I built a panel gauge recently for the Hand Tool School and used X-acto blades for the knife. It works ok but I’m not happy with how slight the marking line is. I like a beefier blade with a single bevel. That more pronounced bevel creates a larger V cut in the wood making the line easy to see but also guiding the saw or chisel more effectively. Technically the single bevel is more accurate as well since you reference the flat edge toward the “keep” face of your board. This is splitting hairs because the bevel on an X-acto blade is very slight.
In my search for a better blade, I could have purchased a replacement blade from any of the many tool makers that sell cutting gauges these days. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to make my own blade and play around with some tool steel. Enter, everyone’s favorite raw parts dealer, McMaster Carr. They sent me this box the other day and I was shocked by the size.
I opened the box and sifted through mountains of paper and peanuts to find this tiny strip of 1/8 x 1/4 x 18, O1 tool steel.
I guess they really wanted to make sure it got to me undamaged! So now I am presented with the task of learning how to work with this stuff. Obviously as a woodworker I know how to grind on a bevel and hone the edge, but I now have to cut this bar into the right length. So how do you cut O1 steel? I don’t want to draw out the temper by doing it the wrong way. I could also look it up, but what is more fun than engaging my audience for expert advice. So how would you cut the steel to length? Do I need to bake the steel to harden it later before I grind the bevel?Google+ Profile