Kitchen Knives Set – Part 8: I Just Could Not Stand It

It is several months since the last update on this project, and there are reasons for that. Some have to do with the project itself, some do not. One of the reasons that are directly related to the project was that I had difficulty finishing the knife stands because in the cold weather the boat lacquer that I have decided to use for finish took an absolutely inordinate amount of time to harden properly. So prepare now for a really long post about how I made the wooden stands for these knives.

The original plan was to make all woodworks from jatoba and black locust, thus making the stands from massive hardwood. But since I have made the handles from the rather rare and precious applewood, I had a very limited supply. Especially when it came to the spalted wood. So I stood in front of a decision – should I try to make the stands match the handles or not. And I have decided to give it a try and make matching stands. Which means getting a lot out of a little.

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First I started by cutting the cores of the future stands out of some scrap spruce wood, of which I have an overabundance. Where I needed a thicker piece, I have simply layered and trimmed the thinner ones until I got the size that I wanted, with a generous amount of wood on both sides of each blade, especially for the stands where two blades were meant to be next to each other.

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This was the first time I have used expanding PU glue. PVA glue would have difficulty to set in my workshop, even with heating. This glue did harden within a few hours enough so I could safely take it indoors for the rest of the curing process.

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After these cores were glued and cut to the final size, I have sanded all flat surfaces. Not very thoroughly, just enough that I do not get my hands full of splinters.

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And since I had to do with what little of the precious wood I had, I have decided to use thin boards/veneers for finishing. I have cut approx 5 mm thick slices of the wood on my bandsaw and with a bit of luck, I did get enough of each of the three types of wood that I have used for the handles to cover the stands. Mostly. I could have cut even thinner veneers, like 2 mm, but 5 mm did save me a bit of work later on.

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Most veneers were cut with the grain, but I have also cut several pieces across the grain. Those I have glued on the end of the softwood cores and only after that I have cut the slits for blades. For each blade a cut just as deep as the blade is wide, so each knife has a slot fitted exactly to it. I took two passes on the circular saw for each slit since I have cut them about 1-2 mm wider than the blades are, so the knives come in and out really easily without scraping the sides. That way at least I hope the probability of something getting stuck to the mirror-polished blade and scratching it later on in the stand should be reduced. I could not of course make the slits too wide, because then the point could get stuck in them.

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Wherever veneers had to be put side-by-side, I had to carefully fit them together so the seams are as small as possible. In one case I also had to change the design of the stand since I did not have any veneers long enough and I did not want to link veneer strips lengthwise. Two strips beside each other do connect almost seamlessly and even when they are visible, they do not disturb. But a clear line across the grain or the pattern in the spalted wood would surely look at least odd.

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

To fit the veneers properly all around I had to first glue up two opposing sides, trim the excess, grind it to flat, and only then I could glue the other two sides. Trim and sand again and I got finished building blocks for the final products.

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There were some minor problems – the spalted wood was soft and got chipped – so I had to fill in some places with resin mixed with sawdust and/or offcuts.

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Then there was a lot of sanding. It made me glad to have a hand-held belt sander. I will probably have to buy an orbital sander too if I am going to make more of these.

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Since the resulting pieces had very sharp edges which would not look very well in combination with the rather rounded handles, I have decided to round them significantly. I did not use a router, although I do own one. Instead, I have just sanded all future edges down with 60 grit sandpaper over a soft sponge until they looked right, and then I have polished them.

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In one of the stands, the pieces were connected by big enough flat surfaces that I could reliably clamp it all together during curing, but int two of the pieces had to be connected by relatively small areas and at an odd angle, so I have used a piece of wood to drill holes for dowels to prevent the parts from shifting during the glue-up.

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And here they are, fixed to small boards for stability and handling during the paint job. I have decided to use boat lacquer for the stands because infusing such big pieces with resin would be very, very expensive. I did not expect it to take as long as it did though.

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After the first coat with highly diluted lacquer the grain and fungus patterns popped up on all pieces quite significantly. I have left it dry for two days and then gave it two more coats with diluted lacquer in two-days intervals to stabilize the soft and spongy wood as much as is possible. And after that, it was five-six more coats with undiluted lacquer, with a few days wait and thorough sanding between each coating. When the last coating was drying, I got tangled up for several weeks with other works, mainly in the garden, and only this last week did I get round to do the last hand sanding. I sanded the pieces in increasing grits up to 1000 and there I did stop because I wanted them to have the same satin finish as the handles.

