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    1. Top | #1
      Nate4s is offline
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      Questions for Blade-Builders/Nate4s Build Thread

      I know there are quite a few members here who build blades, so I was hoping to get some advice as I gear up to make a few for myself. I have already talked back and forth with Ross Leidy, who has been incredibly helpful in explaining parts of his process (as well as his thread over on OOAK), but I don't want to pester him too much and figured there are plenty of people with excellent blades and experience making blades on this forum. As I get further along in this process, the burning questions I have are:

      1. I have used West-Systems G-flex epoxy for adhering knife scales to knife blades - it's waterproof, flexible, durable...and seems like it could have some interesting properties for gluing the veneer/core layers together. Has anyone ever used G-flex for building a table tennis blade? I have also picked up Titebond Veneer Cold Press and Titebond Polyurethane to try as well.

      2. When making a 7-ply blade, would there be any significant difference between blades when just the grain orientation of the two outer plies differs? For example, in one blade, the grain orientation runs in the same direction (just for the outer two plies, as I understand the structural benefit of at least one cross-ply layer in the blade); in the other, the outer two ply grain orientations are crossed (see image).

      3. In a follow up question to #2: Most blades seem to have a core with grains running vertically (from handle to apex of the blade) - are there positives or adverse effects of using a core-wood with grains running in the horizontal plane?

      Unrelated to my questions, but just to preemptively address questions people might as: The veneer woods I have access to at this time are Black Limba, Koto, and Mahogany - unfortunately, just Balsa and Basswood for the core (I live on the Oregon coast, where Port Orford Cedar grows and is milled, so I'm working on acquiring suitable pieces to try as 1-ply and as cores).

      Thanks in advance for your help!

      Click image for larger version. 

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      Last edited by Nate4s; 06-25-2018 at 07:44 PM.

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    3. Top | #2
      Ranger-man is offline
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      I am not an expert but I have been toying with the idea of making my own blade lately and I think Port Orford Cedar would be a great wood for a one-ply blade if you are so inclined. I also think a Balsa core will make the blade pretty stiff. Balsa is also very light and not very strong so the cross plies are definitely a good idea to keep the blade from snapping. Make sure you seal it to improve durability.


      Koto and Limba are very good for the blade, especially Limba as an outer ply. Soft Limba is a great combo with the hard Balsa Core.

      One thing to keep in mind about the glues you use is that some glues evaporate after drying some do not so this will have noticeable impact on the weight of the finished blade.

    4. Top | #3
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      Hi
      1. never tried so i do not now ...
      2. in 7 layer blades i`m using the left pattern of grain orientation .... i personally feel and believe it is better for spin and little bit softens the top layer, for 5 layers i`m using the right one to support the overall strength of the blade
      3. the core is the most strength layer of the blade ..so it is better to have it vertically for the blade to it did not breaks so easy .
      in 9 layers blade i use the core ply diagonally to give blade more flex ..
      I hope this helps you .
      Last edited by bobpuls; 04-26-2018 at 07:46 PM.

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    6. Top | #4
      GinjaNinja is offline
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      Making blades is a great hobby, it's challenging, rewarding, frustrating and quite be quite addictive! I am not sure there are any hard and fast rules and I would encourage you to experiment over time. Based upon my experience:
      1) I haven't used G flex but looking at it's properties I think it would work, how well? Impossible to say but I am sure you'd have a playable blade if your composition is right. Personally, I would stay away from white/pva wood glues as there are too many vibrations that are not that pleasant. Use it for glueing handles though just not between veneers. PU glues work well and have a different but comparable feel to epoxy -watch out for the weight though, it can be heavy. Whichever glue you use make sure you get one with a lengthy open time.
      2) I feel either would work well, which would be better? This would be personal preference. My 7 plys have a thin 0.6mm veneer between two 1.5mm cores and this is placed at 90 degrees. I then place the 2nd and 6th layers at 90 degrees. This combination works well.
      3) I use 4mm kiri cores placed at 90 degrees and they work well. I haven't had any structural issues as Bob suggests but this would also depend on the glue you use. It would be fine with epoxy or PU which don't soak into the wood the same as PVA. You get great flex from this. Not sure about using balsa on this, it would have to be very thick.

