for the beginning blacksmith, with high-quality tools that will be used for years to come. The set comes with:

  • A Chicago Electric leather apron designed to protect you and your clothes from hot sparks. It has four pockets to keep your tools and supplies close at hand, neck and waist straps for a comfortable fit, and double-stitched seams for durability
  • A steel brush with a long, easy-grip handle and durable steel bristles perfect for knocking off scale.
  • A Kseibi cross pein hammer made of high-carbon steel with high hardness and a durable wooden handle. This hammer has a size and weight meant to reinforce good form and reduce vibration and fatigue.
  • Western Safety clear safety glasses for rugged eye protection.
  • Whitlox 16-inch wolf jaw tongs sized to grab and hold many sizes and shapes of stock. These tongs grip securely both end-on and cross-way, and are sturdy and lightweight. The ball ends provide grip and ease of use. These tongs are well-designed and versatile, ideal for beginner blacksmiths who don’t have a different pair of tongs for every purpose.
  • Natural beeswax to provide a professional finishing touch to forged pieces. Beeswax closes the pores in metal, protecting it from water that can lead to corrosion and rust, and also provides a natural, attractive, slightly glossy finish.

With the basics of safety gear, the two most important tools, and even finishing brushes and beeswax, this set is a great start for a beginner blacksmith to work their first metal from beginning to end. Despite being a beginner kit, the components are rugged and durable, high-quality and designed to last for years to come.

Blacksmith Tongs Beginner Kit

BetterForge Blacksmith Tongs Set - Starter Kit - Wolf Jaw Plus V-bit TongsIncluding both Wolfjaw tongs, my favorite all round style of tongs, and V-bit tongs. This Starter kit will handle most all of your blacksmith needs until you develop the skill to tackle harder projects. By then you will have the skills to make tongs that fit your needs!

They open at about a 45 degrees and can hold both flat and round stock at 1/4 to 3/8 inch securely. Perfect for new blacksmiths.

Beginner Knifemaking Tongs Set

Knife Making Tongs Set Tools Assembled Knife Making Blacksmith Bladesmith Anvil Forge-3PCsIf you are planning to make knives these specialized tongs are exactly what you need to securely hold your knife making steel billets.

  • V-Bit Blade Tongs – Extremely versatile and effective in respect to handling wider flat stock sizes up to 1 1/2 inches , 1/4 inch thickness or less.Designed with deep V Groves in the jaws to insure your flat stock stays deadlocked while delivering heavy hammer blows.
  • Blade Tongs – Will handle a variety of stock thickness from 1/8 to 3/8 inches. Allowing easy transitions from forge to anvil. Designed for Knife-smiths these tongs will allow you to grip the knife in various positions when drawing out the blade.
  • Flat Tongs – For 1/4 inch Flat Stock. These tongs are made out of thinner material, making the tongs lighter and easier to handle when working with smaller stock sizes. They are great for almost any project and can be shaped into box jaw, wolf jaw, or v-bit tongs to hold various sizes of metal.
  • Material: Forged from high quality steel round stock providing the user with a comfortable grip. Finished with non-slip wax to protect from rust and corrosion. All tongs measure approximately 15 1/2 to 16 inches making them easy to maneuver in addition to keeping your hands a safe distance from the forge when removing steel.

 

Beginner BlackSmith Forges

There are several ways to go with a blacksmith forge, the biggest decision is the type of fuel it will use. Coal, Propane and Charcoal are the big 3 and they all have pros and cons. Propane is easy to source but can get expensive (a 20lb bottle usually last me about 4 hours of forge time). Coal is very dirty and learning to manage the fire is an entire skill in itself and IMO not worth the trouble when starting out. Charcoal is a middle ground between the ease of propane and the high heat of coal. Here are couple of great options for a forge for the beginner blacksmith.

Whitlox Wood Fired Forges

There are 2 sizes of this forge available. I have one and use it regularly even though I have a propane forge as well. There is just something about tending the fire that feels right when blacksmithing. Both of these forges will run on lump charcoal (avoid charcoal briquettes if possible) and even scraps of wood will work just fine. They very easily get hot enough to forge weld and will even melt steel if you aren’t careful.

For a propane forge I’d go with a simple all included kit. You can make one yourself but having been down that road it is a lot of hassle to find all of the parts from specialized gas fittings to ceramic blankets and rigidizer. Instead I’d recommend a beginner forge kit like this one that has everything and comes with instructions.

The Anvil

Finally, the anvil. THe big heavy hunk of metal you hit things on. The most important things about an anvil are the

1) Rebound. How much of the energy bounces back up into your blow rather than being absorbed into the anvil. Having bad rebound means you have to work harder to move hot iron and will tire much faster.

2) Mass under the working face. The more mass under your blows that easier it will be to move the hot steel. This is why anvils are super heavy (more mass).

A premium anvil for a working smith can easily run into the several thousands of dollars range and is overkill for a starting blacksmith.

Typically you want a forged anvil not a cast iron anvil since the cast iron ones have typically worse rebound. However a small forged anvil like this one.

At only 20lbs it is pretty light and will bounce like crazy when struck until it is permanently mounted. For a similar price you can get started with a cast iron anvil that is far heavier and will let you get going in the hobby with less hassle.

At 100lbs this anvil will take your hardest blows and not budge. The fact that it has Free Shipping will save you more than the cost of the anvil just in shipping fees.

Wrapping it up

A beginner blacksmithing tool kit is a fantastic way to start a blacksmithing hobby, taking some of the guesswork out of buying all the tools, supplies, and equipment you need to start enjoying the satisfaction of working with metal.

