Monday, June 27, 2016

Boning Knife Complete

I made a little more progress on my daughter's kitchen knife set this past weekend.  Knife number two of four is now complete, meaning that I'm halfway there.  Here are a few photos of the progress.

Here's the knife where I left off last week with its chunky-state handle.  Everything is glued and pinned together.  Looks terrible, doesn't it?

The "chunky" bolsters and scales get profiled ground down to the tang.  That's much better.

After spending some time at the grinder, followed by some hand finishing, the knife is practically done.  I know I said it before with the paring knife, but I really like the looks of the black liners with these light-colored wood scales.  Very classy.

An artist needs to sign his work, so here's the boning knife with my maker's mark etched in.

And here's the finished knife.  The handle got an oil rubbed finish with a coat of wax.  The edge is crazy sharp and should make for a real nice meat slicer.  Hopefully that meat doesn't turn out to be my daughter's finger. . .

In addition to the boning knife, I made some good progress on the utility knife, finishing the hollow grind and getting the hand-rubbed finish nearly complete.  This weekend I should have a little more shop time, so I hope to get the next knife completed.  If all goes well, I should be able to finish this set up and make a nice base for it in the next couple of weeks.  Thanks for following along with me on this adventure into kitchen culinary tools.

-  Brandant Robinson

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Chef Set Continues

With the paring knife finished up last week, I spent this week working on the boning knife for my daughter's chef set.  I didn't get as much shop time as I had hoped, but I made some good progress on this knife and a little more work done on the last two knives of the set.  I don't know how it happened, but I lost several of the progress photos I took along the way.  My phone has been acting kind of weird lately, so that's probably the problem.  Anyway, here's the progress.

Here is the boning knife attached to my hand sanding jig.  you can tell that it's much too long for the small jig.  I'm used to finishing 3" folder blades and most of my equipment is designed to suit those needs.  This nearly 7" blade overhangs the edge by a couple inches, which was a little precarious with the point aimed at my gut, but I made due and came out the other side without any wounds.

600 grit hand-rubbed finish accomplished.  Pretty!

Onto the handle fittings.  The front and rear bolsters are blocked out and scales book matched and ready to go.  I'm not to proud or confident to confess that I skipped a step and messed up this set of scales,  I got in a hurry and forgot to attach the black fiber liners before fitting the scales to the bolsters.  A great big OOPS!  If this knife wasn't intended to be part of a matching set of knives, I would have left the knife unlined and went on my merry way.  But, since it's part of a set for someone whom I love, the scales were scrapped.  As luck would have it, I had enough leftover box elder burl to make a new set of scales from the same block as the other knives.  I'm so happy the block was a little over sized to compensate for my boneheadedness.

Rule number one of knife making is take your time and think things through.  When you get in a hurry, you end up making big mistakes.  I still make my fair share of mistakes, but I try to learn from them and do better next time.

The front bolsters get drilled to fit the holes in the knife tang, pinned together, and the front faces matched and finished up to a 600 grit finish, just like the blade.  Once these are installed, finishing the front faces is extremely difficult.  That's why the faces get finished before they get installed.

The bolsters get their dovetails ground in and are ready to be attached.  I also use a tapered pin reamer which turns the cylindrical holes through the bolsters conical.  This way the pin has room to expand as it's peened into the hole, locking it to the tang very securely.

After some work at the anvil, the front bolsters are attached and the excess pin stock is ground away.  I love it when bolsters just disappear like they are supposed to.

The scales get their liners glued to the backs and the beveled faces where they mate with the bolster dovetails.  I simply love how this black liners look against these blond scales.  Sometimes things just work out right.

Well, folks, that's the end of the photos, but not the end of the progress made on the chef's set.  I was able to get the scales fit to the boning knife, the rear bolsters attached, the scales epoxied and pinned in place, and the faces of the handles ground flush after the epoxy had cured.  I also made some headway on the hollow grinds of the utility and chef's knives and started hand sanding the utility knife.  If you want to see how these steps were done, everything was accomplished in the same fashion as the paring knife build, so you can refer back to the previous posts if interested.  If you have any questions, leave a comment or shoot me an email and I'll be happy to answer.

Thanks for following along with me on this knife building adventure.  This week I hope to get the time to finish the boning knife and make more progress on the other two.

-  Brandant Robinson

Monday, June 13, 2016

One Down, Three to Go

This last week I was able to get the first of the four knives finished for my daughter's chef's knife set.  When I showed it to her, her eyes lit up and the smile on her face was well worth what it took to make the knife.  The other three are progressing well too.  Here are some pics of what I was able to accomplish.

Above is a photo of the finished handle on the paring knife.  The satin finish on the bolsters really sets off the box elder burl scales, and the black liners really define the scales as well.  Dark liners look great with light-colored scales.  The opposite is true as well; light-colored liners look terrific with dark scales.

Here is a spine view of the handle to show off the dovetails and the look of the liners.  I like it!

