25. December 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: home

This Christmas I made some presents. This is the first time I’ve made a knife like this, but I have turned a bowl before. This one came out way better than the last one!

The knife was for Alice. I bought a few Mora blade blanks last year from Hardwick’s hardware in Seattle. I finally decided to figure out how to put a handle on them. I picked a piece of dry wild cherry firewood out of the woodpile and squared up a little bit of it on the table saw.

Mora knife

I laid out nice lines to follow with the bandsaw, then drilled the hole and shaped it for the tang, but then realized that the tang opening had gone in crooked and not square to all my nice lines. So I ended up shaping the handle completely with a knife and by eye. It took a lot longer than it would have had I been able to rough it out with the bandsaw.

Mora knife

Another thing I learned is that next time I will epoxy the blade in before I try working on the handle. It would have made things a lot easier and faster if I had done that. As it was, I shaped and finished the handle, then drove the blade in with epoxy and let it cure for a few hours. When that was done, I cleaned up the stray epoxy, and went ahead and polished and oiled the handle.

I used what I’ve always called “boat sauce” to oil the handle. One part boiled linseed oil, one part pine tar, and two parts turpentine. Heat it up on the stove, making the house smell wonderful, and put it on hot. I did about four or five coats on this, drying in between.

Mora blade

Then I had to make a sheath, and leather is a material I’ve done very little with. I don’t have any real leather tools, so I just wrapped a scrap of leather around the knife, cut out the shape with a sharp knife, and stitched it up with artificial sinew.

It came out really nice, and now I want one, too!


I had planned on turning a bowl for Shannon, and wanted to make one out of the piles of black locust that I have laying around, but the pieces that I have a really dry now, and the tooling was not razor sharp, and it turned into an exercise in frustration and wasting wood. I gave up, and tried to turn one of the old spalted maple pieces I have, and that one tore out wherever it was spalted. I gave that up, too, and called it a night.

turning a bowl

The next day, I went digging deeper into the wood collection and found a dry piece of Port Orford Cedar. This worked out way, way better. I was able to make a pretty nice bowl out of this stuff, but boy did it sure soak up the oil! I oiled and dried and polished this about five or six times.

turning a bowl

This lathe belonged to my grandfather. It’s an old Montgomery Ward, and I have an old WW2 surplus electric motor attached to it. The more I play around with it, the more I want to play around with it some more. I’m going to try to start turning bowls more frequently, and hopefully I’ll eventually get good at it.



  1. That bowl is gorgeous. And the knife is nice, too. What a lovely Christmas morning everyone must have had!

  2. thanks, Kym!

    It was a pretty mellow Christmas this year. Normally we rush off to my parents’ place in the morning, and back the same night, but this year we stayed home and just lounged around the house reading and eating food and relaxing instead.

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