To hand carve furniture hardware a lot of knives on the market are just not suitable. What you really need is a knife with a short, thin, and very sharp blade.
Wooden hardware for furniture projects (such as knobs and pulls) can be purchased off the shelf, or you can make your own. If you have a lot of hardware to make, a mechanized process of sawing, routing, sanding, filing, and rasping makes sense. However, if you only need to make a few pieces, then hand carving those pieces is the way to go. Having made door handles using both methods, I find that carving is a much cleaner and faster process. To hand carve furniture hardware a lot of knives on the market are just not suitable.
What you really need is a knife with a short, thin, and very sharp blade. Mike Komick, of Preferred Edge, makes just such a knife, so when I needed hardware for some furniture I was building, I decided to try his medium bent knife. The bent knife came fully sharpened and ready to go. First I made a few test cuts, then I gave it a couple of swipes on my leather strop with a daub of green honing compound. For bent blades like this one you only strop the bevel, not the flat side of the blade. Sure enough, the blade was sharp enough to shave the hair off my arm.
The bent knife cuts equally well bevel side up or down. You’ll have to experiment yourself with different ways of holding the knife, depending on the material you’re cutting and the dexterity level of your hand. This knife allowed me to cut in very tight radiuses, of 3/8 of an inch or less. I was able to round over sharp edges in cocobolo, which generally I’ve done with a small file and a range of different grits of sandpaper wrapped around a small dowel.
The nice thing about cutting wood with a knife is that it burnishes the surface as it cuts, producing a clean, smooth, shiny surface. Sanding, on the other hand, dulls the surface.
The handle of this knife is made of yellow cedar. The blade is pinned to the handle and wrapped in place with black twine. The twine not only secures the blade, but provides an excellent ‘no slip-grip’ for your fingers.
The blade is made out of L6 tool steel with an RC57+ hardness rating.
The knife is almost 10″ long but it’s lightweight yellow cedar handle provides great leverage, balance, and ease of use. An exotic type of wood handle would have made this tool tiresome to use. The selection of yellow cedar is also appropriate considering the tool is made on the west coast of Canada. As a finishing touch, a laser engraved insignia of the Indian Thunderbird completes this tool’s visual appeal.
Editors Note: Preferred Edge is now out of business.