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Making A Saya (scabbard) For A Kitchen Knife

Discussion in 'Other Projects' started by dancom, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    I recently made a couple of saya for two Japanese style kitchen knives. As I couldn't find a whole lot of How-To on the web, I decided to take some pictures and document how I made them.

    I kind of cheated a bit in that I made a three-layer lamination instead chiselling or gouging out the blade pocket. As always, there are probably better ways of doing things, but I found this method turned out okay with the limited woodworking skills I have.

    For the wood, I didn't have any traditional wood such as magnolia or cypress, but an old fireplace mantle and some maple pallet wood came in handy.


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    Here I have cleaned up a piece of Eastern Maple from a old pallet.
    I ran it through the thickness planer to get the faces smooth and evaluate the condition of the wood. Looks okay!

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    I set my fence on the table saw to take a tiny 1/8" to 3/16" slice off the piece of wood.
    Although you could set your fence to more to the right and slice off the left side of the main piece,
    I find the skinny way is easier as I don't have to adjust the fence after every cut.

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    It's important to note that the middle piece should be approximately the same thickness as the thickest part of the knife blade. Now I have three pieces. I pencil on them with A, B and C.


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    Now we want to trace the blade on to the middle section we marked as B.

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    Here I have traced and cut out the blade pocket from the middle section B.

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    Now to glue section B to section C. I used Gorilla brand indoor/outdoor carpenter's glue.
    Any good waterproof glue will work. Apply the clamps with even pressure around the perimeter and wipe the excess glue with a clean, damp rag.


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    Once the glue is good and set (overnight) I marked 1/4" outside of the pocket and cut this out.

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    Here I have used a good old Sharpie to trace around the pocket.
    Leave enough room for gluing another piece and some finish sanding on the edges. 1/4" should be fine.

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    At this stage you can add the pin hole, or the pin hole can also be drilled near the end of the process. Either way works okay.
    I use 3/16" dowel for the pin, so the hole is made slightly smaller at 5/32" or 11/64".
    See below for making the pin.

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    Now cut just outside the line.

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    This is what it looks like after pieces B and C are cut out.

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    Now glue B+C to piece A and clamp.

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    The last step is to cut the final shape from A+B+C. I will also drill the pin hole through piece A.
    Hint: To prevent tear-out, stop drilling just as the bit point breaks through. Then drill from the other side.

    Making the Pin


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    Finishing


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    Food safe oils such as white mineral oil will help to protect the wood.
    I applied two coats of mineral oil 12 hours apart, then several coats of tung oil.
    After the tung oil hardens, buff with a clean cotton rag.

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    Thanks for looking. If you have any questions, please let me know.

    Dan
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  2. Roman

    Roman Best Leatherwork Best Build

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    Cool! Simple and elegant.
    Thanks for the great tutorial, Dan!
     
  3. Foster J

    Foster J Active Member

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    Great stuff Dan. You are certainly the master of the WIP.
     

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