Knife Making Part 2
In part 1 I covered carving of the handle, this post will cover fixing of the blade, finishing of the handle and a brief nod to making the sheath.
Before finishing the handle with oil, the blade had to be fastened in place (otherwise the oil stops the glue bonding to the wood). The best substance for this in my opinion is an epoxy resin. Once mixed it was fed into the slot cut to take the tang until it was completely full. The blade was inserted, squeezing out epoxy which was wiped of with a damp cloth. This ensures that water cannot get into the handle from the blade. Once dry, any epoxy staining was sanded off with 240 grit paper.
With the knife finally looking like a knife, it was time to finish the handle. Getting a smooth finish is quite a long process, but worth it in the end. Danish oil was used as it gives a durable finish and is easy to apply. However if it is added straight to the handle it will raise the grain producing a rough finish, which will need to be sanded. In order to avoid wasting oil, the handle is wetted and left to dry. Sanding leaves wood fibres torn on the surface, which, when wetted, contort and stand proud of the surface giving a rough finish. After the handle has dried, these can be lightly sanded off using 240 grit paper, leaving the handle smooth and ready for the first coat of oil. Three coats were used, with approx. 4 hours between coats (really 16 hours should be left between coats, but I get a bit impatient…). After each coat, the handle was buffed with an abrasive pad. Finally, a coat of beeswax was added and polished to give a gloss finish.
I mentioned that I would say a small bit on making the sheath. I’m just going to add a clause in here to say that leatherwork is not my forte, so this bit is very basic. The simplest way of making a sheath is to create the join running down the edge of the blade, I utilised that very versatile material, paper, to create a mock up, and went on and cut the leather. I’d already decided I was going to use a pop-stud strap to hold the knife in place, so this was cut and shaped at the same time. I made the sheath slightly tight, and after a few uses the leather gave a bit, leaving it loose enough to take in and out freely. I added a plastic blade cover (seen two photos up) to ensure the blade doesn’t damage the leather.
So there it is, finally finished. I’ve really enjoyed this project, it reminded me how much I enjoy woodwork (I used spend a lot of time as a child making wooden mushrooms on my dad’s lathe) but as with all these things it’s just lack of time which stops me doing it. Hopefully this has inspired someone to have a go, you don’t need that many specialist tools if you buy a knife kit. I know I used chisels, but a rasp and sand paper would do the job. Just a quick word of caution if you do have a go and use danish oil, it can spontaneously combust if left on rags, so dry all rags flat before disposing of them. Other than that, have a go!