Over time, as a person builds skill and expertise, or as projects get more complex, it is natural to gain a greater understanding of which tools are best for your work and your needs, and to start purchasing (or even making) more advanced, customized tools. But this understanding often only comes with time and experience, and in the beginning,  you have to start somewhere.

These kits will put any beginner blacksmith off on the right foot, with the basic tools and equipment they need to get started with blacksmithing and metallurgy.

See the best selling (and I think the best overall) beginner blacksmith kit on Amazon and read the reviews to see why by Clicking Here.

More Guides By Me:

Want to learn how to forge your first knife? Check out my beginners guide

Looking to improve your skills or learn new projects? See the Best Blacksmithing Books I use.

Completely new to Blacksmithing and want to know what the tools and equipment you need are?

-THE STAY AT HOME DAD

 

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So, what exactly is a tabletop bandsaw? And what makes for the best tabletop bandsaw? 

If you work with wood and other materials, you’ll know how important it is to have precision when it comes to cutting, and so your tabletop band saw has a significant part to play.

An unreliable or inaccurate tabletop bandsaw can make the difference between a great piece of work and a piece, which is a complete waste of your materials as well as your time. 

Want to jump straight to our recommendation?  Click Here: Best Tabletop BandSaw

For professional craftsmen, there’s nothing worse than seeing many hours of hard graft being totally ruined just because the tool wasn’t up to the job. Having the best tabletop bandsaw for your project saves time and money.

Because, if you didn’t know already, they are the absolute best cutting machines of all tools known to humankind when they do the job right… And so, if you are into your DIY or are a professional, this is a machine you simply can’t do without.

There are plenty of tabletop bandsaws out there in the marketplace and so trying to decipher which are the best for performance as well as value for money is a challenging task. It can be an overwhelming task as, after all, you are going to invest time and money into this little beauty, and you don’t want to get it wrong.

The problem is that many are quite like toys – plastic and flimsy with poor blade tracking and very little power to get you through thin softwood stock, let alone anything more solid, so you need to be able to decide on the tool which is a good investment rather than a throwaway.

Why Use a TableTop BandSaw?

Depending on what you are going to use the machine for – either as a professional or a DIYer, the tabletop bandsaw can be used for more or less any cutting job requiring precision.

The tabletop saw is basically a loop shaped blade that peeks out through the top of a work-table like a thin ribbon and stretched between two wheels.

The blade rotates as you feed sheet materials into it so the blade can rip them along the grain.

Tabletop bandsaws range from small and relatively in-expensive benchtop model-types targeted to the occasional home DIYer to the bulkier, heavy-duty, and very expensive cabinet models that are more suited to professional wood workshops or on-site varieties.

If you are going to take your saw around with you, you are going to need not just a powerful and reliable machine but one that is protected against potential drops and knocks.

One of the biggest attractions for these types of saws is that they have the ability to cut every plank and workpiece perfectly due to its interchangeable blades.

These blades vary in specifications and include teeth-per-inch and tooth configuration, as well as blades, which are so specialized they can be made for rip-cutting, crosscutting, or dadoing and rebating. 

Similarly, blades are also specifically designed and made to cut hardwoods, softwoods, MDF, melamine, soft metals, and that’s just for starters. 

An adjustable blade guard covers the saw-blade itself. A parallel fence rests in a groove, and some of them are even designed to extend telescopically. 

An angle stop also rides along a groove and is adjustable to hold the workpiece at an angle to make cuts. The blade itself can be tilted, even to angles as deep as 45 degrees, so as to make bevel cuts. 

All this is just for starters, so what makes the best tabletop bandsaw?

One which has an excellent design, an abundance of features, and with matchless cutting capability.

 

Here are The bandsaws that are a cut above the rest…

 

Overall Best Value tabletop bandsaw and Best Budget bandsaw under $500

Our Overall Best Value tabletop bandsaw and Best Budget bandsaw under $500 happens to be the same one. Combining many must have features, great build quality and an almost impossibly low price this is a hard one to pass up for the DIY and enthusiast crowd yet good enough for professional work. If you want to see my full write up about it check out my WEN 3939t Review

Best Portable Bandsaw

When you need to take the saw to the project a portaband is what you need, something tough, portable and powerful.  Milwaukee makes great tools all around and you can’t go wrong with this portaband. Just take a look at the reviews on Amazon and you will see lots of happy trades talking about how well it handles black pipe, unistrut and PVC. 

Best Upright Bandsaw over $500

When price is less of a concern and you just need to have the best tool for the job This would be my pick.

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If you are looking for the best band saw under 500 dollars, you need not look any further than the WEN 3939T benchtop band saw. You can buy this band saw from Amazon an amazingly affordable price it won’t cost you a single cent above $500 to have the WEN 3939T bandsaw delivered to your doorstep. Check the listing below to see the current price on Amazon

This band saw features a powerful 2.8-ampere AC motor that is capable of moving the cutting blade at an incredible rate of 2460 feet per minute. The impressive sawing power of the WEN 3939T makes it remarkably easy for you to achieve precision cuts on all manner of timber, wood-derivative workpieces and metal working projects.

 

The cutting blades you can install on the WEN  3939T can have widths ranging between ⅛ to ⅜ inches, However, the maximum circumference of the circular saw blade you intend to install should not exceed 62-inches. Make sure you read this article to the end to find out how to safely install cutting blades onto the WEN 3939T benchtop band saw.