I put an oil finish on the paring knife handle, and while it was drying, I got started on grinding the last two knives, the chef's knife and utility knife.  Here they are with the initial hollow grinds completed.  I got a new 8" contact wheel for the grinder this week and gave it its maiden voyage with these two.  It worked great.  After the initial grinds, they went into my heat treatment process.  They'll be ready to go the next time I get out to my shop.  I also got a good start on hand sanding the boning knife as well.

Here is a photo of the finished paring knife.  I designed the handle to fit my daughter's hand, which it does wonderfully.  It's also very well balanced and screaming sharp.  Should make her a great kitchen companion for hopefully the rest of her life.  She was very happy with it and I can't wait to see what the whole set looks like together when finished.  Thanks for tagging along with me on this adventure.  More to come next week.

-  Brandant Robinson

Monday, June 6, 2016

Back to the Chef Set

I had to take a break from my daughter's chef knife set in order to fill a custom order, the Glaucus knife that I posted last week.  I guess paying work takes precedence over gift work.  Gotta pay for more materials somehow!  But, with the order complete and a new satisfied client, it's back to the chef set.

I left off last time with all four knives profiled, drilled and tangs tapered.  I also ground in the initial hollow grinds on the paring and boning knives.  Here's what I accomplished this week.

I decided to take the first two blades through to the end before working on the utility and the chef blades.  I don't like to get too many parts strung out all over the shop.  Here are the paring and boning blades after coming out of air quenching after being hardened.

The next step is a deep freeze treatment, commonly referred to as cryogenic treatment, which completes the hardening process.  This is not a true cryo treatment since I use dry ice instead of liquid nitrogen.  Dry ice sublimes (changes phases from solid to gas) at about -110 degrees F and liquid nitrogen boils off at around -310 degrees F.  But, since liquid nitrogen isn't readily available, and for me is cost prohibitive, I settle for dry ice which I can buy at the local supermarket.  I've found that I get pretty darn good performance with dry ice, so I'll stick with that.  I did have to build a bigger box to treat these blades in since my usual suspects are only 4 inches long.  I used a piece of polystyrene insulation board that I picked up at the hardware store for a couple bucks, held together with the handyman's secret weapon - duct tape.

In this photo I've begun the work on the bolsters.  You can see the front bolsters have been ground to shape, drilled, and the back edges have been dovetailed.  The scales will be made from this beautiful box elder burl.  I found a large enough block to get scales for all four of these knives from with book-matched sets.  Should make for a nice looking set of knives.

I began work on the scales by fitting the front end to the dovetail of the front bolsters.  I decided to try adding liners to the scales for a new challenge and to punch up the cool factor.  These black liners are made from vulcanized fiber.  I'm not sure how other makers their liners to the scales, but I just used CA glue.  You can also see from the photo that the dovetailed edge gets a liner attached to it as well.

Next, it was time to finish out the blade and ricasso.  I wanted a nice, hand-rubbed finish on these blades, so it was off to the vise for some hand sanding.  I've showed this setup before, but it's just a piece of angle iron with a tapped hole to hold things solid with a bolt.  I've been switching off between 3-in-1 oil and Windex for a sanding lubricant to test which works best.  I'm still not sure which works better.  I guess either will do.

Here's the blade after the hand finishing process.  A nice 600 grit satin finish is hard to beat.

Before I can go on, I need to get the front bolsters attached, and before I can attach them, I need to finish out the faces of the bolsters.  Once they are attached, it's extremely difficult to finish out the font faces, so doing it before attachment is certainly the right way to do it.  Here the two bolsters are pinned together, ground and hand sanded to a 600 grit finish.

With a tapered pin reamer I ream out the bolster holes to give room for the pins to expand and lock the bolsters onto the tang.

In this photo the bolsters have been pinned to the tang.  It's a matter of smacking the pins repeatedly between a hammer and anvil until they expand to fill in all the holes.  It relieves a lot of tension when you get to bang on something with a hammer.

With the front bolsters attached, I can begin the process of fitting the scales.  A lot of knife makers will install both front and rear bolsters first, and then try to fit the scales to the space between bolsters.  I've found that doing it this way, I only have to fit one face at a time and not have to try fitting two ends of the scales to two bolsters at once.  It works for me.

The rear of the scales get dovetailed and the black liners attached.  The rear bolsters get dovetailed and attached to the knife just like the front bolsters.  With this method I get a nice, tight fit.  You might have noticed that the bolsters have not been shaped yet.  I've found that leaving everything rough until assembled works just fine.

Here is the knife after a trip to the grinder.  The bolsters and scales have been shaped and ground down to match the tang.  It would actually look like a knife now if not for all that duct tape.

At this point, the scales are ready to be attached permanently.  I mixed up a little epoxy and glued everything up.  With the scales locked in by the dovetails, pins and epoxy, they aren't going anywhere.

This is where I left off for the week.  I did get the finished hollow grinds done on the boning knife and the hand sanding process started, but I didn't get any pics of that.  I'll show it off next week and hopefully get to show this knife off as a finished piece.  Thanks for following along with me on this knife-making adventure.

-  Brandant Robinson