Finishing the slöjd knife

The handle of a slöjd knife should fit comfortably in your hand and should orient naturally via an oblong shape, or by facets carved onto the handle.  The handles of most slöjd knives are usually quite plain. The finish is also usually simple, an oil finish or often no finish at all.

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With all that in mind, I again looked to the Swedish Morakniv™ for inspiration.  Since the  Morakniv™ handle has an oblong cross section, that’s what I strove for.  Initially, I attempted to turn an oblong handle using offset centers.  I found however, that turning such a small piece with offset centers would not work well on my bench top lathe.  A rather large and bulbous handle was the result, as seen in the photo above.  Although the handle fit okay, I don’t think that it will be comfortable over long periods of use.

On my second attempt, I added a piece of wenge to the cherry handle, separated by a thin piece of maple.  I then turned the handle cylindrical. Using the indexing feature on the lathe, I locked it in place and used the lathe as a vice while I carved facets into the handle with a rasp, scraper and sandpaper.  Once I had the shape I was looking for, I softened all the ridges, sanded and buffed the entire piece.  A coat of tung oil and I was ready to add the blade.

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I used a 3/32″ drill on center, then worked it side to side along the wide axis of the handle to create the initial slot.  For the final fit, I heated the tip of the tang to cherry red (keeping my fingers on the blade to ensue that it didn’t overheat), then I plunged it into the slot in the end of the handle.  I had to press the tip of the blade against the bench and repeat the process three times before the blade finally seated.  Sixty minute epoxy finished the job.

I gave the blade a quick honing and it’s ready to go to work.  I haven’t decided yet whether or not to buff off the straw colored coating left by tempering.   I’m generally pleased with it, but I’m pretty sure that my 7th grade metal shop instructor, Mr. Gillespie, would have handed it back, without a grade, and said go back and remove those scratches and I’ll grade it.

Next up, a well fitted sheath will complete the piece.

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