How to Make a Knife Handle
Do you have a nice knife with a full tang, but the handle broke or totally came off? Worry not, because there is something you can do. Right now, you are going to learn how to make a knife handle all on your own, and it’s not even that hard!
How to Make a Knife Handle – Step By Step
Making a knife handle is going to take some time, and you will need some basic materials, but in all reality, it is really not that hard at all. Let’s get right to it and figure out how to make a knife handle that will last for a long time to come.
- First, you need to have a full tang knife that does not yet have a handle. Maybe you have one laying around, maybe you need to buy one, or maybe the handle on an old full tang knife fell off. Whatever the case may be, you need a full tang knife if you plan on making and attaching your own DIY handle to it.
- You want to get some duct tape and wrap a good few layers around the blade, just for safety. Use care, as you don’t want to end up cutting your hands while you are working on the handle and attaching it to the knife. It is possible to use other types of tape, but duct tape is the best and requires the fewest layers.
- Now you need to find the wood that you are going to use to make the handle. You should go for pieces of wood that are ¼ inch thick, and be sure that it is high quality wood without any major flaws present. Make sure that the pieces of wood are a bit larger than the tang. You will cut and sand them down later. A knife handle has 2 halves known as scales, so be sure to get 2 pieces of wood for this. Use hardwood for your knife handle, not softwood.
- If you have bought a knife kit, the pins needed to go through the tang and attach one scale to the other might already be included, but if not, you will need to make your own pins. You can use a thin metal rod or wood for this. Make as many pins as there are holes in the knife tang, making them slightly smaller in circumference than the holes, so they can just fit through them. Once you have made the pins, file down the ends of them so they are smooth. Don’t be too worried if the ends of the pins are not totally flat, as you will be filing them down later.
- You are going to need a clamp. Make sure to line your vise or clamp with plastic wrap of sorts. You will be using epoxy glue, and you don’t want it sticking to your tools. Using a large table-mounted vise will work best, or else you will need several smaller ones to hold everything together while the epoxy dries.
- Now it is time to take the scales that you have cut down to size, just a bit bigger than the knife tang, put them on either side of the tang, and use masking tape to tape it all together. Be careful to not tape over the pin holes, as this is what you will now be drilling out of the handle scales. On the wood, mark where the pin holes are, and then use a drill or drill press to make the holes from one side to the other.
- Now you have to remove the tape and take the scales back off the knife tang. Use a pencil to accurately trace the shape of the knife tang onto each handle scale, then use a jigsaw or scroll saw to cut out the exact shape of the scales. It is recommended to do one at a time for this. Now you can use some sandpaper or a belt sander to smoothen the handles and get the design that you want.
- Now it is time to glue the scales together and onto the knife tang. First you want to use something like rubbing alcohol or window cleaner to clean the tang of any debris. This will help create a better and more secure fit, as it will allow the glue to stick better. Next, take some sandpaper and scuff the tang to give it some texture so the glue has a porous surface to hold onto.
- Get your epoxy, prepare it according to the instructions, and slather it generously onto the knife tang. Press the scales onto the tang in the proper position, making sure to line up the pin holes accordingly. Put some extra epoxy into the pin holes and insert the pins. You may need a hammer to get the pins through the holes.
- After everything is glued together, put the whole thing in a large vise or clamp and crank it shut to ensure that everything stays in one place and one piece while the epoxy dries. How long it takes to dry will depend on the specific glue you are using. Next, take a rag soaked in acetone and wipe away as much of the excess glue as you can.
- Once the epoxy is dry, remove the knife from the vise and use a sander to sand off any excess from the pins that may be sticking out. At the same time, you can use a sander to smoothen and shape the knife handle as you see fit. Make sure to make it somewhat rounded and try to make a good grip for your fingers as well. Use some varnish or sealant to seal the handle, and you are good to go.
There you have it — a step-by-step instructional on how to make your own knife handle. If you have a high quality blade with a full tang, making a new handle for it is definitely worthwhile, so give it a shot!