Tonight, I Finished My Second Custom Steak Knife Set. Is it the Last?

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 12-10-2007 07:48 AM 3211 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It’s been a long week, but I am excited to say that I just finished up the 2nd Steak Knife set tonight about 10:15pm CT. Sure, I could go to bed, but not after I blog the milestone. But, first, let me apologize for not providing much in the area of notable, or supportive input the past couple of months. I just haven’t had time to do any reading on LJ, only worrying about getting my own projects and blogs posted. I swore off of LJ until the steak knife commissions were complete, and so I have been trying to stick to that pledge.

I’m hoping this isn’t my last steak knife set. I’ve surely enjoyed working on them, getting more efficient, and getting hurt less. Only two small finger cuts this time. I’m starting to look sort of like Les Nesman on the old WKRP In Cincinnati tv series from many years ago. He always had several bandaids on his hand during the episodes. After making 30 razor sharp knives, I see now how Les had it. Nothing serious though.

I’ll get some better photos tomorrow and post them as a project when I get the time, but this gives me a chance to blog the effort, and post the rough photos.

I’ve been noticing through the statistics on my website, that the comment I posted several months back about inlay work has been getting quite a bit of reading, and enticing folks to see if there was more at my website. So much interest in fact, that I’m thinking that when I get time, I’ll do a bigger, more thorough blog article on the subject of adding inlay. I’m no expert for sure, but I have learned a few things by trial and error, and can share some of the techniques. I tried a turquoise stone lettering style on this second knife box, so I included a photo of my progress, with the little anvil, hammer, turquoise chips, and the gluing process here.

The next step in this commission, is to design and build a decorative display stand for the first set of steak knives. The client has asked for a display stand, something like a Bible Stand, or Dictionary Stand, that matches the styling of the knife box, and allows the knives to tilt forward a little so the carved name shows. I’m excited about this part of the project, as it was competely unexpected, and so I will blog more about it later, as it progresses.

Also, I have a financial commitment for a couple of Maloof-Inspired Rocking Chairs, in walnut. The 8/4 wood arrived this past week, so that is an upcoming project that I’m excited about. Also, I am working through some design concepts for Baptismal Font (Holy Water Stand) for the St. Anthony Catholic church that I worked for earlier this year. Then, throw on top of that, some Christmas projects, and it is going to be a busy December. I feel blessed for sure.

Thanks for reading,

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Here’s a rough shot of the box, without the glass, and after the Danish Oil has been wiped down. I followed the oil the next day with some Satin Lacquer, sprayed.

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Here’s a shot with the box removed, and the knife holder shown, after the leather was installed. The handles are Deer Antler, with the same Stainless Steel Damascus blade (not shown) that I used on the first knife set.

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A close up of the Turquoise Chip inlay work on the lettering.

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Here is a shot of the Elephant Ivory inlay on the handle end, with the scrimshawn letter “B”.

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Here’s another shot of the handle, with Elephant Ivory oval inlayed, with scrimshaw engraving of the client’s name monogram. Two of the knives had this sort of inlay work on the handle side, and the “B” on the end. Also, I inlayed an oval of turquoise on the handle (not shown) where I cut the brow tine off of the handle section.

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Here’s the last photo for tonight, showing the turquoise stone chips, and the gluing process.

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Here you can see my project posting of the first steak knife set:

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If you are unfamilar with the term “Scrimshaw”, you can go here, to read more:

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Here are my blogs on the first knife set:

1) Progress Photo:
2) Confirmation of the Order:
3) Shipping of Samples:

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

15 comments so far

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4261 days

#1 posted 12-10-2007 08:02 AM

The Last? Are you kidding? You’re going to be the Paul Revere of Cutlery in the 21st Century.
Decou Cutlery is going to be the rave. All the yuppies are gonna have to have a set of Decou’s.

A Bowie? No, DeCou-ey. Your waiting list is gonna be longer than Sam Maloof’s.

Welcome to the Big Time, Buddy.

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4430 days

#2 posted 12-10-2007 08:08 AM

thanks Obi. I liked that “DeCou-ey” thing, made me really chuckle. Just doesn’t have the same ring, though. Does that mean that I also will leave this world in a wild gun fight with the Mexican Army?

Man, if you’re right, I’m going to have to start looking for more antlers…......

Shipping that package of waste to you tomorrow by UPS.

Thanks for the encouragement, now get some sleep!

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4030 days

#3 posted 12-10-2007 01:34 PM

They look great Mark. Love the Turquoise inlay!

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3986 days

#4 posted 12-10-2007 01:35 PM

Neat stuff and a really good blog. I like the turquoise letters. I didn’t think I would when you mentioned it but they came out exceptionally nice. Great set of knives. congrats on more commissions

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4185 days

#5 posted 12-10-2007 01:49 PM

and to think – we knew him when! :)

the box as equally beautiful as the rest of the set.
Amazing work…

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Popintraining's profile


110 posts in 3862 days

#6 posted 12-10-2007 02:37 PM

I’m not even a yuppie and I want a set! Beautiful!

-- Illegitimis nil carborundum - Don't let the bastards grind you down

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4261 days

#7 posted 12-10-2007 03:35 PM

The neat thing, Mark, is that gives you and all your friends an excuse to go hunting.

