OK, time for another woodworking post (I’m on a bit of a roll here, two posts within a couple of days). Towards the end of last year I was trying to think of some ideas for what to get Corrine for Christmas. Apart from lots of sewing related stuff she mentioned wanting a good quality small kitchen knife. Then, not long afterwards, I was at the North of England Woodworking Show in Harrogate when I spotted a kit for making a knife – perfect!
I’d never seen a kit like this before but it looked fairly straightforward so I decided to give it a go. The only problem was that there were only a few weeks before Christmas and getting out to the shed without Corrine knowing what I was doing was going to be tricky. The kit I bought is from Hock Tools who are most well known in the woodworking world for their tool blades, particularly for planes.
I bought the 3½” Paring Knife Kit, although they also do an 5″ or 8″ cooks knife and an 8″ carving knife. My kit was bought from Classic Hand Tools. The kit consists of: the blade; three steel pins that go through the handle and blade; and some very good, detailed, instructions. I needed to supply two pieces of wood (called scales) to make either side of the handle. It is possible to buy these ready made but I liked the idea of using a piece of purpleheart that I had. Purpleheart is a very dense wood, so perfect for something that gets a lot of use in a kitchen, and turns a vivid purple colour when exposed to the air.
Making the knife is fairly simple but I took my time because I really didn’t want to mess it up:
- Cut two pieces of the purpleheart to make the scales
- Tape the scales to the knife blade and drill through the pin holes
- Glue everything together with epoxy
- Use the belt sander to shape the handle to the blade
That makes it sound too simple and doesn’t really capture some of the problems: the knife scales need to be perfectly flat or they don’t match up with the blade properly; it is really difficult to cut your own scales to both be the same width; gluing inevitably ends up with squeezed out epoxy where you don’t want it that is hard to get rid of; and finally, sanding everything down requires sanding the pins which get very hot and send sparks everywhere.
Having said all that, I’m pretty pleased with the result. You will see that the blade looks a dull grey colour, that is because it is not stainless steel but is high-carbon steel. It takes a bit more looking after than stainless but is, apparently, a better blade. If I was going to make another one I think I would probably buy some ready made scales as it would make the whole process a lot simpler.
Now, can I bring myself to spend £70 on the 8″ knife kit?