3 tips to get more from your knife steel

3 tips to get more from your knife steel

Over time we can develop behaviours or habits that we pass on to other people or which may have been passed onto us. Whilst most of these are harmless (although not optimal), certain practices should be questioned, changed or even avoided. Here we will look at three ways you can optimise your knife steel to achieved improved results across your operation.  

1) Check if your steel is burnt, black or blunt

It’s amazing what sounds and visual signs can tell us. If you hear the moulder ‘murder’ sound, chances are your knife steel is tool blunt! Knife steel can also burn or even turn a black colour due to overuse, damage or through poor grinding practices.

The takeout: Look, listen and stop (if necessary). 

2) Look at your LIFE:RUN ratio

Are you re-grinding your knives mid-production run? Consider the disruption to your production and even the loss of revenue when machines or staff are idle. On the contrary you may also be over-capitalising with knife steel exceeding your run requirements. Coated steels or carbide may not be the most cost-effective option if you are doing very small, custom runs. This may also require additional grinding time or even specific wheels. 

The takeout: Understand your production objectives to help choose the most optimal knife steel for your operation. 

3) Consider a set changeover system/schedule 

Many timber processors operate two set shifts – morning and afternoon. What this means is the same knife steel is run all morning, with a changeover at lunch time (to avoid disruption and downtime). In the afternoon the knife steel from that morning is then sharpened ahead of the following morning’s run, and the cycle continues until the steel can no longer be sharpened and requires replacing. 

Although your knife steel may have more life in it before sharpening, it probably won't last the entire shift. Getting on the front foot minimises the work and time required in the grinding room; with less grinding you prolong the actual life of your knife steel. This practice also ensures the consistent quality and value of your finished product, as when the knife performance drops off, your finish deteriorates and will be very noticeable to your clients. 

The takeout: Identify a changeover system that works for you to minimise downtime, prolong knife life and ensure consistent quality product. 

If you’re still unsure what knife steel is best for your operation, we have just launched a recommendation guide. Otherwise chat to your Accurate technical sales representative about your unique situation, or email us directly at sales@accurateaustralia.com 

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