Making Kitchen Knives – Part 10 – Shaping the Outlines

I have not forgotten or discontinued this project, only when it is cold I have to first heat up my workshop before doing any work – which wastes a lot of fuel and a lot of time. Therefore in winter I never manage to do as much work as I would like to. But I managed to do something in the last two months – like building the tumbler (that has run for five days straight by now btw. and it has made a very nice satin finish on the broken blade).

But I could not do much actual work on the knives themselves, because first I must focus on making the necessary improvements. I managed only one step in the process and one failed improvement in the next one.

The step that I have managed with success is shaping the outline of the blades. Last time I ended up with three stacks of blanks held together with screws. So I took them to the belt grinder and ground the outline of all three stacks. After that I disassembled the stacks and cleaned up any irregularities, burrs etc.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I ended up with a stack of 12 knife blanks. They are not all identical, but in three shapes – next time I will have to think a bit more about how to get reliably reproducible results. To save my self trouble when cutting the handle scales I have marked the blanks in each group on the tang with letters T, V and X. Why these letters? Because they are easily distinguishable from each other and can be scratched with just two lines.

This step was not actually very time-consuming before – just 10 minutes per blade, or 1, 55% of the whole process. Theoretically not worth improving. But I hope that having three groups of four reasonably identical handles will save me some time when shaping the handle – which took 110 minutes per handle, or 17% of the whole process.

Nevertheless, shaping four blades at once did bring some minor time-saving in itself – I have spent only 5 minutes per blade now, so I have saved 5 minutes from my process. This has confirmed that this was indeed low hanging fruit – it was a very easy improvement.

Next step is basic grind of the blade – and this is where I have my first failed attempt at improvement to share in my next post.


  1. Jazzlet says

    Glad to read more about how you are doing on this project, but sorry you haven’t been able to do as much as you would have liked.

  2. kestrel says

    This looks terrific and glad you could work on this bit to improve your overall efficiency. I really like the shape you have chosen and for me at least it’s a very graceful and appealing shape.

    You may not always be able to make the time shorter; there is a real reason why handmade things cost more. They really and truly do take more time, and generally have way more personality (if you will). There will always be some people who feel that extra time is so worth the sticker price that they will not even blink but simply reach in their wallet and pay the asking price. It always surprises me too but after all your time and skills are worth something.

  3. voyager says

    I’m glad you’ve improved part of the process even if it is low hanging fruit. It frees up your mind to think about other things. I hope the tumbler will also save you time with polishing.
    Plus, I agree with kestrel. I will pay more for something handmade, especially if I know what’s involved in its making.

  4. Nightjar says

    I’m glad to hear you haven’t discontinued the project! And this certainly sounds like progress to me. Including the failed attempt, at least you already know what not to try next time and maybe you learned something from it.

Leave a Reply