Boriqua

Helpful Awl Sharpening Vid

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I of course have seen the Nigel video which is great but I was having some difficulty getting my siewa Awl blade to where I needed it to be and started looking around and found this gentleman and I met with great success

English is his second language but its easy enough to follow along. I should preface this with I am considered very good at tool sharpening. Been sharpening knives and more on stones for years and am the guy friends bring their knives to when they have given up and blame the steel, the maker and everyone else for their dull knife. I have soft, hard and surgical black stones, course and fine diamond hones, a spyderco hone set and some other loose sharpening tools.

My go to awl blade is a pointed type I bought YEARS ago at tandy. Nice solid diamond shape and this sucker can stab a fly in midflight. I wanted to experiment with a straight sided blade to see if it would help the stitching on the back side of some of my projects so I bought a Siewa number 1 and number 2. The number 1 is a small guy I use only for inlay stuff so after about an hour polish it is good to go but the Number 2 was giving me fits.

It worked but it was work and if you are going to sit and sew for 3-5 hours the last thing you want is to fight your awl. The problem was that the shoulders of the diamond shape in cross section was too steep and came to close to the tip at full thickness. I kept sharpening and polishing the contours of the blade tip as it came and was dismayed to find I was making things worse not better. I just couldnt figure it out. STUPID! I was actually enhancing the very feature that was making it difficult to penetrate!! I was further exaggerating the steep angle. So I would sharpen and the very tip would pierce the leather with ease but pushing the awl through the leather was a bear and I would push so hard it would pierce sending the ferrule banging into the leather.

Then I found his video and banged myself in the head. Doh. Using his rocking motion on my stones I softened the transition from the tip to the full width of the diamond shape in profile. I posted pix below of the after. The spine used to run almost all the way to the tip. Afterward you can see the kind of V shape I created by softening that transition to full thickness. It was an AHA moment. After getting that transition in place and lessening the angle I went to 1500 grit wet dry, black stone and rouge and this sucker glides through 2 pieces of 8/9 oz leather.

With the shorter broader blade its easier to keep a tight right angle to the work and it has improved my stitching on the back side of my work. Hope it helps someone out.

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This method looks good & interesting

I have a John James awl that is yet to be mounted & sharpened; when I do, I'll try this method

I have watched Paul Sellers videos on sharpening woodworking tools. I notice that he uses window cleaning spray as a lubricant on diamond stones and wet & dry paper

I have an assorted pack of wet & dry paper, with 5 grades covering the range P 600 to P 2000. I think I'll make up some semi - permanent blocks, like small sharpening stones, by gluing or pinning the paper to wooden blocks

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Good video.....thanks for sharing!

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The only thing I can possibly add to a great video is to put a drop or two of dish soap with your water to help it wet out on the sandpaper. Just drop it directly on the paper and then dribble your water on after, nothing fancy.

I've heard other people using of all sorts of different stuff to wet the paper with, but dish soap and water is cheap, easily accessible, works great, and even aids in the final clean up.

I will certainly be giving the rounded tip a try, thanks for the video.

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Thanks Boriqua for sharing my video!

I am very glad that it helped you! : )

Thanks for posting it! I will have to find some time to check out your others.

Alex

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Thanks Boriqua for sharing my video!

I am very glad that it helped you! : )

I'm glad he shared it too. I watched the video you did on a hacksaw knife. Here is what I made in a few hours. I'm shocked at how well it cuts and holds an edge. It's a used 1/2" hacksaw blade, a scrap of wood from an old piano and three inches of 5/16" brass rod. All stuff laying around the shop so my cost was in the pennies. Epoxy was the adhesive.

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I'm glad he shared it too. I watched the video you did on a hacksaw knife. Here is what I made in a few hours. I'm shocked at how well it cuts and holds an edge. It's a used 1/2" hacksaw blade, a scrap of wood from an old piano and three inches of 5/16" brass rod. All stuff laying around the shop so my cost was in the pennies. Epoxy was the adhesive.

DUDE! Thank you for the inspiration. I have been struggling along with exacto knives and box cutters for years and while I strop them before and after each use they were not ideal. After seeing your handiwork I went out to the shed and pulled out my hacksaw blade that should have been replaced years ago and made my knife. Not only is it insanely sharp but it holds an edge far better than my exacto or box cutter blades and being thcker than an exacto it doesnt flex in the turns. Awesome! I have been doing leather work since the early 90's and I still learn all sorts of new stuff visiting here

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DUDE! Thank you for the inspiration. I have been struggling along with exacto knives and box cutters for years and while I strop them before and after each use they were not ideal. After seeing your handiwork I went out to the shed and pulled out my hacksaw blade that should have been replaced years ago and made my knife. Not only is it insanely sharp but it holds an edge far better than my exacto or box cutter blades and being thcker than an exacto it doesnt flex in the turns. Awesome! I have been doing leather work since the early 90's and I still learn all sorts of new /quote]

I got the idea from leathertoolz, I just went farther than jus a blade.

What did you cover the handle part with? By the way to drill the holes for my pins I clamped the cutting end between to pieces of steel to act as a heat sink, about an inch in the heat sink. That keeps the temper in the cutting edge. I then heated the pin area red hot to remove the temper, drilled and then pinned it.

Edited by Oldtoolsniper

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I had some horn knife scales a Buddy gave me years ago in my box of junk so I used one for the hacksaw knife. I made them a little over sized top and bottom so the hacksaw blade is kind of encapsulated in the epoxy. I am hoping It will hold without pins but thank you for tip so if the epoxy fails I can pin the next one.

