Well, it's coming down to the wire to meet the deadline of my son's wedding for this project, but I think I just might make it. I was able to get all four knives handles completed and the knives lack only my maker's mark and their edges. My shop smelled more like sawdust than hot sparks over the weekend. Here are a few pics of the progress.
Here are the knives with their handles completed and a couple coats of paste wax, followed by a light buffing. I think they look pretty darn good. The bolsters, blade spine and the tangs have also been finished to a 600 grit, hand-rubbed satin. I'll take some better pics in the near future then they are finished.
Now it's on to making the fancy block that the knives will be stored in. I used some end cuts of bubinga wood to make the knife handles, and I had several more small end cuts left over. It wasn't enough to make a full knife block, so I thought I would get a little creative and make a checkerboard pattern and fill in with a secondary wood. Here I am splitting one of the blocks in half.
I have cut out all of the blocks into 2 inch square blocks that will be used during the assembly. I sorted out the best grain patterns to be used on the exterior sides of the block.
The block will be made up of several layers laminated together. I'm using poplar wood for the second variety which should add some great contrast with the bubinga. Here is the center layer with the blade shapes cut out where the knives will rest inside the block. In the background you can see the other curved layers and some 2x2 poplar blocks.
There are much better ways to make a checkerboard pattern, but because of the size and amount of my supply of bubinga stock, I decided to just glue up the squares directly onto the poplar layers. The pieces are held in place with just the vacuum properties of the glue between the wood. This is one of the exterior layers.
Here are the two outside layers and two of the inner layers with the glue drying. I simply didn't have enough stock to make the full inner layers, so I angled the blocks where the bubinga blocks will still be seen on the surface. You'll see better a little later on.
Using the remaining blocks, I have laid out the pattern for a matching cutting board.
Here is the knife block with the layers trimmed off and dry stacked together to get a feel for what the overall piece will look like. I like it! Obviously the exterior will get cut down to a smooth curve and I'll probably round over the sharp edges just a bit.
To keep the layers from sliding around during glue up, I added several wooden dowels to keep things in alignment. These dowels go through the thin sections between the blade cutouts in the center layer in order to strengthen up those weak points.
All glued up and clamped together. That's a lot of clamps! The cutting board squares have also been glued to a bottom board and is waiting for the glue to set.
Here I have the cutting board planed down and a mitered boarder glued in place. I will plane the boarder down to the same level as the cutting board once the glue has cured. I will also round off the corners and edges and maybe add some dowels through the edges to give it a little something special. You can see that the squares do not line up perfectly, but it's not too bad. Like I said in the beginning, this is not the best way to construct a checkerboard pattern, but it worked out alright.
In my next trip out to the shop I should be able to get the wooden elements shaped, sanded down, and a coat of finish on them. I should also get the knives all finished up. I might even have an extra week before the wedding. Thanks for following along with me on this project.
- Brandant Robinson