Poor man's blade polishing tools

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Martin Pansch
Posts: 312
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Poor man's blade polishing tools

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Tue Mar 29, 2016 9:23 pm

I had mentioned to someone on here a long time ago that I had some simple tools for filing/polishing knives. These are things I made back when I didn't have my own forge up let alone a grinder.
knife clamp and sandpaper sen.jpg
knife clamp and sandpaper sen.jpg (239.14 KiB) Viewed 2416 times
The "clamp" is a chunk of 2x4 with a piece of 1 1/2" x 3/4" hard maple attached with a few finish nails countersunk in to avoid scratching blades. This second piece of wood gets it up a bit and lets you work the bevels easier. The clamp is just a piece of mild steel with bolts through it and through the 2x4. It is tightened on the tang with wing nuts and washers on the back side. Back when I had no shop I would sit in my living room on a old sheet (to catch the metal) with the short end of the 2x4 wedged into my chest and the long end held with my feet (I found I could clamp this 2x4 in a leg vise once I got one). It let draw file the flats and bevels pretty easy. After it was shaped I would use my "sandpaper sen" to polish it.
Knife clamp and sandpaper sen from side.jpg
Knife clamp and sandpaper sen from side.jpg (200.1 KiB) Viewed 2416 times
This is just about a 20" piece of the same hard maple I nailed to the top of the 2x4. I carved a V in one narrow edge to match a small piece (1/2" flanges?) angle iron. The trench and the corresponding angle iron are long enough to handle the 9" width of a sheet of sand paper. Again, a few bolts with washers and wing nuts tighten the angle iron to hold the sand paper in place.
Sandpaper sen clamp details.jpg
Sandpaper sen clamp details.jpg (145.12 KiB) Viewed 2416 times
By some coincidence it will take 1/2 sheet of standard sandpaper or a full sheet of the smaller automotive finish sandpaper perfectly. It takes a little practice at first to get it to clamp the paper in nice and tight but once it does it works pretty well.

In use I would start with 100 grit until all my file marks were gone. Then 150 grit until the 100 grit marks are gone. Then 220. Then 320 or 400. Stop there if you want a satin finish or take it through 600 and 1000 if you want a mirror polish. Change the direction of your sanding stroke with each grit so you can see when the last grit's scratches are gone. Change paper as soon as it is not cutting well (your time is worth more than the cost of sand paper).

Well, that's it. Comments? Questions? General scorn and insults? Anyone else's set ups to do this?

Sara013
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2015 11:32 am

Re: Poor man's blade polishing tools

Unread post by Sara013 » Sat Apr 02, 2016 3:00 pm

That's pretty cool. I like seeing what people come up with in lieu of expensive equipment. Just starting out in this wacky craft, I can't really justify some of the larger expenses, for fear that I'll use it once and break it.

Martin Pansch
Posts: 312
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Re: Poor man's blade polishing tools

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Thu Apr 28, 2016 8:16 pm

After my initial post Bob Patrick sent me an email about how he makes homemade cardboard buffing wheels for this bench grinder. I liked the idea so much I asked, and he gave, permission to post it here:

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Hi Martin. I use a home made hard buff to polish instead of hard felt and also for honing. I make it out of single layer cardboard. I made a hole punch, like is used for leather, out of a 3/4” grade 8 bolt that was lying around, drilled a hole lengthwise in it with a 1/2” drill after pilot drilling. About 3/4” above that I drilled a 5/8” hole across the bolt to let the cardboard slugs out. I punch the holes over end grain on a piece of firewood. Then I made a jig to mark the disks out. It was simply a flat stick with a 1/2” hole for a dowel in one end, then at a 3 1/4” radius I put a hole for a pencil. I cut enough disks out of cardboard using my throatless shear (An old Harbor freight one I got 20 years ago) to make a 1” wide buff, but it can be wider or narrower. Then I put one washer on the grinder, all of the disks and the second grinder washer. I screwed it down tight and turned the grinder on (It’s a cheap, old, imported 6” hard wheel grinder) and I trued up the stack of disks with a horse rasp. (I buy these resharpened at the Ozark conference, a box of 10 every several years, and they cost $2 apiece now. Used to be $1) I use the coarse side of the rasp, and after it is trued I use the fine side. That is it. The disks stay together and have never spun off as I thought they might. I have made 3 of these over the years. I charge them with whatever buffing compound I need. I still have a bunch of fairly fine compound from 20 years ago, and I get really fine stainless steel polishing compound scraps from a friends business that makes stainless steel rails that are polished for high end boats by Ranger Boats and several other companies. Occasionally I will use rouge. Once you make one of these it is a simple matter to make more when you need them. My grinder runs at 3450 rpm or so. Anyhow, I thought you might want to hear about this. They work well. I started using them when a friend got a paper sharpening and honing wheel set that was expensive and I wondered about making my own. I saw several articles on the internet and then developed my own method.
I use cardboard from old frozen pizza, shoe boxes, and last time I did it was just after Christmas and there were a lot of boxes from that. I have used up to 1/8” thick cardboard from the local goat cheese factory. Doesn’t seem to matter if it is shoebox thick or thicker. I tried gluing them on the first one I made, but the wheel warped. I used thinned down Elmer’s glue. But they work great unglued, and if I need a narrower buff I just take part of the discs temporarily. I grind my knives and hammer faces to 400 grit and then polish.
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I haven't tried it yet myself but intend to give it a go.

Bob occasionally reads on the forum here under the name distinctly Persian name Ashurbanapol but if you have questions about this homemade buff you can email him at bobpatrickATsouthshoreDOTcc making the appropriate modifications to make that an email address.

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