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Choosing the right grinder is the most important decision a knifemaker might make. Beginner knifemakers looking to step-up from hand tools are faced with a lot of difficult choices compounded by uncertainty about what they need and lack of experience. Ewan Gibson from 84 Engineering has designed a grinder for people in this exact situation: the Shop Mate 48 from 84 Engineering is positioned as a versatile, effective, and value for money grinder.

radiusmaster1The Radiusmaster II is the latest creation from the inventive mind of John Price. The original Radiusmaster was a innovative machine with five different wheels on one belt. John was recognized on the ABC television show "The New Inventors" for his invention. John has taken on board much of the feedback from the original Radiusmaster and made some performance improvements in the second version. 

I was fortunate enough to pick up two of the new Radiusmaster II's from John's factory in Sydney. What an amazing workshop! John works with a small staff in making each of the machines onsite. His equipment and jigs are fascinating - presses and benders, mill, lathes and all kinds of jigs and fixtures to make the parts. Especially interesting was the old Radiusmaster on a 45 degree angle used for grinding the rubber wheels to size. A platen holds the wheels square against the belt, but the belt drifts across the wheel, ensuring no one part gets too hot to melt the rubber. You can see the man's inventive brain hard at work in the shop.

The two new variable speed Radiusmaster II's join an old Radiusmaster (fixed speed) and a variable speed Select-a-Rad in the workshop. I retired the two 72" D J grinders, so now I am on just one belt size for all my grinders.

The second part of the Multiplaz 3500 review is about cutting.

The cutting torch is exactly the same as the welding torch. The only difference is the fuel you put in the torch - water, just water. There are two modes MODE I - indirect arc mode and MODE II - direct arc mode. Both modes use the water to create steam around the electric arc, compressing the arc and ionising the steam. This results in a huge amount of energy released in a very small space. Each mode has six different voltage levels that regulates the amount of energy released. It's worth having a bit of a play around with the different levels and see how it affects the cut.


multiplaz08The Multiplaz 3500 is a new kind of plasma machine from Russia that has some interesting potential for knifemakers. What is unique about the machine is that it welds, cuts, brazes and heats using only electricity, water and sometimes alcohol (metho). There are no other gasses used, saving a significant amount in consumables and running costs. It is light portable and versatile in its application. It can replace three separate machines in the workshop - oxy/acetalyene torch, welder and plasma cutter.

This is the first in a series of articles reviewing the Multiplaz 3500 - Unboxing.

The General Blacksmith by Malcolm Paine has just been released in Western Australia and I can truly recommend it to any knife maker thinking of turning to the dark side and forging blades.

The book is a complete work on general blacksmithing with more than enough information to get an absolute beginner started on the path to successful smithing or equally provide many interesting insights to the blacksmith’s craft for those who have some experience. The writing style is concise and quite straightforward being more than adequately supported by simple line drawings and numerous colour and black and white pictures. The end result is a clear and easy to follow set of instructions on how to complete the processes required in general blacksmithing, from making charcoal and making and lighting a forge through making tools, punching holes and designing and making art-works in steel... A small amount of history, tradition and myth relating to blacksmithing makes the book a really enjoyable read, whilst at the same time providing a really useful text book and ready reference on blacksmithing.

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