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I have modified my buffing compound for the stands, but it is still perhaps a bit too hard. It did buff the pieces nicely though, so I cannot complain. Too much. I did achieve my goal, which was to make the stands reasonably similar to the knife handles. There is a bit of difference in color because the handles are thoroughly infused with resin, but I do not think it is a problem and neither does anyone who has seen it so far (about 7 people).

And this week I finally got to the last step in this rather long project – making the stands to actually, well, stand. Out of the three, only one was big and heavy enough to be stable – the one from mostly healthy wood. For the other two, I did not have enough material to make them with a wide enough base, so I had to fit them with legs. I have considered several options and I have decided to go with a 6 mm stainless steel pipe. Aluminum would look cheap and brass would clash with the visible stainless steel tangs on the knives.

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To drill the holes safely and at a proper angle, I have first made a little board that could be fixed to the stand at the angle I wanted it to be in one direction. In the depicted case, the board is at the angle the leg is supposed to be when viewed from above. Into that board I have drilled a hole at an angle it was supposed to go into the stand. Then I could fix this board to the stand by the simple method of copious amounts of paper masking tape and drill the hole safely and at the correct angle.

By the way, I did not do any measuring or sketching for this. The “correct” angle was established by eyeballing.

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With that, I was still not done with this piece of wood. I have trimmed one end of it at the angle the leg will touch the ground and used that as a guide to filing down the end of the pipe flat-ish.

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Gluing the legs with epoxy was pretty straightforward after that and they were already mostly – although not perfectly – flat against the plate.

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They did need a bit of sanding to get them perfectly flat, but not that much.

And that is the project almost finished. All that is left is to sharpen the knives and make pretty pictures. Hopefully sometime soon. You can see here that I have also already begun the next batch of knives. Yup, that is how long it took for the lacquer to harden, I have managed to grind and harden ten new blades in the meantime.

The next – and last – post in this series will be pure cutlery porn. This is one of those rare instances where I think I have done a good job.


DIY Reusable (Hopefully) Etching Stencils

At about the same time that I have decided to leave my job and try to make a living as a knifemaker, I have also decided to number the blades that I make. And since my logo is my initials in Glagolitic script, it seemed only logical to use Glagolitic numbering too. Almost nobody will be able to read the numerals without aid (including me), but I do think that arabic numerals would look a bit odd in combination with my logo, so I have decided to go through with the use of Glagolitsa.

The numerals consist mostly of straight lines and dots, so it is kinda easy to cut them in adhesive tape with a scalpel tip. But it costs relatively a lot of time – I have spent about ten minutes per blade since I have moved into two-number digits and things will only get more and more complicated after that. So for a long time, I was thinking about how to make stencils.

I could not use the same method that I use for my logo, because the numerals are so tiny that even if I were able to cut them into the 1 mm silicone sheet, the etching solution would have trouble reaching the surface through such a narrow, water-repelling, canal anyway. I needed something thinner. Like a sheet of paper. But how to waterproof a sheet of paper? I have tried it with wax in the past, and that did not work. Beeswax contaminated the surfaces and paraffin wax is not elastic enough. It would be ideal to infuse the paper with silicone, somehow, but how? I was thinking about trying to buy pouring silicone for forms, but I was reluctant to spend money on it not knowing upfront if it will be of any use.

And then I got a much simpler idea, so simple that it does make me wonder how come I did not come up with it sooner – linseed oil. I have printed my numerals on a sheet of paper, soaked it thoroughly in linseed oil, and left it harden for a few days. The resulting sheet was repelling water and bendy enough to adhere reliably to the blades, whilst stiff enough for me to be able to cut the numerals.

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Each stencil has two parts – one for vertical lines, one for the rest, since oftentimes it is not possible to cut the whole number at once for obvious reasons. The oiled paper is also transparent enough to be able to place the second part over the first reliably-ish enough.