 

Unboxing your Brand New WEN 3939t Band Saw

Choosing to purchase the WEN 3939T not only gets you the best band saw for under 500 dollars, but you also acquire a powerful woodworking tool with an array of complementary components. The following function-specific components should be part of your WEN 3939T band saw package.

 

  • A tiltable 12 x12-inch work table that you can pivot up to 45 degrees while making intricate and detailed cuts on wooden workpieces
  • A ⅜-inch wide cutting blade made using high-grade tensile steel, allowing you to achieve cuts that are 3 to 8 inches deep and up to 9 inches wide.
  • A miter gauge that enables you to make precise angular measurements on workpieces 
  • An onboard dust port to which you connect 2-inch flexible hosing for the efficient removal of saw debris from the worktop
  • A fence against which you support workpieces while striving for exceptionally straight cuts
  • An adjustable blade guard that helps you minimize unnecessary tension on the cutting blade while making cuts on different sized workpieces.
WEN 3939T Bed Tilt

The main body of the band saw is fully assembled when you finally unbox your brand new WEN 3939T benchtop band saw. You only need to attach the tiltable worktop, install the cutting blade, and connect elastic hosing to the onboard dust port at the base of the saw. The easy-to-understand user manual should offer you ample guidance on how to successfully assemble your WEN 3939T band saw. However, we have taken the liberty to provide you with an even simpler cutting blade installation procedure in the next section.

 

The manufacturer of the WEN 3939T offers a 2-year warranty on your benchtop band saw purchase. The warranty means you are eligible for 24-months of free repairs from registered WEN band saw dealers. Furthermore, you have the option of replacing the benchtop band saw if the units exhibit serious manufacturing-level defects. That many of these features aren’t available on even more expensive bandsaws further shows that this is the best band saw under 500. 

 

Safety Features and Protocols for the WEN 3939T

The WEN 3939T benchtop band saw has several safety features designed to offer you maximum protection against injury while using the woodworking tool. The bandsaw uses strong cast-iron housing to enclose the upper and lower stainless-steel guide wheels. You access the guide wheels when installing and removing the circular bandsaws via user-friendly latches. 

 

Furthermore, the blade guards on the neck of the unit and above the tiltable worktop keep the fast-rotating cutting blade safely hidden while you use the WEN 3939T. Two guide rollers at the worktop-end of the guard rail allow proper alignment of the cutting blade with workpieces. The manufacturer has also included a thrust bearing which functions to eliminate undue tension on the saw blade while you work on tough wood.

 

While the WEN 3939T is safe to use, you should ensure you wear personal safety equipment while using this powerful benchtop band saw. The attention paid to making this safe  where others skimp , further demonstrates to me this is easily the best band saw under 500. Personal safety items that you should have while using this band saw include protective goggles, a face shield, leather work gloves, a work apron, and hard-tipped boots.

 

Installing the WEN 3939T Cutting Blade 

Before you can start using your brand new WEN 3939T benchtop band saw, you need to install the ⅜-inch cutting. You begin by opening the guide wheels housing via latches on the sides. Each cover swings sideways to expose the two stainless-steel via side-mounted hinges. You then fix the new cutting blade along the groves on the two wheels and ensure the cutting blade passes along the neck and worktop-end of the guard rails. 

WEN 3939T Best Band Saw Under 500

While installing the blade, you have to ensure it passes through the worktop slit and that the teeth face the right direction. The blade should rest on the rubber-tired rim of the two guide wheels, after which you slightly adjust the tension adjustment knob to keep the cutting blade in place. Proceed to turn the wheels by hand to check whether the blade wonders from the rubber track on the wheels. If the blade strays,  you correct the misalignment by adjusting the tilt angle of the top wheel via the blade tracking adjustment knob. 

 

Once you successfully align the blade, increase its tension on the blade using the tension chart visible on the neck of the unit. The properly installed blade should have a 1/4 -inch of play. Your WEN 3939T is now ready for use.

 

Benefits the WEN 3939T Benchtop Bandsaw

When you choose to buy the WEN 3939T, you get an affordable yet versatile benchtop band saw suited for use on a wide array of DIY woodworking projects. This bandsaw grants you the ability to make precise crosscuts, straight cuts, and angled cuts, in addition to an unlimited range of detailed free-hand cuts.

 

The WEN 3939T is invaluable when you are ripping timber or knife making steel to desired sizes at the start of projects, to the final stages involving fabrication of precise joints and pieces. Furthermore, the array of safety features on the WEN 3939T ensures you are protected in any eventuality. 

 

Bottomline – This Is the Best Band Saw Under 500 Hands Down

You can’t go wrong when you choose the WEN 3939T bandsaw for your hobby or commercial DIY woodworking.

The WoodWorkers Guild Of America has a ton of helpful tutorials on youtube to help you get the most out of your new bandsaw.

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While hunting is not anywhere as popular as it once was, it’s still present in countries around the world. As you know, survival hunting is almost extinct.

Today most people hunt either for the trophies or to balance the biodiversity of a specific area. Bearing this in mind, the equipment needed for hunting not only consists of proper clothing and protection, but also the weapon and tools you will be hunting with. But what do you hunt with a knife?

What do you hunt with a knife

Hunting guns and rifles are by far the most common weapon hunters use today. However, there are still those who enjoy using a good bow or a knife. But are these as effective? And what do you hunt with a knife? To answer these questions, we first need to discuss the uses of a hunting knife and the regulations surrounding them.

Uses for a Hunting Knife

As we mentioned above the hunting knife is rarely used for killing an animal, despite the name suggesting it is, because guns and rifles are both easier and far more effective to get the kill. Some people do still enjoy hunting with a knife because it is more challenging. But it is limited to only a small group of animals that can be reasonably hunted with success. So what are the other uses of a hunting knife and why should you always have one on you?

