Wooden Knives

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About: Woodworker and maker in Central Illinois.

My son wanted a wooden knife for Christmas. So I went in my shop one day and ended up making three. Though he is so little they are more like swords to him. But anyway, they were easy to make, so I thought I'd outline the steps I took to make them. I have a wood shop so I have a lot of scrap on hand. I didn't take a ton of photographs, but I'll show what I can.

Step 1: Step 1: Rough Cuts

I dug out some 1/4 inch scraps I had on hand. Another option is to resaw some thicker pieces into 1/4". For a project as small as this, if you don't have a bandsaw, a regular handsaw would do. I happen to have a small bandsaw. I started by sketching some ideas, then just roughed them out on the bandsaw to see what they looked like. The ones I liked best were the top one and the bottom one. I wish I could have used that curly maple on the top to make that one, because I think it would have looked nice, but I ended up feeling the handle was too short. So I grabbed some more ash (for some reason I had cut a bunch of 1/4 slices of ash), and redid it.

Step 2: Step 2: Refine and Add Scales

I didn't document this step, but I basically used planes and spokeshaves to refine the knives and add an "edge" without making it too sharp. Then I grabbed some 1/4" walnut for scales. I rough cut those to oversized, then drilled holes for some 1/8" pins (I happened to have some 1/8" birch dowls on hand). I used a second 1/8" drill bit to keep the first hole aligned while I drilled the other two (I used a drill press because I have one, but a hand drill and careful checking would work). Then I glued the scales on and pinned with the dowels.

Step 3: Step 4: More Refining

Now I used my drill press with my drum heads to hone the shape. A piece of sandpaper wrapped around a dowel would also work. Then my spokeshaves and block plane to bring the scales level with the knife core and add a little shape. I'm not a big fan of sandpaper, but for irregular shapes like these it's pretty much all you can do. I sanded the handles down until they felt comfortable.

Step 4: Step 4: Burning

I added some pyrography decoration. Like runes and this Middle-Earth inspired design.

Step 5: Step 5: Sheathes

Lastly, I figured oh what the hell I'll make sheathes too. I grabbed some leather from Michael's craft store and some basic tools and lacing and made these. I used a posterboard template after trying out a posterboard model for fit and ability to withdraw the blades (basically I just taped two pieces together). Don't forget if you use a single template to flip it or you'll end up with the flesh side (the rough side) out.

I didn't know about chrome-tanned and veg-tanned and all that at the time, so I tried to make these form fitting a little and it didn't work, because this is chrome-tanned leather. After that I punched a billion holes and did a basic loop lacing like I remembered from that week I was a Cub Scout. I added belt loops as well, attached with more lace like you would sew on a button.

He likes the knives (he calls them swords), though the sheathes were a waste of time. Although it did lead me to a new leatherworking hobby, so we'll see how that goes.

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    6 Discussions

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    meddler

    6 months ago

    These are really cool. I made a wooden war club for a martial arts instructer I know. It was fun seeing it come together as I made it.

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    joshuallen

    10 months ago

    My son suggested we make the sheathes doggy chew toys, which I take as an insult to my craftsmanship XD He's only 7. He loves the actual knives and has already created elaborate backstories for them.

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    ClenseYourPallet

    11 months ago

    Great looking knives! Looks like a great gift

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    Brokk Hrafnsson

    11 months ago

    These are beautiful knives, very effective against hangliding cows. These will keep your kiddo safe for many, many years, my friend!

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    dekeros

    11 months ago

    They came out great! Nice!