View Full Version : Adjusting the balance point on a western

01-30-2013, 12:21 PM
I got a nifty new little knife (150mm petty with a western handle) a while back, and it might be a good one, but the balance is really off for my taste. It balances about 0.25" (a little over 6mm) behind where the bolster meets wood. I use a pinch grip, so it feels heavy and wallows around when I use it--the handle tries to drop down and swings around like the hips on a $2 prostitute. If I try to grip it further back on the handle, I run out of handle before the balance feels right.

Trying to figure out what to do about it, and have come up with a few options:

1) get it rehandled with a lighter wood--the handle is ironwood, so going to something like maple might change the balance. Would make me cranky--the knife was kind of expensive already--but might be the best option.

2) sell it.

3) whip out the sandpaper and go to work on it. There are a couple places where the handle could be slimmed down--especially at the end of the handle where it would do the most good.

Any other suggestions?




01-30-2013, 12:28 PM
I understand the reluctance to rehandle, but really might be the best option I you like the blade as much as it seems like you do. I would try sanding first before a rehandle as if it doesn't work, your still gonna fix it. I have a vintage paring that had the same issue, and sanding down the handle a little made a huge difference in the feel, and made it more comftorable for hand work.

01-30-2013, 12:32 PM
I'd personally start by removing/sanding some of the material off the handle. If that doesn't push up the balance point, maybe a rehandle might be in order. Pretty nice looking handle already, it'd be a shame to have to tear it off.

01-30-2013, 12:37 PM
I'd ease the edges on the butt, and if that doesn't work, take the middle fat down a bit as well. If that doesn't work, you could try an olive wood rehandle.

Is that an R2 Tanaka?

Pensacola Tiger
01-30-2013, 12:38 PM
I'd ease the edges on the butt, and if that doesn't work, take the middle fat down a bit as well. If that doesn't work, you could try an olive wood rehandle.

Is that an R2 Tanaka?

My vote is a Shig.

01-30-2013, 12:40 PM
My vote is a Shig.


I don't know whether Shigefusa makes western handled petty knives, but it sure looks like a mini-western Shigefusa.

01-30-2013, 12:42 PM

Dave Martell
01-30-2013, 12:42 PM
The bolster and full thickness tang are the real killers here on the weight distribution problem. I'd guess that if you rehandled it then it might get a little better but not much (since ironwood is only slightly heavier than most stabilized woods are) whereas if you were to grind the bolster off and taper the tang you can bet on the balance point moving into the blade substantially regardless of what type of scale material is used.

I probably wouldn't invest so much into the knife myself but if you like the blade shape/style then maybe it's worth considering.

01-30-2013, 12:44 PM
I like the handle shape a lot!

01-30-2013, 01:03 PM
Dave is right on this one. A tapered tang will do the most good.


Dave Martell
01-30-2013, 01:09 PM
Maybe even go with a hidden tang?

01-30-2013, 04:02 PM
Hmmmm. Sounds like there isn't an easy answer. This one might end up in B/S/T. :sad0:

01-30-2013, 04:40 PM
Do you actually use the large heel as well as the swelling in the middle of the handle? I generally don't and I might consider grinding the heel down as well as the middle to make it a little more wa-like. I think you might be able to move the balance point up to the bolster just doing that. Otherwise it's hidden tang time

Keith Neal
01-30-2013, 04:40 PM
If the bolster is in front of the balance point, it would seem that reducing the mass of the bolster would make the problem worse.

01-30-2013, 04:57 PM
When I find a few minutes I might have to dust off some old textbooks and guestimate how much wood at the end of the handle would need to come off in order to move the center of mass an appropriate amount. Worth a little scribbling to make an estimate before I do anything rash. Assuming those particular brain cells haven't drowned in beer by now.

sachem allison
01-30-2013, 04:59 PM
I would go with option 3 for now.

ps...... I haven't seen a $2 hooker in awhile. Times are tough for everybody I guess.

01-31-2013, 01:25 AM
Here I've removed half an inch:

http://s19.postimage.org/5gai4o3kv/18032010028.jpg (http://postimage.org/image/5gai4o3kv/)