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Made a new knife

Posted by is9582 on May 14, 2016 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was brought up around all sorts of crafts and the outdoors. Woodworking and leather crafting seemed to be interwoven into my genes, but really didn’t have much in the way of knife making, although my dad did make a knife or two in his younger days.

I’ve seen some of my buddies making wooden spoons, which for any of a million reasons seems to hit a chord with something deep inside. Rather than buying some of the necessary knives for spoon making, I thought why not see if I could make a decent knife that might get me closer to making spoons.

I initially took an existing X-acto blade and created a handle in which I could house it, which was sort of like making a knife, in some small way. After a few other iterations, adjusting the blade types on each one, I decided I wanted to try making one that was a bit more substantial.

I bought a sheet of metal that was around 1/8″ thick, with which to create the blade on this knife build. I drew out the shape of what I wanted, and then marked it onto the sheet of metal, and used a cutoff wheel in my Dremel to trace most of the shape and then a Milwaukee Sawzall for the majority of the through-cutting on the blade. I finished up some of the connecting cuts with a hacksaw, so I had the most control over the blade as it broke away from the blank.

 

Blade almost completely cut from the original blank.

Blade almost completely cut from the original blank.

 

I took my blade over to the grinder and set the rest so it was 90-degrees to the wheel, as initially I only wanted to clean up the surfaces, removing any jaggedness or ridges. As the blade was still full thickness all the way to where the cutting edge would be, there was less chance of drawing out the temper as long as I didn’t linger.

 

Blade with it's edges cleaned up at 90-degrees, straight from the grinder.

Blade with it’s edges cleaned up at 90-degrees, straight from the grinder, along with the handle design I made.

 

Next it was time to start working on the bevel(s) for the blade. I began by testing a completely free-hand presentation of the blade to the wheel, but this felt like it was still out of my league (even though I’d free-handed a couple of hatchet heads with decent success), at this point.

I’ve owned a Tormek wet grinder for around 8 – 9 years, but I’d decided I wanted to give my newish Baldor grinder some work, even though I knew it would require a much lighter touch as well as closer attention. One of the things I’ve always loved about the Tormek is the adjustable metal frame on which the accessories ride, and I know some will install the same in front of their dry grinders, so they can use the same gear. One of the Tormek accessories that came with my kit, the SVM-45, is made for sharpening knives. I decided to see if there was some way I could use this jig to make my grinding on the knife blade better. As it turned out, I was able to set my grinder rest at the correct distance away from the wheel, and then keep a ledge on the jig against the outside lip of the rest. This gave me a solid pivot that allowed me to quickly create a good bevel on each side of the blade, with a geometry that looks good to my eyes.

 

Blade clamped into the Tormek accessory used to help create a consistent bevel (photo taken after the majority of bevel was complete).

Blade clamped into the Tormek accessory used to help create a consistent bevel (photo taken after the majority of bevel was complete).

 

I used a flat diamond Dia-fold hone for the first stage of sharpening, which is pretty easy, as the grinder creates a hollow bevel. The hone  just needs to stay in contact with the very edge as well as the other side of the hollow, which most people will feel, or learn to feel in short order. After I had the full length of the cutting edge, on both sides, showing a consistent surface from the hone, it was time to stop. Next I used a 4000-grit Japanese water stone that is about 4″ long and 1/8″-3/16″ thick, and with it soaked in water, use the same motion on the blade. When the edge on both sides is changed, and consistent, it’s time to again stop. The last step I use is a piece of hard wood, about 6″ long x 1″ wide x 1/4″ thick, with some of the Tormek honing past spread over the wood. The wood is then used just like the previous hone and stone, and should result in a completely polished cutting edge. Depending on your steel, this will be shaving sharp or close.

I used a piece of Avodire (white mahogany) as the knive’s handle, which I shaped so it felt good in my hand, and was large enough to contain the tang of the blade. I decided to split the handle on the band saw, and then I marked around the tang on one side.

 

Sculpted handle held in a hand-screw, to keep the centerline at 90-degrees to the band saw table. I stopped with this remaining material and hand cut this with my Japanese Ryoba saw.

