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Whittling and Hunting Knife WIPs

Aiden CC

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I have about two weeks of time to put in some serious work on knives, this is some of what I've been up to. These knives are both based on knives in Bo Bergman's knife making book, one of them a project (the Mountaineer's Knife) and the other one is inspired by a drawing of one of his wood carving knives.


Here are the blades plus a drawing of one of the finished knives. The puukko and small carving knife are both forged from an old leaf spring, and the third is 80crv2. The puukko will have its own stuff going on, so I will probably make it its own thread when I get to working on it.


This is the plan for the carving knife. I decided to make it because I'm not really happy with the last one I made. It also had a scandi grind, but was a bit too acute which made it too high maintenance. Now I use it mostly for leather working.


Because the pieces of the handle don't all have square edges, it is important to use a pattern for the handle shape and mark out where the tang will be so all of the drilling is in the right spot. Also, I used a lightly different method for cutting these handle blanks from the parent stock (curly birch planks from smaller trees, which are much cheaper than blocks) and should hopefully get a better looking pattern on the surface of the handle.


Here the blade is polished/sharpened and everything is epoxied on. I'm trying out the method of gluing before peening. It usually takes longer than the working time of the epoxy to peen a tang anyways, so I figure this will save some pain and suffering, though I think the angled surface of the bolster will add some back. This is as far as I have this knife right now, I will probably peen the tang and start shaping the handle tomorrow.


The guard for this knife goes out fairly far, so the antler was cut from the widest part, a few inches above the crown. Since the top surface curves down, I shaped that before fitting it to the handle.


This guard was a real bear to fit. The hole isn't square since the blade has no plunge cut, and working a 1" thick piece of antler with needle files takes a while. I do think it is my best fit of an antler bolster though (especially compared to the carving knife).


Here you can see how I made the hole for the tang in the birch before trimming it to final size. Since I had to drill the hole from both sides, it was much easier to do with a block I knew was square. It was easy enough to trim and true up afterwards.


Here is the whole stack put together. Right before this step I sharpened and stropped the blade. Also, in this picture you can see how far from square the antler butt-cap is. This meant that the hole for the tang is not 90 degrees. I used a hand drill to start it and was careful to check that it was parallel to the matching face of the wooden block while fitting it. You'll also notice some pieces of black leather. I find adding leather helps to improve the look of the transitions in the handle, I find that even if you get very flat surfaces it doesn't look as nice as if there were a spacer. 

That's all for now, hope to have more done tomorrow. Thanks for looking!

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3 hours ago, Aiden CC said:

I find adding leather helps to improve the look of the transitions in the handle,


I agree - I have always preferred putting in spacers as well - handles just look right with them, in my opinion.  Can't wait to see it finished.

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19 hours ago, MikeDT said:



I agree - I have always preferred putting in spacers as well - handles just look right with them, in my opinion.  Can't wait to see it finished.

I used to use birch bark for this, but have found leather is more consistent and generally easier. For some reason metal guards/bolsters with no spacer looks fine to me, maybe it's because antler and wood don't have as much contrast and need something to go between them. Anyways, here's some more progress:


First step was to peen both tangs. The one on the larger knife will be completely covered by a wooden end cap, but this one needs to look at least somewhat presentable.


Handle profiles marked out. While peening, I accidentally broke the tip of the big knife, so I also did a slight re-profile to fix that. The handle design I had for the carving knife would have put the rivet a bit too close to the edge of the butt-cap, so I modified it slightly.


A coping saw, rasp, and files take the handles to the lines.


Same for the other profile. There are a few wiggles I noticed here, which I worked out after taking the picture.


I used a rasp and files to break all of the corners on the carving knife. Then I used the carving knife to shape the wooden section of the hunting knife handle. I will need to use a rasp/files on the antler. Shaping the wood with a knife is the way Bergman recommends to do it in his book. It felt a bit slower to me than using a rasp, but then again I use a rasp much more than I whittle, so it could just be me. It was also more fun and chips are a lot nicer than dust. Also, the leather kept the edge from hitting the antler which was nice. It also might set me up for an easier time shaping the antler, not having to worry about the wood as well.

Anyways, that's it for now! Next step is to finish rough shaping then move on into sanding. Thanks for looking!

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Not a ton of progress today, just got the antler on the big knife roughed in. The guard was really tricky. The lip in the sides couldn’t easily be shaped with a file because of the downward curve after the edge, so I had to use a burr on a Dremel. Tomorrow I’ll start sanding, and possibly finish both of these.  

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On 5/21/2019 at 7:30 PM, Jeremy Blohm said:

Nice work!!!


On 5/21/2019 at 8:40 PM, MikeDT said:

I'm really liking the carving knife.

Thanks! Its my favorite of the two. It has also been somewhat more pleasant to work on.

Now, some more progress!


First I sanded the carving knife handle through 220 grit, then I marked and cut the first notch. I decided to changed to wider rounder notches, partially for looks and partially because the edges of all of my needle files are too torn up/rounded off to make a decent square notch.


The big notch was made with a half round file. This was fun, and took a surprising amount of time.


I took a bunch of pictures at the different stages of shaping/sanding this handle, but you can't tell the difference so you'll have to trust me when I say it took a few hours. The angles are very tight, so a lot of the work was using either folded sand paper or wrapping it around the very ends of files.


Here are the results! I'm going to try and make a sheath for the carving knife, other than that and a few coats of oil it's finished. The big one still needs a wooden end cap to cover the rivet, then it will be all done. I'm going to try to make a sheath like the very elaborate one of the original, and definitely won't be able to get it done in the next two days while also doing the other things I want to get to. Also, the sun's supposed to finally come out tomorrow, so hopefully I can get some better lighting for more pictures.

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That is some really impressive handle shaping.

That carved guard is amazing, I wish I had antler as solid like that.(and as much patience as you when sanding all those tight curves:P)

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