It's made from wenge, a very hard wood, which proved quite a challenge to shape. Sharp tools were a must (good thing I learned about chisel sharpening in class last week), as was perseverance. Wenge is very dense and waxy, so putting a finish on isn't really necessary. I chose to just put a light coat of furniture wax on the finished pieces.
This weekend was also a good opportunity to bring out the metal lathe from it's home under the bench - I made the thumbscrew on the piece as well. It was my first time knurling, and though the grooves didn't come out really deep, you can get a pretty good grip on the thumbscrew.
For the cutting blade, I took a piece of soft (bendable) steel and cut the profile of the blade on the bandsaw (and cleaned it up with a file). I then hardened the blade in a small kiln, and tempered it by sticking it in the toaster oven set at about 460°F for a few minutes and quenching it in a cup of cold water. Finally, I sharpened it on a sharpening stone.
All in all, I'm quite happy with how it turned out.