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4424 days

#8 posted 12-10-2007 03:53 PM

Mark Another great job. Congratulations on completing it on time. Hours don’t mean much when there is money behind it. Way to hustle.

God bless you Bro.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4430 days

#9 posted 12-10-2007 04:11 PM

Thanks everyone for the compliments.

I’m working on a “marketing plan” for finding more steak knife work, so if anyone has any ideas that don’t require much cash investment, let me know, I appreciate everyone’s input.

Karson, you hit the nail on the head. I just took a big butt chewing from the wife, since I have been too busy on the two steak knife jobs to send a final invoice for the work I did on the carved front desk/chair project in September, and I haven’t bumped another person for a 6 month old bill that hasn’t been paid yet. She has to pay the bills with the money I make, so she sees things differently than I do. It all looks romantic, and fulfilling, and wonderful when I’m making things, but she has to do the hardwork of stretching it out and keeping our FICO score above 800. Life doesn’t take Visa, but it does take some form of payment, and it requires money most of the time. I’m not complaining, just admiting it. Eventhough I was arguing with her about it, I knew she was right. It is that way most of the time. I just argue because I can’t admit it at the time that she is right. Maybe I can learn that in the next 15 years of marriage. It has taken me that long to admit it to someone else, I guess she’s next. Someday, I will learn not to argue, “Yes dear, yes dear, you’re right dear….”

I had to get over the idea of making an hourly wage quite a few years ago, and just try to make enough in a project to cover the bills that come in during the time I work on it, regardless of the hours it takes. I haven’t been able to do that on less than 65-70 shop hours a week in the past 3 years, and many many weeks have been over that. I have had to work 2 out of the past 3 Sundays, which is a first for me. I’ll be back to taking Sundays off again now that the knives are shipping.

I don’t have any commute time since I just walk out back to work, so that helps. I can also walk back out after the kids are tucked in, or start at 5am, and not even worry about whether my hair has been combed or my teeth brushed, but, after about 9am, I have to clean up, as I just never know when someone will drive in to visit. I keep a ball cap and some mints handy for the earlier visitors.

All of those hours don’t include the other time getting material, ordering on the internet, doing estimates and proposals and sketches, meeting with clients about their questions, delivering and set up of the new stuff, taxes, keeping receipts organized, photography, graphic art/brochures work, printing and cutting business cards and brochures, going to shows, fixing the only pickup I have running now, etc., etc.

Good thing I love doing this. Actually, I love working with customers and getting to know them as people, and creating things…...the rest is just a required thing I guess.

A month ago, one night after spending many late nights printing and cutting up brochures and folding them for a show, I came up with another reason to look forward to heaven….....there won’t be any need for brochures in Heaven!

We are headed for a predicted big ice storm today, so I’m off to UPS to ship the knives, and then I have to get the generator ready to run, buy some gasoline, etc. The last time this happened, it was 4.5 days without electricity. Winter, ugh.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4185 days

#10 posted 12-10-2007 04:34 PM

re: wife “discussions” – how about this “hmmm let me think about that” or “I understand your point of view” or “I hear what you are saying” and then give yourself some time to come up with your way to say “you are right” haha

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3986 days

#11 posted 12-10-2007 07:08 PM

Well, the bills are always the problem for us aren’t they. I feel pretty good right now as I have work until at least the 1rst of February. Today I was supposed to take in a big trailer load of cabinets,etc to the job but the roads are icy and it’s snowing. The shop is so full I can’t do too much. By creative stacking I’ll get the bases for the cabinets done today and probably the edge band for the counter top. They have to go tomorrow.

Mark, I think when those knives are seen at several dinner parties you will have enough work that you will be sick of knives pretty soon. Those people don’t like to have someone get ahead of them, even in the knife department. Mark my words, you will be booked a year in advance with in 6 months.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4271 days

#12 posted 12-10-2007 07:25 PM

You did it again Pal. You never cease to amaze though, just beautiful, funny how just that touch of turquoise does so much for the whole thing. Just makes the whole thing Sing. I’ve got some caribou antlers and whitetail and can draw a little. I read your class on srcimshawing. I used to be able to draw, maybe I still can, with some practice, and give it a whorl. Mighty fine job my friend maybe you have found your niche.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4323 days

#13 posted 12-10-2007 08:57 PM

Great, & Beautiful craftsmanship Mark.

I can’t add much more than the others have said.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4180 days

#14 posted 12-11-2007 03:21 AM


There is nothing I can add or say that the knifes don’t all ready scream out.

I will just let them tell the story .

That speaks volumes.

Your talents are evident and in no need of comment from me.

Your finished project is your art, the work behind producing your art, is the work.

Your day to day trudge, and living life, is the labor that is underestimated.

Your family is like a fine tuned orchestra , they act as a strong chorus in the back ground. They labor to contribute their part, in order that you can create the masterpieces that you do.

Don’t forget to thank them.

Over and over.

Well done Mark.

-- Dusty

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4338 days

#15 posted 12-11-2007 06:16 AM

I’m just glad to see you posting again…kinda missed your verbosity.

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