      I would PM Chris Faygal about materials in the US as he has completed tons of research and I know has been successfully using WRC and spruce cores. I wish I could them as easy and as cheap in the UK - mind you I believe ayous is very difficult to get hold of.

      One of the hardest things about making blades is the woodworking skills and tools you need - for this, my advice would be to study Bobpuls' videos, his advice is spot on.

      Hope this helps and enjoy!

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    8. Top | #5
      Nate4s is offline
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      Thank you for the advice so far! I guess I could see a third variation, with 2 cross-ply veneers (90-deg) and the outer layer running vertically - it seems like this would decrease flexibility, which could be good for certain blades.

      GinjaNinja, I would love to have easy access to ayous, but it is difficult to find in the US without purchasing full-sized lumber (and needing loads of it to make shipping worthwhile). My goal is to try and make this with pre-cut core woods (i.e., balsa, basswood), as I do not have access to a large enough bandsaw to cut my own blanks/cores - this is my issue right now with being able to obtain POC wood suitable for making blades. I have a decent belt sander, and have made a MDF template that I'm very pleased with - my goal will be to use a flush trim bit in my router to reproduce consistent, quality blanks.

      In an ideal world, I would make 3 identical blades (in terms of plies, materials, construction techniques) with the three different adhesives and use the same exact rubbers (new, as to reduce confounding variables) - it just becomes unnecessarily expensive and redundant to do that kind of testing. Even with the limited supplies I have (3x 1/42" veneers, 2x core materials in varying thicknesses, 3 adhesives), the number of possible permutations becomes daunting. I'm waiting on a few parts to arrive before I can start the process, but I will certainly update with results as they happen.

    9. Top | #6
      bobpuls is offline
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      in us try this one for veneers
      http://hobbithouseinc.com/store/
      and for the core try ebay
      https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odk...e&_sacat=84011

    10. Top | #7
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      Awesome thread and great replies. I’ll add some of my own:

      1) I wouldn’t necessarily recommend using epoxy other than with carbon composite materials. I really like the feel from PU glues like ginjaninja said, and I also thing hide glues are worth pursuing. I steer away from wood glues like ginja said due to the water base and abosrption. PU glues expand as the cure and create a very strong bond.

      2) as far as materials, http://veneersupplies.com is great and has a lot of great woods for blades. Also, eBay is a great place to get materials. I’d be happy to share sellers I trust that have supplied my great veneers, etc. also, be willing to run outside the box. Just because a material isn’t used in commercial blades doesn’t mean it isn’t good. There isn’t w manufacturer that uses western red cedar as a core, but I’ve found it to be absolutely fabulous. There are *lots* of good woods you can get as veneers that make good medial or top ply woods. It’s just a matter of trying stuff out and figuring out how different propertiesplsy together. Wood-database.com is a good place to research woods. I’ve looked at virtually every wood listed on that site and now have about 25 different veneers and a couple different core materials.

      3). I’ve tried both with respect to 7 ply orientations. My most recent 7 plies have all been the left one as bob also mentioned. I feel it provides a great feel.

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    12. Top | #8
      Nate4s is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by cfagyal View Post
      Awesome thread and great replies. I’ll add some of my own:

      1) I wouldn’t necessarily recommend using epoxy other than with carbon composite materials. I really like the feel from PU glues like ginjaninja said, and I also thing hide glues are worth pursuing. I steer away from wood glues like ginja said due to the water base and abosrption. PU glues expand as the cure and create a very strong bond.

      2) as far as materials, http://veneersupplies.com is great and has a lot of great woods for blades. Also, eBay is a great place to get materials. I’d be happy to share sellers I trust that have supplied my great veneers, etc. also, be willing to run outside the box. Just because a material isn’t used in commercial blades doesn’t mean it isn’t good. There isn’t w manufacturer that uses western red cedar as a core, but I’ve found it to be absolutely fabulous. There are *lots* of good woods you can get as veneers that make good medial or top ply woods. It’s just a matter of trying stuff out and figuring out how different propertiesplsy together. Wood-database.com is a good place to research woods. I’ve looked at virtually every wood listed on that site and now have about 25 different veneers and a couple different core materials.

