Making a wire cheese knife 10 November 2011 Demo for the Shenandoah Valley Blacksmith Guild.

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1 Jim Oates and Dave McKinnon Making a wire cheese knife 10 November 2011 Demo for the Shenandoah Valley Blacksmith Guild. Jim and I were looking for something to make for our demo that was easy to demonstrate, useful and could be made in the hour and a half time frame. My wife had shown me a picture of a cheese cutter and suggested I try it. Of course the first question was what wire do you use? Again my wife came through, she had been in a kitchen supply store and bought some replacement wire for a cheese knife. So I measured it and it was.013 inches in diameter. McMaster Carr carries it in stainless in both soft and spring types. I used the soft as I figured it would be easier to tie. I made my first cutter free hand to get the dimensions in the ball park. Then I made a jig. I took a few to get my sizing correct. I like 4 to 4 ½ inches across for the handle and a leg length around 3 ½ inches. After making several I found that I like to start with a length of 1/4 square that is 81/2 inches long. I draw out and taper one end then the other to the dimensions shown. It is not a hard and fast rule by using a jig the legs are always the same and small differences in the handle are not noticed. For the jig I used a piece of angle so I could put it in a vise. On it I welded another piece of angle and drilled a hole and put a rivet through it and welded the bottom. Notice there is an offset in the location of the rivet. This is necessary to give the leg the inward curve. This is what holds the cutting wire in place, so it won t slide out.

2 Once you are satisfied with the tapers, you can make a loop on each end. The loops go in the same direction. Heat the whole leg, quench the loop and put it over the post (rivet) and bend. Repeat on both sides. Now if you somehow, make the loops going in different direction, that is not a mistake but an artistic feature. Heat the leg, place the handle in a vise and twist the leg. Repeat for the other leg until you have a similar twist and the loops going where you want them. That is how I got the idea for the bottom cutter illustrated below. Then I realized if you can twist the legs why not the handle?

3 I clean them up with a wire brush before I wire them. If you have a vise with a large mouth then tying the wire is no problem. Open the vice and with the legs up put the cutter in the vise and close it until you bring the legs together slightly, about 1/4 inch should do it. Tie the wire on wire leg then as tight as you can tie it on the other. When you open the vise the wire will be even tighter. The design will prevent the wire from riding up the handle. If your vise won t open far enough to fit the handle in there is always another way. Clamp the handle in the vise parallel to the jaws. Then use a clamp to put pressure on the legs. After you are done I wipe them off and coat them with cooking oil. I avoid peanut oil because some folks are very allergic to it. You can also make them round.

4 I also tried a couple different handles based on the same design. The beauty of working as a team is the cross fertilization of ideas. Jim is experienced working with wood. So we incorporated his talents and experience. His first idea was a slip on handle. Taper both ends but make a loop on just one end or even make the first bend in the jig. You can dip the wood in water and heat the metal to a low red and slide it on. The metal burns itself into the wood. Next take a strip of cloth, soak it and wrap it around the end of the wood near where the metal will be heated to protect the wood. Then heat the metal make your loop and bent it in the jig.

5 Another approach is a split handle. Again heat the metal, place the two side in position and let the metal burn in. Clean the wood up a bit, and glue the handle in position. Tape the handle until the glue dries, then the handle can be finished as desired. Not that we got carried away but for optimum performance of the wire cheese knife a modification of a cutting board is necessary and a means to get the cheese to the cracker is desirable in civilized company. The cheese is elevated by a board just slightly narrower then the wire width. This allows a complete cutting through the cheese. The cheese knife with the blade and fork tines can be used to get the cheese from the board to the cracker. So a simple concept, with all the variations kept us amused for weeks, and now we have a number of quick gifts or demo projects.

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