While most people don’t use it for stabbing an animal through the heart, a knife is invaluable for skinning, deboning, gutting and even caping the animal for a trophy.

damascus gut hook hunting knife

Gutting is usually done with a gut hook blade, as it’s perfect for making sure that no abdominal or muscle tissue is damaged in the process. For skinning and deboning, sweeping blade knives seem to be the most effective.

Caping is done solely by trophy hunters. Usually, it consists of removing the head with or without a neck by skinning and detaching it from the chest area.

Is it Legal to Hunt With a Knife?

Great question. And now that we’ve covered a few common uses of a hunting knife, let’s take a look at the regulations around them. To answer this, you will need to think about the hunting permit regulations that are present in both your country and state/provincal levels. Since most hunters use firearms instead of so-called primitive weapons, including the knife, bow, arrow, and spear, so hunting with a knife is not nearly as well-regulated as you might expect.

Still, the overall concept is that if you have a hunting permit, you shouldn’t have an issue using the knife to deliver the final blow. Chances are you will not be coming close to the animal that you are hunting with only a hunting knife. So in most cases, you will simply be piercing through its heart once it’s already wounded. Still, this doesn’t undermine the importance or the versatility use of a good hunting knife, as you will need one to get the field dressing done.

What you should remember is that certain animals are not legal to be hunted — with a firearm or with a primitive weapon. As long as you are familiar with the regulations in your area, and you have the permit, using weapons and doing as our ancestors once did, shouldn’t be a problem. But what do you hunt with a knife? And is there any animal that is slow enough that you can get everything done with only a hunting knife?

Animals You Can Hunt With a Knife

The answer to the question above is quite simple — since there aren’t many animals that you’ll be able to chase down using only a knife. Bows and arrows are much more effective and get rid of the need to run down the prey animal, like you would have to do with a knife. Bearing this in mind, hogs and tortoises seem to be the only two common animal types that you can kill using only a hunting knife.

This is mostly because thee animals are quite static and have other defence mechanisms that don’t feature running. If you are an experienced hunter and you are going after the wild boar, you can be in a situation where once your dogs have cornered the animal, you step into the action and finish it off with a knife. Still, this can be quite risky because wounded & unwounded boars can go at you, which can result in grave injuries.

Wild Boar

Never underestimate how dangerous a wild boar can be

Conclusion

While using a knife for hunting can be quite a challenge, it is not as efficient as it was back in the day of primitive hunters. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invest in one, or learn to make one yourself, as not only are hunting knives cool looking, but these are also used for a variety of other actions such as skinning, deboning, gutting and caping.

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Like so many others who get into blacksmithing, I’m interested in making knives by hand. I’m just starting the whole (very complicated) process of learning with the goal to make a set of kitchen knives for myself since I love to cook and do most of it being a stay at home dad.

Knives play a critical role when it comes to food preparation. But as you use your knife over and over, the blade dulls and the edges chip away. Dull blades are dangerous because you generally need to apply more pressure when cutting and if/when a slip happens the cut can be far worse than the light nick from a razor-sharp knife moving with almost no force. So to keep your knives safe, you need to sharpen them regularly with a sharpening stone, also called a whetstone.

If you are new to sharpening

and don’t want to learn all the details of how to use a sharpening stone then I’d highly recommend going with a sharpening system designed to make it foolproof to get a razor’s edge with little effort beyond sliding the knife down the ceramic rod like you are chopping vegetables. 

  A razor edge you could shave with in minutes without the learning curve of a whetstone.

Whether you’re a housewife, househusband, a chef, or a camping buff, a sharpening stone will make your work so much easier and enjoyable. But not all sharpening stones are good for your knife or whatever blade you use. In fact, there are 4 main kinds of sharpening stones on the market today, namely water stones, oil stones, ceramic stones, and diamond stones.

Sharpening stones are available in different materials, sizes, and shapes. They may be flat or feature a complex edge based on the blade to be sharpened. All things considered, here’s a rundown of the 4 main kinds of sharpening stones out there.

Before We Get Started: A Note On Sharpening vs. Honing

Sharpening is quite different from honing even though they are often confused.

When using any of the many kinds of sharpening stones you are grinding away at the metal edge of the knife and removing steel in the process. Honing using any of the many kinds of honing steel Types of Honing Steel Knife Sharpening Steel Sharpening Rod or what are sometimes advertised as sharpening tools do not remove steel.

It doesn’t use grit like an oil, diamond or another whetstone abrasive but a hard steel surface to move the edge. What honing steel does is straighten or even uncurl the very fine edge of the blade so that it comes to a point rather than a bluntly rounded surface.

Types of sharpening stones

 

Oil sharpening stones

knife sharpening on one of many kind of sharpening stone

These are the traditional sharpening stones that many people in the West grew up using. They’re made from one of these materials: Aluminum Oxide, Silicon Carbide, or Novaculite and utilize oil for metal filing (swarf) removal.

The most common oil sharpening stones are Novaculite natural stones. They’re mined in Arkansas and used to make what are known as Arkansas stones. Arkansas stones come in different grades based on the density and finish the stone creates on a blade.

Washita is the coarsest grade and isn’t used often today as it’s very soft. Hard Arkansas, Hard Translucent Arkansas, Hard Black Arkansas, and Soft Arkansas are the finer grades. These oil stones often cut slower than synthetic stones but can leave a polished edge. Hard Translucent Arkansas and Hard Black Arkansas are rarer and therefore costlier.

