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Making an Ebony Wood Carving Knife

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In this video, Walter Sorrells presents how to make a small, wood-carving knife with an ebony handle, using lots of power tools. There’s a companion video to this episode on how to make a wood-carving knife using no power tools. He says the end results are pretty similar, showing that there’s not such a big leap when it comes to either method of knife-making.

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He’ll be using 440C stainless steel for the blade of the knife, which a much-maligned kind, but Walter says it’s really not that bad. For the handle, he has a piece of scrap ebony wood – the kind used to make piano keys. It’s hard, durable and beautiful.

Walter starts by using a band saw to clear a slot for the blade. He keeps pecking away until the steel barely slides into the slot. Then he traces the outline of the blade design onto the wood and cuts the wood in that shape with the band saw, after which he smooths it out and finesses the design on the belt grinder.

He puts the wood and steel under the drill press to make the holes that will hold the pins to secure the knife parts together. He cuts some pins and hammers them into the handle. Then he draws the basic shape of the blade on the steel, which is already attached to the wood. Then he uses the belt grinder to shape the steel, grinding them together with the wood.

Then he grinds the bevels on the blade, going slowly to avoid accidents. Walter also gives some tips on what kind of belt grinders to buy. After beveling comes heat treating, on which he provides some information.

He treats the stainless steel blade (without the handle), quenches it, tempers it, cleans off the oxides and polishes it. He glues the blade onto the handle, puts the pins in, gives the whole knife a final, overall run on the grinder, greases and waxes the wood to bring out the beauty of the ebony.

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