I am done. There are still a few minor imperfections in the wood handle – mostly in the finishing of the pin fasteners – but after 8 hours of sanding I decided this morning to call the project complete.
See the irregularity in the right most pin? That’s what I am talking about. It’s not necessarily like I ran out of patience. But over filing or over sanding these pins can remove the ‘flared’ peened ends and the bloody things could fall out.
For the past 4 or 5 days I have spent 30-45 minutes in the morning and then 30-45 minutes in the afternoon sanding. (I am not really adept at repetitive tasks, but that’s another story.)
For such a small piece, that is one hell of a lot of sanding my friend. Both sides didn’t perfectly line up on the initial fit up – so I had that to correct. Then I used increasingly finer grit to polish the wood to a satin finish. And I am pretty happy with that. The wood is so baby-ass smooth it’s a supreme pleasure to hold in your hand.
I am going to pretty much leave the old forged steel as it is. I might change my mind at some point but for now I kind of like the nasty looking old steel. I am going to clean up the edge by putting a really tight sharpness on it but I’ll only do that after I finish the oil treatment to the handle. (I don’t want it any sharper than it actually is at the moment because I’ve cut myself on it once and don’t want to repeat that experience.)
I wanted to finish the wood with Tung oil but spent all morning looking for it and no one I spoke to had even heard of it. I was lucky to find Linseed oil so that’s the final finish I am applying to the wood. I’ll probably do one or two more applications. The pure stuff like I have takes a week for each subsequent application to be absorbed by the wood (or so I’ve read).
Remember what the original knife looked like?
So what on earth made me buy up that piece of crap old blade and spend so much time on it and still end up with a knife that still isn’t necessarily prettier than the top blade – also a blade made in the legendary knifemaking town of Sayula?
That’s a damn good question.
I have four – all unsubstantiated – answers to that question. First, the old blade is forged steel (that means hammered out on an anvil) as opposed to the top blade which was cut out of plate steel. Meaning it is a more fine blade made from a much higher quality of steel. (Comparatively speaking it looks like shit, but reality and the metallurgy says other wise.)
Second, once I recognized it for what it was, it almost broke my heart to see that old blade lying unloved in a dirty mess on a grimy concrete floor.
Third, the top newer blade (10-15 years old vs. 60-80 years old) has a cheap softwood handle and that inspired me to put a lovely hardwood handle on that old blade.
Last, Sayula baby! Tradition! And sadly it’s vanishing, everywhere. In this case the tradition of handmade Sayula blades might only be a memory in twenty years time, replaced by cheap Chinese knifes or expensive German ones.
PS – I love working with my hands. Wood, steel, brick, leather. It speaks to that primitive part of me that also loves booze and good cigars. Off to the rooftop for a smoke. Cheers!