Silicon Carbide oil stones are the fastest when it comes to cutting. Those manufactured by Norton are known as Crystolon stones. Silicon Carbide stones are also graded as coarse, medium, and fine grit, and are usually grey in color.

While Silicone Carbide stones won’t produce a fine edge like natural or India stones will, the fast cutting ability makes them perfect for the initial coarse sharpening. As they sharpen fast, it’s ideal to use coarse Crystolon stones, followed by a fine India stone, and finally an Arkansas stone.

oil sharpening stone

Before getting to know about oil stones, bear in mind that they’re the slowest cutters of all sharpening stones. And due to oil, it’s very difficult to clear out the swarf after use. Of all the modern types of sharpening stones, Oil stones are falling out of favour for more effective and easier to use options.

Click below to see examples of each type of oil stone on Amazon.

Water sharpening stones

Water stones come in natural and synthetic forms, but synthetic varieties are more common. While water stones are comparatively newer in the market, they’ve become very popular these days snd are often in the bestseller spot on Amazon. Moreover, sharpening experts consider them one of the best sharpening stones.

They’re very easy to use and come in different grit levels. They only need to be soaked in water for around 5-15 minutes before use.

water sharpening stone

Like India stones, man-made water stones are made from Aluminum Oxide. But there’s a difference between the two. As water stones are the softer of the two, they cut faster than India stones.

Water stones are easier to clean as well, and won’t leave oil residue on tools. Owing to the increased use of water for sharpening and improved performance, many people now sharpen their kitchen knives, other blades and other household tools with water stones.

However, water stones do require maintenance and they can become brittle when soaked in water so be careful after soaking. But contrary to older style oil stones, this type of sharpening stones have been getting ever more popular because of ease of use and cost. That said, what I’ve put below is a very reasonably priced all in one kit that you can’t really go wrong with.

What are the types of sharpening stones for knives? 49

Diamond sharpening stones

Diamond stones are fast becoming the most popular types of sharpening stones and are now the go-to option for many experts and chefs. They’re made of synthetic diamonds attached to a metal plate in a process known as electroplating. The diamond bits are implanted in nickel plating, giving them their incredible durability.

Diamond stones work extremely fast, are very durable, and will sharpen anything with a blade quickly, including stainless steel, ceramic, and high carbon knives.

Diamond stones can come with both an interrupted and solid surface. They quickly remove steel, require minimal maintenance, and are unlikely to be worn out by the average user.

Diamond stones usually have perforated surfaces to hold ground metal (swarf), but some models don’t have that. They’re also available in a variety of grades and abrasion levels.

The key benefits of diamond stones are that they sharpen very fast and keep their flat shape more easily than any stone, which may become hollowed or curved because of the sharpening process.

Ceramic stones have a different quality as they’re synthetic. They’re made from extremely tough materials and thus are long-lasting. They can be used without water or oil. In fact, using water or oil is optional.

Ceramic stones require a higher maintenance level as they can very easily break. As with other stones, you need to clean them after every use. Most people don’t know much about ceramic stones. And as they’re very tough, they’re usually used in the refining or honing stages of sharpening.

What are the types of sharpening stones for knives? 51

If you are just starting out these might not be the best choice for a first sharpening stone. However, if you are curious you can see what is available on Amazon for ceramic kinds of sharpening stones.  .What are the types of sharpening stones for knives? 50

Summary of the types of sharpening stones

Different blades require different kinds of sharpening stones, which come with an array of grit levels. If you’ve never used a sharpening stone before, you can begin with man-made water stones or pick your own stone. But be sure to choose the right stone for your blade.

When deciding what kind of sharpening stone you might need it seems clear that there is more to consider than just what grit to choose. You need to decide what kind of stone you need based on what steel your knife is made from and where you will be sharpening it.

Oil whetstones are great for use in the shop or at home. But if you are out in the bush you are probably better off with a whetstone that only needs to be soaked in water since that will likely be easier to come by. You can even find portable all-in-1 sharpeners like this one 

 

that are made to be carried on a belt.

Diamond types of sharpening stones are great for being super long life and able to sharpen even the hardest steel however they are not usually made in the easiest to carry sizes except in the above all-in-1 which usually leaves them in the shop or at home.

As far as Grit choices I personally use a 200/1000 grit for most of my every day carry knives. 200 grit is great for apexing if there are nicks and chips out of the edge. 1000 grit is my go to for just maintaining an already established edge. Sure you can apex with a 1000 grit but it will take you FAR longer than on a more aggressive grit.  

Some will say that 1000 is not high enough but with 1000 grit and a quick stropping I get my knives sharp enough to shave easily without grabbing hairs. For me, that is more than adequate for a knife I use every day for a multitude of tasks.

Happy sharpening!

If I had to pick one for a beginner looking to use a proper whetstone for sharpening knives it would be the kit I mentioned earlier.  It has everything you need to get razor sharp edges with a little practice. Knife Sharpening Stone Set – 400/1000 and 3000/8000-Grit Professional, Safe Knife Sharpener Set – Whetstone Set Includes Flattening Stone, Bamboo Base, and 2 Nonslip Rubber BasesWhat are the types of sharpening stones for knives? 50

types of sharpening stones
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One of the biggest advantages of forging your own knife is the personality you can infuse in it. Sure, you could buy a knife that’ll be just about as good as a hand-forged knife, but it won’t have any character. It’ll also probably cost a lot more than your own creation would – especially if you use scrap metals to forge.

