Handling a Knife

Damascus steel Zhen Nakiri knife blank

I recently wrote about Damascus Steel, and showed this knife from Professional Woodworkers Supplies as an example of a modern interpretation of this traditional steel-making technique.

Over the weekend, I had a chance to complete the handle for this knife, so I was able to put it to use!

Queen Ebony timber stock

I started, as always, scrounging around through my timber stocks, looking for just the right piece of timber for the job.  Not sure which is the more rewarding: having a project and the excitement/anticipation of the project commencement while out sourcing and purchasing just the right pieces of timber for the job, or scrounging around your own existing timber store, though pieces collected over the years and waiting for just the right project to come along to be able to finally do it justice.

For this project I looked at many pieces and different species.  Even tried a couple to see if there was enough detail for the project at hand, but rejected them in the end.  I finally had a look at the pack of Queen Ebony strips I had purchased at a wood show a few years ago, and suddenly realised that the bottom two strips (about 1.5m long each) were thicker than the others, and were in fact thick enough for this project, even after being machined flat!

This is a perfect scenario – it gives me a chance to actually machine one face smooth and flat, and then match the opposite side and still end up with timber thick enough for the task at hand.

The project is pretty straight forward, and follows the steps I took when doing the steak knives.  After sizing the scales, they were double-sided taped together (carpet tape).  These were then stuck to one side of the blade.  On the drill press, holes where then drilled through the holes in the knife blank, then while still attached to the blade, the whole lot were transferred to the bandsaw, and the rough outline of the blade handle cut.

The scales were then separated, glued (epoxy) to either side of the blade blank, and the rivets inserted.

Once the glue was dry, the whole contraption was transferred to the spindle sander for the final shaping.

To complete, the Festool ETS 150/5 was used to polish the sides and edges.

Completed knife

The Queen Ebony really looks the part – I am most impressed!

Finally, the real test is in the kitchen, so I gave a piece of pumpkin a workout.

Nakiri Blade in its element

The final verdict is in the use, and this knife handled beautifully!  The sharpness of the blade, the scalloped blade and a home-made stunning handle.

A fun little project, and a very satisfying result!



There is a new tab at the top of the page – titled “Publications”

Perhaps a little narcissistic, but I like keeping track of where I have had something published.  The list is only for my woodworking contributions – I haven’t bothered including photographic articles/images or ones from my Navy days (the list would be about 4x longer – mainly where photos were used rather than articles).

I’m sure some articles are missing from this listing, so if you are aware of any others, please let me know.

Metamorphosis of Narcissus, by Salvador Dali

A very dangerous book for one’s bank balance. Not that the book will be overly expensive, but the resulting desire to source a set of moulding planes!
Here is a free download of chapter 3 of the book.

Lost Art Press

Matt Bickford’s book, “Mouldings in Practice,” sets out to remake the way you look at, cut and apply the mouldings to your projects.

It is quite unlike any other book we have ever encountered. Why? Bickford grapples with a core idea that has plagued woodworkers for generations: Cutting mouldings by hand requires years of practice, patience and the acquisition of high-level skills.

After reading this book, I think you will say about that old idea: “Wow. That’s crap.”

To kick-start your education in cutting mouldings, we are offering a free download of a critical chapter of “Mouldings in Practice.” This short chapter lays out the basic principles of the book and shows the landscape that it covers.

To download the chapter, simply click here. You don’t have to register, give up some special bodily cells or even your e-mail address.

If you like what you see and…

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It’s out again!

The latest issue is about to hit the shelves. Keep an eye out for it!

I have a couple of articles in this one – one on making a hall table, (including a bit of an opinion on reality TV furniture!), and another on router bit profiles.

ManSpace Magazine

Word on the street

The word on the street is the new Masters store in Carrum Downs is ahead of schedule, and could open in the next 1-2 weeks.

Cool 🙂


(Photo is not the CD store!)

Temple Construction

Some photos taken by a friend of one of our regular readers (thanks IS!): these photos are of a temple rebuild in Zhongdian (Shangrila), Yunnan Province (China).

What can be achieved with the simplest, mainly traditional tools and techniques.  No electrons murdered at all which is quite disturbing!

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End of Days: The Pandora box is complete

And so we have arrived at the point where the box is revealed as fully formed, closed and opened. Not a pithos as was originally written in Greek by Hesiod in “Works and Days”, but the Latin “pyxis” as the original myth was mistranslated back in the 16th century.

Trays lined with felt

I had to be really patient to get to this point – lining a box (when it is done) really shows the box and how it will finally look, and this was no exception.  The bottom and inside of the main box was lined in black (as a point of difference from the ‘working’ surfaces.  I didn’t need to do the inside, but it gives a sense of completeness if both trays are ever lifted out.  Getting the lower tray out is tricky in any case – there is a bit of a vacuum effect there (not a lot, but enough to be noticeable – the benefit of a close fit).

I chose a royal blue for the two trays – giving consideration to how the jewellery will stand out on such a colour.

Dividers in place

Next, the dividers were added.  These are only a friction fit – they are not glued in.

Trays in location

Coming together.  the upper tray slides back and forth revealing the lower compartments.   It can also be easily lifted out as required.

Lid attached, and charms, bracelets and necklace added

Finally, the lid has the hinges added, and they all slide together.  Getting the hinges into the lid was a bit nerve-wracking.  It is burl after all – not the strongest of materials, and each hinge had to be carefully tapped into location.  Once all three were attached, the hinges were lined up with the holes in the box, and carefully pushed together.

It is shown here without a lid restraint  that I have since added (to stop the lid being opened too far), using a black leather cord and some fittings from jewellery-making added so it can be screwed to a small hole drilled into the top and the side wall of the box (inside).

Concealed hinge detail

Bit of a closeup of the hinges in action.  They are not the strongest hinge, but are very clever in mechanism, and fully concealed when the lid is closed.

Lid detail

A bit of a closeup of the lid beading.  Making it out of the same timber as the top worked out really well, and it has machined nicely on the router table.  The slight apparent overhang of the mitre joint is actually an illusion – it isn’t there to see or feel in reality- trick of light, or shadow.  Beautiful features in the timber – burls can be really stunning.

So finally, the last one – the completed box.  Probably should have taken another from the side – may post it here later.

Completed Pandora Box

I’m certainly happy with how it has come out, and surprisingly, the recipient didn’t have a clue.  I thought I was gone for all money, that she suspected I was up to something, but I got away with this being a complete surprise.  The best kind!



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