Monday, January 16, 2012

My Knife Project Part I

So last time i visited the world of big do-it-yourself projects, i was repairing the leaky roof. My latest project is making a knife. Son #1, who is a collector of knives, gave me a blank knife blade for Christmas. I picked this weekend to get my hands dirty. *Warning: This report is not meant to represent the "proper way" to make a knife--mostly i am winging it.

The blade is a skinning knife and my first plan was to use a southwest theme: i thought mesquite wood for the handle and some turquoise inlay. I fell in love with a turquoise cabochon on a post-Christmas trip to Albuquerque. I bought it, but have no real idea yet about how i'm going to use it on my knife.

I took a drive out to the hinterland last week and tried to find some aged mesquite wood. Based on what i found, i believe that mesquite wood tends to split like crazy as it dries--at any rate, i couldn't find anything usable. But then i remembered that we had some nice pieces of Arizona cypress sitting in our backyard, trimmed from our own trees a few years ago. I sawed off a piece of this and was impressed with the wood's density and grain. Jack, family dog, stood by doing his companionship thing.

I put my section of tree limb in a vise and hacksawed it in half, down a line i chose based on the grain, and trying to imagine the finished handle scales. I sanded each scale down to about 3/8 inch thickness on the belt sander. I penciled where the scales will meet the brass bolster, and sanded off wood to align with the brass (Son #1
suggested doing this before attaching the scales to the blade so there would be less chance of scuffing the nice shiny brass when trying to the sand the wood level after assembly.)

Then i used 5-minute epoxy on both sides of the tang, or handle part of the steel blank, and clamped it in the vise. I realize that i could have used the pre-drilled holes in the blank and used brass pins, too, but the holes were so narrow that i made a design decision to not have a skinny little brass pin head showing on the handle surface. If the holes had been larger bore, i probably would have added brass pins.

The knife tang has a thick and voluptuous shape, and my next step was to take a long time belt-sanding my scales to follow the tang outline perfectly, and then to sculpt the handle sides. End of Part I.

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