… there was a bar of steel.
After a short break due to harvest I have started two knife making projects and I will share the progress on them as I go along.
The first one is about developing a viable process for making small-batches of kitchen knives.
The knife that I have given my mother for Christmas has proven itself to be an excellent cutter. It held an edge for half a year and still shaved hair when my mother requested honing the edge because it had a few blunt-ish spots. The handle does not show any sign of deterioration too. And it is used daily, by at least two people, on everything from fine chopping veggies to de-boning chicken. So I think that with some adjustments (mostly making it look prettier) it might be a saleable product.
I reckon (I will not bother you with the math and reasoning, some of it has solid rational basis, some of it I pulled out of my nether regions) that in order to be able to eventually barely survive whilst making knives, I would have to be able to make a passable kitchen knife in under five hours spending with the fun work, i.e. manual labor. The lower the better. Rest of the working day would in such a case be eaten by the unfunny part of the job, the actual business of business.
But developing a viable production process is something I have a professional experience with and so I want to have a go at it, even though right now making knives is just a hobby. And I will be sharing with you all the failures as well as the improvements in trying to achieve my time goal.
The first step is straightening the steel. For this project I am using N690 steel 1,8x50x500 mm and all the steel bars had a slight bend to them that had to be corrected. Currently the only way for me to do this is to use a vice and three thick screws. Had the plates had a kink, I would place the middle screw straight on that kink and bend it with ever-increasing pressure until after taking the steel out of the vice it would be straight-ish. However these did not have a kink, they were nearly universally bent in a very slight regular arc. To straighten that, I first tried to bend the bars slightly at multiple points. It worked, but it was time-consuming and unreliable. Later I have tried to close the vice only slightly on the steel bar and then pulling it through the screws – essentially using it as an improvised roll bender. That worked much faster and reasonably well.
Even soo, all in all it took me less than 1 hour to straighten 12 knives worth of steel. That is less than 5 minutes per knife. I think that building a small roll bender specifically for straightening these thin long bars should not be difficult and it could potentially shave off quite a reasonable chunk off of that too. But right now, I am putting this into the “high hanging fruit” basket, since despite the clearly impromptu setting it takes only about 2% of my time goal. That means, I will ignore this step in the process for now and not bother about improving it.
For the first knife made let’s write down 5 minutes for this step and move on to the next.