As a first project in wood, I made some scales for a knife blank I purchased online.

The wood used is American Walnut (from offcuts purchased online), with boiled linseed oil. The knife is covered with spray-lacquer and the engraved pattern is leafed with (imitation) gold.

The good thing about wood (and why its a great material to start with) is that it is extremely easy to cut. Harsh language is sometimes enough, though here I used a 1/8” endmill at 10,000 rpm feeding at 400 mm/min.

Most features are cut in the first operation:

  • 1/8” endmill to profile the outside and bore the large hole.
  • 2mm PCB drill to drill the small pin holes.
  • 90-degree V-bit for the engraving

The pieces are separated from the bottom with a fine-kerf saw. They are each flipped and then taken to 1mm above final height in a pair of wooden softjaws. Wooden softjaws deform a lot under clamping forces, and I would use a different way to do that if I had to make more of these. As it is, I had to leave about 1mm of axial stock and then sand it to final size using a belt sander.

The finishing was the hardest part of the project. After applying boiled linseed oil for color and a (sacrificial) layer of waterproof varnish, I applied leafing adhesive and imitation gold leaf to the entire surface.

Once the adhesive set, lightly sanding the face removed the gold leaf cleanly. A few more layers of varnish restored the surface shine. After all this, I joined the sides to the knife blank by applying epoxy, installing aluminum pins, and clamping it down until set.