I spent the last Christmas vacation with my family, and my brother gave our dad a DIY Laguiole knife kit just waiting to be put together. My dad jumped at the chance to put his knife together on a corner of the dinner table and there are a few things we could have done better, ranging from basic read-the-user-manual advice to some time to think things through more - stuff that I put to use when I got my own kit a few weeks later. This Instructable lists all my suggestions to make the most of your DIY Laguiole kit !
Big thanks to the FacLab team as usual for their tools, help, and steady coffee supply :)
Step 1: Where to Buy and What You'll Need
First to get something out of the way : this Instructable is not sponsored in any way by the Laguiole or Balladéo companies, nor any of their retailers. Now to get you your DIY Laguiole kit...
- If you live in the UK : you can buy the DIY Laguiole kit from the Discovery Channel Store (the store will require proof that you are above 18 for any order of this item) for 24£
- If you live in France : you can buy the DIY Laguiole kit with included laser engraving on the blade from Cadeaux de Génie for 29.90€
You will also need :
- a pair of flat pliers
- a pair of cutting pliers
- a pencil
- coarse and fine grit sanding paper (and optionnally, a Dremel with a sanding head)
- paper towels
- a glass of wood care oil
- care and patience !
Any mistake on this build can be either very forgiving, or not forgiving at all. My father had to reorder a set of rivets and screws then take his knife apart and put it together again because he didn't follow the instructions properly. So. Care and patience. Lots of both.
Age and safety warning
Knives can be dangerous. Be very careful as you put together your knife, and use protection ! For this build, I'd at least suggest wearing eye protection and protection gloves if you have them. If not, at least be very careful where you stick your fingers at all times and always, always err on the side of caution.
This tutorial is here for your instructional pleasure : I cannot be held responsible if you injure yourself over the construction of your Laguiole DIY Kit.
Step 2: Make Sure You Have All the Parts !
In your Laguiole DIY knife box, you should have :
- 2 wood plates
- 2 metal handle parts
- 1 backspring
- 1 blade
- 2 silver rivets
- 1 golden rivet
- 6 screws
If you do have everything then congratulations, you're ready to move on ! If not, you better write that nice letter to the manufacturer asking for extra parts right now, with an attached copy of your order bill.
Once you do have everything, it's time to move on to the next step : reading the manual !
Step 3: Read the Manual !
Read the manual. Read the manual. Read the maaaaaanuaaaaal.
It might not be easy to get. The illustrations might not always make sense to you. But it'll familiarize you with the various steps of the assembly and give you an idea of what's coming up. Besides it's a great excuse to take some time in your favourite couch with a nice cup of coffee.
Also, did I mention you should read the manual ? Yeah, go do that. Then in the next step, we'll prepare the wood grips !
Step 4: Prepare the Wood Grips
We're going to sand down our wood grips close to the height of the knife miters. Of course, we could use the Dremel to sand the handle grips down but there's a reason why we might not want to : a Dremel can go fast, and it is very easy to sand off too much material by accident !
Sanding down the wood grips
- Trace the silhouette of the miter against the side of the wood grip ;
- Start sanding with your coarse sand paper ;
- Keep on sanding until you get there !
That's about it, really. You can sand the wood down two ways :
- tape a piece of sandpaper to your table and grind your part against it, or
- wrap a piece of sandpaper around a pencil and sand your wood grip down.
Do make sure to regularly check your wood grip against the miters of the knife to make sure you're not going too far.
Oiling down the wood grips
Now that your grips are down to miter size, it's time to oil them down for the first time ! Dip a paper towel or a piece of fabric in your wood treating oil and rub it generously on the wood grips and let them air dry. If you want you can even go for it a second time before moving on to the next part : attaching the wood grips to the metal handle parts.
Step 5: Mount the Wood Grips to the Metal Handle Parts
Your wood grips are now ready to go up : time to take care of what is probably the easiest part of that whole kit :)
- Align the wood grips with the metal handles using the pre-made holes.
- Screw the wood grips in with the little golden screws in your pack.
- The golden screws are poking out a bit : sand them down carefully with your Dremel...
