Our kids like to help us in the kitchen, so every once in a while, I pause to make small, wooden versions of our kitchen utensils. Some time ago, I made a couple of small wooden knives for my daughters.
Then one afternoon, as my wife was heading out to a baby shower, she mentioned to me that the baby’s big brother might be disappointed not to get any presents himself, and that he had been shadowing his mom around the kitchen, so could I possibly make a little wooden knife for him, too?
She was due at the party in thirty minutes. Boy, does she know me.
I pulled out a scrap of pecan about 1″ wide and 3/16″ thick, and cut it to about 8″ long. Any straight-grained hardwood would have worked, though. I hand-planed both faces and edges smooth, and drew out a pattern on the wood. This is a chef’s knife pattern:
It’s a freehand drawing, though you could trace any small kitchen knife (carefully!), though sharp points should be significantly blunted. Be sure the handle has enough room for the child’s hand, plus a little growing room.
I sawed out the profile with a coping saw, and then shaped a bevel with a spokeshave:
I stopped before the knife had a true edge on it. Although you could easily put a pretty keen edge on a hardwood knife, you shouldn’t for obvious safety reasons. Also be sure to blunt the tip. It’s a kitchen utensil, not a weapon.
After shaping the blade, I rounded the edges of the handle with a file, and then sanded the whole thing smooth, breaking all the sharp edges. A quick wipe with mineral spirits removed the sanding dust.
I had just enough time to carve his first initial into the knife blade.
I left the piece unfinished, so as to comply with government regulations. That, and we had no time to let a finish cure. After all, grubby young fingers will soon give it a nice patina.
The whole project took me about fifteen minutes, and I understand that it has become a favorite accessory in the play dough kitchen.