Rosewood Handle Japanese Kitchen Knife
This post is a part of a series of projects I’ve been contracted to develop for The Gorilla Glue Company that will be featured at the Cincinnati Mini-Maker’s Faire, September 13-14, 2014. Click here for more information on the event.
Like most woodworkers, I enjoy a very sharp cutting edge. That principle applies as much to my kitchen knifes as it does to my hand tools. I’ve always wanted to have a really decent set of knives, but could never justify the cost. Guys like Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn make some beautiful, highly-coveted pieces that can run well over $500, which are unfortunately, way out of my price range.
There are however, a few nice, and easy alternatives that you can make yourself from some kits offered by Woodcraft. These knife kits consist of 66 layers of Japanese forged steel just about ready for use. All you need are some basic tools, a couple of small pieces of nice wood (in my case some extremely rare Brazilian Rosewood), and a good adhesive. For this project, I’m using Gorilla’s 5 Minute Epoxy, which is great for this type of wood to metal application.
Follow these 12 easy steps to make a well-balanced, one-of-a-kind, wood handled kitchen knife:
1. Select and cut the two wood handle blanks per the instructions on your knife kit. For this project, it uses two book-matched (adjacent cut pieces) approximately 5″ x 2″ x 3/8″.
2. Lay the two pieces out as shown above and mark the outline of the knife handle on each piece of wood. Take care to keep the pieces matched during the layout and assembly process for the best grain matching and orientation.
3. Carefully make a series of relief cuts perpendicular to the contour of the handle pieces.
4. Next, cut each piece to the outside edge of the marked lines.
5. Test fit the two wood blanks against the metal handle to ensure a good registration between the two materials.
6. Next, clean all surfaces with denatured alcohol to remove any metal or wood residue. Allow a few minutes to dry.
7. Prepare the Gorilla Epoxy (approximately 1/4 of the contents) per the instructions on the package, applying a thin, even coat on each piece of wood.
8. Clamp the handle between the two pieces of wood with firm, even pressure, wiping away any excess. Allow 24 hours to fully cure.
9. Depending on your handle shape preference, begin to shape the rough contour of the knife handle, flush with the metal edges, using rasps and files. Be very cautious with the knife edge, wrap it in cardboard and tape along all the sharp surfaces to help hold it securely in a wood vise.
10. Continue refining the shape of the handle’s contour with finer files and 100 grit sand paper. Frequently remove the knife to get a sense for how it’s shape feels in your hand, as well as how it lays on a flat surface.
11. Sand the handle (metal and wood components) with progressive grits of sandpaper ( 150 through 600 grit) to ensure a good polish on the metal. Wipe away any residue with mineral spirits before finishing.
12. Apply several coats of a good penetrating oil by hand and allow to dry.
Now you can enjoy the benefits of a sharp, sharp kitchen knife you can say you made yourself.