August is National Picnic Month. So for the next few weeks I will be sharing my favorite picnic-themed crafts to do with kids. Truth be told, this may actually be one of my favorite crafts to do with kids, period. Wooden butter knives are pretty common in Scandinavian households. Being of proud Norwegian descent, I have attended the Scandinavian Festival (Scan Fest) in Thousand Oaks, California for years; my family has long been involved with festival coordination and preparation. It was 2008 or 2009 when I first made wooden butter knives at Scan Fest, and every year it’s one of the more popular craft activities. My cousin’s children are pictured below at Scan Fest 2009 with knives they made when they were ages 6 and 8. Adult supervision is recommended for this project, although, it’s so much fun, adults will more than likely want to make knives for themselves, too.Materials Needed:
Wooden paint stirrers (usually free at major home improvement stores)
Wood rasps or files
Sand paper in a rough grit (lower number like 60) and fine grit (higher number like 250)
Grab your wooden paint stirrers and your pencil. We had several wooden knives already, so we traced the shape of some existing knives onto our wooden stirrers.
I’ve made a template of some of the more common Scandinavian butter knife shapes. Print out the template, cut around the shapes and trace the shapes onto your wood.
Have an adult carefully score both sides of the wood. The knives are around 6 1/2-inches long, so you can pre-score the wood before tracing on the shapes, or do it afterwards. (Note: if you are going to be making lots of these knives, you can use a bandsaw to cut the wood.)
Let your child snap the wood in half after scoring it. If you only score one side of the wood piece, the cut won’t be as clean.
Use your clamps to secure the wooden knife blanks to a stationary object.
File along the pencil outline in an up-and-down motion, using the wood rasps.
You can also try carefully scoring along the pencil line of you want to speed up the filing process.
Just be sure to point the blade away from you and others, and to work on a surface that you don’t mind cutting into like a cutting board, or old towel or blanket.
Once the knife shape has been completely filed down, sand around its edges with your roughest grit sandpaper. This also removes any printing on the backside. Follow up with the finer grit (higher number) sandpaper to make your knife extra smooth.
Sit back and admire your work. Wooden knives can be left unpainted, or, you can grab your acrylic paint color to decorate the handles.
If you are crafting with several children, write their names along the knife blades they filed before painting them. These knives can get easily mixed up, and a quick sanding will obscure the name after the paint has dried.
Paint the knife handles. Leave the blade part that will touch food unpainted.
Allow the knives to dry completely. You can lightly sand the handles and give them a second coat of paint, or leave them as-is. Finally, dab some mineral oil into a soft cloth and rub it over your knives. Wood can dry out and crack over time, so using mineral oil on wooden knives, spoons and cutting boards is a great way to extend their life.
Don’t forget to sand away the kids’ names’ before using the knives. Give the wood another dab of oil after sanding off the names.
Now you are ready to grab a loaf of bread, your favorite spread and your most favorite friends for a rustic picnic!
And don’t forget to check back next week for more picnic projects to do with kids!
All photos by: Megan Andersen