Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Knives

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get,” can be adapted to many activities of life.  It applies to the carving process, in that the carver does not know how the carving will turn out until it is finished. It is this sense of surprise and serendipity that continues the joy of carving and imaginative creativity ~ we never know what we will get.

It is this same experience that has been a vital part of the Wood Bee Carver’s related passion with knives with the shaping, sharpening and making of knives for personal use.  It all began as a farm boy growing up three miles south of Poneto, Indiana in the late 40’s and early 50’s where having a pocket knife led to whittling and early knife making.  That part of “you never know what you are going to get” was the inspiration to experiment and exploring in the “play” of inventive trial and error creativity.

It was in the early 1970’s I met a “real” woodcarver by the name of Dave Monhollen who showed me the “ABC’s and the 1-2-3’s” of how to carve and pointed me in the right direction on the “Journey of learning by doing” by following the primary steps.  Having grown up with pocket knives and having a special attachment to whittling it was natural to continue to carve using a knife as the primary tool, even though I possessed some regular carving tools.

A side line activity of this budding woodcarving pursuit was to scour antique and junk stores along with flea markets for old and junk pocket knives that could be refurbished into whittle-carving knives. Most of the blades were in bad shape and required reshaping and sharpening into a suitable carving blade.  In some cases, the blades had to be removed from the body of the pocket knife and transplanted into a wooden handle.  This became a learn by doing enterprise of tinkering with what would work and what would not.  Valuable lessons were learned in the sharpening process as to which abrasives to use, how to guide the blade in the sharpening process, how to create a burr edge and in some cases a wire edge, how wide or narrow to form the bevel, and the overall shape of the blade.  For many years, the blades were shaped into the Wharncliffe shape which was the most common carving bench knife design.  With more experimentation with blade shapes applied to the carving process it became apparent that a curved cutting edge created a more versatile slicing blade than the common straight cutting edge of the most popular carving knife blade. Further development led to the acceptance of the “scimitar” blade shape with its “convex” cutting edge mirrored with its “concaved” back edge or quarter moon shape.  The Wood Bee Carver has used the basic concept of the “scimitar” blade shape in adapting the design of several curved cutting-edge carving blades. This blade shape has been used since 2010 in varying designs. The box of chocolates is full of surprises.

Another example of the box of chocolates continues to be learned with each new reshaping and sharping for Other Knives made for personal use as in the latest adventure with the very old knife in the opening photo above.  It was made by the Eagleton Knife company between 1875 and 1900.  This multibladed knife with a scissor, cork screw, nail manicure file, two blades and a shoe button hook was a flea market find several years ago.  Earlier from another old knife, the scissor blade was taken apart and made into two fine detail blades for two carving knives. One detail knife is pictured with the Eagleton Knife in the photo below. The second photo to the right is of the two new scissor bladed knives and the older one.


The blades were harvested out of the body of the pocket knife and the scissor was separated with one of the scissor blades reshaped and sharpened.  Lo and behold, it was surprising how this first blade, even being so thin, turned out to be strong and hardened indicating that perhaps the other blades would perform in like manner.  “You never know what you are going to get” and yet it is so satisfying when it is better than expected.

The manicure nail file blade was next the be shaped and sharpened into a scimitar carving blade after being epoxy glued into a wooden handle.  The photo on the right above shows the first two blades mentioned with finished handles along with handle blanks glued, two with blades inserted with epoxy glue, one with blade epoxied into a five sixteenth brass tube ready to be inserted into thr handle’s pre-drilled hole into epoxy glue, another blade with stainless steel wire wrapped about the arm of the scissor blade ready to be inserted into the handle’s pre-drilled hole into epoxy glue and the cork screw beside it self for lack of use as a carving blade.  The glued up handle blanks were whittled to a pistol grip shape and then sanded with Abranet mesh and finished with Deft and Birchwood Tru-Oil gun stock finish.

The box of chocolate effect after all the blades were reshaped and sharpened including the shoe button hook into six carving knives with excellent blades of strong carving ability for holding an edge of sharpness and hardness of steel with a feel for carving with each slice and stroke.  The photo below is of the finished six carving knives and the lonesome cork screw.


The bottom line of even though “you never know what you are going to get” if you are like me you open the box of chocolates to discover what you are going to get, be it the next carving project or the next knife making adventure or wherever the passion leads.  “Would be carvers would be carvers if they would carve wood,”  is the box of chocolates.



This entry was posted on Friday, July 2nd, 2021 at 2:11 pm and is filed under Knives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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