“As the owner of the lapidary company D and B Rockwerks,” says July Lapidary of the Month Daniel R. Kelly, “I thought, ‘Why not try to make a knife, made completely from gemstones?’ I looked around on the Internet for examples, and didn’t find too many, so I figured that I would pretty much have to wing it. I did get some ideas online, but the examples were not quite the type of thing I was looking for.
“The first thing I needed to do was find a slab long enough for the blade and the tang. I saw some knives that were attached blade to handle, but I thought making the blade run through the handle would make a stronger knife. I found a nice, long slab of Chinchilla Petrified wood from Queensland, Australia, that looked as though it would do nicely for a blade. I used a trim saw and 8-inch grinding wheels to rough out the shape of the blade. I only used the two roughest grits (80 and 100) at this point.
“Once I got a general knife blade shape, I started looking for material to use in making the handle parts. I settled on Midnight Lace obsidian from Glass Buttes, Oregon, and Black Skin agate from India. I trimmed the handle pieces so they fit roughly on both side of the blade. Each piece of the handle was lightly ground to ensure as tight a fit as I could get between the handles and the blade, and between the two handle pieces. Once everything was fitted, I washed all the pieces several times in soapy water, rinsed them well, then let them dry completely.
“Next, I applied epoxy 330 to everything and put the pieces together. I wrapped lightweight cardboard around the knife to act as a clamp while the epoxy dried overnight.
“The next day, I went back out to the diamond grinding wheels and took off all the excess material and made all the slab pieces flush with each other on the 60-grit wheel. Once I got the shape I was looking for, I moved to 220 grit and sanded everything completely. I washed the knife again, let it dry, and then went over any gaps with another coat of epoxy. I let it dry overnight and went back to the grinding wheels. I re-sanded everything with the 220-grit wheel, taking off any excess epoxy.
“Once everything was sanded, I moved down the line of grinding wheels: 600, 1200 and 50,000 grit. It can be tricky to maneuver the knife around the grinding wheels and find an angle that will let you get the nooks and crannies, but through trial and error, I found ways to get all the angles sanded and polished. I then polished the knife with Cerium oxide.
“The total time required for this project (not including epoxy dry time) was 12 hours. The knife feels well balanced in the hand and the grip feels good. I left the knife letter-opener sharp because getting it sharper would cause the stone to chip easily, but a very sharp edge can be made on the blade.”
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