Two Bowies - Part 2 


I finished all time-sensitive work and the weather should go bad now so hopefully, I will advance the work on the two bowie knives this week. In the meantime, I prepared the wood for handles and when I was at it, I experimented a little. If it goes bad, I will have to use different pieces of wood, but that is always the risk.

The first part of my experimentation is trying to use the conks I brought home from the forest a few weeks ago. I cut the dried fruiting bodies into roughly rectangular shapes with a saw, which took me just a few minutes.

I decided to make the handles from spalted wood with a beautiful texture created by the fungus, but also so soft that it is necessary to stabilize it prior to any work. And second experiment was to submerge the wood in a wood die for several hours in order for the dye to seep as deep as possible. The surface was way too dark but I hope that after I shape the handles, some pieces will be dyed more than others and that it creates an even more interesting texture.

And the last experiment (for now) was using high-temperature epoxy for stabilization. First I soaked all parts in the resin in a vacuum, which is easier done with this type of resin than with the one I usually use. Because this one does not start to harden until heated to 80°C, so it is possible to let it soak into the wood even overnight.

I wrapped all the resin-soaked pieces in baking paper and plastic film and I put them in my kitchen oven. Here I hit a major snag – even with a thermocouple directly on the wood, I was unable to keep the temperature in the desired range and some of the resin started to bubble and boil away. Next time I try to do it submerged in water in a big pot.

Even with that problem, the pieces are now stable enough to be workable. Eventual mistakes in stabilization can be remedied once the handles are shaped. Today I tried to sand down at least the main facets and it appears that a huge question mark hangs only over one thing – the wood dye. It is possible that it did not seep quite deep enough and that I will remove all of it when shaping the handles. We shall see, hopefully, next week.