      3). I’ve tried both with respect to 7 ply orientations. My most recent 7 plies have all been the left one as bob also mentioned. I feel it provides a great feel.
      Thanks for the tips - it looks like I'll just have to try some things out. I saw some beautiful Hemlock at the local building store and noticed it had similar janka/specific gravity specifications as a lot of the other common core woods that get used (ayous, kiri, etc) - all of their stock was incredibly cheap and the grain was smooth and straight. I have no issue getting veneer wood, as CertainlyWood had pretty great selections and prices. The issue is getting some of the common core woods, but I can be patient for the time being.

      Quote Originally Posted by bobpuls View Post
      in us try this one for veneers
      http://hobbithouseinc.com/store/
      and for the core try ebay
      https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odk...e&_sacat=84011
      Thanks, Bob. Unfortunately, ebay doesn't show me anything for Ayous (and when they did a week ago, it was boards that were a little too small - 150mm wide, 0 margin for error - and and they were shiping from the UK). Thanks for another veneer supplier - I'll try out the veneers I get from CertainlyWood (US based, what Ross Leidy has suggested in threads over at OOAK that he uses).

    13. Top | #9
      cfagyal is offline
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      Core woods are tough. Ayous is a pain to get a hold of in the US. So is good quality kiri honestly. That’s why I’ve branched out and experimented with things like western red cedar. I sourced it from tonewoods used for instruments... wonderful grain structure and awesome quality.

      hobbit house has some decent stuff...I’ve bought a few things from their eBay auctions. Veneersupplies.com has a massive supply of awesome quality woods, plus I like that they are very precise about what something is... you know what you are getting rather than it just saying “pine” or “oak”. When I bought spruce from them I knew it was lutz spruce which is an white/Sitka spruce hybrid, and it’s exactly what I wanted, rather than guessing what it’s characteristics will be. Certainlywood looks decent too, and similarly specific which is very good. I hadn’t looked at them previously. Good to know of another supplier.
      Last edited by cfagyal; 04-27-2018 at 01:14 AM.

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    15. Top | #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by Nate4s View Post
      Thanks, Bob. Unfortunately, ebay doesn't show me anything for Ayous (and when they did a week ago, it was boards that were a little too small - 150mm wide, 0 margin for error - and and they were shiping from the UK). Thanks for another veneer supplier - I'll try out the veneers I get from CertainlyWood (US based, what Ross Leidy has suggested in threads over at OOAK that he uses).
      Look also for obeche ... it is more comon name in western culture .
      And do not be afraid to buy 100mm wide boards .. it is really easy to stitch them together . If you do it right there is no visible joint on the blade .... and also all big blade makers (butterfly ,stiga ,etc ..)are doing it this way .

    16. Top | #11
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      Quote Originally Posted by bobpuls View Post
      Look also for obeche ... it is more comon name in western culture .
      And do not be afraid to buy 100mm wide boards .. it is really easy to stitch them together . If you do it right there is no visible joint on the blade .... and also all big blade makers (butterfly ,stiga ,etc ..)are doing it this way .

      It's very hard to get wide enough pieces for any cores, certainly kiri, ayous and balsa. I'm the same as bobpuls, I 'stitch' them together with a little bit of pva. I do like the of using different cores, veneers and glues, I think you want your blades to be different from manufacturers otherwise what's the point. You may as well just by Butterfly act. Having said that you can make them for a fraction of the price, your time is the big investment and that's free!

      A word of advice, you may want to start with cheaper materials as you will make mistakes and you wouldn't do it with an expensive WRC core or ebony/rosewood etc veneers. Try balsa as it's so cheap. Use softer materials for your handles too, I've just made two blades, one with purple heart and another with burr wood and there is no way I could have done this when I first started as my routing skills weren't strong enough. If you are an experienced woodworker then you'll be fine.

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    18. Top | #12
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    20. Top | #13
      GinjaNinja is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by CSBV View Post
      That's a great resource, is the quality good?

    21. Top | #14
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      Quote Originally Posted by GinjaNinja View Post
      That's a great resource, is the quality good?
      I had some problems with my order and not all the parts of the wood were usable due to small holes, but besides that quality is ok.
      Currently working on lightweight, offensive blades with all-wood feeling.

