This step was a real bugger this time. Forming the handle before it is assembled onto the tang has its downsides, but it also has its upsides. And they seem to prevail, in comparison to the approach I took this time. It took me a lot of time to get all the handles into shape. Part of the problem was also that I have used woods of different properties and thus I had to adjust my approach several times – something that entirely defeated the purpose of saving time by working in bulk. But I got eventually to the stage when I could impregnate the handles with boat lacquer.
For some of the woods on display here infusing them with drying oil or buffing with beeswax would be entirely sufficient. For some, it would be much, much better to stabilize them with resin beforehand. But the boat lacquer is the most durable and universally applicable finish I have right now, so I have used that. And to make the work more convenient, I have built myself a little stand to put the blades in to dry.
Unfortunately, I am not done yet so I do not know how much time I have lost in this step. I only have enough data right now to know for sure that I have lost a lot, maybe even an hour per blade. The reasons for this are several.
First, this step was evaluated as “high hanging fruit” because I knew upfront that saving time here will be difficult. Lacquering is the most labor-intensive wood finish imaginable in this context.
Second, some of the savings in my previous step were not really time savings, it was merely that I have changed the order of operations this time and that moved some of the work time from that step into this one.
Third, I messed up, bigly, several times. I repeated steps tat needed not repeating and in the end, I had to redo the coating for four blades. This is why I do not have full data yet – right now, only 8 knives out of 12 are truly finished. But the purpose of learning was achieved, and I have definitively saved some overall time.