Introduction: Wooden Chef Knife

Picture of Wooden Chef Knife

It us been a very long time since I've made a knife. Knife making is what really inspired me to become a maker. Now I've been making since I was just a little chap but my present maker philosophy started with two knives.

I was flipping through a field and stream magazine when I saw an article about people making their own knives out of used saw blades. For one, I didn't know that people made their own knives, and for two, I couldn't believe that they looked so cool!

So I decided to try one. My wife and I had just bought our first house and it had a small carriage house that I was converting to a shop. A carriage house is just an old garage for carriages rather than cars. Mine was built in 1890 and I knew it would be a perfect shop. Sorry I'm getting off topic.

My point was I had a very limited supply of tools and I started my first knife. It turned out awesome!! I used a saw blade for the steel and a walnut branch for the handle. I couldn't believe how cool it turned out. I gave both of the knives to my male cousins for Christmas and they got a lot of attention. That is when I started thinking about making more awesome things.

That project led me down this path that I'm on now. I'm a maker and proud of it. That project was completed around 7 years ago and I finally made another knife. This ones an lot different but still pretty cool.

I wanted this to be a project that anyone can do just like my first knives, so I only used three tools and it took one afternoon to finish, excluding glue bet time.

So I made two wood chef knives. These knives are super sharp and cut produce and bread really well. I know they aren't super practical but they are super cool so I think that makes up for it. I hope you decide to give these a go, and please enjoy my wooden knives.

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

Like I said I only used three tools for this project. A joiner, bench sander and a scroll saw. The joiner was probably unnecessary but but I had it out so I made it easier on myself. All of these tools could be substituted for something else.


Bench sander

Scroll saw

Misc sandpaper

Small scraps of wood

Butcher block conditioner

Step 2: Where to Start

Picture of Where to Start

I've been doing this woodworking thing for a while now but I still don't have everything that I need. One thing that is hard for younger wood workers is having an adequate supply of wood. Hard wood is expensive and not readily available in all areas. It take years, no decades to build up a good wood collection.

I am privileged to have an older, more experienced woodworking mentor that helps me out with this. Last summer I got a very exciting call from that mentor. He was cleaning out his lumber rack and he had a TRAILER load of wood for me! Now it was a lot of different sizes and species but it was like Christmas to me. That is where this wood came from.

I have to admit that I don't know what kind out wood this is. At first I thought the dark stuff was walnut but the color isn't quite right and it doesn't smell the same. The light wood is probably maple but I'm not 100% sure.

Anyway I traced out a knife that I found in our kitchen, made a few slight modifications to it and copied it on to some of our dark wood. I couldn't decide which way I wanted the grain to go on the knife so I made two.

Step 3: Cut, Plane, Sand

Picture of Cut, Plane, Sand

I started with the blade. First I cut out a more manageable piece with my scroll saw so it was easier to work with. Then I sent that piece over the joiner to get one nice smooth side. I had already traced my pattern so I was carful not to plane that side.

After one side was smooth. I cut out the blade with the scroll saw and then ran the other side over the joiner. At this moment you may be asking yourself why I chose to do it in that order. The very well thought out reason is... I have no idea. That's just how it happened.

Once I had two smooth sides, I quickly threw it on the bench sander to smooth out the sides and flat surfaces. Right as I was taking it off, one of the blades flew out of my hand and wedged itself in the sander causing an unsightly mark. You can see it in the last picture. I was mad for a bit but then moved on and fixed it in a really cool way that I'll show you in a few steps.

Step 4: Initial Sharpening

Picture of Initial Sharpening

Before I put the handle on I wanted to make the bevel on the knife. This was way easier to do without the handle. I set the bench sander up vertically and slowly sanded the bevel on each side.

Because this is wood, you don't want to sand a sharp edge with the bench sander. Get close and then finish by hand. You will be able to get a sharper edge and do a more precise job.

Step 5: The Handle

Picture of The Handle

I used the maple or whatever for the handle. I had a scrap that was too think for a handle piece so I took it to the scroll saw. Usually I would have used the band saw but I was doing the only three tools thing.

I tried to make a nice smooth cut right down the middle but it didn't work very well. A scroll saw is not made for deep cuts like this but it worked and I was able to fix what I messed up with the sander.

Once I had the sides smoothed out, I placed them where I wanted them on the knife and traced a general shape. For the blade that and sanded the grove out of I made the handle longer to cover my mistake. I think I like that handle style better than the other one. I took the pieces back to the scroll saw and cut them out. The last step before the glue up was to taper the front edge of the handle. The rest could be done after it was all glued up but the front couldn't. I used the bench sander for that.

Step 6: Glue Up

Picture of Glue Up

The glue up was pretty straight forward. Use plenty of glue and clamp well. I let the glue sit over night so it would be nice and strong. I had to do this step inside rather than in my shop because it was too cold for the glue to cure.

I was thinking that maybe I would use some dowels for pins just to make the handle look cool. It really isn't necessary because it is wood on wood but it would have looked neat. Maybe the next one.

Step 7: Shape and Finish

Picture of Shape and Finish

After the glue was dry I took it to the sander. First I made sure that the handle and the blade were flush all the way around. Then I started to work on the contours. I wanted the top to be nice and rounded so it would be comfortable and slightly more square at the bottom.

Then I moved in to sanding by hand to finish everything out. I started with 150 and went up to 800. Going up that high was unnecessary but I wanted it to be really smooth.

I used a food safe butcher block conditioner to finish the knife. The finish isn't as glossy as I would like but this is going to be cutting food so it needs to be food safe. If it were just a decorative piece then poly would be fine. I put on three coats of conditioner. After each application I would wait for it to soak in for 20 mins and then wipe off the excess. After the 3 coats it was silky smooth and seems to be water resistant. After use I wipe it off with a damp towel and I haven't had any problems with raised grain or anything else.

