Doug Berch

Dulcimer Maker And Musician

cropped Dulcimer Builders and Makers 1 23

The Knives In My Shop

I was sharpening all the knives I regularly use and they told me this was a good photo opportunity. Yes, they told me. I was as surprised as you are.

Lutherie knives and a stropFrom top to bottom:

My pocket knife is almost always in my pocket. Where else would it be? I have recently discovered Opinel knives and I am smitten. This Opinel #6 has replaced my previous pocket knife. This was awkward at first but they have learned to be friends.

Below it is a knife that I believe was intended for working with rubber or leather. I use it mostly for opening seams and disassembling instruments when doing repair work.

Next is the ubiquitous knife seen in many shops that is sold as a chip carving, whittling, or bench knife. I find the handle very comfortable and the short blade very easy to control. This may be the knife I most often reach for.

The next two knives are a wood carving knife and a general utility knife made by Mora. These knives feel great in the hand. I use the knife with the red handle for rough work though it is also capable of fine work. I use the carving knife for mostly fine work though it is also capable of rough work. Both knives are versatile but I usually use them for what they do best, at least in my hands.

Next comes a knife I found in an antique store that is sometimes sold these days as a mill knife. The blade can be extended or removed from the handle. I ground it with a bevel strong enough to do very rough work. I use this knife when I would worry about damaging a knife with a more refined edge.

You probably recognize the “craft knife” with a #11 blade. I use this knife for marking and layout.

At the bottom of the pile is a surgical scalpel. The disposable blades for the scalpel are not only very sharp but also extremely thin. When I need to make light, precise cuts nothing beats this scalpel. I use it when working on binding, soundholes, etc.

To the right is a hacking knife; a strong knife I use for splitting wood. I like to split the wood used for braces to assure continuous grain.

To the left is my strop, which began life as leather guitar strap. I use compound on the rough side and use the smooth side plane. Stropping creates a strong and sharp edge. I use the strop to touch up all of my edge tools and it extends the time between honings.

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4 Comments

  1. Gary Roberts

    That ‘mill knife’ is also called a Murphy Knife and was a very common sort used in the shoe making industry, mostly in large factories. I have two, a large one and a mini. Both will never leave my hands.

    • Doug Berch

      Interesting! I thought Murphy was a brand and not a style. Maybe it is both? It is a great knife.

  2. Rick Carter

    On the right side of the mill knife is what looks like some sort of “tongue.” Is it flat like it looks in the picture? What does it do?

    • Doug Berch

      The blade runs all the way through the handle and out the other side so the thing that looks like a tongue is just part of the blade. Sometimes I use the blade without the handle.

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Doug Berch & Dulcimer Makers