Tag Archives: knives

Saw Blade for an Olfa

razor saw2

Gyokucho Razorsaw No. S-1160.

This Japanese style pull saw fits into an 18 mm Olfa-style snap off knife handle. The Razorsaw is well made and cuts quickly. Bookbinders may find it useful to make small cuts while shaping wooden boards, trimming trenails, etc. There is another saw blade which I haven’t tried, the S-1162 serrated blade, designed for plastics, which might work on ethafoam.  An easy and inexpensive way to add a saw to your tool kit. And whose inner 13 year old boy can resist the appeal of a pocketable saw?

Vietnamese Hacksaw Knife for Shoe Repair

I traveled in Vietnam around the New Year. In Huế, which was the capitol of Vietnam until 1945, there was a small mobile shoe repair stand on the street. In addition to the ubiquitous Vietnamese plastic stools, this cobbler had a small assortment of shoe repair tools laid out on a work-cloth.  I noticed the knife he was using was made out of a hacksaw blade, so I offered to purchase it. When traveling, I often like to try to purchase tools from people that are actually using them, so I can see how they are used in context and know that they work. He named what must have been an outrageous price, because when I accepted he nearly fell off his stool.  A few minutes after I left, I noticed he was quickly packing up his business, hopefully to take the day off and celebrate his big score. We were both extremely happy with this transaction.

shoe repair1 shoe repair tools

Tools from a shoe repair stand in Vietnam.  

On the top row: pair of shoes, a coarse artificial and medium natural sharpening stone. On the bottom row: some rubber sole scraps, a white bottle containing some kind of adhesive, curved and angled gouges (for cutting channels into soles before sewing?), an angle nipper, a straight and bent awl, and scissors. The cloth is both a table and can be rolled up to transport the tools.

 hacksaw knife backhacksaw knifeKnife made from a hacksaw blade that I purchased from the man in the above images. On the bottom the partially ground teeth that provide a pleasing grip.

The steel is fully hardened throughout, above HRC 65, and I assume M2 or M3 steel, but who knows. The top and bottom of blade itself is quite planar, in contrast to the Starrett blades I use, which are dished out in the center and take quite a bit of flattening. I’ve now seen knives made from hacksaw blades of Russian, English, Brazilian, Mexican, American, and Chinese origins. It is cool to find fully hardened hacksaw steel, formed by stock reduction, used as knives around the world. I use a M3 hacksaw English Style paring knife often in my own work. I like the balance of good edge retention at low angles, initial cutting performance and ease of resharpening.

A small amount of the teeth were left on the edge of the blade, giving a pleasing grip and visually reminiscent of file work found on high end European knives. There is a slight back bevel and the included blade bevel angle is 12 degrees. The back bevel might aid in the complex shapes—such as paring shoe soles. The blade angle is about 45 degrees. Although the blade itself was somewhat coarsely sharpened, it cut the rubber sole material quite easily when he demonstrated it. Overall, a basic, well made knife without superflous decoration or polishing.

I wasn’t able to find any knives like this in the local markets, so I’m curious if the cobbler made this himself or if there is a Vietnamese Jeff Peachey doppleganger who peddles them.

 

An Easy Way to Improve an Olfa Knife

olfa

 Be sure to tighten the blade holder with the blade in place!

Almost every bookbinder I have met uses 9mm Olfa snap off knives. Simply by squeezing the blade holder a bit tighter with a needle nose pliers, the performance and feel of any Olfa  knife is greatly improved: it doesn’t wiggle around so much, it is easier to place more accurately, the knife feels more solid, there is no more annoying rattle, and the blade breaks off more consistently. Why didn’t I think of this 25 years ago?

 

 

Round Knives

round knife

I noticed this egyptian relief of sandal makers in the Archeological Museum of Florence.  It dates from the 36-30th Dynasty, 664-343 BC.  The round  knife pictured in the middle has changed very little in the past 25 centuries.  Below is a modern one that CS Osborne makes, which according to one web site has been the world’s best selling 5 inch round knife since 1826.

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No. 1 Paperhangers Knife

I recently acquired this Knife.  It is 18 cm long, and the faded label appears to read “RIDGEL”, then “No. 1 Paperhangers Knife/ Made in U.S.A.”  The paint decorating the handle is quite spectacular, I’m guessing it is an oil based paint, but am unclear how this complex, tiny pattern was formed – the black paint appears to have been spun or dripped onto a turning handle? Any information is appreciated.

Poor Quality Steel and Sharpening

This is a great example of both sharpening problems and low quality steel. This photo is of the back of a curved leather paring knife. It is a bit difficult to see in the photo, but the darker, shiny area below the cutting edge has been highly polished. Unfortunately, our unnamed client,  let us call him Mr. B, neglected one of the first principals– feeling the burr. Once you feel a burr on a cutting edge, it means that the two planes (bevel and back of the knife) have gone past the point where they meet. As William Blake says in the Proverbs of Hell, “You never know what is enough unless you know more than enough.” The burr lets us know we have sharpened the edge more than enough, and can proceed to the next grit. A great deal of time was spent creating a polished area , that will not affect the cutting ability at all, and be instantly removed once someone attempts to regrind the knife.

The knife edge was dropped, and on the left side of the blade there are some chips, and on the right side you can see bent metal. What does this tell us? That the steel was improperly hardened. Any steel that is hard enough to pare leather (at least Rc 55 or so) should be brittle and chip if damaged, not bend like on the right side of the photo.