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Since the stencils are so small that some unwanted etching around the edge of the stencil is a real risk, I have made a round shield from silicone to protect the surrounding area and also to provide a better seal for the stencil itself. And when I was at it, I have made two new graphite etching electrodes with the felt permanently attached to the graphite. One with big rectangular felt (left) for the logos (not used yet) and one with a soft, round tip specifically for the numerals.

And I am pleased to say that it all works. I was numbering blades 40-48 just a few days ago and it took me a lot less time than before – and this time I still had to cut the numerals into the paper. Next time I should be even faster because the stencils are already cut and I see no reason why they should not last until the next batch of blades is ready for etching. Here you can see one test-etch of the number 40 on the tang and the number 41 on the blade.

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The numbers are not perfect, but they are not worse-looking than they were before. Indeed it could be argued that if the numerals were perfect, it would undercut the handmade look of my knives which always have some minor irregularities in them no matter what I do. Or it could be argued that I am setting my goals too low, well…

We shall see what the public decides once the pandemic is over and I can go and sort out all the necessary paperwork to be able to actually sell them.


I Almost Didn’t Fail the Second Time

My first attempt at big blade ended up in a disaster and after several years of procrastinating the issue ended up as a smaller (though not small) knife. I gave it a second shot because 1) I really need a machete 2) I want to learn to make these big blades for I have big plans for the future, that will no doubt never come to fruition.

And as the title says it, I almost didn’t fail this time. At least, I do have a serviceable tool to use in my garden.

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Spring steel, blackened with oak bark. 4-6 mm thick, 51 cm overall length. Fully hardened, spine tempered to spring.

This time things went reasonably well, but I was suspecting that I have ground the fullers too deep. At least they were passably symmetrical – there was no trouble in the quench. The blade came out hardened and mostly straight, and the very slight bent it has developed (circa 1-2 mm over the whole length) was easily corrected with my unbender after heat treatment.

However, when I was trying to polish the blade and smooth out the fullers, it turned out I was right – I made the fullers too deep and near the tip I have thus ground through. But it might not be a functional issue, just an aesthetic one, so I have decided to finish it, albeit with less attention to detail than I would had it been a complete success. I have filed the hole bigger and oval with diamond-coated files (to remove any stress-risers) and I have stopped polishing the blade, especially the insides of the fullers. I just gave it a few buffs with scotch brite discs for angle-grinder and then it went into the oak bark tee for a nice night-long bath.

Handle fittings are from bronze and handle scales are from pickled black locust. I did want the blade to complement the previous one since they will both be used by me in my garden. This handle is specifically fitted to my hands, so nobody with different-shaped hands would probably feel comfortable using it. I have no idea yet how it will work out in the long term, but it did feel perfectly fine when I gave a few whacks to an old wooden board with it.

I might make a scabbard or a sheath for it too. I am currently thinking about whether to make a double-sheath for the pair or a separate sheath for each item. Both options have pros and cons. Not that I do actually need a sheath for wearing them, they are unlikely to ever leave the house further than the 60 or so meters that is my backyard long, but they are both sharp and big and dangerous and could get rusty, so I need an option for safe storage, both protecting them from elements and me from injuries when they are not used.

Bobbin Lace, Pandemics and Christian Morals

You may be justifiably baffled about the title – what do these three things have in common? And, understandably, you probably can’t guess the correct answer. Because that answer is my maternal grandmother.

I have never met any of my grandparents, all except my grandfather died before my parents even met, and my grandfather has died when I was merely three years old. So I know very little about any of them, except for what my parents have told me. And today I would like to share a story about how the bobbin-lace-making tradition started in our family. It is not a nice story.

My grandmother has broken her leg during play when she was four, she fell from a haywagon and her leg got between the spokes of the wheel. Her parents wanted to take her to the hospital, but her father’s mother has refused to pay for it, saying that God will take care of things. He did not. In fact, it got worse to a point that when they finally did go to the hospital, it was too late and the leg was beyond repair. It stopped growing and no attempts at mending it worked, including a graft of healthy bone from the other leg.

