Shigefusa 270mm kasumi yanagiba with custom, by me, desert ironwood handle

16 May 2011

Pimp My Knife! - Victorinox refurbishment project

I was discussing good bread knives with my friend Øyvind, and he told me he was planning to order a Güede. I told him that the Victorinox would probably be a better choice and a lot more bang for his buck than this pimped up Güede bread slicer.

As it was, Øyvind already had the Victorinox in question, but he believed it was to old and to ugly looking compared to the rest of his magnificent collection. He then came up with a cool suggestion. I could do a rehandle on his Victorinox. A "Pimp My Knife" project.

The Victorinox is a mid-end blade, higly commercialized and not exactly an eye-catcher. No matter its humble pedigree, it is a blade that is actually one of the very best in what it is designed to do. It is a long time favourite amongst European chefs, and I doubt that you will find a professional kitchen in Europe without at least one of these knives. It is called "The world's best bread knife", and as far as cutting bread or cakes, I have not come across any knife that does it better.

To cut a long story short...
The blade and handle sure had some issues that needed fixing, so I accepted Øyvind's challenge to "pimp" his Victorinox. The starting point was a bit depressing looking, and I sure wondered what I could do to the knife to make it shine again.

First task was to get the old, cracked handle off without damaging the blade. Drilling out the rivets, which were aluminum, was easily done. At this stage I also sharpened the blade on the back side with a #1200 Aluminum oxide stone to bring out a fresh serrated edge. This grit made it fairly sharp while keeping the toothiness required to cut bread and especially crust effectively. I would later remove the scratches when satin polishing the blade.

Next up was to find a nice piece of wood to fit as the new handle. I wanted to keep the semi-hidden tang from the original handle, so I needed a block rather than scales for this one. I know Øyvind and he is a lover of curly and burly woods. I happened to have one that was both curly and burly, and it was Norwegian as well. A nice stabilized block of exhibition grade Masur birchwood.

I wanted to make a handle that had a little more belly and palm swell than the original handle, but still keep the light feel of the knife and its grip-friendlyness to both large and small hands. I thus made a rather highly contoured shape with a good palm swell but with narrower grip towards the blade.

I was wondering what to to to make the knife a little more special looking. After all this was a "Pimp My Knife" project. A knife I had seen on an exhibition a few weeks earlier gave me the idea. Fileworking the spine in the handle. So I started out experimenting on how this could be done as easy and consistent as possible. I ended up using my high power Dremel with an extention cord and a small sanding drum with a #120 grit aluminum oxide paper. This worked like a charm!

Next up was to attach the blade to its new handle and align everything. I sanded out a little extra space in the slot for the tang to fit a couple of black fiber spacers to give a better contrast for the file worked spine.

To finish the handle I used #220, #400, #600, #1200 and #2000 sanding paper followed by a light wood buff on the wood and a green metal buff for the spine and the pins. I also fitted a nice mosaic pin to give it that final "Pimped" look. I gave the blade a nice satin finish with a #1200 fibercloth doped with aoto powder, giving the blade back the as-new finish.

This Victorinox has been officially DarkHOeK Pimped!
Thanks for reading.


  1. excellent work my friend

  2. Thanks. I had a lot of fun doing this one. The transformation was very rewarding as it was so visible.

  3. Harald very soon some of my knifes will end at you :)
    You are very close to get perfect handles !!!

  4. Thanks Max, glad you like it :o)

    This material was very easy to work with and gave great results. I am looking for a stable source for this stuff. Should look equally well for both wa and western, and as it is stabilized it will hold up pretty well in professional kitchens too.

  5. This knife is somehow become my favorite!

    Thanks again my friend. Awesome craftmanship!


  6. Very very nice work! After see that, I try to do like you on my Masahiro. You can see it on my blog: couteauxjaponaiskirenaga.
    Thanks for your blog, i love it.

  7. Awesome--that snaking spine is great! Who would have known that knife came from such humble origins?

  8. I love this knife! Thanks for sharing. I'm so happy you shared pictures.