Opinel custom knife handle

This was a really fun-yet-frustrating project.  Opinels are great pocket knives with very sharp straight-ground blades perfect for whittling.  The beech-wood handles, I find, are not so great, being a little too short for my comfort.  Searching t’internet revealed many people customise their Opinels, so I thought I would have a go.

Taking the knife apart is straight-forward but needs some moderate amounts of force.  Be very careful driving out the pivot-pin, it is very easy to bend (but don’t ask me how I found this out).

Once the knife is broken down, use the handle to take your measurements for the replacement parts, not the metal collar.  The metal collar is designed to squeeze the cheeks for the blade-pivot closed just the right amount on the blade and both prevent it from wobbling when open, and to apply a small amount of friction when opening and closing.  Therefore, the wooden cone the metal collar fits over needs to be made fractionally over-sized; again, please don’t ask me how I found this out….

Carving the handle was a lot of fun, and luckily I had kept an old broken knife whose snapped blade proved to be the perfect graving tool for cutting the knife slot.  I used some off-cuts of buffalo-horn and a small chunk of holly ( Ilex Aquifolium). One of the joys of a project like this is the chance to use up some of those tiny off-cuts you couldn’t bare to throw away – the total length of the handle is only 10cm ! On my screen, the first image is the actual size of the knife.

Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to try some scrimshaw but I couldn’t find any on-line tutorials for engraving on wood.  I took the finish down to 400-grit then burnished the holly with brown paper and marked up my design.  I scratched in the pattern with a spade-drill bit I sharpened to a needle-sharp point.  Note, very little pressure is needed to do the actual engraving.  Now, the difference between antler/ivory and wood is the fact that wood grain sucks up liquids, while these liquids just sit in the scratches in antler/ivory.  Finding the best ink was a challenge.  Paint just ran through the grain and made an unholy mess, so did all the ‘runny’ inks.  Charcoal was not dark enough, nor was soot.  Eventually I found a fine roller-ball pen that uses a ‘sticky’ ink that worked tolerably well.  Of course, being a water-based ink, I couldn’t use a water-based finish as it would wash the ink into the wood-grain, but Danish Oil proved perfect for the task.

Apologies for the awful photo quality

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something a little different

A short while ago we went on a family holiday.  Family holidays are difficult to design as some of us like hot and sunny and beaches and some of us really don’t like any of that, so we went somewhere hot and sunny and not a beach, in fact about as far from a beach as you can get – Budapest ! It was fabulous, definitely will return some day, but what has that got to do with this blog you might ask. Well, there was some fascinating wood and metalwork dotted around here and there and from time to time I’ll post some once I’ve found the sinc lead for my camera.  The kids took this photo for me on their phone. I thought it was a fantastic piece of carving in the Gibbons style, but very careful examination of the image shows it to be the most fabulous metalwork!  The site of the original is on the road that runs between the palace and the town hall. Enjoy.

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Triple Heart Spoon

Looking through my archive I found this image. It is one of my favourite spoons, ever, though, if I were to make another I think I’d carve the stem a little differently. The single heart spoon I posted back in March was developed from this design, although if you compare them you’ll find lots of changes made along the way. I particularly like the flow of the endless knot and the reduction in size of the hearts from bottom to top.image

 

Dragon spoon

This was a gift for my daughter’s art teacher as he is moving on at the end of this term. I call it keeper of the pearl; if you look really close you might spot the ‘pearl’. There’s a tiny ball that is completely free moving carved inside the dragon’s mouth. I was really pleased with this one; only about 12″ long, it was quite a challenging carve, especially the head, where the eyes are only 3mm long and 2mm high, but it came together very nicely.

 

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School Project

Forgot to say that I eventually finished the school story characters carvings.  characters include a big cat, a kangaroo and a giraffe. I had the most fun with the big bad wolf, though I feel he looks more like Bazil Brush. See if you can fit the characters to a children’s story!

Horn bow project

WIN_20170702_16_24_06_ProWIN_20170702_16_23_40_ProThe above photos show what I started off with, but, this week I managed to get down and borrow my mates big band saw for an hour and turned 6 water buffalo horn back strips like the one in the photos into 6 horn strips. Three hours of rasping the first pair got me to the point (6mm thick) where I could steam the plates and straighten out most of their curvature. Another few hours will get them to the 4.5mm I need but for now they look like this:

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