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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Figureheads – part 3

Wow, a whole year has past since the last entry on this series, now that’s what I call ‘occasional’!

OK, so if you recall, I made a big thing about the importance of the jaw-line.  Well, now that I have finally taken some photos of the Brest Tiller, I can illustrate the point with the view of the face from under the neck.   The image also nicely illustrates the prominence of the nose, and, if you look very carefully, the curve of the forehead is just about visible too. dscf3772

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tiller to Brest – update

Things are progressing, slowly, but I am still more-or-less on schedule, having managed to cobble together somewhere near 20 hours carving on the tiller in between and around other work.  I know I felt I would leave the rope-work until the whole thing was roughed out but in the end I have concentrated on getting it done and now the ropework is nearing completion; I think about 5 more hours should see it done.

Hopefully you can see that the work is much deeper and more fully rounded.  You might also see where I have started some fancy ‘whipping’ on the one end: more of that in a later post.  Incidentally the only tool I am using at the moment is a 10mm skew-chisel – the pointed end is essential for getting into the tiny spaces

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tiller to Brest

The tiller is coming along, the pictures say it better than my words – about half the length of the knotwork is roughed out, progress is working out at just over an inch an hour – so 12 more hours carving will finish this stage, then I guess about another 15 hours to refine the carving.

The first picture shows the whole length, the spiral roughed out to the left, the pattern marked out and the roughed-out knots in the second, and the third shows the depth of carving the whole length will be carved to eventually. The only tools needed are a small chisel and a v-tool (aka parting tool)

 

carving update

Hi All,

things have been a bit crazy recently (excuses, excuses) and I haven’t had time to post anything – most of what I have been commissioned to carve has been surprise gifts and so not things I can blog about, but in between times I have been working on the two side cheeks for my crossbow project, and have also worked on an antler end-plate.  I will post an update on the side cheeks soon but for the time being here is the end-plate.

This piece measures a little over 2 inches  tall by 1 inch wide and  represents archangel Michael slaying the Devil – I have no idea what the end plate would have been carved to represent so I have followed the theme of archangel Michael from the antler plate under the fore-grip (see earlier post). It is equally possible there was no end-plate, or that it carried a floral motif, or that it carried a prayer – these are all elements used on the original crossbow. Any comment?crossbow tail piece