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.

Not a Mistake, Just a Smaller Knife…

… but by no means a small knife.

Harvesting firewood from my coppice is a yearly task that requires a lot of chopping off thin branches and twigs. Currently, I am using an old chef’s knife for that, but it is getting pretty warped and worn-out because it was not meant for that kind of work. And a hatchet is too unwieldy for it.

So two years ago I tried to make a machete. And I failed completely, the blade warped in quench and subsequently snapped when I tried to straighten it. It broke near the handle, so I had a relatively big chunk of straight blade left, but I did not know what exactly to do with it and I had better work to do anyway, so I have just used it for various experiments – for etching and tumbling tests, etc. I learned a lot from the piece for my future projects, so it was not completely wasted. But it was still big enough to make a knife, and the surface was so pitted now that it was no longer suitable for tests. So I have decided to make a knife out of it after all.

I annealed about one-third and cut the tang out of it, then I have put the now 17 cm long blade in the tumbler with fine sand and let it run for a few days to clean the surface of most of the corrosion, although the pitting of course remained. I did not polish the blade afterward to remove the pitting since that would make it really thin. Instead, I have dunked it overnight in tannic acid (or, as per Marcus, Oak Drop Soup). It got a nice dark-grey-blue coating that way and a really mean rustic look. In combination with linseed oil, it should provide moderately durable and strong corrosion resistance. Only I forgot to etch a logo in it before doing all that, and now I can’t, so the blade is unsigned.

The handguard is from bronze and old bone, the handle from pickled black locust. When I am making sheaths, I will make one for this too. I must confess – I did not do a very good fitting job on the handguard, I did not want to waste too much time on this. And I have decided to let the bronze get a natural patina over time for the same reason. But since this is a working knife for me, any flaws are not a problem since nobody ever will complain.

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I think it looks kind of nice and I am considering adding this type of knife to my repertoire as a bushcraft knife, with only slight changes in construction (full-tang instead of hidden tang). I am also considering adding a lanyard, although it is secure enough in the hand with this handle-shape.  I have already tested it for its intended purpose and the blade coating is resistant enough to withstand wood-chopping. And if it rubs-off, it is easy to reapply. I really like how this turned out and I am glad I did not simply toss it on the scrap pile.


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…]

YouTube Video: 5 Biggest Lies of Knife Sharpening

In my opinion, every household should have at least one person who knows how to sharpen a knife and occasionally does so. Not that good knives need to be sharpened very often, but even the best knife will get a bit dull at some point and it will need to be sharpened.

But most of my friends do not know how to sharpen knives, some are even afraid of it. There is in my opinion absolutely no need to be afraid of sharpening knives, and you do not need any fancy or expensive equipment either. And when searching for knife sharpening info online, one can encounter some pretty wild stuff, sometimes stuff that is not true.

Two-three years ago during one of my yearly get-together with friends from university, I was (as usual) dismayed by the state of knives in the communal kitchen at our lodging, so I have decided to sharpen at least one knife to a state when it will cut and not squish. However, on this particular trip, I have forgotten to take a whetstone, so I had to do without it.

I went on a walk in the forest and I have checked the geology on the wayside, where the bare rock was exposed. It was granite, which is of no use. However, where is granite, there often are metamorphic shales nearby, so I went further – and it was indeed just a few km further (about a half-hour walk). This particular metamorphic shale was phyllite, which is suitable for making a whetstone. So I took two stones to a nearby stream and I ground them against each other until I got perfectly flat surfaces.

And thus obtained whetstone worked perfectly well. The knife did not have the best edge it could get, but it was good enough for cutting safely and comfortably. I have even managed to teach one of my friends how to sharpen with it, and I did recommend to him to buy a professionally made one afterward.

And what did I recommend to him to buy? A cheap two-layer whetstone for 10,-€, 100 and 300 grit. The same one with which my father was sharpening knives his whole life and which I sometimes take with me on my travels.