A few years later, when my grandmother was seven years old, the Spanis-flu pandemics has broken out and her mother got sick. She was delirious from fever and kept hugging my grandmother saying “My poor child, if I die, I want you to die with me, they will torture you when I am gone.”  Unfortunately, she died and…

From what I gather, my grandmother’s father was a mild-mannered man. A gamekeeper who preferred the quiet of the forests to people. He was not very keen on religious practice, saying that he meets with God in the forests and does not need to go to church. But at home, he was completely in tow of his abusive, miserly, and religiously devout catholic mother, who ruled the family with an iron hand. They lived at a homestead, and that means a lot of work needs to be done on daily basis. Oftentimes hard work even for healthy people.  And everyone was expected to do their share. My grandmother had three healthy sisters, and she was constantly shunned and mocked for not being able to work properly. At one point her grandmother has refused to “feed the cripple any longer” and when she was eleven years old, she was sent to a cloister.

A cloister that was adjacent to a castle and has provided a lot of free-child-labor to the said castle. My grandmother was of course not suitable for many works, but she was very apt with her hands, and she learned several useful crafts there. Including bobbin-lace making – the cloister made bobbin-lace for the countess. She liked those crafts, but my guess is she would probably like them better if they did not come with a sidedish of beatings and hunger as a punishment for not meeting the daily quota of work.

At seventeen years old she was poised to become a nun, but this is when her luck finally broke for better. An employee of a mask and wig lending shop from a big city was shortly at the cloister and she noticed the exceptional skill of my grandmother. And she asked her if she would like to come to the big city to work at the company. And she did. But she was not of age yet, so she needed consent from her father to go.

The parish priest had a bad conscience with regard to her, for not putting pressure on her grandmother to send her to hospital in time. And one nun has liked her and wanted for her a better future than the cloister. So they conspired to prepare the paperwork and catch her father at the marketplace, where he went alone without being supervised by the abusive family matriarch. And he signed the papers without arguing.

And that way my grandmother escaped abuse and finally got to live on her own. Two years later her bad leg had to be amputated, but she got on to live a happy (for the times – WW2, then totalitarian communist rule etc.) life. And she kept making bobbin lace and passed the craft onto one of her daughters. Who passed it onto me, where it stops.

Today, my mother has finished another of her masterpieces. A round tablecloth, 80 cm across. She worked on it for 220 hours and has used 1530 m of thread. It is beautiful and I do wish I had a cheerier story to tell with it.

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Kitchen Knives Set – Part 7: Getting to Grips

These knives have full-width tangs, but no visible pins. As far as I can tell, nobody else is using this type of construction, so it might be somewhat unique

A few years ago Walter Sorrels made a video in which he tested various glues for fixing scales to tangs without pins. He made several mock-up knives from mild steel for this and they all have failed his stress test. Which consisted of tossing them in the air and letting them fall on the concrete pavement. As it turns out, the shearing forces during these impacts were too big for the glue to reliably stick to the steel and they all delaminated. But he gave me an idea on how to overcome this problem. I have tested the idea on one broken blade and it held out to several hammer blows before the scales delaminated  – and at that point, it was not only the glue that was failing but also the wood was starting to shatter and break. And since knife handles are not supposed to be hit with a hammer so I think it should be OK. I really hope it works out in the long term because I am going to make a lot of these. So if you want to know how this goes, read on. [Read more…]

Kitchen Knives Set – Part 5: “Fun” with Resin

Somebody somewhere in the comment section (I think on Marcus’s blog) expressed dislike for resin stabilized wood along the lines that it is the same as making the handles out of plastic. I disagree. Stabilized wood is a pain to work because it behaves like plastic in that regard, but it does not look like plastic and neither does it feel like plastic in the hand – it feels like wood. And as I was working on this project, I found out that it even sounds like wood – stabilized pieces give out very nice clonk-clonk when hit against each other. I think it might be possible to make musical instruments out of it, but I won’t try.

However, before said wood reaches its desired stabilized state, I have to work with epoxy resin. Lots of it.

I hate it.

It is gluey, it sticks to absolutely everything and it is transparent, so when it drops somewhere it is difficult to see in time. Tools and surfaces need to be cleaned with paper towels soaked in denatured alcohol, which is not cheap and the fumes do not smell exactly delicious. And the work needs to be done fast, because if the epoxy gels, it won’t soak into the wood no more.

