Full Chisel Blog

November 2, 2011

Damascus Striking Knife with handle

I ripped up some curly maple stock for tool handles and also found a smaller sized blank of the same ‘tiger maple’, but not a lot of stripes and fashioned a handle to match my other tool handles.  I use the tapered octagonal handles like illustrated in Moxon or from the 1596 ill fated Nova Zembla expedition, I do like the Dutch influence, on all my chisel and other tool handles.

Great shape and they don’t roll off the bench.  Early on in my apprenticeship I had a chisel roll off the bench and I caught it before it hit the ground and damaged the edge.  I immediately changed all of my chisel handles to the tapered octagon design.  Well, not exactly immediately, I had to attend to a gash on my hand and blood on the tool.  The blood got removed first then I attended to the nasty wound.

Since that time, nearly 40 years ago, I have purposefully lost my ‘catch’ response.  I literally can’t play catch.  Now if a tool drops, I quickly and safely move out of the way and deal with a damaged tool rather than a lacerated hand.

I shaped the curly maple with a small Moxon smoother then went to my toothing plane to deal with some tear out.  Worked great, then a scraper to remove the toothing marks.  Then using a very fine drill and two very narrow chisels I excavated a rectangular tapered hole in the narrow end to hold the Damascus/pattern welded blade in place.  Once it was fit tight, I etched the blade with a clove of garlic and used a bit of fish glue to secure it in place.

A coat of Moses T’s St. John’s Oil and it is ready to strike out.




  1. The “Don’t Catch” response is a good one to cultivate. I have an X-ray of a teeny tiny crochet hook driven completely through the palm of my hand because I tried to catch it.

    Comment by tracy mutter — November 2, 2011 @ 10:15 am

  2. Stephen,

    Could you please explain what etching of blade with garlic is all about? Or, is it simply a joke?


    Comment by PhilM — November 2, 2011 @ 10:16 am

  3. Looks great!

    Comment by Tico Vogt — November 2, 2011 @ 11:05 am

  4. Tracy,

    I felt your pain.

    The garlic etches the metal so the glue gets a ‘key’ and holds better, I covered this in Hide Glue-Historical & Practical Applications. Garlic works on any smoothe non porous materials to etch them prior to gluing.

    Thanks, works good to.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — November 2, 2011 @ 11:37 am

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