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I had some horn knife scales a Buddy gave me years ago in my box of junk so I used one for the hacksaw knife. I made them a little over sized top and bottom so the hacksaw blade is kind of encapsulated in the epoxy. I am hoping It will hold without pins but thank you for tip so if the epoxy fails I can pin the next one.

It looks awesome. You know your way around a camera too. Your worn out hacksaw blade looks like an old Japanese woodworking marking knife.

I collect (horde) old tools, I've got some old 1 1/2" power hacksaw blades I'm going to try next. I'm also going to try an old handsaw blade. I know most new hand saws are just edge tempered for cost savings unless it's an expensive saw. The old ones are full plate tempered. I tried drilling one to no avail. There are a gazillions of them out there in second hand shops for next to nothing. Cutting it without losing the temper will take some thought. I'm betting those old two man saw blades are full plate tempered too.

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It looks awesome. You know your way around a camera too. Your worn out hacksaw blade looks like an old Japanese woodworking marking knife.

I collect (horde) old tools, I've got some old 1 1/2" power hacksaw blades I'm going to try next. I'm also going to try an old handsaw blade. I know most new hand saws are just edge tempered for cost savings unless it's an expensive saw. The old ones are full plate tempered. I tried drilling one to no avail. There are a gazillions of them out there in second hand shops for next to nothing. Cutting it without losing the temper will take some thought. I'm betting those old two man saw blades are full plate tempered too.

So I have a question for you and Leathertoolz. Now that I sacrificed my ready to be sacrificed hacksaw blade I have to get a new blade for my hacksaw. Is there some language or other indication I should look for on the packaging to let me know that after it has served its life as a hacksaw it will make a good knife or am I good grabbing whatever is on sale at Home depot?

Alex

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So I have a question for you and Leathertoolz. Now that I sacrificed my ready to be sacrificed hacksaw blade I have to get a new blade for my hacksaw. Is there some language or other indication I should look for on the packaging to let me know that after it has served its life as a hacksaw it will make a good knife or am I good grabbing whatever is on sale at Home depot?

Alex

I don't know the answer to that. It seems as though the old ones were listed as "high speed steel" as are the ones I have. I can say without a doubt they never reach the "High Speed" part with me powering the hacksaw. The new ones have all kinds of crazy names and that leads me to believe that most of it is word smith marketing type stuff to get you to buy their blade. I'm going to did around and find a modern one and test it out. Without making a handle or polishing out the blade I should be able to bang one out in twenty minutes.

Here's a thought. Marking knives are sharpended on one bevel to keep the edge of the knife forced against the ruler or straight edge. I wonder if a single bevel hacknife will do the same thing when cutting leather. Kind of like a boat with only half a bow,

Edited by Oldtoolsniper

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Is there some language or other indication I should look for on the packaging to let me know that after it has served its life as a hacksaw it will make a good knife or am I good grabbing whatever is on sale at Home depot?

Alex

This one doesn't have a single answer, unfortunately. There are lots of blade types and purposes.

For the most part, the hacksaw blades get a differential heat treatment. This lets the teeth be hardened while leaving the rest of the blade flexible enough to hold up to cutting without breaking under normal usage. Older blades may have had different methods to harden them or may even have a uniform heat treatment. With the possibility of worn off paint and rust, it may never be known. There are even some that are stainless steel.

Unless it says anything about being Bi-Metal or stainless on the packaging, the blade should be uniform carbon steel throughout. The difference in hardness is in only due to the heat treatment. There are a couple things you can do to check to see if it'll be a sufficient steel for a blade. The easiest being to take a section, heat it to a bright red, quench it, then see if it snaps with a clean, brittle fracture. If it does, it should make a reasonable cutting edge after tempering.

A butane torch and some experimentation could get you the hardened cutting edge you want. That's a separate topic, however.

Here's a thought. Marking knives are sharpended on one bevel to keep the edge of the knife forced against the ruler or straight edge. I wonder if a single bevel hacknife will do the same thing when cutting leather. Kind of like a boat with only half a bow,

This makes sense. As long as your straight edge doesn't move, you should be set. It might make things... interesting when working though lines that aren't straight.

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I still have the other half of the hacksaw blade and was thinking about making one with a one sided bevel especially after finally seeing leathertoolz vid on it but I have had terrible luck using other one sided grinds. I haven’t tried anything this thin but I have tried them on other knives and hated them... but .. since I have nothing to lose but one half of a broken hacksaw blade why not.

so if its says "bimetal" bad?

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I use a marking knife woodworking and it's a single bevel grind, in theory it forces the blade back against the guide I'm using for the blade. Reality is that I'm only scoring the wood, I'm not cutting very deep at all so I doubt it helps much except that a flat back is easier to keep against a straight edge.

On leather we are cutting all the way through, seems as though it might work. On draw gauges you only sharpen a bevel on one side for the same reason.

As soon as I get a chance I'll give it a shot. I'm cleaning up a pile of leather working tools from an estate sale right now.

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Thanks for sharing.

I purchased an bigger awl blade than my smallest, about twenty years ago and I only used it for marking as it did not penetrate leather easily.

After watching the video, I sharpened mine on two Stanley Arkansas stones an finished it on a leather strop with green rouge.

It now goes through thick layers of leather very smoothly.

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