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Stacked Birch Bark Block

Discussion in 'How I Made It: Tutorials' started by Roman, Feb 15, 2016.

  1. Roman

    Roman Best Leatherwork Best Build

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    Stacked birch bark handles are very traditional in Finland and the rest of Scandinavia. They are light, nice looking and pleasant to touch. Birch bark is naturally waterproof material, so the stacked birch bark does not even need any finish. I have heard about fishing knives with a birch bark handle which could float on water. But I have never seen one and I don't trust this... Obviously, these handles can only be made on a through the handle tang. There are two main ways to make stacked birch bark handle: make a block of stacked bark and stack birch bark pieces directly on a tang. Here is my first attempt to make a block. It turned out nice and I thought I may share this technique.

    So, I started with cutting 30x40 mm rectangular pieces of the bark. 50 along the grain and 50 across. Then I punched 5 mm hole in the center of each piece. Revolver punch appeared to be not the best tool for this work. Bark gets stuck in it and cleaning it out is a pain. I had to clean it after every 5 pieces. Anyways, I installed all the pieces in a clamp. I installed them "face-to-face" alternating pairs. Two pieces parallel to the grain, then two pieces across. Then I slightly tightened nuts. As a result I got 130 mm stack of bark.

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    Then I boiled the stack in water for 30 minutes. After every 10 minutes I tightened the nuts a bit more trying not to go crazy...
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    After 30 minutes of boiling I took the clamp out of water and tightened it one last time. As a result I got 100 mm stack of birch bark.
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    Then I left it drying for four days. But after two days I got too curious and took the block out of clamp... ))
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    Cleaned the sides with a knife and slightly sanded one side. Looks good I think... ))
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    Next step is to install it on the tang and shape a handle out of this block. Stay tuned... ))
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
  2. Grizz Axxemann

    Grizz Axxemann Active Member

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    images not working :(
     
  3. Roman

    Roman Best Leatherwork Best Build

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    I see it. In editing mode I can see them, but after posted, I don't. I will try to fix it.
     
  4. Roman

    Roman Best Leatherwork Best Build

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    Should be OK now. At least I can see images... ))
     
    dancom likes this.
  5. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Cool. Thanks for posting.
    I was reading about birch bark handles in Bo Bergman's book yesterday.

    Dan
     
  6. Grizz Axxemann

    Grizz Axxemann Active Member

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    Very cool! The boiling makes them stick together without the need for glue? Neato.
     
  7. Ta2edfreak

    Ta2edfreak New Member

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    I did a partial one but I clamped them in a bar clamp and put them in the oven. Then sandwiched that between to blocks of white birch.
     
  8. Roman

    Roman Best Leatherwork Best Build

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    Dry heat works too. I'm going to try it next time. And it has to be sandwiched between two hard blocks on the handle. Antler, wood, or brass whatever you have.
     
  9. Slannesh

    Slannesh Active Member

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    Following this with more than a little interest. Very cool!
     
  10. John Jacobson

    John Jacobson New Member

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    I’m very interested in seeing the pictures for your Stacked Birch Bark Block knife handle, but the images don’t show here. Feel free to email me jacobsonjf@gmail.com
     
  11. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Thanks Photobucket. Suckiest web service in history.

    Roman is not around much anymore. He is on Instagram under 'Roman Kislitsyn', but I haven't seen any of his great tutorials on there.
     
  12. Wishalot

    Wishalot New Member

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    Dan, sorry I can't get the photos but saw this done recently on an old YouTube clip which depicted a very old craftsman cutting the birch pieces and putting a Puuoku style Finnish knife together. Very interesting as I am sure what you are describing is. I was interested in the sheath style he was making for it as I am trying to accomplish that portion of the process for a project currently underway with an osage handle.
     

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