How to make a knife handle?

I was looking around some of the exotic wood sites and saw they sell "knife blanks". My son likes to go camping and I thought it might be neat to make him a nice knife, sort of a Bowie style or something. I found places that sell all the parts, but I wanted to make the handle from a blank, for a personal touch. Has anybody done this? Do you carve it? Cut it in half and insert the tang and put it together? Any pointers? Thanks.
-- -Jim
If you want to reply by email its --> ryan at jimryan dot com Please use BCC and lets all avoid spam
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My mom had a knife who's cheap plastic handle broke. So I took the blade and handle pieces, cut out my own handle from some rosewood I had around, and stuck the blade in. "Riveted" it with a piece of brass rod.
I made the blank out of two chunks of rosewood, taped together to get a rough shape using a bandsaw. Final shaping was done on a drum sander in my drill press. Finish was Danish oil. Ended up looking pretty good, if I do say so myself. She only uses it for cutting bread, so it's not getting a lot of water on it, but I used Gorilla Glue in case it did get some.
Let me know if you'd like to see the pictures. Think I've still got them somewhere.
Clint

"knife
make
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I'd suggest using epoxy rather than ordinary woodworkers glue. Knife handles take a lot of abuse. Among other things, epoxy is diswasher safe.
Using brass rod for rivets is a good idea. I keep a supply of brazing rod on hand for just this use. You can also get cutlery rivets, but if you epoxy the handle to the blade you don't need them.
You definitely want a waterproof finish on the handle, but you also want to make sure it's not too slick.
--RC

That which does not kill us makes us stronger. --Friedrich Nietzsche Never get your philosophy from some guy who ended up in the looney bin. -- Wiz Zumwalt
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Snip!
Do you carve it? Cut it in half

I made a few marking knives where I sawed the handle in half, then glued it back up with the blade inside. I used epoxy to do the glue-up.
Ed
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If you've got a bandsaw you can resaw small pieces (with the appropriate precautions) to make nicely matched handles.
Sometimes I buy kits to get the matching bolsters, etc. I usually discard the handle material that comes with the kit and make my own out of wood, antler or whatever.
--RC

That which does not kill us makes us stronger. --Friedrich Nietzsche Never get your philosophy from some guy who ended up in the looney bin. -- Wiz Zumwalt
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rec.knives and their excellent FAQs.
The Barney and Loveless "make your own knife" book. A classic on how to do the lot by the stock removal (grinding from barstock) method.
It's pretty easy to take a blank and add scales to it. The main tools are a small spokeshave, lots of hand abrasives, and lots of patience. Contrasting veneer slips underneath the scales is a nice touch, and easy to do.
For a pair of riveted scales, I like to make a "dummy knife" out of beech first, with an accurately shaped profile. The blade part of the profile is extra long and can be held in a vice. I then fasten the scales to this with bamboo pegs through the rivet holes and some rice-starch glue. This lets me work on shaping the scales with a good handle, no steelwork to damage my woodworking blades, and no risk of damage to either me or the knife blade. When I'm done, drive the pegs out with a pin-punch, countersink the rivet holes and then assemble onto the real blade with brass or copper rivets. Then I drawfile the rivets smooth and do the final polishing.
The small blanks sold to pen turners are big enough for penknives, and woodturning suppliers have many exotic timbers in useful sizes for knifemaking.
--
Smert' spamionam

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All the time. It can be as simple or as fancy as you want.

There are two kinds of blanks, depending on the handle of the knife. If you have a through tang you generally use a one-piece blank and drill through it to accept the tang. If you have a wider tang designed for riveting (or you're not sure about drilling a hole that deep) you use a two-piece tang. One-piece tangs are often threaded on the end to accept an end cap which screws on. The alternative method is to peen over the tang using a metal washer.
For a first project I'd suggest a two-piece handle with rivets or a pre-drilled handle that is already fitted to the tang.
You can do a lot of things to make the handle fancy, depending on your skill level and available tools. There's nothing special about wooden handle blanks. They're just ordinary pieces of wood. So you can go rummaging around in your scrap bin for especially pretty cutoffs to use as handles or accent pieces.
One favorite accent is to cut the blank(s) apart on the diagonal and insert a piece of contrasting material. (I'd suggest wood for starters, but you can use anything from reconsituted gemstones to metal spacers.) Don't worry too much about the strength of the resulting construction. Remember it will be epoxied to the handle and that will make it plenty strong.
I do my shaping entirely with hand tools, mostly files, rasps and then sandpaper of various grades. I avoid power tools because it's too easy to overdo it. Whether you use a one-piece or two--piece handle use lots of epoxy to attach the piece to hold everything together.
You're limited mostly by your creativity on this. Have fun!
--RC
That which does not kill us makes us stronger. --Friedrich Nietzsche Never get your philosophy from some guy who ended up in the looney bin. -- Wiz Zumwalt
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jtpr wrote:

One option is to drill a series of closely spaced holes in the end of the handle blank with a fine drill. The blank is then rocked on the drill bit to break out the webbing between the holes forming a hollow for the blade's tang. The blade can then be epoxied in the handle. This is a common method for bone or antler handled knives.
-- Jack Novak Buffalo, NY - USA (Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
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I re-handled a kitchen fork once. First, I roughly-shaped blanks to fit the fork handle. Then, I taped the handles on and drilled the rivet holes. After that I epoxied them to the tang. I smoothed the handles to final shape using some knife work, but power and hand-sanding when I got close to the metal of the fork. Finally, I redrilled the rivet holes to clear the epoxy out, then riveted the handles on with heavy copper wire. I probably should have used brass rod, but I used what was handy.
I didn't apply finish because I was using some tropical pallet wood which sat out for years in my yard and showed no signs of degradation, and I knew that there was no finish likely to stand up to repeated washing. I don't know what kind of wood it is, but boy is it durable! I've had the rehandled fork for about 10 years now, and it doesn't look much different than the day I completed it.
I also rehandled a Japanese vegetable knife using cocobolo. For that project I cut a handle blank using the original cheapo broken plastic handle as a pattern. After refining the shape I cut a slot for the knife tang, drilled for a rivet, applied the rivet, then finish-sanded the handle. No finish for the same reasons as above. Cocobolo is extremely resistant to weathering, one reason it was a favorite for ships' wheels, and about the only change in 20 years of use is that it has gotten very dark, and the epoxy has let go of the stainless knife tang. The rivet is still good, though, and the knife is solid in its handle.
--
John Snow
"Pull hard and it comes easy"
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Sounds like it might be fun. Thanks for all the input.
What exactly are "scales". I went to this site, but I'm a bit confused as to what I do with the various parts in the pictures, and how the handle actually goes on.
http://tinyurl.com/5xupu
--
--Jim




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On Thu, 11 Nov 2004 23:10:21 -0500, jtpr wrote:

What you think of as "handles." On a pocket knife, the side parts that aren't (usually) metal. You will be making scales. Then you'll want to make your own rivets, then you'll take a power grinder to an old file, then you'll start hanging around rec.crafts.metalworking and asking silly questions about forges. Go to Williams-Sonoma and buy a new freakin knife fergodssakes. You have been warned. DAMHIKT. ;)
--
"Keep your ass behind you"


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Scales are the two-part handles. (Technically the meaning is a little more specific than that, but that's the common use.)
--RC
That which does not kill us makes us stronger. --Friedrich Nietzsche Never get your philosophy from some guy who ended up in the looney bin. -- Wiz Zumwalt
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