Second Camping Knife

To give some quick background, my unnamed roommate from my previous post happens to actually have a name, Micah. Here’s a plug to his WordPress! He was working on a camping knife about the same time that I was working on my first chef knife.

DSC_1165There he is cutting out his blank with an angle grinder designed to deafen on a cold, dark, Worcester night

With all these knife posts, I think people are still interested in just seeing pictures first, so here’s a picture of the final product.


Micah had designed the blade shape, cut it all out, and placed the bevels with the “defiling jig” that I mentioned in the Chef Knife Complete post from earlier. Because that was about all he could do while we were still in Worcester, it was sort of up to me to complete the heat-treating and handle-making parts. Post heat-treatment, I decided to acid stonewash the blade, giving it a more rustic appearance. Micah selected the stained layered wood handle material long ago, but while I was working on the knife, he also requested a plaid-inspired pattern. In order to make the already flashy handles even more decorative, I decided to mill out a sort of plaid pattern and fill it with glow-in-the-dark resin.


There’s the pattern! The room was actually quite dimly lit, but the 3200 ISO and 5 second exposure helped to really capture the glow resin, but unfortunately also made the rest of the room look quite well-lit.



Somehow I failed to get any sort of progress pictures of this knife, except for the one 100% scaling scan just after putting on the bevels the first time around. Anyways, this custom is for my mother, who has a really old, cheap Nakiri from quite a while ago. The Usuba and Nakiri are both pretty much just for vegetables, with the notable difference that an Usuba has a single bevel on one side of the knife. For right handed people, the beveled side is on the right, and the flat side is on the left. This allows for cut parts to be more easily peeled off the right side of the knife and also helps with making sure the knife cuts straight up and down instead of gliding at an angle.

Well, the wall of text is uninteresting to most as always, so here are the completed pictures.

Usuba Nakiri Right

Above is a scanned image of the knife, as usual. The depth of the right hand bevel is quite obvious. The opposite side is flat. At 11.5″ total and with an edge length of just under 6.5″, the knife isn’t all that large, but it serves its purpose fine.


The knife is made of 440C stainless steel, since my mom didn’t want to deal with the awesomeness of plain carbon steel. The handle is a pretty plain Bocote, since my mother asked for a lighter colored wood instead of the dark Cocobolo that I often prefer.


I decided to put a pretty shallow edge on the knife, in keeping with higher quality Japanese knives. The sharp right angle of the heel help with delicate small tasks, like cutting out little eyes in ginger roots.


The wide, near-mirror finish edge makes all the surface smoothness imperfections very obvious. The parts of the blade that are just a couple mils thicker result in a much wider mirror finished edge. The edge on this knife is extraordinarily sharp, regardless, but it really makes me appreciate the craftsmanship of Japanese master blacksmiths who hand make their knives.

Chef Knife Complete

This long overdue (2 weeks) post is for the long overdue knife that I started in January of 2014 when I was still at WPI. Part of the reason is that this knife is actually the first knife I started, and many of the steps were done by hand, with some limited use of power tools.


So to kick things off, that’s how the knife project began in my apartment. I had started going at the 1080+ steel (some people apparently say it’s 1084) with a hacksaw over the course of a couple hours but ended up getting sick of the project already. I went to Harbor Freight and picked up an angle grinder. This being the first time for me really working with steel, I didn’t realize how much harder it was to work compared to aluminum.


That’s my old roommate in the picture, and he’s not roughing out my knife in the picture, but I did pretty much the same thing earlier. It was cold and dark, and that slightly off-balance angle grinder was REALLY LOUD. Now that I have a Makita angle grinder, I really appreciate how much better a quality built tool compares to a cheapo one. I don’t own that Harbor Freight one anymore, thank goodness.


After hours and hours of filing, I cleaned up all the ragged steel to line up with the original cardboard prototype and sharpie tracing. The process from initial sketch to this roughed out shape took four days.


I colored in all the steel, and my roommate built a filing jig, which we ended up renaming the “defiling jig” after a couple uses. Shout out to Aaron Gough for the design, which can be found here. I colored in the blade to make it easier to tell how far up the knife I had filed.


Done! All of two weeks later, and much to the satisfaction of our downstairs neighbors. I spent a lot of late nights filing, but I stopped after our downstairs neighbors started banging on their ceiling. The constant buzzing and rasping coming from their ceiling was probably pretty annoying. Well, after this step, there wasn’t much else I could do at the apartment, so the knife just sort of sat around for a really long time, and my capstone project at school started to really pick up.

Chef Left

There’s a scan again for those who are interested.

After driving across the country and deciding that I would actually stay in San Jose for a year, I decided to pick up some equipment, specifically a kiln. Before trying to heat treat this large knife, I wanted to make sure that I had the process correct, so I ended up finishing four other knives before getting around to this one again. I did sort of “cheat” with the handle, since I used a belt sander for most of the shaping.The blade itself, however, I cleaned up post heat treatment with more hand filing and sanding.


It’s finally done!


The handle was made with walnut scales that I had purchased from Jantz (I think?) quite a while ago. With a soak in Meguiar’s Gold Teak oil, the handle should be good to go until they show signs of wear and dryness again. Once I’ve used the knife some more, I’ll post a picture or two of what it looks like with a patina.