With my macgyered vacuum pump I have reached a vacuum of 0,2-0,3 bar, which was sufficient for extremely porous wood, but might not be sufficient for this. Applewood has very small pores and is very hard, even the very decomposed pieces were still harder than for example poplar or basswood. So I have decided to bite the bullet and buy a small, cheap vacuum pump in the hope that it will work better. And it does – and it does not.

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Even with my poorly sealed pickle jar, I have easily reached vacuum 0,6 bar within a minute. The wood released so many bubbles that the resin developed foam head like beer.

However, the pump also got very hot after a few minutes of running, which made me a bit worried. My macgyvered pump was a bit cumbersome and awkward, but overheating was completely a non-issue. I am not so sure about this one. I hope it does not burn out before I at least get to sell some knives.

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Overheating aside, the wood soaked up the resin very nicely and although I have only used clear resin, it developed very nice and pleasant colors. The resin would cure over time at room temperature, but it is possible to speed up the curing by heating it to 60-80°C. So I did that the next day and I baked the pieces for two hours, after which I could appreciate the nice clonk-clonk that I was talking about at the beginning.

I have also approached the issue a bit more scientifically this time and I have weighed all the pieces before and after. Here you can see the results.

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This made me very happy with the results. The relatively healthy wood has gained approx 30% in weight, the not-very-much rotten root wood doubled its weight and the more decomposed wood has almost tripled its weight. All pieces of similar size weighed approximately the same after the stabilizing process, irrespective of what wood they were made of. And finally, all pieces when put in water either sunk completely or just barely floated with 99% submerged. So even the relatively healthy wood should be soaked up with resin to sufficient depth.

Now that the wood is stabilized, the only thing that is left is to psych myself up to go into the freezing workshop and finish the knives. Which includes first a bit of grinding and drilling, and then a lot of gluing. Even more fun with epoxy awaits, hooray!

Kitchen Knives Set – Part 4: Getting Some Serious Wood

Since I have spent more time making the blades than I originally intended, I have decided to go the full hog and NOT make the handles out of some plain wood. Instead, I have decided to kill two birds with one stone – to get some fancy wood for this project and to reduce the clutter in my raw material storage. I have decided to use the apple stumps that my neighbor gave me.

First I had to cut the stumps into smaller logs of course.

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That was not fun. Like, at all. I hate working with a chainsaw because the work quickly exhausts my meager strengths. Luckily the battery in this small saw gets drained after about half an hour of serious work, so with two batteries, I can get in about one hour of work before having to take a long break. Which is about the duration that I can do this without trouble.

Even so, before I was done it did actually happen once that the batteries held longer than I did and I got unpleasant mild hypoglycemia. That did not happen to me for a long time, but it was a reminder that absolutely must not skip or delay meal breaks.

I also blunted and had to sharpen the chain at least three times because there were small stones embedded in the wood.

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Next came cutting the logs to a smaller size on a circular saw. Another not-favorite work of mine, since my circular saw is small and not exactly up to the task. I am also afraid of it most of all my tools. But I managed it mostly, although I too blunted the blade again by hitting an invisible stone inside the wood. That was not a happy week at work. I can tell you that. This I cannot sharpen myself, I have to pay for it and it ain’t cheap.

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Aaand more cutting! This time on my Crappola bandsaw. I “only” broke three saw blades before cutting most of the wood down to workable size and shape. And whilst these are cheap on an individual basis, three at once cheap ain’t no more.

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And these are the pieces that I have decided to use for the actual project – there is plenty more for future projects, including some smaller pieces of burl. So I did get some value for the destroyed sawblades, only not as much as I would like to.

On the left is some partially rotten but still reasonably hard and strong root wood. It still gives a nice resonating “clonk” when struck. I do love the stripey coloring, given to it by the decay.

In the middle is some mostly healthy wood, still completely hard and strong, but with a few cracks and occasional woodborer-holes. I hereby declare that those add to the character. They are inevitable parts of wood harvested from a tree that stood dead for several years.

And on the right is some really fancy looking spalted wood. This is so decomposed (by a fungus), that it is significantly softer and less-dense than healthy wood. It sounds a bit dull when struck too. But it is still not so soft and spongey that it would be unworkable on its own. That is important, otherwise I could not do my next step.

