Small hand grinders are great!

Thanks GreyAngel for the advise to try out sanding stuff on my
little Makita. :)
It was a long time coming, the original stuff was defective tried
going through the manufacturer etc. Waste of friggin time. :/
Once I got it going tho the Norton sanding disk setup is a charm. :)
(actually made by some French-Canadian outfit)
Just finished a "butcher knife" type hickory handle and basically
shaped everything but the sides where the pins are with the high
speed sander. :)
I opted for, right away, to buy some replacement sanding disks since
they were cheap and it only came with two 50 grit. Bought two more
each- 36 and 24 grit disks and so far have only tried the 24 grit
Bill H., you gotta get one of these. ;)
A good vise is still the number one tool but the little makita with
the different attachments is getting way up there. ;)
Wood handle details...
The sides could be power sanded/ground too but it's mostly just the
lowering of the peened pins flush with the wood...I use the largest
double-cut file, clamped horizontal in the vise for that job, no
Witht he new sander attachment, I profiled the handle to match the
metal and knocked off the upper and lower handle corners so it was
ready for the "shoe shine" sandpaper treatment to round the upper
and lower edges of the handle. Also used it to put the 45 degree
bevels in the front "end" of each handle slab. That all worked out
great... was quick and easy and very easy to control with no goof
ups to fix. :)
The "end grain" pieces of wood that hang over the butt end of the
knife is the hardest part of filing down a hard wood handle. Too
fast and aggressive and the wood chips. The grinder burns it so
easy, you have to be so careful, that it's a waste of time. The
coarse sanding disk cut the stuff off like "it meant business" and
the burning/scorching problem was slight and/or easy to avoid.
The 45 degree angles on the front ends of the handle slabs is a type
of "end grain work" too... worked like a charm for that too. :)
Next need to try "sanding" some micarta just for the heck of it. ;)
Alvin in AZ
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Oh, so now I'm GreyAngel instead of just GA huh? ;) Glad it worked out for you. I can't imagine life in the shop without one. I've learned not to try to do finish flat surfaces with it but for rounding things off and chewing material it's great. Works good for knife edge bevels too if you use it like a fine paint brush with those flap disk attachments. I'm doing a camp hatchet for a friend of mine in Tx. using some 3/8ths "Plow Steel" (1060?). I started with a 24x6 in. plate and cut the basic outline with a cutting disk attachment. Still have a lot of material to chew off it yet and find that the hand grinder works faster than the bench grinder. I'll switch to the bench grinder to get some of the final material removal and trim up the lines then go back to the hand with sander attachments to do the more organic looking curves I'm planning on putting on it.
BTW, It's really "Kyle". The Greyangel thing sort of evolved out of my BBS days when I ran the "Angel Station BBS". That then became the Angel Station Web site when the BBS's kind of died and my user name was Greyangel. Had the site up on a few different ISPs over the years. Currently it's
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That's an operation I wouldn't try with the hand grinder. It's hard to get the metal ground at the same rate it takes off wood and heats the pins to the point of burning the wood in a hurry. Just my experience...
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Harbor Freight sells a conversion kit for an angle grinder that turns it into a belt sander as well, this same "belt sander" sells for $200 and up on other sites, in fact Makita sells one for $219. I bought the kit for $8.99 at the local store, it sells for $7.99 online. The belts are a little odd, but they sell replacement belts online if the store doesn't carry them. I just used it to take the scale and start the finish on a knife I was in the middle of, it worked great. Just wanted to share.....
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Hey, that looks pretty cool. Here's a link for anyone that's interested:
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Rick Barter
My setup at this time worked like a champ for flat square edged cuts on wood. The metal handle exposed after several passes ground away nice and neat too. :) I like it, I like it alot. ;)
Yeah, I forgot to mention the flap disks, I mean to get one of those from a "used tool store" in town instead of getting it at HD, so that's on hold for a week or two.
Spark test! :) Enderes cold chisels are 1078, Old Hickory knives are 1095 and files are about 1.22% carbon. Non-carbide-tipped circular saw blades are 8670-modified and will help you see how with alloying, the sparks carry on past the bursts. A Case pocket knife blade (50100-B) shows its difference from 1095 that way.
All those are very subtle, I find I do my best spark testing at night with the lights off.
Bend it over, forge weld it and make an "eye"?
My son Jeff ran a BBS too. :)
That's the best way to get me to try something. ;)
Alvin in AZ
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Too Cool! A bit small but it looks usefull. Guess I'm gonna have to pick one up.
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Hmm, I tried using the norton plastic disk for stick on paper on my broadsword and ended up with some divits in the steel. Scared me off of that kind of thing. 'Course the broadsword was mild steel so the good stuff should hold up better...
Two words: Harbor Freight. multi packs of them for a few bucks. They seem to work as good as any and the hardware stores around here usually get 8 bucks for a single.
I've done enough grinding on this piece of metal to be thoroughly familiar with its spark pattern. Looks like fairly high carbon stuff to me. I suppose I can hold it up against an old file to see if I can tell the difference but I don't think it'll be much.
Actually I'm doing a unibody design. I'll put some wood scales on the handle when I'm finished with the steel. The original idea came from a cheap India fantasy blade kind of thing and we decided to do something a bit more practical along the same concept. Kind of longish on the top of the blade, almost like a knife point with a hammer on the back side and a short saw tooth section on the back of the shank and a heavily contoured grip. I'll get some pictures when I finish with it. The basic shape is almost done. I'm still trying to figure out the logistics of doing some differential hardening. The blade, hammer and sawtooth sections need to be hardened and tempered but everything else should be softish. As thick as it is, I'm worried about getting the quench rapid enough to harden but will also have to be carefull about stress cracks at quench. And then I'll need to temper it enough so that it wont want to break when it gets beat on. I expect it will be used as a thrower part of the time too.
Hah! a Guinea Pig ;) Let me know how it turns out! I've been using brass welding rod for pins and they do get hot when sanded. Speaking of which, Brass welding rod is easy to get and comes in some amazing sizes and is nicely forgable as compared to some other brass scrap material I've tried. Good material for making fittings for your knives. I picked up some quarter inch rod and am planning on trying to melt it in a open clay mold in the forge to make more complicated shapes.
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If you are using a belt grinder and your brass welding rod pins are heating up too much it means one of 2 things or both, either 1) Your belt is getting loaded and or glazed. or 2) You are pushing too hard. On my knife scales (kingwood, ebony, coco bola, East India rosewood or African blackwood) I often had the same problem when using .25 in Dia. brass pins, also the pins wouldn't grind at the same rate as the wood in most cases,, but when I was working the same stuff with new belts on a faster machine and using a whole lot less pressure, the problem went away. Bear
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Thanks for that. I'll keep all those things in mind in the future. Not being adverse to spending as much time as it takes to do a job, I have been using files and sandpaper to do most of my fine work but I like quick solutions to common problems whenever possible too ;)> As a new hobbyist in the knifemaking world, I have been working with an eye to finding ways to do this stuff more efficiently. Not really worried about it right now 'cause I got a real job but I'd like be able to do this or something like it for supplimental income when I get into my retirment days. Picture a good sized chunk of land somewhere far from the suburbs and few excuses to deal with city life ;)
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