Sculpted handle held in a hand-screw, to keep the centerline at 90-degrees to the band saw table. I stopped with this remaining material and hand cut this with my Japanese Ryoba saw.

 

I used my Lie-Nielsen No. 71 to remove enough wood from the first side, so it was half the thickness of the tang. I mimicked this procedure on the inside of the second half of the handle, and obtained a very nice fit. I roughed up both sides of the tang, to make sure the glue would have the best chance to create a solid bond. I mixed up a fair amount of epoxy and spread it on all inside surfaces, to make sure everything would end up bonded tightly. I used a couple of clamps to keep a consistent pressure across the handle until it was fully cured. I used an X-acto knife to trim away any epoxy that ended up on the outside of the knife’s handle, and then followed up with a very light cut with my spokeshave.

 

The knife's handle pieces clamped snuggly, after applying the epoxy, with the blade in position.

The knife’s handle pieces clamped snuggly, after applying the epoxy, with the blade in position.

 

Checking out the knife after the epoxy dried, and I removed the clamps.

Checking out the knife after the epoxy dried, and I removed the clamps.

 

I recently purchased some Birchwood Casey True-Oil, and wanted to use this as the finish for the handle. I found during some experimenting, that using a paper towel to apply this finish, ended up a much thicker application than was needed. Instead a small piece of linen material was the optimum application tool, as it kept the oil very thin, which was perfect. I applied two coats of True-Oil, which ended up providing some good protection, but didn’t get so built up that it was slick in the hand. After the oil dried, I used some 0000 steel wool to make the surface feel as nice as possible, without loosing control.

I decided to take a leap and do a little bit of file work on the back of the blade, as I’d always thought about trying this and this seemed the perfect opportunity. I found some aspects were easier to accomplish after I got going, so this may just be something I’ll do on any knife I make. I used a small conical diamond Dia-fold file as I liked the look and feel of the recess surface. I made five divots on the back, which has some personal reasons I’ll keep to myself at this time.

 

I used my small conical diamond file to create 5 divots in the back of the blade, for personal reasons.

I used my small conical diamond file to create 5 divots in the back of the blade, for personal reasons.

 

Yesterday, my best bud was in town, and we had the chance to mess around with a couple of the knives I’ve made, as well as a few of my hatchets (the Plumb, the Sears and the Gransfors Bruks – large carving version). I found a dead ~4″ limb on one of our Osage Orange trees, which I was able to pull down. After cutting a couple of 12″-18″ pieces from the long limb, we used the hatchets to remove some of the bark until we were down to the brilliant colored heartwood.

 

Me and my best bud, each holding some Osage Orange, and a knife I made.

Me and my best bud, each holding some Osage Orange, and a knife I made.

 

Now that we were at the heartwood, we used the knives to work on some paring cuts and different hand positions. One of my knives has a single bevel, while the most recent knife has a dual bevel. My buddy was having a little more difficulty using the single-beveled knife, which wanted to dig into the wood rather than providing the easy control of the other knife. As he mentioned the issue, I looked over and knew exactly what was up. My buddy is left-handed, while I’m right-handed. Why is this important? When I used the older knife, the bevel was on the downward facing side of the blade, which allows it to start down into the wood, and swoop back out easily. For my buddy, the flat side was down, and if it even just barely dives into the wood, it will want to keep going deeper. So, if you make yourself a knife, for the most flexibility, make it with a bevel on both sides of the blade. If you decide to make it with a single-bevel, make sure it is on the correct side of the blade, so it is against the wood when you are holding the knife in your most comfortable position.

 

The new knife on top of the Osage Orange, with a previous knife I made a couple of months ago, with a mesquite handle from my mom's back yard.

The new knife’s blade is on top of the Osage Orange, with the other knife from our testing which I made a couple of months ago, with a mesquite handle from my mom’s back yard.

 

I also made a hand-stitched leather sheath for both knives, which protects the knives during transit as well as protects those around the sheathed knives. You can use some cardboard, wrapped around the blade a few times, followed by some strong tape, if you just need to provide basic protection to the knife’s edge.

 

The hand-stitched leather sheath I made for this knife.

