Bark & Steel

Bark & Steel

The ShopTime channel audience is very diverse and reaches all around the globe. From time to time, Peter will receive some friendly packages and correspondence in his post office box. On one particular occasion, Peter received a razor sharp Damascus steel knife from Australia. In other circles, fans that send knives to celebrities get visited by the FBI or other federal authorities. In Peter’s world, it is just a Tuesday.

In this project, Peter further explores the relationship between two diametrically opposed materials, the hammered Damascus steel knife blank and soft Ponderosa pine bark. In order to transform the bark into a usable form, Peter submerged it in stabilizing resin.

With the help of a vacuum chamber, the resin permeated the bark and replaced all of the air pockets inside of the spongey material. After a previous attempt to stabilize wood went awry, Peter left the vacuum running for around 11 hours and the piece of wood inside of the resin, at standard atmospheric pressure, for 12 days! He wasn’t about to get another piece ruined by being too impatient.

After removing the chunk and wrapping it in some aluminum foil, he harnessed all of his culinary might and baked it in a toaster oven at 220 Degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes. This oven time was required to fully cure the stabilizing resin, hopefully resulting in a rock hard chunk of super bark!

While it was indeed solid, the resin seemed to settle into the lower region of the bark, resulting in a weight imbalance, but undeterred, Peter pressed on!

He used his trusty table saw and bandsaw to form the ragged chunk of bark into a tidy block.

He used his drill press to bore out a region on the end of the block to accept the tang of the blade.

This cavity was filled with epoxy resin to secure the knife to the bark block. Unfortunately, the porous nature of the bark allowed the resin to drain thru the block and out the tiny holes.

Thinking on his feet, Peter wrapped piece in tape to prevent further leakage. The tape on the handle and the tape on the blade really was a beautiful combination to behold.

After the resin fully cured, it was time to move onto the handle shaping. Peter quickly found out that the material sands away extremely quickly and accidentally ruined the attempt at the handle. Luckily for him, the large chunk of bark produced more than one blank to use.

After relying on various sanding methods, the final shape quickly took form. Then after a bit of wipe-on poly, it was done!