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

I have cut the slabs and I cut and ground rough outlines of the handles, with a few mm to spare. This will save me some resin later on and it will also mean I won’t have to grind away as much resin-soaked wood as I would otherwise. Which is good, because working resin stabilized wood sucks. Majorly.

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And now the wood is drying up on the heating radiator in my living room. Not only does it need to be completely dry before I proceed, but it also has to wait until my ordered vacuum pump arrives. I do hope it does arrive next week. It is already delayed a bit. I also hope it works OK and that I have not thrown 100€ out of the window.

I do love that I have got three sets of different woods, all from the same species but each with its own unique character. I do not think I will dye the resin for these and I will just infuse them with a clear resin, leaving all cracks and holes distinct and visible. I think there is real potential for beauty here.


Tumbler Upgrade

My tumbler works well for some blades and worse for others, and it works really well for removing scale from pieces with complicated gomtry. However, as I alluded to last time, I had several problems with the drum itself.

The first problem was the water tightness. Not only the lid was not properly watertight, but the sides were neither. I have used screws to secure three wooden planks inside to prevent the contents from simply sliding around the inside without tumbling. And the water was seeping around the screws too. I was able to make it watertight in the end, but it was still not ideal. Plus the inner wooden ribs got worn down a lot quicker than I thought they will, they impeded the contents probably a bit too much.

The second problem was the change of the tumbling medium. I found out that fine gravel with water works great for removing scale, fine sand with walnut shells for a nice satin finish, and walnut shells with ferrous oxide for an even nicer satin finish. However, getting all of the coarser medium out of the drum in order to be able to use a finer one has proven to be nigh impossible. I did not run into any quality problems due to this, given the limited amount of time I have used the tumbler so far, but it did worry me enough to actually postpone its use until I find a solution.

The main problem was finding some kind of receptacle with a screw-on lid of the right size. I was crawling the internet occasionally for months, I even recruited my mother to help me, but we found nothing. We found plenty of products of course, but there were not always measurements written near them and thus we could not order them. And when the measurements were written, they were always of the ronk size.

But the week before Christmas I got lucky and during shopping for groceries, I stumbled upon just the thing I needed. I bought six pieces without hesitation. And this week I took a break from making knives and I made six new tumbling drums. That way I can use six different tumbling mediums without having to worry about contamination.

I started by cutting a 38 cm piece of 100 mm plumbing pipe that remained surplus during house renovations. It is a bit discolored on the outside because it lay outdoors in the sun for a few years, but other than that it is completely fine.

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Second, I have marked and cut in half the receptacles.

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The receptacles were a teensy tiny bit too big and did not fit inside the pipe, but that was not a problem since they are made from PET which is thermoplastic. I have carefully heated the edges with my heat gun and they shrunk a little when cooling town. The edges are not very neat, but that is not a problem.

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Copious amounts of adhesive putty helped to seal both the bottom and the top of the receptacle into the pipes. This was actually the hardest work of all, the putty is a bugger to squeeze out of the tube. theoretically it cannot glue PE, PP, and PTFE, but I did glue PVC to PP with it and it held watertight and strong enough so PET to PVC should not be a problem either. Maybe it won’t be the strongest possible bond, but it should be strong for this application. It is strong enough for me to be able to screw the lid on very tight.

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To prevents the contents from sliding and force them to tumble I have decided to try a different approach, one that does not involve breaching the integrity of the pipe. I have cut three pieces of PVC vinyl flooring, also surplus from house renovations. On one side of those pieces, I have made four cuts and inserted the uncut end s into them as depicted.

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Duct tape helped to hold the pieces in place while I rolled them together and inserted them inside the pipe.

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And voilala (or somtin’)! The inside of the drum is not smooth and round anymore, so the contents should be forced to tumble.

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There were some bugs to figure out and correct. The lids were not perfectly watertight, but I was able to cut circular gaskets from some softer leftover PVC vinyl flooring that has solved that problem. I also had to increase the span between the bearings on the axel on which the drum spins, because I am an idiot and I did not measure it correctly and I made the drum too big.

