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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It’s finally done!

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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.

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