Wednesday 11 July 2012

Spoon carving hook knife handle fitting.

spoon carving

Last week I received a package in the post.
I opened it up and found a beautiful hooked finishing knife made by 
Nic has been traditionally forging contemporary ironwork pieces from his workshop in mid Wales since 1997.
His catalogue of edge tools will make any green wood carvers pulse race.
Nic manufactures all one needs for the job of spoon carving.
All of his edge tools are extremely well designed and very well priced.
Nic sells his edge tools mainly without handles.
This gives the customer the freedom to experiment with a handle type of their choice.
Believe me, it's great fun experimenting with ergonomic handle shapes, and carving your own gives a freedom of expression. Carving your own may also save you from blisters and sore hands.
I had a rummage in the garage and came out with a Birch bur that my good friend and fellow spoonmaker Alan Robinson gave me some months ago.
I cut it open and found that it wasn't a birds eye type bur, but more like a curly Birch bur.
It had to be done. I knew straight away that the handle would look great once oiled.
I roughly carved the handle and drilled a hole for the blades tang.
 I popped a pilot hole in first, and then followed up with a larger bit.
I finished the hole with a bit the same width as the tang at it's widest.

spoon carving knife

I cleaned out the hole and set about carving a couple of  pegs to hold the tang in place.
You can set a blade in a handle without this step, but personally I think it looks messy.
The pegs I carved came from a block of Pitch Pine.
This Pitch Pine came from the famous tea clipper...

spoon carving knife

It takes a while to get the pegs just so.
Not too tight for fear of splitting the handle.
You can leave them long.
They will get trimmed when the epoxy resin has set.

spoon carving knife

I used Araldite, as this is what I found in the draw.
There are other types available that are apparently tougher.
The tang needed a little attention with some abrasive paper, I also cleaned it off with some meths to remove any oil.

spoon carving knife

I wrapped a little packing tape around the handle to keep the glue from marking the wood.

I mixed the two part epoxy, and with a piece of wood, scooped the glue into the socket.
Fitted the blade.
Carefully slid the pegs in.
And made sure everything was ship shape.

Once the epoxy had set, I carefully trimmed the excess pegs and cleaned up the handle.

The finished knife.

spoon carving knife

I have run the knife through a few pieces of plum.
My first impressions are, why didn't I get in touch with Nic sooner...?

spoon carving knife

Nic's finishing blade is forged from silver steel.
I have over the last couple of years tested all manor of steel types.
Silver steel is one of my top two favourite steels, easy to sharpen, allied with superior edge retention, even in the hardest of wood.  
The blade is heat treated so it has a hard cutting edge and is reinforced by a softer tougher spine.
This blade is not laminated but differentially hardened.
Nic makes all his blades this way.
This blade is forged to a curved cross section, giving it a concave inside face.
The bevel is flat at the cutting edge, for ease of sharpening, and convex toward the spine, which is naturally slightly curved during the forging process.
The convex profile will reduce any chatter in tighter radii cuts.
Hopefully I will only need to strop the blade to maintain a good cutting edge in the short term.

I think my old Mora/Frost hook knife can be safely retired.
Nic's knives a very well priced for a hand made product. 
I would highly recommend anyone looking for a carving edge tool to get in touch with him, as his tools will far out perform any of the factory mass produced products on the market.
And you'll be buying a well designed and manufactured British product.
He has a super web page at...

spoon carving knife



  1. Hi Jon, I wish I had read about your method of putting on handles earlier. I have two of those blades from Nic a rightie and a leftie and are beauts. I like my yew handles but the next handles will look a bit neater.

  2. Great looking spoonknife Jon!

    1. You'll see it in the flesh soon enough.

  3. Good to hear from you Mark.
    Yes. It's a good way of fitting the blades. nice and tidy.
    Nic makes some wonderful edge tools.
    Thank you for commenting here.
    Best wishes.

  4. Great looking blade. I am just starting to do some spoons so I bought Mora stuff and re-finished the handles. Down the road I will shift to better tools. Mora is a pretty solid product though not as nice as this.

  5. Hi Jon,
    Now this email you sent re Nic interests me.
    I have two blades from Nic which need handle-housing, so this is very helpful, thanks.
    You have done an expert job with my favourite birch.
    Bet you slide through wood like butter with Nic's blade!


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