The update on the knife making effort:
I've by now made lots and lots of handle material while I waited for the grinder.
So Thursday afternoon we went to collect the grinder and got to meet both Tinus and Gawie Herbst, friendly helpful people with a workshop to drool over.
Tinus told me on the phone the grinder is bigger than it looks in the photos but I was sure it would fit in the Pajero so I left the Venter trailer at home...
After a lot of manouvering it started to look like I would have to leave Linda or the grinder in Pretoria, front seats moved forward under the dash but eventually we managed to fit me, Linda and the grinder into the car and Tinus was sure I would have to sell the car and grinder as a package cos it won't come out the car again
The grinder stand legs are not detachable so the footprint is akward and large, glad I do not ever have to package those for export...
Back home after some scheming and coffee me and Linda had the grinder out the car and plugged in to start up. A sturdy piece of machinery, solid and precise so no belt drifting or wandering once tracking is set. The motor is powerful and does not labor no matter how hard you lean into the grinding.
The variable speed is a must like Rodders said, this I realised even before I started grinding blades. I spent Thursday evening doing a lot of grinding chores to get used to the machine. I sharpened my axes, de-burred the mushroomed heads of my cold chisels and sharpened everything in the workshop to break in the complimentary 60grit belt I got from Herbst. I finally profiled the "Alpha Bowie", that machine eats steel like a hot knife goes through butter:
I started with the supawood profiles to figure how I'm going to grind the blades and realised the Herbst grinding support is too big for what I have in mind so I built a prototype support with a small flat support on one side and a pin support on the other:
The machine is like a meccano set, lots of options and many combinations of doing things.
The pin idea does not work for me:
I took Smokepole's advice and started with mild steel blades to test the different techniques and after my second try on the small flat support using a push-stick I managed a neat hollow grind on the mild steel:
Some early observations:
Get a leather welder's apron for grinding.
Mount one or two desk lamps right at the grinding wheel.
Water bucket under the wheel to catch metal dust and sparks.
Use welding magnets (I used them for meteorite hunting) to hold blade for flat/tang grinding to save your fingers from getting consumed by 60grit sandpaper. (Vrystaat take note )
Boilermaker's blue marking spray that's been sitting on my shelf for years comes in handy now for marking grind lines.
A push-stick is handy, the steel gets HOT unless you don't mind your fingers resembling some amphibian skin after a few knives.
On the topic of manicure; I lightly smear my hands with Sunlight liquid before servicing motorbikes or doing a grimey job, it prevents the grime from getting into skin pores so a light scrub with nailbrush have your hands look like a surgeon's hands again.
So tomorrow I'll build my final version of the small flat grinding support then do two more useless but cheap mild steel blades before tackling the first real knife blade