- Finally, give your grips a light sanding with fine grit sandpaper
- ...and oil your wood grips down once more.
You will notice that, unlike the manual, I'm suggesting you sand the screws down instead of hammering them, as the manual suggests. There's a very simple reason to that : if you hammer the screws in, they'll keep popping out in the way of the blade later on. So save yourself the hassle and just go down on these little guys with your Dremel at a decent speed : the rotary bit will melt/sand them down enough to keep in place.
Now go wash the wood dust off your hands and face, and treat yourself to a nice coffee while your handles air dry. Once that's done, we can move on to the next step and assemble the handle and backspring of your knife.
EDIT : Check out Strumbot's comment about mounting the wood grips to the metal handles with epoxy if you're looking to make a more durable piece you don't intend to take apart later down the road
Step 6: Assembling the Blade and Handle
This step is pretty straightfoward : just run a long rivet right through the rivet hole near the head of your knife, through the blade then through the head of the other handle.
We're not going to enter the part of the assembly process where we exert pressure over parts of the knife to set up the backspring tension : don't put pressure on the Laguiole fly, otherwise the general tension will push it off alignment - which in turn will mess with the esthetics of your knife. And you'll need to fix it later anyway. So don't do that !
At that point, your blade folds in and out freely because there is no tension to the backspring : this is what we're going to add over the next few steps.
EDIT : Because it's always a good idea to err on the side of caution and from this point on, follow drusso3's suggestion from the comments and run a piece of tape along the edge of the blade to make sure you don't risk cutting yourself.
Step 7: Assembling the Handle and Backspring
From this part on and until you are, make sure the blade of your knife is always folded. You're going to apply pressure to parts of the knife so that the backspring and handle holes at the tail are aligned and if your knife is not correctly secured in place, it might pop out and spin around over the place. You don't want that to happen with a blade, so again make sure the blade of your knife is always folded from here on out.
So now that the blade is closed, let's work on the backspring that'll let it fold, unfold and lock in place !
- Run the shorter golden rivet through the middle rivet hole. So far, we're still in easy territory ! Fit the bottom part of your knive into a vice or a clamp and tighten it down (slowly !), aligning the holes near the end of your knife.
- Run the last rivet through the tail hole. Don't hesitate to hammer it in if need be : at this point the tension on the backspring will make it harder to run the rivet, and it's entirely normal.
And just like that, you have a functioning knife ! Sure, it's got big rivets poking out all over the place but we're going to take care of that in the next step : trimming the rivets down to size.
Step 8: Setting in the Rivets
This is the part where working on an top of an actual vise or a sturdy metallic surface will help you a LOT.
- Trim your rivets close to the handle (but not completely flush !) with a pair of cutting pliers or a fine saw
- Set a hole puncherin the middle of your rivet and hammer at it, carefully at first then harder to open up the rivet
- When your rivet is nicely opened up, hammer it in to flatten it against the surface of your knife
- Do the same for the other rivets, taking your time along the way.
Have you done all three rivets on all sides ? Then congratulations, your DIY Laguiole is pretty much done ! In the next step, we will do some finishing touches then do a little dance !
Step 9: You're Done !
That's it ? It's all done ?
Yeah, pretty much. It wasnt so bad was it :)
I really don't have anything else to do ?
Well actually...There are at least 2 things you'll have to do over the lifetime of your knife :
Oiling the wood handles
Nourishing the handle's wood parts will help protect them from stains and keep them looking good. So whenever you have some time, are looking for something quiet and peaceful to do while taking care of a trusted friend, sit down with a piee of rag and some teak oil, and nourish this handle like it deserves it.
Sharpen the blade
Whille it's pretty much fine for everyday life, I find the blade a little blunt and I'm thinking of taking it to a local knife store to sharpen it a bit. And that's after just a few weeks of use - but keep in mind you'll likely keep it for a few years ! You'll probably take a few trips to the knife shop over time, but it's well worth it :) Want to sharpen your blade yourself ? No problem, just check out blade-sharpening Instructables and go at it slowly (preferably on a training blade first) !