Friday, November 11, 2016

Steak Knives Part 4 - Shaping Knife Handles

As part of the steak knife project, I needed to contour the handles into something that feels good in the hand. That means moving from square corners to rounded contours. Pics along the way after the jump

No shaping
Initially, after epoxying/riveting the handle in place, and belt sanding the excess handle material down to be flush with the tang, the corners of the handle are actually corners, like 90 degree corners.

Cabinet rasp
Using the Ariou rasps, I'm able to roughly bring the handle to shape. The cabinet rasp takes material off quickly, leaving a rougher surface that needs to be cleaned up.

Modeler rasp
Just like moving up in grits of sandpaper (spoiler alert: we're going to do that too), moving from the cabinet rasp to the modeler's rasp is moving from rougher teeth to finer teeth and thus  we have a much smoother contour.

Sanded to 180
At this point we just start moving up through the grits of sandpaper from 180 to 1500. Essentially sandpaper puts scratches into the wood. The smaller the number, the bigger the scratch. By the time you're using higher grits than about 400, the scratches the paper puts in the surface are small enough to be invisible to the naked eye. At the 800, 1200, and 1500 grit level, the sandpaper is essentially just polishing the wood. It ends up leaving an extremely smooth, polished, tactile feel, as well as being optically clean.

Sanded to 220

Sanded to 400

Sanded to 800

Sanded to 1200

Sanded to 1500
Note that in this picture, you can still see a few scratches. If you move up a grit too soon, the higher grit won't be able to polish out scratches that were missed during a lower grit sanding. In this case, once I got to the 1500 grit level, and looked at the handle in better light, I saw some spots I missed. At that point, the only solution is to go back to a rougher grit and work up through the grits again. Tedious, but ultimately necessary to achieve best results.

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