Step 8: Final Product

Picture of Final Product

I really love how these turned out. It was fun to make a knife out of wood and it still have it function like a real knife. Of course it doesn't cut like a steel blade, and it won't last as long. But that's not the point. The point is to see if I could do it... Make something in a different way and have it look really cool.

I really hope that you enjoyed this. It was a really easy project and with some simple tools, you can do it too. Please ask any questions you come up with and thanks for reading.



ffcabral (author)2017-11-28

A functional knife done out of wood? That's the first time I hear of this, I think it is awesome!

BTW it took me a while to realize the pun in your username. Clever :)

BenjaminB98 (author)2017-10-05

You made a blade out of wood? your like a piggy! (Speaker For the Dead)

superbuilderlego (author)2017-02-05

You should enter this into a few contests

JAC_1961 (author)2017-01-26

Great project. I've been reading your 'ables and enjoying them all. Keep up the great work!

Thanks so muxh

SallyJ7 (author)2017-01-25

These are lovely. You made two with different grain patterns. Did you decide which was better for actual usage and why? Gorgeous!

ClenseYourPallet (author)SallyJ72017-01-25

The blade the goes with the grain is by far the better knife. I knew that this was going to be the case but I really loved the cross grain look of the other knife. That was the reason that I made two, one for function and one for beauty. Thanks so much for the comment.

Jules1050 (author)2017-01-20

great look!

WUUU (author)2017-01-17


"The point is to see if I could do it... Make something in a different way and have it look really cool."

I think so . This is one of most important thing to Do something myself.

ClenseYourPallet (author)WUUU2017-01-19

I think that is really important! Thanks for the comment

cavalier19 (author)2017-01-17

Awesome knife. Your workmanship is commendable.

Thank you for the nice comment

ThriftStore Hacker (author)2017-01-18

I may have to make myself a cheese knife with this knowledge!

It would make a great cheese knife! Glad you liked it

EvanGriffin (author)2017-01-17

Incidentally, the dark wood is black walnut. You can tell by the open pores and the banding. The light wood is probably not maple. More likely it is birch or alder.

JMurro (author)2017-01-17

From one woodworker to another - I appreciate you trying to keep it to using only three tools - I would switch out the scroll saw for the band saw though. With the right size blade on the band saw you can cut out the shapes AND have enough power for the ripping.

The knives are awesome. Really good workmanship regardless of the tools you used and you turned a mistake into something good.

Just a pointer on the wood grain for the blade. I would have the grain go the length of the blade as this would be stronger. When the grain is across the blade - that's called 'short grain' and will be easier to break or split off. This only matters if whether or not you are going to use them for cutting.

You inspired me - I'm going to try and make one!

ClenseYourPallet (author)JMurro2017-01-17

Thanks for the great comment. I agree completely about the grain of the wood. The problem is, it looks so stinking cool when the grain goes the other way. You can tell right away the difference between the two as far as strength goes. Please send a pic if you make one

CraftAndu (author)2017-01-17

Awesome, voted!

Thank You

dekenned (author)2017-01-16

Excellent work! Always enjoy seeing your creativity and instructables.

What a great compliment. My sincerest thanks

leeroystake (author)2017-01-16

too good!
subscribing to you for sure mate.
gave ya a vote too

Thank you so much!!

PepaJ (author)2017-01-17

I have to build one like this for my wife, she will love!

ClenseYourPallet (author)PepaJ2017-01-17

if you do please send me a pic! Thanks for the comment

friger (author)2017-01-17

Very pun intended. This got me thinking, I bet one could "temper" the cutting edge using fire. It's a tricky process and I've only been successful doing it to a wooden arrow point once, but with practice I bet it could be done.

ClenseYourPallet (author)friger2017-01-17

That sounds like a great idea. If you have any pointers, please let me know

fiteqprpr (author)2017-01-17

Beautiful workmanship.

Thanks so much

Almost50 made it! (author)2017-01-17

I made one slightly bigger from Ash and Walnut. Mortise and Tenon handle 25inch length. Its more a Roman Rudis than a kitchen knife but fun to make.

That is one beautiful knife/sword. well done

kpeluso (author)2017-01-17

Awesome project and write-up! Thanks for taking the time! One constructive comment if I may. I would recommend jointing the wood BEFORE cutting it down to rough shape. This would be much safer as it would provide more surface area for your push blocked to hold onto. I say this from experience, jointer injuries are no joke.

ClenseYourPallet (author)kpeluso2017-01-17

I agree completely. I did use a push stick but it was not the safest thing to do. thanks for the great comment

Knight Lamune (author)2017-01-17

You start with a wood knife until you can upgrade to a stone one. Once you find iron you're set.

I may get to iron one day!!

PepaJ (author)2017-01-17

BTW, if you are curious about which types of wood you have received for your particular Christmas, you can check, it is very interesting.

seamster (author)2017-01-16

Beautiful work! I'd be proud to just hang these on the wall. Cool project, I dig it! :)

Thanks Sam, glad you liked it

loony1 (author)2017-01-16

Pretty cool project! I've seen some wooden knives in the past, but the intent was more for props/training than actual use. I think yours turned out very nice. Curious how you repaired the blemish from the sander. This is quite inspiring, thank you for posting.

ClenseYourPallet (author)loony12017-01-16

Thanks so much for the comment. Sorry I wasn't clear on how I repaired my screw up. If you looks at the second picture you will see how one of the handles runs farther up the knife. I did that so it would cover the blemish. That's it... I just covered it up

About This Instructable




Bio: My Grandpa got me into wood working when I was five years old. Ever since then I have been hooked. I love creating something out ... More »
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