If you are interested in learning how to sharpen a knife, I do recommend the above mentioned Burrfection YouTube channel. He does explain the principles well, without exaggerating. And he supports his claims with empirical evidence. For example, I have said to my friend that sharpening angle more or less does not matter if it is between 10-20° and constant throughout the blade. That claim was based on nothing more than my subjective experience, which could be mistaken. But Burrfection did say the same and he has the equipment to test the said claim. So he did.

Do not be afraid of knife sharpening. The basics are easy and more than enough for a typical store-bought mass-produced western knife.

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.

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

© 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.

[Read more…]

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.

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© 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.

Whinge, Knives, Whinge

It took me four months to finish the batch of knives that I started in July. I have documented every hour that I have worked on knives, and the results are not good. I have only managed to work about 20 hours a week. Plus some hours that I have not counted, like when I was making new tools, repairing or improving them, etc.

Please allow me to whine a bit about the causes of that.

I either have chronic fatigue or I am a chronic hypochondriac. I am reluctant to go to a physician right now, partly because of the ongoing pandemic and partly because of last year when after several months of pain, I never got a conclusive diagnosis – and the pain only subsided after a course of steroids that I got for a really bad but unrelated virus (possibly flu) that snuck up on me right before Covid hit Europe. So I am not all too optimistic about our GP being able to help me with this.

I have been more or less tired ever since that possible flu. You remember that short walk in the forest in August when I brought home two full shopping bags of ‘shrooms? It took me three days to get over that, and one of those days my legs hurt so much I was barely able to go to the loo. After just several hours of hand-sanding knife handles my back and hands hurt for two days. Etc. etc. ad nauseam. Add to that the necessity to spend time carting my parents to/from doctors, stacking firewood to the cellar, caring for my trees, and the result is that I do a lot less work than I want to.

I have never seen the point of exercise because my body never reacted to it the way other people’s bodies seem to. I did get stronger, but only in relation to my starting point. In high school, when I could exercise under professional supervision free of charge, after months of work I was barely getting just below the level where my schoolmates have started. This year is that – only worse. I am not going exactly downhill, but just barely. Plus my hands started to hurt again two weeks ago. With the sun gone, I have at least looked at what safe dose of Vitamin D I can take in supplements and I am taking that because it seems to help a bit.

Whining over. I hope it gets better. At least it is not getting worse.

The last knives I have finished are four universal kitchen knives from a batch of five blades. One of those blades was not suitably hardened after all- near the tang was about 2 cm soft part. I do not need to toss it, but I do need to try and quench it again with the next project.

These are a bit heavier and thicker (3mm) than my previous knives of this type because they are made from what was left over from the slabs for chef knives. I have also changed the geometry of the handle a bit – instead of a rounded rectangular profile it has a rounded trapezoid profile. They are also about 2-4 mm thinner overall and 5 mm thinner and shorter at the front to better allow a choked-up grip with thumb and index finger on the blade. And they are pointy this time.

One knife has the handle from apricot wood and I have tried tubular pins filled with the same wood. I think it looks good and I will use that idea in the future again.

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

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

Two knives have the handles from pickled black locust. It is perfidious wood, in the future, I have to be more careful – the scales were probably not fully dried when I ground them to final size and they shrunk on me a tiny bit when I was finishing the surface with resin. So the tang does exceed the handles a tiny bit. That can happen due to a bad shaping job too, but that was not this case – they were perfectly flush originally, I swear. Lesson learned I have to put this wood in the oven for an hour or so before glue-up and grinding the outline. Now I can forget the lesson before finishing the next batch.

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

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

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

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

And last was fitted with padauk wood that I have again got for free with steel shipment. A prime example that there really is no need to use tropical woods, it does not look that much better than the black locust.

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

Knives are a bugger to shoot, I will have to build myself some better lighting system. Either the blade is over-exposed, or the handle is under-exposed, or the colors are off, or all three.

If you are interested in knife making, on Sunday I will start a detailed series about my next knife-making project. Not because I am qualified, but because I want to.

