Making Kitchen Knives – Part 16 – Human-knife Interface

Last time I did this, I shaped the handle-scales first, then I fumed them wit ammonia and then I glued them onto the knives. This time I have changed the order of doing things, but time comparison should still be possible.

After taking the pieces of wood out of the solution I have left them dry. First for a few days outside, out of direct sunlight and out of the wind, with both end-grain ends covered with plastic to reduce cracking (still insufficient, next time I will have to try something more drastic). After they were dry and stink-free, I put them for a few days into the direct sunlight to dry even more, and then I left them to stabilize in the workshop for a few days. That way the wood should be neither too wet nor too dry and hopefully, it won’t change in size too much.

When I started to polish the pieces to sort them out properly – any markings were taken out by the solution – I could not find the oak pieces anywhere. So I took an offcut that was not in the solution and I polished that a bit and I realized that it is not, in fact, oak, but an especially dirty and grimy piece of black locust. I do not even remember where I got it and why I thought it is oak in the first place…

Anyhoo, after grinding all the pieces to flat and parallel, I drilled the holes for pins, cut all pieces to a rough shape on the bandsaw and I paired them up and I shaped and fully polished the forward-facing facets since those won’t be accessible once the scales are glued on. What I learned here was that I will need some finer scaled drill bits, since different woods react differently and when you drill with a 6 mm drill bit, the resulting hole can be anywhere between 5.5 and 6 mm. And trying to force the 6 mm brass pins through some pieces was a real pain in the nether regions. I have to drill the holes in wood ever so slightly bigger than the intended pin, but whilst 6.5 mm was fine for the softer woods it was almost too much for the harder ones.

The next step was glue-up.

To get as near perfect flat surfaces as I can, I have bought a spray-on glue and I used ti to attach a piece of coarse sandpaper to a granite tile. It worked really well, I have got a very nearly perfect match between the tangs and the scales on all twelve knives, the best result I have got yet for this type of handle construction. But I also managed to get a lot of glue on my hands and I lost the spray nozzle when wiping it off and it took two days before it resurfaced under the shop vacuum. So yeah, not my finest hour and the good came with some bad-ish.

During the glue-up, I have suffered from a common ailment –  the insufficient clamping power syndrome. I had to do it in two stages, gluing six blades in the evening and the remaining six in the morning next day, Which was not too much of a problem this time,  since I was tired and I would have to call it quits anyway, but I will probably need some more clamps or maybe even some thingamajigs for gluing the scales on the tangs more efficiently.

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

And this is what I got in the end – a pile of roughly shaped handles attached to the finished blades.

During the subsequent grinding to shape with a 40 grit belt, I still could not do too much to evaluate the real effect of ammonia fuming on these woods, but I did get some inkling of what the results might be already. And let us say that for some of the woods I have preliminarily considered the results promising, for some surprising and for some completely “meh”. More about that when the knives are finished.

This whole step took me approximately 73 minutes per knife, and that is a significant improvement against last time – 38 minutes, 34%.

The last step is polishing the handles up to ~300 grit (already done) and putting on a protective coat of boat lacquer. That will take about a week, an hour or so a day. We shall see how that goes, but that part should be relatively free of any surprises.

Jack’s Walk

Well, hello my lovely, ©voyager, all rights reserved

The weather has been decidedly cold over the past few weeks, and it put our burgeoning spring on hold. Any bulb flowers that were up just stopped growing, and so did all the buds on trees and shrubs. It’s depressing to walk past so many flowers day after day, hoping for a bit of colour and seeing no change at all.
This week, though, has been warmer and rainy, and the flowers have been persuaded to get growing. Today we found our first purple of the year and a small patch of delicate white snowdrops. By tomorrow we should see open tulips in a rainbow of colours, along with sunny yellow daffodils and delicate pink hyacinths. The rain is supposed to stop over the weekend, and we might actually get a warm, sunny day that invites me outdoors to be amongst the flowers. I am positively humming with joyous anticipation.

The Douro Valley – Part 2

I had some sort of brain fart yesterday and didn’t get part 2 of this series posted. Because of this, I’ve decided to post the series on Monday,      Wednesday and Friday this week with the last 2 posts on Monday and Wednesday next week. That way there will be 2 weeks with beautiful photos by Nightjar, to whom I sincerely apologize. Without further ado, Nightjar presents The Douro Valley, Part 2.

I had never seen a lock operate before, let alone actually navigate through one, so I was really looking forward to this part of the cruise. Being raised 28 meters (92 feet) up a dam and looking back on it as we go upstream is quite an experience. I think these photos tell the story well.

Going towards the lock, ©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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The Douro Valley, Part 1

Welcome to a new series from Nightjar. The story is told in 5 parts, beginning today and ending on Friday.

I’ve had this series semi-prepared for over a year but I kept meaning to write up a better story to accompany the pictures and since that never happened, I never shared them. I have now decided to write up something not as detailed as I had planned initially and just share the photos already. I’m sorry I couldn’t put more into this, but I hope you all enjoy it anyway.
Back in 2017 I did a (partial) Douro up-river cruise. Douro is one of our major rivers and the region around it is where Port wine comes from, as well as being home to important almond and olive plantations. I’ve regretted this trip, not only because cruises here are becoming too popular and thus environmentally costly, but also because shortly after it a scandal broke about workers’ rights abuse by the companies running this business. So, destroying the environment while trampling workers’ rights, that doesn’t exactly make me want to repeat it. But anyway, I selected a few photos I took during the trip to share. Here you can see an overview of the river and the surrounding landscape, some of its bridges and one of its dams. In the next chapter we, and the boat following us, will navigate through that dam. A 28 meters / 92 feet rise.

Overview, ©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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The Art of Book Design: The Pink Fairy Book

Andrew Lang. The Pink Fairy Book. Illustrated by H. .J. Ford. New York, Longmans, Green, 1897.


This week’s Andrew Lang Fairy Book is pink. Bright pink with golden sunshine, angels and cherubs. Inside, the illustrations are again by the talented HJ Ford, and I’ve chosen my favourites to share with you. They include a Japanese tanuki, cats, dogs, baboons, dragons, mermaids and princesses of all sorts.  I’m especially fond of the drawings with wind and water, both of which are difficult to draw, and Ford does it brilliantly. Enjoy.

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YouTube Video: DELIBERATE DESTRUCTION – Film and TV weapons

I found this video to be informative and interesting, as well as very painful to watch. I cannot imagine doing something like this to a knife that I have spent several days making. I would do it if I got paid and the destruction were for a purpose, as it is in this case, but even so – ouchouchouch…