Making A Wooden Utility Knife Homemade Woodworking Tools
This is one of those projects that you would do just because you love making things out of wood and for the challenge. You probably won’t save any money and you won’t get a “better” result than the ones that you can buy in a store, but you will get the satisfaction that can only come from doing it yourself. Along with that, it looks pretty darn cool!
Note that this design uses the larger of the standard segmented blades, the ones that are 1″ wide.
First up, I have a short video of the build from beginning to end:
The material is a pair of strips that I’ve had on my lumber rack for a long time. I got these from a jobsite where they were used as packing material between wooden doors. One strip is sapele and the other is oak:
I could have used one for the whole build, but thought the two types of wood make an interesting contrast.
The first item to make is the locking knob, and to mark this I drilled in slightly with a 7/8″ forstner bit. Next, I drilled a 3/8″ counterbore, a 3/16″ through hole and cut the overall thickness down to 3/16″:
The knob could then be cut out roughly on the band saw. The 3/8″ counterbore has to be deep enough for the head of the screw, but still leave some meat at the bottom.
Sanding it to a smooth circle on my belt / disk sander:
The screw is a #10-24 machine screw and I’ve cut it to about 11/16″ long and smoothed the end with a file.
The screw is glued into the knob with fast setting, high strength epoxy and set aside to cure. To clamp the screw in and make it square to the knob, I used a 3/8″ nut as a spacer and a t-nut to pull it in tight.
Next up, the slide that the blade will attach to. I’ve cut a piece 1″ wide, 1-3/4″ long and 1/4″ thick for this and marked the recess with the end of the blade:
I used a sharp chisel to cut the recess, then marked the hole location.
I figured the easiest way to make a stud for the blade to hook over was to use a #6 screw and grind the head down just enough to fit in the hole:
The upper part of the slide is cut at a matching angle and glued in place. I’m careful to make sure the space is the same on both sides.
After the glued dried, I drilled and threaded the hole with a #10-24 tap:
The knob screws in smoothly. The wooden threads should hold up well, since there is a lot of them, but they can be reinforced with thin super glue. I sprayed in several shots of urethane, letting each one dry.
When fully threaded in, the end of the screw needs to protrude just a small amount from the bottom:
Next, the body of the knife is made.
Since the wood strip I’m using is not quite wide enough, I had to glue two pieces together for the bottom:
My wooden vise is handy for quickly clamping small parts like this.
After the glue had dried, I cut a shallow recess in the bottom for the steel bearing plate:
This plate is thin sheet metal from a piece of duct, and I used a knife to cut it by scoring it to keep it as flat as possible. Using tin snips would curl and distort it a bit too much.
Before gluing it in, I roughed it up with sandpaper:
Epoxy is spread and the plate is clamped down for a few minutes until the glue starts to set.
The side pieces are cut from the oak strip and glued on. It a good idea to check the make sure the slide moves freely, making any adjustments as needed:
The parts for the top are cut from the sapele strip and are approximately 7/16″ wide.
These are glue in place and set aside to dry:
It was a little cool in my shop and a heat gun is used to provide some localized heat. It’s on for just a few seconds, just to warm the parts up.
The tip is cut from the oak strip. 1″ wide, about 1″ long and 3/16″ thick:
I used epoxy to glue the tip in, since it has to stick to the metal plate as well as the wood.
Final part to add is the small wooden stop at the end of the body. This prevents the slide from slipping off under normal use:
The wood one compared to the “real” one. Not much difference in size, but the new one definitely feels better to hold – more rounded, more comfortable.
I was always slightly bothered by the metal sleeve on the Olfa, in that the sharp blade edge slides up and down it unprotected. With that said, it really doesn’t seem to do much to make the blade dull.
I did all of the shaping and sanding for this project with my 1″ belt / 5″ disk sander:
A couple of coats of spray urethane to finish it:
And it ready for action. Like my wooden vise, I’m sure there will be lots of comments on how durable it is and how practical the project was, but if you’ve been watching my videos over the last year, you’ll see that the vise get used and abused on a regular basis, and I’m sure this will too.
Definitely an interesting project to do, and it really didn’t take long.