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Groomsman Gifts: Helle Viking Knife Blanks

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Last year with the help of a friend I had purchased Helle Viking Knife blanks from Ragweed Forge to make into groomsman gifts for a commission. We visited Dixon’s Muzzleloading Shop to pick-up gun stock scraps of tiger maple for the handles and scraps of leather to make into sheaths.

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We shaped the handles and hand sanded with 220 grit on the wood and 400 at grit on the bolster edge.

We then raised the grain on the wood 3x. The process was the apply water to the wood with fingers, use a propane torch to rapidly dry the wood to raise the grain and rub the wood smooth again with 0000 steel wool.

Next the Aquafortis acid stain was applied with a dauber to all handles. The torch was used to oxidize the stain and the heat turned the wood reddish brown. This was started at the bolster because the brass acts as a heat sink and a yellow ring will form at the wood below the bolster if not enough heat is applied.

The torch heat was then passed over the whole handle with just enough heat to make the stain oxidize. If the wood became scorched it could be rubbed out with steel wool. The heat was passed over gently trying to remove any sections with a yellow cast so all was oxidized.

This process was done again starting with a second coat of stain.

The acid was finally neutralized with a mix of 8oz water and couple teaspoons of baking soda, all applied with a dauber. A light bubbling action resulted.

With the wood still warm, it was rubbed with 0000 steel wool and boiled linseed oil. This allowed the oil to soak in and also remove any scorching while bringing up the grain and highlighting the beautiful striations within the wood.

More coats of boiled linseed oil were applied over the next few days allowing the wood to absorb as much as possible.

The knife handles were left to dry before finally packaging in brown grocery paper with a Ballistol wipe and care instructions and wrapped with jute string.

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White Cedar Puukko Knife Handle

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I’ve been participating in a Bushcraft Box Pass Around Challenge and one of the items that came to me was a Puukko. After taking the knife into the forest to split some wood for a fire the handle cracked while batoning. For those who don’t know, batoning is technique of safely splitting wood by using a branch to strike the spine of a sturdy knife in order to drive it through wood. This exposes smaller dried pieces for easier fire starting. Maybe it’s best I baton with a full tang knife…

Puukko Re Handle (2) Puukko Re Handle (1)

Well the split turned into an an offer and opportunity by a friend to learn how to re-handle the blade. He had a piece of beaver chewed cedar drift wood just waiting for a project.

Puukko (3)

The old cracked handle and butt plate were knocked and sanded off. The tang was heated with a torch and lengthened with a few hammer blows. The new wood handle was cut to size, drilled, epoxied and capped with a brass plate using a ball peen hammer.

Puukko (4)

Puukko (6)

Puukko (5)

After it was sanded and the grip felt right the knife received an initial coat of Boiled Linseed Oil.

Puukko (2)

I’ll continue to apply the boiled linseed oil once a day for a week and once a month for a year.

Puukko (10)

Puukko (9)

Puukko (8)

 

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