My first official knife order

It happened some weeks ago. When I woke up and checked my Instagram, I found a message from a knife collector from the USA. I answered and we started a conversation about my work which soon led to my last work, the Glücklich Gärtnern knife. He asked for the price and caught me completely off guard. Yes, I always planned to sell my knives one day – but this fast?! I was totally thrilled to hear that he was seriously considering to buy this knife model – that was initially intended for a cooperation with the german gardening blog Glücklich Gärtnern. But I was more than happy to make this knife again.

As english is not my native language (as you probably guessed by now), I feared to loose him as I actually wanted to say that I found it awesome, that he was interested in my work but instead said I was “amazed” which sounded kind of negative. But I managed to explain that when I realized something went in the wrong direction 🙂

For the price I had to approximately calculate the materials and hours of work I would put into this knife. I just had finished the original knife and used this as a reference. What I also calculated was, that I am new to knife making and don’t have years of experience in making knives. So there might be some small mistakes in the end product.

We agreed upon the price and we also talked about adding a simple leather sheath, just for transportation purposes. I had just done two very simple sheaths for the knives I gave away to my brother and father for christmas. I had used a very thin leather type and stitched it with a sewing machine.

What I did not calculate was my drive to make everything perfect. I was so thrilled to have somebody so excited about my work that I was paying very much attention to every detail. Also I wanted to outdo the original knife and decided to polish the blade to a mirror finish. This is why I reground the blade three times back to a 120 grit because I found small scratches in the steel when I started polishing it.

Some of the leather tools I bought or made myself

Another decision I made was to craft a beautiful sheath instead of the simple ones I did before. I bought the right leather and the tools for carving, stamping an stitching the leather. A new craft to learn and the perfect chance.

I am very happy with the results of knife and sheath and most of all it was an awesome time working together with the customer – now a friend. I shared many steps of my progress with him over Instagram. His encouraging feedback drove me forward and pushed me far beyond my former limits.

Building my own tools: Leather pen and stitch punch

I started working on a leather sheath for a current project. A new craft I try to learn is leather punching. For this i needed to transfer a draft from paper onto the leather and used a metal pin I had. The pin was not very durable and a small part of the tip broke off. Also the tip was not very smooth (like a good pencil is) from the beginning.

So I thought about how to make a perfect tool for me – and who said selfmade tools should not look beautiful? Also I needed a durable tool to punch through up to three layers of leather to transfer the stitches through all layers. So I needed to make a tool for that, too.

I cut off some 5 mm and 6 mm round steel rods and put them into my cordless hand drill. I put the tip against the running belt sander and so i got a perfect round tip. One of them I did a bit longer and sharper. The other one i rounded of like the tip of a used pencil.

For the pencil tip I wanted to have a wooden handle. I had a bit of apple wood scrap laying around and so I cut myself a 15 by 15 mm wood bar, drilled a 5 mm hole into the top and stuck the metal pin inside. This way i could mount the wooden handle into the hand drill too – and back to the belt sander. That is what I call the poor man version of a wood turning machine. The result looks great and i have a perfectly round and ergonomic handle for the steel pin.

I hardened the tips of both tools (yes: before mounting the pencil tip to the woode handle) and polished the oil scales off afterwards. Then I hammered the pencil tip into the handle.

Finally I treated the handle with linseed oil varnish to expose the beautiful pattern of the apple wood.