Monday, August 29, 2011

Mora Belt Knife

I just put the finishing touches on my latest project. I've wanted to make a knife for years but just haven't got around to doing it. Back in February I purchased a Mora knife blade from Lee Valley tools and have finally got around to making the handle for it. The handle I chose is inspired by Sami craftsmen that incorporate bone, leather, and wood in their knives. Traditionally reindeer antler would be used because of its denseness, but since there aren't many reindeer in my part of the world I used a white tail deer antler that I've had for years. The marrow isn't as dense as a rain deer's but it should hold up fine. I chose leather and walnut because their colors provide a striking contrast with the bone. I began by cutting thin slices from the antler using the band saw. The leather was cut to size along with the walnut. Holes were drilled in each piece and filed to the proper size in order to produce a snug fit. The whole works was coated with thickened epoxy and all the pieces were slid onto the tang. I used a mallet and a short piece of tubing to tap everything down tight. After letting the epoxy cure I used a belt sander to rough out the shape and finished it up by hand sanding. For the finish I used Tried & Trues varnish oil which incorporates pine resins in its formula.

Here I have a piece of antler clamped down while I drill and file the hole that will accept the tang.

All of the handle pieces are drilled and ready for assembly.

Thickened epoxy holds everything together. The blade comes sharp enough to shave with so the tape is to keeps my hands from getting cut up.

The white tail antler that I used had some interesting colored rings inside.

The handle is oiled with a varnish oil that produces a pleasing feel in the hand.