Now That’s a Knife

It’s only been 4 months since I got this set of steak knives from Professional Woodworker Supplies.  That is a pretty quick turnaround time for me these days!  Everything hasn’t gone to plan though, as I will elaborate, but I got close to achieving a good result.  I don’t like accepting a compromise – it may be that others wouldn’t notice anything wrong, but I would every time I use one of these.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Knife blanks

These four knives are begging for some stunning handles (the timber on either side are known as “scales”), and so the timber of choice is African Rosewood.  I recently bought a couple of lengths during the recent April WoodFest with the vague idea of making a box, but it jumped out at me when I was looking for what to make the knives from.  The timber is around 19mm thick, so a bit over double the thickness required for each side of the knife.  So resawing was the order of the day.

Resawing the African Rosewood

I changed the blade down to a 5/8″ blade on the Carbatec bandsaw, then racked up the tension.  With the MagSwitch fence in place (single roller), the blade sliced the timber cleanly in two.  I am so loving having the bandsaw tensioning handle below the upper wheel.  The benefits of a larger bandsaw.

Single Roller MagFence making the job easy

Can’t beat those MagFences either for resawing. Love how easy, and accurate it makes the task.

Passes through the Drum Sander for accurate dimensioning

From the bandsaw, the next step is to run it through the drum sander.  This may not be everyone’s first choice – for one you have to have a drum sander to be able to use it.  I’ve become a big fan, especially for situations like this.  These are pieces of timber way too short to ever consider running through a thicknesser, so you’d have to resort to a ROS, hand plane or similar.  Me, I like the electron-murdering whirling abrasive wheel! With careful passes, I was able to get the board down to within 0.1mm of the required thickness.

Jig to accurately cut the handles

Next job was to shape the scales.  The only important side initially is the edge that butts up against the bolster.  To save on timber (a big mistake – not how I chose to do it, but any attempt to scrimp on timber inevitably leads to undesirable results, and more timber wastage. I know this, and still find myself doing it), I cut the timber close to dimension, and drilled holes using an MDF template I made of the scale from the knife tang. I used a couple of lengths of brass rod to replicate the rivets to position each scale to be cut precisely.

Thinning down the pins

For the two pins, I needed them a little thinner than the rivets would be, so I could get the scales off the jig.  To take off a small, controlled amount, mounting the pin in the drill, then running it on the sandpaper provided a precise size decrease.

Ready to cut the handle end

In hindsight, doing it this way was a mistake. Drilling the holes for the rivets needed to be done after the first scale was glued to the tang.

Knife handles roughed out

The scales, ready to be glued on.  Rather than gluing both sides at once, the plan was to do one side only, then use a pattern copying bit to get the scale to accurately match the tang.

Gluing the first handle side on

Two part epoxy resin (Araldite) being the glue of choice.

Clamped up

There is plenty of overhang which is a good thing, but this is where two mistakes compounded.  The trying to be too thrifty which resulted in the scale slipping in a couple of cases enough that the tang wasn’t properly covered, and when the glue had set, not trimming off the excess resulted in a couple of chipouts on the router table that destroyed the handle.  The router bit here is a straight bit with copying bearing.  Straight after this, I was down at Carbatec and picked up a solid carbide spiral router bit with double bearing – the spiral has a shearing/slicing action rather than a chipping action for the next time I attempt to make more handles.

Shaping the blank to the handle

Did have a couple of successes, the bearing running on the tang so the scale gets cut accurately to match.

As good as it got

The results were looking good, and the few refinements to my technique should prove very successful.  For the handles here, I took the photos, then took a chisel and snapped the scales off. Oh well, I’d rather it right than compromise.

As Seen on The Web

Found these photos of a memorabilia chest on the Incra Website – some beautiful work made in Spalted Maple, including the hinges.

The gentleman who created it worked for years on the Stealth Bomber program, and collected many souvenirs from the program.

Stunning timber, superb chest.  I like the idea of it as well as a way of storing and displaying coins, as I have a small collection that I’d like to come up with something like this for that collection.

Wish I had made something as stunning as this to showcase!

The associated article talks about the Hingecrafter, and the recent upgrade of the LS Positioner to the metric version apparently makes it partially incompatible with the Hingecrafter.

However, I am thinking the easiest solution is to maintain some capability of imperial positioning, by acquiring an Original Incra Jig.  I haven’t as yet, but the thought is there.

Also, while on the topic of Incra, I have been using the 1000SE Mitre Gauge a bit recently, and enjoying the ability to significantly extend the fence for crosscutting very long boards.

Incra goes High Definition!

