Thread: On a steep learning curve
Hello everyone. I'm one of 2 people in Wiltshire who have spent the last couple of years working on chef's knives. We both used to work abroad and coming back to the UK settled on that as a venture, for reasons we're still not clear about ...
We always knew we wanted to go down the CNC route, but wanted to start off with a file and sandpaper before making the leap.
We're now the proud (nervous, slightly confused and very excited) owners of a Haas mill and are about to start milling some blades. We've learned a huge amount so far and still have a long way to go, but our main area of effort for now is to get a good, reliable workflow from paper sketch to milled piece. Then there's heat treatment, cryo, finishing and handle work - but that's a different story, and one we're slightly more comfortable with.
We'll probably be hanging around in the forums covering CAD/CAM and 3-axis Mills the most, continuing in our eternal quest to find mentors and gleam some wisdom. Making assemblies efficiently, HSM post and toolpaths are our current hotspots.
We'll likely make an appropriate post in the Marketplace in the near future, but we're always on the look out for those with more experience than us who want to pop by and have cup of coffee and talk ideas through - we're not that far from Marlborough and work in an old calving barn. Please do PM if you're ever in this neck of the woods.
- NickIf you will not be swayed by logic or experience simply pick the idea you
like best, but ask yourself why you sought advice in the first place and,
for a simple life, perhaps consider not doing so in future
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Interestingly I'm now increasingly moving away from pencil sketches. I do still take photos of knives for "inspiration", but then as long as I have one dimension (such as length) Inventor will scale my trace of the photo.
The reason I've stopped pencil sketches is because they've sort of become redundant: I can now do first draft designs just as well in Inventor, and I suppose the interesting thing about the workflow is that we need to then prototype possibly through several iterations, as it's about feel & heft more than paper dimensions - with the exception of e.g. a bolster, we have no 'tolerances' as such.
We've tried various materials other than steel for this, but since they weight less or have other properties too different from steel you can't really get a feel for it. The other advantage of using a low-cost stainless steel for prototyping is that then all the other processes (mainly heat-treatment and finishing) can also be run through.
However I'm thinking of trying to make some friction-held folding knives as a learning exercise. I have got some excellent templates in a couple of books and it had occurred to me how to get those slightly complicated shapes in accurately - scanning them in with a tracing paper grid overlay solves a lot of problems!
haas as a first milling machine! Wow... Lucky you. Very dangerous :-)
In my experience (a bit) pencil sketches are of the utmost importance. Pencil sketch then cad. You need to have a firm goal before you start with the cad or design intentions will change not according to your design intentions...
Generally stainless is not heat treatable. Do you know the difference between austenitic and martensitic?
Consider water jetting or laser cutting or plasma cutting your blanks. Anything but milling. Why? Give it a go and report back.
Designing and machining is incrdible fun if you like this sort of thing. It is also a journey of success and failure.
Never give up and good luck!
Hi Laurie, I'm also new to cnc and it seems you are much further ahead than me. There was a time not long ago I really wanted to make knives and specifically kitchen knives as I have worked as a cook among other things. I studied a lot about knife making, thought up some designs etc...and really got into the idea of getting a small induction forge to use instead of the stock removal method, but in the end decided it was beyond my resources. Maybe someday I will get a chance to make a knife :)
Just wanted to say all the best with the venture and please post or PM me your website when available so I can see your progress and knives. My new venture is completely different to knives but it's always very interesting to see how people conduct business and start-ups in particular.
Hi Rob. Sent you a PM.
Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Hi, welcome to the forum!
I am also a bit into the knifemaking. At the beginning i would say. At the moment have prototyped a nice belt grinder which i will start selling in near future, have finished the design of the 2 knife models i would be making and soon when i find time will finish the prototypes till the end. Meanwhile have found and refurbished a nice kiln /2kw 1200C/ ...
At least for me, i see the perfect workflow like that : shape laser or plasma cut-edge cleaning and finishing machining on mill using fixture- eventually beveling edge- heat treating-polish-grind edge - some other finishing stuff that is knife specific. But i will be making a non fold EDC knife inclining a bit towards pure survival or tactical. Having in mind that i use steel that does not need hammering. Otherwise i am always happy to hammer.
Meanwhile i have learned to make my Micarta and G10 at home and so on. I will use only 1 modern expensive stainless steel so that simplifies / or complicates/ things and workflow. Eventually maybe will start machining the blades, till i make myself a plasma cutter, for which i have almost all parts. But no time. Now i have a new DIY pump vacuum station and next thing will be learning to make 1x1m Micarta and especially carbon fibre plates. I know the howto, now will only have to learn it well in reality.
WOW a Haas! That's my dream... Part of my dream though is to go to factory and pay it in cash
While i design everything last years directly in 3d, the knifes i designed the old fashioned way sketch-cutout paper-cutout cardboard-cutout plastic prototypes on my cnc-3d prototypes on my cnc- milled cutout steel prototypes directly from the desired steel to check machinability - ...now i have to grind them on my new belt grinder and develop fixtures and so on..
All of our knives have started as pencil sketches, but the key thing is to get a prototype made and then have a feel and a think and then go back and fiddle with the CAD drawing, rinse and repeat. The other advantage of sketching in CAD is that you can get pretty good 3D modelling showing you how the knife will look - whereas any attempts at isometric or perspective drawing by hand (in my case at least) quickly turns in to a mess!
We use austenitic steel for our bolsters and other non-hardening parts. We're currently trialling Niolox and 14c28n for knife steels - so far all's going well with an inert gas/ electric furnace.
Because of the issue of fixing, we are trialling a magnetic fixing plate. This - so far - is certainly giving us enough grip and the accumulating of shwarf doesn't seem too bad, but we're still early days.
We both really, really enjoy what we do - the hard work at the moment is when we have to tie systems together as we've learned our most recent skills in a sort of 'silo' system, and so making sure that Inventor and the mill are completely synced is proving to be a slow, cautious process!
Sounds like fun!
I would be interested to hear details of your heat treat setup. What oven are you using?
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