Martyfish's Makeovers

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Martyfish

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
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Location
Germany
One of my hobbies is knife modifications and I wanted to create this thread as a centralised location where I can post all of my knife related content.

A bit about me - I enjoy cooking and got tired of supermarket knives a few years ago, which lead to me purchasing my first high end knife, and since then I've fallen down the rabbit hole pretty hard. Most of my knife modifications consist of thinning and refinishing knives or making new handles for knives that I purchase. I'm a hobbyist, not a professional craftsman, so I'm not looking to promote myself or take on commissions, I simply want to share my work with like minded enthusiasts.

I'll post some older stuff here in addition to new projects as they happen. If anyone is interested in any of the projects or processes, don't be afraid to comment.

Finally, here are a few how-to guides that I created, which cover the majority of the processes that I use. I'm posting these as a reference in case anyone is interested in visualising some of the processes involved in thinning, refinishing or handle making. There is heaps of information in the captions if anyone wants some details to go along with the pictures. Since creating these guides I have improved some of the processes and techniques that I use, so they're no longer 100% current, but they should still serve as a useful reference and resource.

Thinning and refinishing:



Handle making:



More content to follow.
 
As a first official post (other than the how-to guides), here is an older project involving my Toyama gyuto. I really liked using my Toyama, as many forum members here seem to, but I hated doing detailed work with the chonk of a tip that it came with (fine dicing onion or garlic was a pain, at least for me), so I decided to thin the tip, thin the blade slightly and then refinish the blade after thinning.

 
I appreciate the pics of your setup. Not everyone has fancy equipment, so this is a great way to show that you can start off and get just as good results with basic tools.
Wow, congratulations on making it to the end of a very long post! Thanks, that was exactly the reason why I included the video of my work area and pictures of all the tools involved. I think lots of people see a new handle made of exotic wood or a nicely refinished balde and think that it must have been done in a vast workshop with access to every tool imaginable, when in reality results of a 'professional' standard are possible with basic tools and a bit of patience.
 
Here is a current project in progress. A non-knife enthusiast friend wanted to get some nicer knives, but didn't have the budget to break through to the nicer stuff, so I offered to modify some cheaper knives so that they would look and perform on a level approaching more expensive knives. Seeing I can't change the steel, I focused on the grind and the fit and finish and handles.

This knives include a Wüsthof classic icon that I had laying around gathering dust, a Kiwi #22 (the tall nakiri style knife) and a Robert Herder pairing knife. The plan is to thin and refinish the Wüsthof, thin, refinish and rehandle the Kiwi and rehandle the Robert Herder and I'm part way through all of these processes.

Below you can see the before and after thinning pictures for both the Wüsthof and the Kiwi, in addition to a handle for the pairing knife that is slowly approaching completion. The Wüsthof has gone from wedgy chonk monster to an acceptable workhorse grind. As I mentioned, the friend is not a knife person, so I didn't want to push the thinning too far on the Wüsthof. The Kiwi was already quite thin out of the box, but had some pretty hard shoulders either side of the hollow grind that I wanted to ease. It is now very thin behind the edge and has a stock thickness of 1mm above the hollow, so it should cut pretty well if it isn't too sticky. I had a smaller offcut of ironwoood lying around from one of my past handle projects and decided to turn that into two petty handles and it should hopefully look good on the Robert Herder if I got the dimensions right. I've never made a wa petty handle before, so time will tell. Collage_2023-07-30_16_10_37.jpg20230730_120458.jpgCollage_2023-08-01_09_40_14.jpg20230730_120701.jpg20230730_120539.jpg
 
Work in progress - a makassar ebony handle that I am going to install on the thinned Kiwi from my last post.

 
Handles pre-oiling:

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I'm not really happy with the tang slots and there have definitely been some lessons learned here. In general the tang slots in single piece wooden handles seem to be a pain and this was compounded in this case by:

1. The fact that I made these slots with a hand drill
2. The thickness of the tang on the Kiwis and the Robert Herder is around 1mm, which is basically impossible to drill by hand, so I elected to oversize the tang slots half way through the process and this resulted in some less than perfect results
3. The hardness of the makassar ebony and ironwoood, which made it even more difficult to keep the tang slot straight with relatively small drill bits

Although the tang slots are not 100% straight nor 100% centered, I'll still be able to align the knife how I want to due to the oversizing. Some of the facets are 100% even either, but they're good enough. Not my best work, but still pretty good.

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Here are the almost finished handles (they just need to be oiled) together with the thinned but not yet refinished blades.

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I trashed a tang slot yesterday. I was finally happy with all the tapering and angles but a momentary lapse and the slot is pretty wide. I can make it work and it's good enough for home use but it pissed me off and will bug me. But, my practice is paying off and I have some ideas for tweaks to avoid the issue next time.

Your handles are looking good!
 
Robert Herder rehandle. This is the first handle I've ever made for a petty knife and I'm pretty happy with it, but for the next pairing knife handle I think I'll do away with the taper and reduce the overall dimensions a touch.

 
As a first official post (other than the how-to guides), here is an older project involving my Toyama gyuto. I really liked using my Toyama, as many forum members here seem to, but I hated doing detailed work with the chonk of a tip that it came with (fine dicing onion or garlic was a pain, at least for me), so I decided to thin the tip, thin the blade slightly and then refinish the blade after thinning.



quick question - why do you wrap your EVA block with plastic? do you change it at each grit to avoid contamination?

fantastic projects BTW! congrats
 
Thanks :)

The cling wrap was a one off to try and avoid soaking everything through with Windex and to try and avoid grit contamination, but the it was destroyed in minutes, so it didn't make any sense to repeat.

In practice grit contamination doesn't appear to be an issue and the EVA foam eventually dries out without any adverse effects.
 