Back in the days when I was still using a Triton, I came to the conclusion that I needed to make a cross-cut sled that everyone seemed to suggest was a must-have jig in the workshop.  When I started really researching it however, I couldn’t help but keep returning to the idea that the best cross-cut sled would include the accuracy of an Incra Mitre Gauge so I could set any angle that I wanted with the precision of laser-cut V-grooves.

As I kept looking at the mitre gauge, I became more and more convinced that what I really needed was to just be able to fit the mitre gauge itself to my tablesaw.  I came up with all sorts of different ideas, and finally I got the Incra Mitre 1000SE, which I felt at the time represented the best combination of versatility and accuracy, and price. (These days I think I would be very hard pressed to go past the V120, as you’ll see a bit later in this article).

I still couldn’t fit it to the table, and although I could work out how to get there with supplementary tops for the Triton, it was about this point that the first seeds were sewn to upgrade the entire tablesaw to one with a standard mitre slot (and it might as well be cast iron if going to that extent).  History will show that I ended up replacing the Triton WC2000 with the TS10L, 3HP cast iron topped tablesaw from Carbatec, and it is an awesome machine.  And it can fit a real mitre gauge.

The next step was when I got the Mitre Express that allowed me to attach the Mitre 1000SE to the Express, to produce (in everything but name), a full blown cross-cut sled.

But back to the mitre gauges themselves.  The Incra Mitre Gauges have long represented some of the most accurate mitre gauges on the market, and unlike the ‘standard’ design that use a combination of bolt and lock nuts to set 3 or 4 (if you are lucky) positive angle positions, the Incra laser cut V-grooves provide positive angle locks at many different angles.  The 1000SE has V-grooves every 5 degrees from -90 to 90 deg, and with the extra vernier scale can produce 1/10th degree accuracy.

The budget end of the range (still with incredible accuracy) is the V27, with 27 individual angle V-grooves.

Both these have had the high definition treatment.  With a significant advancement in laser cutting accuracy, having V-grooves every 5 degrees is a thing of the past, and now they are every degree. The V27 has a high definition version called the V120, and I have decided that it is perfect for the Incra Mitre Express, leaving (for me, the luxury of) the 1000SE as a stand-alone mitre gauge.

Incra V120

Incra V120

The Incra Mitre V120 is still at the budget end of the range, and as such represents real value for money.  It doesn’t have an attached fence, so you’d be well advised to attach a fence to it – be that a piece of RHS aluminium, or a length of MDF or whatever is straight, flat, and won’t damage the blade if it happens to touch.


V Grooves

As you can see, the V120 now has significant accuracy, and represents an impressive upgrade to the V27.  As pictured here, it is attached to the Mitre Express.


V Grooves

Big and Little Brothers

Big and Little Brothers

Here is the Mitre 1000SE and V120 side-by-side, with an additional aluminium (Incra rail) fence added to the V120.

Without the commercially included aluminium rail and flip-stop that the 1000SE comes with, I’d be hard pushed to justify its benefit over the V120

However, it is not just the V27 that has received the high definition treatment, and there is now an 1000HD, again with 1 degree laser-cut V-grooves.  Along with the fence and flip-stop, that is an impressive package.

Now as I’ve mentioned, I have decided to mount the V120 in the Mitre Express.

V120 and Miter Express

V120 and Mitre Express

The fence and flip-stop is not included with the V120.  The flip-stop can be purchased separately, but in this case came with the 1000SE.  The fence is actually from an 1000SE, and it happened to have accidentally met the tablesaw blade when the original owner (the late Steve Bisson) forgot to change the amount exposed during a 45 mitre cut, and proved that aluminium cuts as easily as timber.  I’ve taken that fence, cut off the end to create a new expandable section, and with the addition of some of the jig knobs from Professional Woodworkers Supplies, (remember my recent post about the “jig components drawer” – this was hard at work here again!) created a fence as good as (although slightly shorter) than the one supplied with the 1000SE or HD, complete with an extendable section.

Mitre Cut

Mitre Cut

So the final result is an impressively accurate mitre gauge, and with the Mitre Express also becomes an excellent crosscut jig.

The various Mitre Gauges etc mentioned here are all available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.

The V120 (which is what this article was particularly about, given it is the newest addition) is $175

PS – As I was writing this, I tried (and tried) to be true to the US roots of the Incra Mitre Gauges, and use the US spelling (miter). However, and apologies to my American readers, I had to change it back to the Oz spelling.  I’m already spelling aluminium wrong (for the US that is), so I might as well keep going with the Australian aspects of this blog.  Gidday, Strewth, “That’s not a knife, this is a knife” 🙂

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