I thought I better do this blog just to prove I’m not always asleep in my Lazyboy chair. Today’s blog is about making the ‘Lag Knife’. If you remember, the groove for the bottom is called a ‘Lag’ here in Norway, ergo, the buckets production method name ‘lagging’. pronounced ‘logging’ in English.
First we have to have our logo photos showing the bucket we’re building and the tools we are making to build the bucket with. Sound complicated? The tools and the bucket are actually not too difficult to make. If I can make it so can you and even your little brother if you have one (I know this because I am a little brother).
MAKING THE LAG KNIFE
As you can see in the photo above, the lag knife is used to cut the groove in the stave’s for the bottom of the bucket to rest in. A knife works well here because the surface you are cutting into is slightly concave to match the radius of the inside bottom.
Also you see that the knife handle is rather long. This is so you can use both hands braced against your body to get good leverage.
We all realize that this wouldn’t work so well unless we first score our marked out lag lines on the stave. This is done with a hand knife of your choice that is sharp and has a relatively thin blade. (put down that hobby knife!) We want to use old type tools for the job, unless of course you are one of the Enlightened ones who are allowed to use any tool they wish.
Step 1 The handle
I chose a nice piece of birch about 20” long. I bandsawed it into two pieces, each about 3/4” thick and 1-1/2” wide. It’s a good idea to joint the wide sides for eventual glue.up before doing anything else. Don’t forget to recess the knife into one of the jointed sides. Hardwood is a must here. You can see the whole length of the handle in the photo below.
Step 2. The knife
I chose to use an old small hunting knife. I found one with a wooden handle, but if I hadn’t, I have a few around with plastic handles. The first thing to do here is to get the handle off the knife. If you have plastic and intend to hammer it to pieces, I suggest you use safety glasses for this work. I was able to just use a wood chisel and one bang did the trick. So now I had a knife with a tang. This is shown in the photo below.
MARRYING THE KNIFE TO THE HANDLE (romantic tool making)
You might have noticed in the lag knife drawing that only a small blade tip is showing. I’m assuming this will give better control while cutting the lag. However, I didn’t want to have to grind away for eternity at my longish knife blade, so I am embedding most of the knife into one side of the handle.
Step 1. Marking out
I will be hollowing out a recess on one handle side in which to bury the knife flush with the surface, so I will get a nice joint when I glue the two handle halves together. Note that only about 1-1/2” of the tip will be sticking out.
I plan to use epoxy glue for this job which I hope will give it a really strong glue joint, and which will resist all the leverage put on it when in use. The following photo shows the profile marked out.
Step 2. Carving the indent for the knife
You can of course do this in whatever way you want. A dremel with a router attachment or a laminate trimmer used carefully freehand would probably be ideal, but I don’t have either one , so I just carved it out. Nice quiet work which took about 20 minutes.
The first thing I did was to cut around the profile at 90 degrees as shown in the photo below. Don’t go ape here. It’s fairly easy to split wood if you go too deep all at once (Photo 1).
Next I used an 3 different carving gouges and continued scoring the outline as I went, finally arriving at the bottom of the recess. (following photo’s)
Step 3. Gluing up or alternatively ‘How to epoxy the shutter button on your new Nikon camera’
I mixed up some epoxy, filled the knife recess with it before putting the knife in place, then I slathered it on the whole handle joint and clamped it all together as shown below. I didn’t actually epoxy my shutter button, but I did get a little epoxy on it when I took the last picture, but I got it all off ok.
Again I want to remind you that my method as shown above was done to avoid having to grind away or find some other way to shorten the knife blade.
If you have a short blade with a tang or you are want to shorten you longer blade, then you can make the knife by drilling a hole for the tang into a solid piece of handle wood instead of a glued-up one like mine. You likely need a tapered hole, so first drill a hole the length of you blade tang using a drill bit the diameter of the smaller end of the tang and then a more shallow hole with a bit the diameter of the wider part of the tang. If you need help with this, I assume Mafe will be posting this method.
The next blog in this series will be about shaping the handle of the lag knife and making the binding lever used to install the bindings with. Thanks for joining me on my ancient bucket journey.
-- Mike, American in Norway