The Janka hardness test and our knife handles

We have some kitchen knives whose handles are no fun to hold in your hand. So I thought I’d make my own but wanted to test for the best type of wood to use.

Wood from the Hophornbeam is rated at 1860 in the ‘Janka Hardness Test’, Maple =1450, American Beech =1300 and White Ash =1320. I took samples from our wood pile and cut them down to 3/8”. I varnished [urethaned] one end and left them in the dishwasher for a month. Even though it was taken from the sap wood of a 5” diameter tree, the Hophornbeam was by far the smoothest of the woods; both the finished and unfinished ends were still smooth as silk after the month of washings. The rest got rough in descending order of their hardness. So I went with the hardest north American wood around.

For practice I made a new handle for one of our crappier knives and I’m very happy with it.

KnifeHandlesI bought rivets from:

hophornbeamThe Hophornbeam is super tough to work with and when a slice kicked out of the protesting table saw it pretty much wanted to break my shin; still bruised after a week-OUCH. ( )

The tree is too small to get from a lumber mill so I need a better way to get it down to boards – I’m thinking ‘more tools’.

lukesOrchidsAh yes, here is another of Luke’s orchids in bloom > 🙂

I went to Florida

On Monday March 2nd 2015 I got in my 2007 Town and Country van and headed to Florida. It was the 47th day that it hadn’t reached 32 degrees [maybe there was one fluke ‘warm day’ in there but this is my story]. I preregistered a saltwater license for $49 and reserved 3 days at St. Joseph’s bay state park for $80. I left at 2:PM because I didn’t want to miss the senior lunch and had some chores. Two nights in cheap roadside motels and the third night at Alabama’s Lakepoint Resort State Park –which was excellent. I got to St. Joe’s on March 5th and spent 2 nights in the Shady Pines camping loop. On the third day I moved to an “un-reservable” campsite where I spent 3 more nights. I could have extended the stay for 14 days. On March 10th I went to Apalachicola for lunch and a walk around the village then headed home. In the neighborhoods a reasonable home sold for about $120K, the village was nice but the restaurant I went to only served Alaskan fish.Florida 006

So I camped in the van for 6 nights-very easy. The low was about 40 degrees and the highs were in the 70’s. The fishing was great but the catching stunk out; 5 days and 2 whitings [“the waters haven’t warmed up like they should’ve by now”]. I’d hoped to catch enough to invite neighbor camps over or, get them to cook them. My only peril while camping was that one morning a pest had rummaged around on my picnic table and a nearly full, closed, glass, peanut butter jar was missing; I pictured a raccoon rolling it down the road wondering how he’d open it. Oh yes, my air mattress quit holding air on the 4th night.Florida 092

Gas ranged from $2.19 to 2.59/ga, the van got a steady 24 miles per gallon and the rooms averaged about $65/nite. I ate out about 4 times; BBQ on the peninsula, breakfast in Eufaula AL near Lakepoint Park, the only grits I got all week.Florida 078

Chain restaurants and HUGE in the south and it has gotten very hard to find a real place within 20 miles of the interstate. Cracker Barrel, Dollar Stores and Comfort Inns, are all you see. I wanted a Yelp add-in that filtered out the chains but I fear the result would be an empty map.Florida 049

On Friday morning, the 6th, with the sun rising and the full moon setting, at 5:30 AM I spread Vincent’s ashes on the pure white sands between the dunes and the break. In his words I “took the wheels off the van and ‘he’ stayed there”. It was a good closure.Florida 084

Every day I wore shorts, walked a lot and fished and talked to the other campers-everyone getting a break from a long winter. The campground host, his wife and their dog, got his gigs from and stayed 2 – 4 weeks in each camp, he was scheduled to head west and north through the spring and summer; lots of ways to go through life. They worked 15-20/per week cleaning the restrooms in exchange for the site which ran $198/week.

The spring break crowd hadn’t yet arrived except for 3 girls next to me who, on the coldest morning were sleeping in their very small car with the motor running. ‘Camping just isn’t the spring break they’d planned’.

It was a great break from winter but got a little too quiet. It’d be a gob more fun with Lisa there but someone has to work. The whole trip cost me just under $1500 and I would do it again next year.