The original plan was to make ordinary knives, no fancy stuff, no distractions, just to build up some stock for sale when the bureaucracy here finally gets its act together. But I did not stick to that plan too well. First I got distracted several times making new tools, then two knives came out so nice that I thought it a shame to not make sheaths for them that are just a little fancy. But after two months, I have finally finished four pieces.
Today I was trying to take pictures, with very varying success. For reasons that I do not understand, I get usually the best results with reddish/magenta cloth background.
Here are the four knives, details, and some talk about each piece are below the fold.
These are all small bowie-type knife, with the blade approx 3,5 mm thick and 120 mm long.
The first one has a handle from black walnut and sycamore maple. Fittings are from brass, simple sheath dyed dark brown, and sewn with light brown thread.
I do not like this knife very much, it did give me a lot of grief. There are multiple tiny mistakes on it that I simply loathe.
On the sheath, I have tried to cover the metal snap fasteners with thin leather where they otherwise would touch the handle, which works as hoped so I expanded this idea later.
The second one is of identical construction, but the woods are cherry and jatoba, and the leather and thread are again dyed accordingly.
This one turned out a little better, although still not as good as it should have.
The third one is a bit fancier. The handle is made from palm wood (probably coconut) and bone, with fittings from brass. For this one, I have decided to adorn the sheath a bit. I have spent a whole day trying to devise some matching design and carve the leather. It looks… passable, I guess. It could probably look a lot better if I were not determined to make my own design and used just some stock pictures of scrolls, but I hate doing that. It is supposed to be fern leaves (I know palm trees are not related to ferns).
The palm wood is very porous, light, and soft, but homogenous, so it works easily. It has to be stabilized with resin, so I have tried to infuse all three handles when I was at it – although both cherry and walnut are hardwoods that are not exactly suitable for this. For the palm wood it worked well, but of the others not so much. But I have the advantage of owning a very precise scales (down to 1/1000 g), so I could mix just a few grams of resin and seal the surface pores with it as if I was using lacquer or oil – wipe on/wipe off. I am going to use this instead of the lacquer in the future because it is a lot faster, it does not waste as much material, it seals big pores too and it does not use any stinky evaporating solvents.
The strap that goes around the handle is from two pieces of leather this time, with the inner one covering the metal studs and indeed the whole inner side of the strap. It is a lot more work – there are more stitches in that strap than in the sheath – but I think it is worth it, especially for a handle from softwood that would soon get scratched by closing and opening the studs.
With the fourth one I have tried my hand at making the handle from an antler, but the piece I had was not of the proper shape to make a whole handle out of, so I have added several pieces of thick leather and bone. When finished, I have dyed the leather and infused the handle with molten beeswax.
The handle is shorter than for the other three knives, but it still should fit into most people’s hands well. I think this one turned out really nice. It is not perfect, but it is pretty. So I have decided to make a really fancy sheath.
Marcus was so very kind and has given me some books on leatherwork, so I have splurged on tools and materials and I tried to use some techniques from them. The roe deer squints a bit and has a bit wobbly chin, but it is recognizable as a roe deer and not as a pig or, worse, a pigeon.
I was almost regretting buying white waxed thread already, but I think for this project it turned out to be perfect, so the color palette of the sheath matches that of the knife handle.
Overall, this is not a good result for almost two months of work, but in my defense, I am very lazy. And there are some personal problems getting in the way too, unfortunately.