The jig is an accessory made for that belt sander, but it didn't come with it unfortunately.
Have you tried your belt sander on blades as well? I've seen people using vertical belt sanders for rounding / polishing choil and spine and also to polish the sides of the blade. Just wondering if it works well with a horizontal belt sander like your setup.
 
Have you tried your belt sander on blades as well? I've seen people using vertical belt sanders for rounding / polishing choil and spine and also to polish the sides of the blade. Just wondering if it works well with a horizontal belt sander like your setup.
I use the belt sander for doing the bulk of the rounding on choils and spines, which I follow up with hand sanding / polishing. The belt sander finish is perfectly workable but far from refined and rounding spines and choils solely by hand takes forever if you want to create a significant radius, so the two processes work well together.

I have never used the belt sander for thinning or refinishing, because the wide belt makes it a bit unwieldy, the shape and width of the platen is less than ideal, it can remove material pretty rapidly, so there is not a lot of room to be careless, and it's obviouly not cooled. In the end, I prefer to do thinning and refinishing on stones or by hand, due primarily to the fact that it is more controllable. I'd love to get a 2 x 72 inch belt sander and have a fully outfitted workshop, but until then I'll likely continue to thin and refinish by hand.
 
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I use the belt sander for doing the bulk of the rounding on choils and spines, which I follow up with hand sanding / polishing. The belt sander finish is perfectly workable but far from refined and rounding spines and choils solely by hand takes forever if you want to create a significant radius, so the two processes work well together.

I have never used the belt sander for thinning or refinishing, because the wide belt makes it a bit unwieldy, the shape and width of the platen is less than ideal, it can remove material pretty rapidly, so there is not a lot of room to be careless, and it's obviouly not cooled. In the end, I prefer to do thinning and refinishing on stones or by hand, due primarily to the fact that it is more controllable. I'd love to get a 2 x 72 inch belt sander and have a fully outfitted workshop, but until then I'll likely continue to thin and refinish by hand.

I see, using it to round spine and choil makes sense. This is always the longest step for me, I usually start with 100-120 sandpaper but it still takes a while if the knife is too rough. I saw you used files for that, I need to try is someday.

I was thinking about using the sander on the blade face to remove thinning scratches, getting to 320 grit or so. And hand sand from then, 400 and 600. Removing scratches from 200 grit stones is always the hardest step for me, so using power tools for that should be nice and quick.

For thinning there’s the risk of overheating and overgrinding, I’d prefer a horizontal wheel. Of course it’s perfectly doable on a sander, just my preference. Honestly I don’t mind thinning on stones, yes it takes a while but I split the job in 1-hour sessions and take it easy. It’s using sandpaper to polish that annoys me lol.
 
I see, using it to round spine and choil makes sense. This is always the longest step for me, I usually start with 100-120 sandpaper but it still takes a while if the knife is too rough. I saw you used files for that, I need to try is someday.

I was thinking about using the sander on the blade face to remove thinning scratches, getting to 320 grit or so. And hand sand from then, 400 and 600. Removing scratches from 200 grit stones is always the hardest step for me, so using power tools for that should be nice and quick.

For thinning there’s the risk of overheating and overgrinding, I’d prefer a horizontal wheel. Of course it’s perfectly doable on a sander, just my preference. Honestly I don’t mind thinning on stones, yes it takes a while but I split the job in 1-hour sessions and take it easy. It’s using sandpaper to polish that annoys me lol.
In terms of speed for rounding easily accessible surfaces, belt sander > files + sandpaper > sandpaper alone. I don't use files anymore because I have the belt sander but if you don't have any power tools then files are definitely a good option to do the bulk of the rounding before smoothing everything out with sandpaper.

As far as reducing the scratch depth after thinning, I usually do a very basic stone based progression after finishing up with my coarse stone (a JNS 300 in my case). Once I'm done with the JNS 300 I move on to a Shapton pro 1k and a Naniwa Pro 800, which gives you a very good foundation for a sandpaper progression and takes maybe an extra 20 minutes on the stones, while saving over an hour of scrubbing away with sandpaper.
 
Awesome work. 👍 Gonna keep an eye on this thread. Unfortunately haven't been able to do much hobby stuff lately myself, but hope to get back into it soon!

I only have a few wa handles on knives as an example but no way petty. How much smaller did you make those vs a gyuto sized one? I have a few I'm trying to make been messing around with junk wood different sized mock ups atm.
 
Awesome work. 👍 Gonna keep an eye on this thread. Unfortunately haven't been able to do much hobby stuff lately myself, but hope to get back into it soon!

I only have a few wa handles on knives as an example but no way petty. How much smaller did you make those vs a gyuto sized one? I have a few I'm trying to make been messing around with junk wood different sized mock ups atm.
Thanks. I'll measure the handle when I get home today and edit this comment with the dimensions.

Edit: the dimensions are:

Length

100mm

Rectangular Cross-section Prior to Applying Facets

Front (W x H): 11 x 14.5mm
Back (W x H): 13 x 16mm

If i made another handle, I'd use the following dimensions:

Front (W x H): 12 x 14mm

Back (W x H): 12 x 14mm

Facets

(W x H): 5 x 5mm
 
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I made a stand for my cleaver, because it is too big for a normal knife block and if I were to dedicate drawer space to it, it would basically take up the entire drawer, which was vetoed 😅. How do other people store their cleavers (photos are encouraged)?

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I made a stand for my cleaver, because it is too big for a normal knife block and if I were to dedicate drawer space to it, it would basically take up the entire drawer, which was vetoed 😅. How do other people store their cleavers (photos are encouraged)?


Cleavers get sleeved with a cardboard Saya and laid on top of each other in the middle section. I can fit about 6 cleavers if I stagger them well.
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