Currently, it is spinning with fine gravel and a few uncleaned broken blades to see how it works. After twelve hours there were no major problems and it did make reasonable progress on removing the scale.

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One problem remains and I have yet to find a good solution to it. During tumbling, some bigger particles of the tumbling medium (a fine stone or a piece of walnut shell) do wander into the thread of the lid and make it difficult to open the drum afterward. I have tried a few things, but so far without success. But as long as the lids do not get stuck completely, it is a minor issue and I am sure I will find a solution eventually.


Kitchen Knives Set – Part 2: Making the Blades

There are multiple pictures, so I am putting the post below the fold. I have filmed most of these works, but if a video ever comes out, it won’t be this year. I am already getting a bit sidetracked by making this project more elaborate than I originally intended and by my desire to re-build and improve some of my tools. Whilst being hampered in my endeavors by cold weather and other, previously mentioned, things.

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Gingerbread Houses

My mom almost did not bake any gingerbread this year, she is not doing very well I am afraid. And I am trying to make knives when I have time and stamina, so I probably won’t bake any. But my mom did make two houses in the end, so here they are (below the fold). She loves doing these things and I am glad I invested money when I had it into automated devices that take care of the most laborious and heavy work so she can do it even now.

She complained a lot that her hands are getting shaky and the decorating is not as neat as it used to be, but she does that for several years now. I still think she makes beautiful, original, and wholesome gingerbread decorations and I keep telling her.

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

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

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Kitchen Knives Set – Part 1: Thoughts and Design

So, this is my next big-ish project, I have decided to make a basic set of kitchen knives – three knives and honing steel. I am not entirely sure about how useful honing steel is with knives from N690, but I have used it on my mother’s knives and it seems to work. It does not appear to hurt. If this small set works out OK, I will make more in the future and perhaps add some specialized knives along the way, but this basic set is meant for casual cooks like myself (and indeed most of my friends), who do not need a special blade for every task and will be probably very content with one knife for 90% of work.

And because this time I am preparing perhaps for more future projects, I have made templates in photoshop, printed them out, and laminated them in transparent foil for future use.

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

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

The grid is metric, with the smallest scale being 1 mm.

The “meat” knife is a de-facto universal knife, one that I expect to take care of that 90% of work. Medium-sized blade with a round tip, ergonomic handle for firm grip, suitable for slicing protein as well as fine-dicing herbs and vegetables. And for remaining tasks, there is a small peeling knife with a sharp tip for piercing and a relatively straight blade for scratching-peeling, and a big chef knife for tackling difficult cabbage and for those occasions when cutting a lot of big-ish vegetables or huge chunks of whatever is necessary.

The chef knife has holes along the blade edge, which should help with reducing the sticking of whatever is being cut to the blade. It is easier to make than hollow grind or S-grind and it does work too. The handle is ergonomic as well but it is formed with a focus on two main uses of such a big blade. The thicker butt with a hook end prevents the knife from flying out of the hand when chopping, and the thin front with a lot of space for fingers allows for a choked-up grip with the index finger and thumb on the blade for fine slicing and dicing with a rocking motion.

All these designs should work as expected since they are based on knives that I have already made in the past. Of these, the least tested is the chef knife, but I still do not expect any trouble. I won’t follow the designs exactly, they are just approximations and I expect to tune them up a bit during the work. Any thoughts and remarks on the designs are welcome, as well as any suggestions for further additions to the set ( I am thinking about fish-knife and cheese-knife).

However, I will definitively introduce one new and relatively original feature right now. One that I have not seen used by another knifemaker (which does not mean nobody does it, I just did not see it done). As you can see, there are four-five holes for pins in each tang, which might seem a bit excessive and dorky-looking. That is because I need more pins – two will be wooden and two will be metallic. And they will not be visible. That is, the knives are designed as full-width tang, but the pins won’t appear on the outside of the handles. I have tested this idea on one broken blade and it seems to work perfectly OK for a kitchen knife that won’t get hit with a mallet or hammer too much. Or at all, as things should be.

So stay tuned for the following articles with a full write-up of my manufacturing process for this project. I am decently far already given that I only could work three days this week. And because a video was requested, I am filming (almost) all work as well. But I make no promises there – a future video is, at this time, uncertain and might or might not happen.