Cutler’s Pointers – Knife Making Tips – Tools of the Trade
If you’re reading this, you’ve got some interest in making some knives. Whether you visualize yourself making a few hoppy pieces as gifts, which is a tremendously fun hobby, or you’re contemplating taking the plunge into the full-time knife making world, you’ve been asking yourself “what tools do I really need”. That’s a question I get asked almost daily and it’s not exactly a simple one. Aside from your grinder, which is a whole discussion in itself; what else should the hobbyist or aspiring professional focus on tool wise? Well, I have a suggestion that perplexes some people, but I stand by it whole-heartedly. Measuring tools….yes….measuring tools.
Before I elaborate, let me point out that many people have made nearly flawless knives without the use of power tools. Yes, there is a genre of knife making that is done with files and jigs and no electricity, other than a drill press perhaps. I would challenge anyone, however, to make a technically excellent knife with a centered edge, precise pin hole locations, even bevels, consistent edge thickness, etc….. you know all the things that knife makers look at when they access each other’s work, without a good set of calipers, a flat surface, and a height gauge.
These three items absolutely make the difference in a precise effort and a sloppy amateurish one. Additionally, these tools aren’t as expensive as one might think given how invaluable they are. Yes, you can spend a mint on calipers, however a good set of dial calipers can be had a for as little as $30 or so, in my shop I use a sink cut out from a granite shop as my flat block. The most expensive part of the trio was my carbide tipped height gauge and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Article Authors: Cutler the Dog and John Coffman