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Knife Making - Brian Kirkness


According to Brian, the first step is to start with some really amazing pieces of wood.

Brian has used anything from the buckeye burl scales that you see in the photo on the left, to Macassar and Gaboon Ebony, Zirocote and even the highly sought after and expensive Thuya and Amboyna burls.

He uses a vacuum pump and Minwax™ wood hardener to stabilize any wood that hasn’t come to him with some pre-treatment.

The next step is to either make or buy the tool steel. Brian is kind of lucky because his brother owns an oven that can temper any of the knives that he creates.

I found it quite interesting to learn that the actual tool steel can be as plain or as expensive as you desire. I thought you only had to worry about the shape and length but there is an entire science around a metal’s composition, how its handled and the tempering process.

He introduced me to the wonderful world of Damascus steel. A tool steel that is created in layers (see the picture) in the same way that you make french pastry. It gets hammered and folded repeatedly and then when you grind out the bevels, the various layers are revealed below and create a wonderful pattern.

According to Wikipedia the patterns are created “when carbon trace elements form visible swirls in the steel mix”

Enjoy his pictures…

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