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  • Writer's picturecmdeyong

Steak Knives

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I just shipped a set of 10 steak knives to a great couple from Wisconsin. The whole project was over riding my better judgement. I made one set of steak knives many years ago as a gift to my parents on their 50th wedding anniversary. They turned out great and are still a treasured memory now owned by my nephew but I remember the tedium of reproducing the same knife over and over. That memory stayed with me and you can probably tell by looking over the variety of knives I make, that doing something new fuels me. The couple that ordered them were so excited and persuasive that I said yes. They were very certain about the dimensions and shape and we finally settled on curly Koa for the handle material. Curly koa is a beautiful wood but not the easiest to work. It comes from the pacific islands and has a lot of silica particulates in the wood which is abrasive to shop tools. It has a tendency to burn rather than sand ot cut but the finished product has a deep varigation to the wood that moves as you turn it. We went to Hawaii for our 35th wedding anniversary several years ago and while there I had called several hardwood shops to see if they had any curly koa. The third shop said they had just received some very nice boards but to quote the man "bring your checkbook cause it ain't cheap". I brought back a couple of boards that would fit in my suitcase and this project was ideal to use one. All the handles were from one board and it was interesting to see the variation from one handle to the next. I had to split the 1" board into three 1/4 inch slabs to have enough for 10 knives. The entire process for this project was broken into about 5 sessions.

1) Designing the knife pattern and finding 11 (I made one extra blank in case something went awry) files of the same size and annealing them.

2) Cutting the files to size and grinding the blades (4 belts and two pair of gloves)

3) Matching handles and epoxying them

4) Sanding the handles and hand sanding the knives (accomplished between fishing sessions on vacation)

5) Engraving and final edge sharpening.

Overall I am glad i did it. The couple is eagerly expecting the package today and I hope it surpasses their expectations. Will I do this again? Nope (at least that is what I say now).

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