Thursday, October 11, 2012

Knife made with family pride

This next knife I want to discuss has a very personal meaning behind it. My oldest brother, Tom, passed away last September. He was an avid hunter, especially deer. He used the meat to make ground venison, steaks, jerky, tenderloin chops, and probably lots of other food items I have no clue about. He saved a couple of antlers and after he passed away, my niece gave me some of the antlers to make a knife with. Much to my wife's chagrin, I kept the antlers in the back of my SUV for several months before doing anything with them. Then, a few months ago, I realized it was time to make a knife out of it, and the best part of all, I decided to make it for my Dad.
My Dad can work circles around me and uses a knife a lot. He is a plumber by trade and has a need to constantly cut loads of things. He, like me and my other two brothers, enjoys carrying a knife, usually of the pocketknife variety. Still, I don't think he owns a fixed blade, or at least I haven't seen him with one. So, I thought this would be a good Christmas present for the man who is impossible to buy for. I feel bad constantly giving him Lowe's or Home Depot gift cards, but this is usually what he asks for (this time, I think he will be pleasantly surprised).
I used cocobolo, a reddish brown, oily wood from the forests of Central America. Like most rosewoods, the oil in the wood provides a natural resistance to decay, and when sanded or cut, it gives off a floral, almost spicy scent. Very unique to say the least. I thought the dark color of the cocobolo would be a nice contrast to the white color of the deer antler. To add even more contrast, I added a tan leather spacer and white fiber spacers. Here is what the knife looked like after I epoxied everything together. As you can see, I got a little crazy with the epoxy, and thought I might have overdone it to the point of failure.

I sent this photo to my brother who also makes knives and sheaths (Fisker Fjord Knives) and, well let's just say he was a little worried about the final result. But, after lots of sanding and sanding some more, I finally stopped. After applying danish oil and re-sanding using 800 grit paper, the "Hirvi" was done (Hirvi is "deer" in Finnish). Here is the finished product:

Much nicer, don't you think? It is hard to believe this is the result of the previous photo. And this is the crux of why I love to work with woods and materials - taking a block of wood, a piece of leather, a metal blade, and a hunk of deer antler, and shaping them together to form one cohesive, artful tool. Fisker Fjord Knives is currently in the process of making a perfectly fitting Scandinavian style leather sheath to complete the Christmas gift to our Dad. 
It gave me such joy to have been able to use Tom's antler to create this knife, and to preserve the memory of a lost brother. And so the legacy lives on.

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