Prototyping Chef Knives

This was an interesting project. Interesting in the sense that nearly nothing went as planned.

First I started to make five blades and I broke one after hardening, so I have made it into a smaller knife for my neighbor. But what happened after that was a real bummer – the four remaining blades stubbornly resisted my attempts at tumbling. After over a month in the tumbler, none of them had the pretty, regular finish that I have gotten on my full-width tang blades. Maybe the point of balance of these blades, or their width, or both, have played a role. I simply do not know. I only know that after over a month I took it as “lesson learned, you cannot tumble these, finish them or toss them as they are”. And because they are prototypes whose main purpose was learning, I have decided to use them as they were.

The first piece went on a bed of flowers into a land far, far away. What happens there is in the stars and out of my hands.

The second piece I have finished with an experimental piece of wood – one of the very rotten willow pieces that I have stabilized with resin during my first tests. Only the piece was just a tad thinner than I needed, so the resulting handle is slimmer and straighter than I intended it to be. I am keeping this knife for myself. I just cut onions for dinner with it and it works reasonably well. Whether it works better or worse than other chef knives I cannot evaluate, since I do not use chef knives regularly.

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

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

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

The handle looks…. interesting, but not very kitchen-knifey. I have used dark brown dye for the resin on the assumption that it will give the wood the most natural look. And it did that. Only it gave the wood also a decidedly camo-tacticool look. I think it would be great for a bushcraft/camping knife, but on a kitchen knife, it looks a bit odd. But maybe infusing the wood with bright colored resin – yellow, red, green, or even blue – might lead to interesting results. I am definitively going to try that next time. The rotten log will not burn – yet.

I have made my first bolster from buffalo horn here and fitting that and the handle together with the curved spacer from bone went reasonably well right until the last step in the process. That last step was buffing up of the horn. I have used my DIY red hematite buffing compound because it worked well on the horn – it is less aggressive than industrial steel buffing compounds. But some of it got stuck in the pores in the bone and it is impossible to clean afterward. That is unfortunately a common problem with bone – it has nearly invisible pores that tend to pop-up at the very end of the work when the piece cannot be replaced. So working with bone is always a bit gamble and you often get some dark spots here and there. It is not plastic but a natural product after all. But these red spots look like someone bled all over it. Grrr.

The third piece got fitted with bubinga handle and bone bolster. It goes to my former colleague, who has been patiently waiting for it for nearly a year by now.

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

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

Nothing went wrong with the knife itself. I have fitted the bone bolster with the handle really well, there are no gaps between the white bolster and the blade. Nothing to complain about except the large cut in my right thumb during assembly because the blade cut during all that wiggling through several layers of cloth and masking tape.

Bubinga is beautiful and very hard, but it is not a wood that I would normally use. It is not grown sustainably and the species, while not endangered yet, are on a way to becoming endangered. But since I got this piece for free with a shipment of steel, I have used it. I think I got it for free because it had a worm-hole, but luckily enough it got completely ground away during work. And the piece was big enough for me to make the handle in a shape and size that I have initially intended. It has a trapezoid-profile with rounded edges, for better grip and edge-alignment.

The fourth blade was fitted with a horn bolster and cherry crotch wood with a bone spacer. And this is the closest to my intended design of all three. It is now in the possession of my main tester – my mom.

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

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

The cherry wood is very beautiful, all the more pitty for the unseemly cracks. I will have to devise and use some kind of end-cap for cases like this when it would be a waste to toss the wood but there are some blemishes on the end grain. My mother does not mid it as it is and I hope it will serve well. Apart from these cracks, the only thing that went wrong was a cut in my left thumb – yup, I got symmetrical cuts with different knives.

Stats for all these knives: blade ~210 mm length, 3 mm thick, 50 mm wide, grip ~130 mm long. They are more forward-weighted than my full-width tang kitchen knives, so they would be probably very effective choppers too – the point of balance is right at the heel of the blade.