So what is the best scrap metal to use for knife making? And are knives scrap metal? The short answer is.. No, knives are not generally made of just any scrap metal. For a knife to work it needs to be both hard, to hold a keen edge, and flexible so it doesn’t snap in two. While you can shape almost any material into knife shape, a blade made of cast iron (for example) won’t hold an edge for more than a cut or 2.

Take the guess work out and get a billet of known steel from amazon. 1095 knife making steel is surprisingly cheap and with free shipping if you have prime it’s even more of a deal. I wish this had been so easily  available when I started out.

The good thing about metals (and steel in particular) is that despite whatever form they previously took once they are heated, they can be reshaped, given an edge and more. Smaller but thick steel can be pounded down to a wider, flatter knife shape with enough work. This means that a surprising number of “scrap” metals can be used for knife forging – and bring their stories along with them.

What Is A Good Knife Making Steel?

The ideal type of metal for your knife or blade depends on what you plan to use it for. For hatchets, machetes, and other blades that have to withstand impacts, you want a tougher and stronger metal that won’t fracture. For finer knives that emphasize cutting, you’ll want something strong and hard, but it won’t face much impact, so it doesn’t need to be as tough.

When it comes to determining the strength, hardness, and toughness of your knife, the carbon content plays a major role. In steels with higher carbon content, the metal is going to be harder and stronger because it helps hold the iron atoms in place. However, if there is too much carbon it becomes brittle and you risk fracturing with any impact.

Overall, the ideal knife will have the right percentage of carbon and other alloys to perform what it was made to do effectively without risking breaking or other damage.

What to Look for in Potential Scrap

When looking through your local junkyard or workshop for scrap, you’ll want to keep an eye out for anything that was regularly put under strain. This is because the steel used in these scrap items would need a higher percentage of carbon to be able to withstand pushing and pulling, but a low enough carbon content so that it is not brittle enough to fracture outright. In many cases, this carbon content is great for all-purpose knives and shouldn’t give you too much trouble when it comes to forging.

Additionally, you’ll need to consider the size of the scrap you’re going to use. If you plan to make a 6-inch blade, you need something of a similar size because although you can hammer the steel to various shapes, you cannot suddenly make more appear to fit your project. Fortunately, you can always cut a piece off of a bigger piece to make a smaller knife, which is why many scrap knives are smaller.

You can also perform some basic tests on the scrap you come across, such as scratching the material to determine the hardness, trying to bend it to test strength, or smacking it into something to test toughness. If there is a fracture or other serious damage sustained, it probably won’t last through the forging process.

2 Ways to Test Scrap Metals

  • Harden then break a small piece

Take a small piece and heat it till it is no longer magnetic (that’s a very general way to know you got it hot enough) then quench it in oil to harden it. many common metals used in knife making are oil quenchable so it’s a good place to start.

Take your quenched and cooled piece and put in a vice then smack the side of the piece hard with your hammer. If it is hardenable steel it will break rather than bend. If it bends either it’s low carbon steel or it’s a water quenching steel. Try the same heat then quench process but use water this time. If the piece still bends it’s no good for knives since it won’t hold an edge.

  •  Spark Test

By taking a piece of your mystery metal and touching it to your grinding wheel you can judge the carbon content by the color and shape of the sparks. It is FAR easier to understand with a video than in words so give this quick (just over 1 minute) video a watch.

Pretty straight forward, right?

The Best Scrap Metal to Use for Knife Making

Below are some of the more viable scrap pieces to consider for your home forging. Depending on your plans for the blade, some may work better than others but if you’re able to get one, it’s hard to go wrong. Just aim for older pieces of steel as they don’t make things like they used to, with older steel being higher quality overall.

Suspension Springs

At first glance, a spring may not seem like it could possibly be a knife because it is round and coiled. However, a coil is just metal wrapped around something so if you unwrap it, it becomes just a cylindrical piece of steel that can be worked like anything else. Whether you plan on breaking a piece off or unravelling the whole thing, all it takes is some extreme heat and elbow grease to have the beginnings of your new knife.

Leaf Springs

Leaf springs off an old truck are generally excellent steel for blade making. You will need to anneal them, like most found steel, but they have to bonus of being in nice flat wide bars already so its less work on the anvil to get them into a knife-like shape.

Steel Cable

If you happen to be lucky enough to find elevator cable, you could be in for a unique knife-forging experience. Like the coiled spring, steel cable is braided steel just asking to be separated and reused for one or more knives. The tension the cable is built to stand up to means it has a higher carbon percentage, so it is strong and great for knife forging.

Circular Saw Blade

Saw blades are sharp, but they can be sharper! While you won’t use the entire saw blade for a single knife, cutting a small section out from the blade would allow you to forge a decently sized knife made of very hard and edge-holding steel – as long as you find an older blade. Newer blades may not have the same chemical makeup with less strength, making them sharper but struggling to hold their shape.

Railroad Spikes

Railroad spikes are already scary as is, but when you sharpen the spike at the bottom into a blade, you’re talking about a unique knife that looks as dangerous as it is. Railroad spikes are made of stronger, more carbon-rich steel which makes them more suited towards hardness, durability, and strength than sharpness because they needed to resist the impacts of hammering when laid on tracks. Meaning they won’t have great edge retention compared to some other steels.

A railroad spike is also usually the perfect size to fit in your hand, and the large tang you can leave allows for more custom metalwork, engraving, and other unique additions to make it stand out.

Steel Files

Perhaps the most popular first knife scrap metal, the old school steel file is a great way to make a small but incredibly sharp blade that fits in your hand. These files are made to be very hard – which isn’t ideal for knife making – but can be annealed to soften the steel so that it can be better shaped before you reharden it. After shaping and annealing, you’ll have a versatile piece of steel that will be hard, hold an edge well, and make a great knife.

