Once again inspired by a video on the internet, several months ago I decided to get ahold of some nice contrasting woods to make a wooden knife for decoration (or potentially cake-cutting). This was actually my first time ever taking a project so shaping/carving centric, and it was a really fun challenge with a beautiful piece as the outcome.
I wanted to mix light and dark wood, and ended up finding some gorgeous Bird’s eye Maple as my light wood and some Chechen burl as my handle. The grain in the maple was maybe the most interesting grain I had ever seen in a lighter wood, and the Chechin burl was equally breathtaking. When I first wet the wood to see it’s natural color I audibly giggled somewhat.
I started by tracing out my general shape on the maple and cutting that out on the bandsaw, keeping it pretty rough. I traced the handle shape onto the burl and also cut those out. A rough test fit showed the handle pieces lining up quite nicely when placed on top of the maple.
With the blank cut, the next step was to shape the blade. The piece was a bit too short to feed through the planar so I actually got it down to its final thickness using a jointer, which was not as clean as could have been but it worked well to remove the material I needed to. Tapering the wood down to the knife edge on took quite a while on the belt sander as the wood was so dense, but it allowed me to work slowly and correct little mistakes constantly. After a good hour or so of shaping, the blade shape came out much more cleanly than I had expected! It was great practice for my patience my arm endurance.
With the blade fully shaped, here’s an idea of those thick these pieces were as they began to stack up. I actually ended up thinning down the burl on either side as I was started to worry it might be a bit to fat to comfortable fit in a hand.
At this point I stopped for the night, but still managed to get a wet shot of the wood to show off just how pretty that burl was going to look in the end. If it still looked that pretty rough sanded, I was pretty stoked to see the final result.
The next day I went in to work on the knife, the blade was done and the only thing left to tackle was the handle. Before I glued the three pieces up, I rounded the tops of the handle pieces to be even and lay as flush as possible with the edges to either side of the curve. Once glued, the outline of the top would be final, whereas the rest of the handle could continue to be shaped. All the rest of the edges on the handle were then be sanded down to lay even with the maple, and the final outline for the handle was decided.
Finally, the blade was clamped and the handle was shaped into its smooth and final form. This was yet another exercise in patience and arm endurance strength.
Once the shaping was all done on the handle, I was almost done! Up to this point I typically finished my wood with a light coat of olive oil, which worked in a pinch for bringing out the color in the wood and protecting it half-decently in the short term. Given the quality of this wood, I decided to step up my game and splurge on some mineral oil, which looked beautiful when coated with a few layers. All in all this was an awesome small project with one of the prettier things I’ve ever made as a result.
Here are some pictures of the final product, as well as a poplar stand I threw together very quickly just to have something to display the blade in. A few were just in my room making the best with the natural light creeping in, but I was able to also use the Industrial Design building’s white backdrop for a few well-lit glamour shots (shoutout to Anna for helping since I didn’t have a clue how to take pictures)