    22. Top | #15
      GinjaNinja is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by MDP View Post
      I had some problems with my order and not all the parts of the wood were usable due to small holes, but besides that quality is ok.
      This can be a problem with larger sheets. I do like the fact the supply in the different thicknesses too. Limba in 0.5, 0.8 and 1.0mm, really useful and hard to get.

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    24. Top | #16
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      Also ayous 3.5 mm the best choice

    25. Top | #17
      cfagyal is offline
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      That looks like a good resource. I may try them out for some 3 and 3.5mm obeche, and perhaps even some 3mm spruce as i've been keen to try that for a core. I would imagine being in Germany it is Norway/European/German Spruce which should be quite good as a core material.

      I agree with Ginja about starting with cheaper stuff. I had several "failures", and it definitely takes practice with routing. I still have a lot to learn in this area...i've been doing a lot more work by hand lately on my handles, for example, due to failures with tear-out on figured woods on my router. Probably due to lack of experience, and partially due to the fact that I now have an extremely nice cacasse hand saw and two exceptional hand planes which give a great finish to wood.

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    27. Top | #18
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      Quote Originally Posted by GinjaNinja View Post
      It's very hard to get wide enough pieces for any cores, certainly kiri, ayous and balsa. I'm the same as bobpuls, I 'stitch' them together with a little bit of pva. I do like the of using different cores, veneers and glues, I think you want your blades to be different from manufacturers otherwise what's the point. You may as well just by Butterfly act. Having said that you can make them for a fraction of the price, your time is the big investment and that's free!

      A word of advice, you may want to start with cheaper materials as you will make mistakes and you wouldn't do it with an expensive WRC core or ebony/rosewood etc veneers. Try balsa as it's so cheap. Use softer materials for your handles too, I've just made two blades, one with purple heart and another with burr wood and there is no way I could have done this when I first started as my routing skills weren't strong enough. If you are an experienced woodworker then you'll be fine.
      This is tremendously helpful - thank you! I have some router experience, but not on small delicated pieces such as these. My veneer is scheduled to get here on Tuesday, so I can start trying things out at that point. I like the idea of the consistency that a router can bring to the rounding of the handle, but I will admit I've never used it to make knife handles before (and instead use a modified 1x30 belt sander). With routers, there does not seem to be much consistency across the internet whether against or with the grain (on curved portions of the piece) results in less tear-out.

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    29. Top | #19
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      Against the grain especially on strongly grained or figured wood can result in disasterous tear-out (or worse if you aren't very careful). I suggest always using safety tools when routing handles (I have a couple of different things I use to hold the handle and keep my fingers far away from the router bit). I was working on a figured walnut burl handle once, and my final pass with the router on the final side of the 2nd handle piece, tear-out that was completely unrepareable. Had to totally start over from scratch on the handle.

      It is why i've started doing a lot more by hand, sanding, planing, etc... I hate spending so muich time constructing a handle and seeing it ruined by a router bit. Perhaps it is just lack of skill on my part, but its far harder to ruin something by handle, versus a spinning blade rotating at 10k+ RPM.

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    31. Top | #20
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      Quote Originally Posted by Nate4s View Post
      This is tremendously helpful - thank you! I have some router experience, but not on small delicated pieces such as these. My veneer is scheduled to get here on Tuesday, so I can start trying things out at that point. I like the idea of the consistency that a router can bring to the rounding of the handle, but I will admit I've never used it to make knife handles before (and instead use a modified 1x30 belt sander). With routers, there does not seem to be much consistency across the internet whether against or with the grain (on curved portions of the piece) results in less tear-out.
      I've had a few final moment heartbreaks when routing handles especially harder or more complex grained woods, however, I get it right every time now - you watch, my next one will be a disaster! The key is to 'feel the wood' and go with the way the router wants you to go, you can't force it. Although I could probably write an essay on this, the only way to get better is to practise. Practise on scrap or cheap pieces of wood. Get quality router bits too, they cost more but are worth it. You need to be confident when using routers and you need a very light touch, this is easier said than done when your fingers are 4cm from a bit rotating at a ridiculous speed. Router speeds - now there's another topic!
      One thing you will really appreciate is the quality of blades Ross Leidy produces. It would be good to know what advice he gave you.

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