Sourcing Scrap Metal for Knife Making Steel

Finding suitable scrap metal for your DIY knife making hobby or business venture is certainly easier now than it was a decade ago. This is due to an increased number of viable sources of affordable raw materials for knife making steel. You can easily find scrap metal items that have knife making steel by checking out the following places.

  • Immediate Neighborhood

Your neighbors should be more than happy to let you have any scrap metal items that might be lying around on their property such as old refrigerators, lawnmowers, dishwashers and so forth.

  • Local Businesses

Appliance and auto repair shops in your locality should have scrap metal items that they no longer need such as old cars, washing machines, microwave ovens, deep fryers, freezers, ovens, etc. 

 

You can also seek out steel-bearing scrap from local manufacturing facilities, warehouses, supermarkets, hotels, public schools, nearby farms and so forth.

  • Local Junkyard

A visit to your local junkyard should offer you a wide range of scrap steel items, such as vehicle parts, domestic appliances, children toys, lawnmowers, electric irons, and myriad other junk. Note that you may have to pay with a minimal fee to remove a viable scrap item from the yard. This is likely the easiest place to find the best scrap metal for knife making steel.

  • Construction and Renovation sites

You can find steel-bearing construction waste, such as steel bars and fixtures, by visiting locations where construction or renovation is underway.

  • Medical Facilities

You can also check out nearby healthcare facilities for unused items containing knife making steel such as old beds, wheelchairs, wheeled trays, damaged equipment, and so forth. It is important to ensure any such items are adequately disinfected before you take them with you.

  • Dumpsters and Dump Sites

If none of the other sources prove feasible, you can decide to check out neighborhood dumpsters and the nearby dumpsite for scrap metal items bearing knife making steel. 

  • Sourcing Knife Making Steel Online 

Alternatively, you can save yourself the time and effort needed to physically look for scrap metal by shopping for knife making steel online. You find a wide array of cheap second-hand items that you can use as scrap metal on craigslist.com, including old washing machines, lawnmowers, service carts, washing machines, and so forth.

 

Buying annealed steel billets on Amazon is advisable if you intend to pursue DIY knife making as a long-term business venture rather than as a one-time hobby.

Other Options

If I was starting out again and wanted to try my hand at a few knives I would save myself the trouble of finding metal then testing and shaping it into what might not end up being useful as a blade. This option wasn’t around when I started or I would have gone this route.

IMO the best scrap metal for knife making steel is not scrap metal at all. You can order 1095 high carbon steel billets from amazon for amazingly cheap. The fact that if you have prime you can get that heavy steel shipped for free is just icing on the cake since that is what usually kills you when ordering steel online.

Heres an example off amazon:

You can get different widths (3 Inch x 12 Inch x 0.187 Inch) and thickness (0.125 Inch) or 3-packs with several billets (1.5 Inch x 12 Inch x 0.187 Inch, 3 Pack)

If you aren’t familiar with 1095 steel it is a favorite of knife makers and reasonably easy to work on an anvil making. It’s also not super hard to cut on a bandsaw making it a great choice when starting out. Here is a very brief rundown of how to heat and use 1095 high carbon steel.

Forging:  heat to 2100°F (1150°C) . Do not forge below 1500°F (815°C).

Normalizing: Heat to 1575°F (855°C). Air cool. 

Annealing: Heat to 1475°F (800°C). Furnace cool to 1200°F (650°C) at a rate not exceeding 50°F (28°C) per hour. Alternately bury it in sand or even the ground to cool for several hours. I often will toss it in a campfire and dig it out in the morning.

Hardening: Austenitize- Heat to 1475°F (800°C). Thicker sections can be quenched in water or brine with extreme care but can also be oil quenched in sections under 1/4 in. (6.35 mm) thick as the preferred method.

Tempering:  The quenched hardness should be approximately 66 HRC. Hardness can be adjusted downward by proper tempering.

Temp in CTemp in FRockwell Hardness
14930065
17735063-64
20440062-63
23245061-62
26050059-60
28855057-58
31660055-56
34365053-54

Knife Making as a Viable Business Idea

Transforming your knife making hobby into a full-time business requires a reliable source low-cost knife making steel and a knife manufacturing process that produces consistent quality products. There are several types of professional knives you can make at home including:

  • Chef’s knife

A chef’s knife is typically an 8 to 10inch steel blade primarily used in food preparation tasks such as chopping up carrots, dicing onions, slicing cabbage, and so forth.

  • Paring Knife

A paring knife is a smaller version of the chef’s knife featuring a 5 to 7-inch blade. This stainless steel knife is also used during food preparation.

  • Boning Knife

As its name suggests, a boning knife is used in removing meat from bone and consists of a long, thin and strong stainless steel blade. 

  • Bread Knife

A bread knife is typically a 4 to 6inch blade whose serrated edge allows the easy cutting of fresh bread without causing it to lose its shape.

  • Cheese Knife

As suggested by the name, the purpose of a cheese knife is to cut through the cheese. The steel blade of this knife has holes which prevent cheese from sticking to the blade by reducing surface contact.

  • Meat Cleavers

A meat cleaver is a large, heavy steel knife whose size and weight aids in cutting through meat with bones in it.

Besides professional knives, you can also delve into custom knife making which involves the production of specialty knives, with examples including flick knives, folding knives and hunting knives. 

Note that specialty knife making necessitates that you have considerable knife making skills than those required with professional knives. The reason being, specialty knives often feature complex blade retrieval/concealment mechanisms. 