The hand-stitched leather sheath I made for this knife.

 

Completed knife with a couple of chopstick blanks assisting.

Completed knife with a couple of chopstick blanks assisting.

 

I was nicely surprised at how well the knives behaved, and mostly with the newest knife. It held its edge nicely, even while we were working on some really tough mostly-dried Osage Orange. The surface on the Osage Orange looked completely polished and felt almost waxy. This knew knife was a complete success for both me and my bud.

Thank you for checking out this article and please let me know if you have any questions or comment.

Lee Laird

Winding Sticks – alternate use

Posted by is9582 on February 19, 2016 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been doing a lot of hand planing lately, with a good portion of that in the “flattening” mode, as opposed to a more general “smoothing” mode. While I was working today, I was checking my progress with a pair of Winding Sticks, and as I used them I wondered if others do the same thing.

So, I’ll start with a basic description of using the winding sticks, for anyone not familiar, and then share my trick of the trade, but I also made a short video earlier, that I’ll post down below.

When I’m preparing to use a hand plane in order to flatten a board, if the board is fairly large, I can usually feel whether there is a crowning in the center or not. If the board is fairly narrow, the only really good option is to use my pair of winding sticks, as they amplify the differences making it much easier to see even small discrepancies.

As I progress on the larger boards, it is less and less easy to feel the shape of the board, and the winding sticks again are required. On larger, and wider boards, it can be difficult to know for sure just where you need to remove wood, even if you’ve determine there is a crowning on your board. After I set the winding sticks on the board I wish to test, with the winding sticks’ center dots close to the centerline of the board, I sight over the stick closest to me, and lower my sight until the first portion of the far stick’s top edge is obscured. This will either be the right corner, the left corner, or the whole stick. The first two results indicate there is still twist/wind in the length of the board, which requires further work. The last results indicates the two sections where the winding sticks are sitting, are in the same plane. This doesn’t automatically mean the board is flat, so you need to test in multiple locations down the board. I usually leave the winding stick alone, the farthest from me, and move the closer one towards the other stick, in about 6″ increments. If you get the same “in plane” reading all along the board, just make sure to check for flat along the length of the board, with the longest straight edge that you have.

Now, back to the tip portion of the article. After I check the winding sticks, and find there is still twist/wind as well as a slight crowning, I lightly tap the end of one of the sticks, and watch to see where it’s center of rotation is located (the highest part will be very close to the center of rotation). I made my winding sticks out of cocobolo, and they will spin quite easily on any raised section, but metal winding sticks may not spin as freely. In either case, you can also lightly hold the winding stick towards it’s center, and while applying extremely light downward pressure, try to rotate the stick. If the stick still rotates fairly easy, the center of rotation will again be very close to the highest point. If you feel some friction, even if it still spins, you are likely getting pretty close to flat.

 

Click on the link below, to watch the included video:

Winding Sticks to determine where to plane

 

Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools Since 1978

I hope this helps anyone that is having some trouble working wood flat, with hand tools. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. You can also find me on Twitter as @LeeLairdWW and on Instagram as LeeLairdWoodworking.

Lee Laird

Quick update to Pony

Posted by is9582 on January 21, 2016 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , ,

I know, when I write, I have a tendency to generate some really long articles. This article, will be so different, that I’m almost done! Ok, not really, but it will be super short, for me. I’ve written about completing my Stitching Pony, and it was doing its job, but there was one aspect that […]

Chisel’s are hanging

Posted by is9582 on December 17, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , ,

A few days ago, I wrote about starting two racks to house some more of my chisels. I’ve been a bit stretched this last week, and unfortunately I didn’t take nearly as many photos of the process as I would have liked. Those of you who also follow my Twitter account, @LeeLairdWW, saw my brief tweet […]

A cool Marking Knife – Homestead Heritage

Posted by is9582 on February 16, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , ,

I’ll start this with the premise that a good marking knife is extremely valuable, if not critical, for marking fine woodworking. I have a number of different styles and types that I’ve used over the years, from a basic utility knife to a lower-end laminated Japanese knife, to all things in between. Most styles/designs will […]