How to Use a Jig Grinder for Grinding Bevels
In my opinion, the single most important factor in the success of your work is a powerful, high quality grinder. But of course, it’s not the only consideration. There are methods and techniques you need to learn and master too.
A crucial tip for being able to grind fast is to use a push stick. What’s a push stick, you might ask. Basically, it’s a flat piece of wood that has a step down cut in one end, used to support the blade as well as to push the work deeper into the belt.
Choosing a Belt
Aside from what I have mentioned earlier, the belt is also important. Getting the wrong belts or cheap belts, for that matter, will cause it to wear out rapidly and will require more time and effort for you to work on your piece.
In my case, I always purchase decent quality belts even if it means spending more money for it.
Understanding Grinder Stance
Now this aspect is a big deal, and once I began applying it carefully, my grinds and work speed really improved. The stance for me is the gateway to grinding beautiful plunges and lines.
So here’s what you need to do:
- Stand with your two feet widely set while still remaining comfortable. You get more stability with a wider stance.
- Check that your grinder is at a suitable height. Lock your elbows and grind uniformly by sliding to the right or left with your hips instead of your arms.
- Pretend as if you are the carriage in a grinding machine.
- Hold the tang securely using your left hand. Keep your elbows locked and don’t twist your wrist.
Establishing Your Bevels
Opt for a 45-degree bevel for grinding the edge, close to the desired edge thickness. Use an older roughing belt. You can do this after scrabing the edge line or after forging for hammer-heads.
Avoid “poking and looking.” Instead, take a full even length, passing lightly from plunge to point.
After you’ve achieved a good pass by modifying your angle, place the belt with a slightly "loose" grip so it can promptly self adjust to the flat that has been established. Work the grind up with intermediate flats towards the spine, and then onto the plunge cuts.
Starting flat bevel and afterwards working it up toward the spine to the height you desire can be defined as the process of "grinding progressively upward."
Each pass or series of passes will overlap the previous height, and slowly make the grind angle shallower than the previous one, until the spine is reached. Doing this carefully makes the process faster than simply hogging out the main bevels one angle at a time.
Bevel Grinding Using a Jig for Kitchen Knives
When I was knew to knife-making, the idea of buying a grinder was pretty intimidating. I couldn’t afford to buy a grinder and besides, I didn’t want to spend upwards of $2,000 for one.
My stance changed, however, when I came across a video wherein one pro described in detail how to make a beveling jig with just the most basic tools and materials.
Here are the main advantages of a jig grinder:
- It works faster than a free hand filing.
- The learning curve is really short.
- You can easily get consistent plunge lines and ground bevels.
- You can produce convex grinds and flat grinds.
If you want to know how to grind kitchen knives using this tool, you first need to understand the main differences between outdoor knives and kitchen knives:
- Blades are longer and thinner.
- There is a higher acute grind.
- A full flat grind will not give you a good kitchen knife.
- There is a more significant distal taper in kitchen knives from the handle to the tip.
So that said, you need to be working on a large blade in a non-hardened condition and you’ll have to calculate the angles and do some basic math.
As soon as you already have the design on paper you can begin to draw straight lines and work your way down using the grinding jig. Ideally you should start from the edge – the one with the steepest grinding angle – and work your way to the knife’s spine.
Once you are done with each step, remove the knife from the holder and assess the blade thickness at several positions to find out whether the grind is exactly how you want it.
It takes a lot of practice for you to get the hang of it. But over time, you will develop your own techniques and feel for this process. In my case, this is already muscle memory and instinct.
I’m confident you’ll go through this phase and eventually be able to do it with ease. Practice, after all, gives you the consistency to achieve the results you want.
Where to Buy Bevel Grinding Jigs?
Many of these tools are on the market and are designed mostly for sharpening knives. You can find mini grinders that cost a couple of hundreds but those are not sturdy enough to handle bevels. Even sharpening tools would eventually be a problem when you go with cheap options.
If you don’t have a grinder yet, make sure to get a good quality jig grinder. If you just need a jig, get one that can last and stay in good condition even with repeated use.
You can make your own jig but I wouldn’t really recommend it for beginners. Even with my experience, I prefer to buy my jigs.
Beautiful craftsmanship starts with the right equipment. Then once you have that, you need to develop the skill. Hopefully this guide on how to use a jig grinder for grinding bevels has helped you in your own projects.