Selling your Knives 

You can begin marketing your professional and specialty knives to neighbors and friends. The initial feedback you get can help you to refine further your knife product offering, such as increasing/reducing blade length, adjusting the blade thickness and enhancing the grip of the knife’s handle. 

Armed with a refined product, you can then start approaching local hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, butcher shops, hunting stores, and other businesses with an interest in professional and specialty knives.

In addition to direct marketing, you can also sell your professional and specialty knife products online. A most cost-effective method of attaining this objective is using a free drag-and-drop website builder like Wix.com. Using appealing website templates, you can realize an online knife store that grants access to an incredibly vast pool of potential customers on the web. Your online marketing approach can even encompass advertising your professional and specialty knife products on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and myriad others.

DIY Knife Making Process

Making a knife from scratch requires that you obtain a thick flat steel plate from the scrap metal you have sourced. You must also possess a few essential metalworking tools, which include:

  • A Marker Pen: for drawing the outline of the blade on paper and marking the blade’s center
  • A Hacksaw and multiple High Tensile Blades: for cutting the steel plate to appropriate size
  • A Bench Vice: to firmly grip the steel plate as you work on it
  • Bastard Mill and Chainsaw Files: for rounding out sharp edges, achieving the blade profile and sharpening its edge
  • An Etching Tool: for marking down the outline of the blade onto the steel plate
  • An Electric Drill; for making holes to aid the cutting of the thick steel plate 
  • A Belt or Random Orbit Sander: for polishing the finished blade 
  • An Electric Grinder: for obtaining a rough blade outline and tapering down the flat steel plate when creating the knife-edge

The Basic Knife Making Steps 

  • You begin making your knife by etching the outline of the blade onto your steel plate using the etching tool. You draw the desired shape of the knife on paper using the maker, cut out the shape, and then use the cut-out to etch the blade design onto the steel plate.
  • You then use the electric drill to punch holes through the steel plate along the outer edge of the blade outline. These holes make it easier for you to cut through the thick steel plate.
  • Next, use the bench vice to firmly grip the steel plate as you commence cutting out the blade from the larger steel plate with the hacksaw. Adjust the point of the grip of the vice as while cutting out different parts of your blade outline.

Alternatively, you can use a metal cutting band saw to cut out the blade outline on the steel plate. Regardless of You are left with a rough blade once you complete cutting it out from the steel plate.

  • After that, remove the steel plate from the vice and replace it with the rough blade and use the grinder to smooth out the hole marks on the edges. Ensure you have a container with cold water nearby to cool down the hot blade once you are done smoothing out the blade with the grinder.
  • Once the blade has cooled down, wipe off the water and then use the electric drill to make holes, 1inch apart, on the handle-end of the blade. These holes help you to firmly fix the blade into the workbench as you file it down to achieve a knife profile.
  • Begin by Identifying the center of the blade and mark it with the marker. Then firmly fix the blade towards the edge of your workbench via the holes on its handle. With the bastard mill file held flat onto the blade and starting at its center, begin filing down the blade towards the intended edge to achieve a knife profile.

Gradually wear down the blade to half its thickness before unscrewing it from the bench. Turn the blade over and refix it to the workbench using the screws. Repeat the process of filing down the blade towards the intended edge.

  • Once you have achieved the knife profile on the blade, start using the chainsaw file to smooth out scratches made on the blade by the bastard mill file. Ensure you do this for both sides of the blade for a fine finish of the blade’s edge.
  • Now that your knife blade is almost done, you must heat-treat it to enhance its service life. Heat treating your blade aids to reduce its brittleness and increase its hardness. You can heat-treat the blade in one of two ways.
  • Place the knife in a blazing hot forge for a few minutes and then let it cool down slowly. Repeat this process two or three times. Note that this is the standard heat-treatment procedure used by professional blacksmiths. 
  • Alternative, light a wood fire and let the fire burn down to embers. Then place the embers in the red hot embers for until it gets red hot, before removing it and allowing it to cool down slowly. Repeat this process two or three times.
  • At this point, you are almost through with your first DIY knife. Heat-treatment causes the knife to blacken. You, therefore, have to polish the knife using the belt or random orbit sander to remove  the black tinge on the blade caused by the fire.
  • The final step of your DIY knife making revolves around fixing a handle to the blade. You can choose to install a rubber or wooden handle to the blade of your DIY knife. You begin by cutting appropriately sized pieces of wood or rubber for either side of the blade. You then modify each piece to your desired shape and design. 

Next, you make holes on the handle pieces that correspond to the holes on the handle-end of the blade. Finally, you set the two rubber/wood pieces to either side of the finished blade and fix them using bolts and nuts or glue. You have now completed making your DIY knife.

This is obviously a very high level guide to what is a long and intricate process. Here is a video that shows most of the process.

Final Thoughts

In the end, making a knife from scrap metal is a cost-effective way to forge for fun. Not knowing the specific chemical composition of the metals you use adds a bit of guesswork to certain things like the ideal temperature and treatment method, but as long as you don’t mind it being a bit rough around the edges, scrap metal can be used to make a perfectly good knife.
You’ll want to look for high-carbon steel scrap that is built to be hard but not brittle like springs or cables for the most versatile option, or stronger pieces like railroad spikes if you’re going for something with a little more impact.
Overall, if you’re making the knife for yourself it’s hard to go wrong with any of the scrap recommendations. Some will work better than others for what you’re trying to do, but as long as you enjoy the process, that’s the fun of knife forging.

 

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