View Full Version : Adding bolster to western handle
05-26-2011, 07:34 PM
I've done several rehandles in the past, but they've always either already had a bolster, or else they were a stick tang that were easy to slide a slotted bolster over. But now it's summer and I have a bit of free time, so the time has come where I've got a knife that I'd like to put a bolster on where there is none already.
I thought it would be neat to try putting on a bolster rather than just tapering the wood at the end of the handle to a bolster shape, purely for aesthetic reasons. But hopefully I am not getting myself into something that will end up a mess! I have no idea where to begin, so I was hoping some of you with a bit more experience can help me get started!
05-26-2011, 08:21 PM
Hi Peter, I'll chime in after I try it myself. :D
I'll be with you waiting for responses from the experienced.
05-26-2011, 10:33 PM
Over on Blade Forums, John M. Jones (JMJones of our forum) has a WIP thread. This link is to the part where he works on the handle, and makes the bolsters:
05-27-2011, 09:29 AM
That's helpful, thanks for pointing it out!
Is it normal for the pins to go all the way through the bolster? I'm surprised that you can't see them afterwards, even if they are the same material as the bolster. Is there a trick for getting them not to show after final sanding?
05-27-2011, 09:59 AM
Yes, there is. It's what we used to call an 'interference fit'.
Basically, the hole is just a teeny bit smaller than the pin. Get the pin (tapered on the lead end) really cold, get the bolster hot then just press it in. I know...this sounds way easier than it is, what with epoxies and solder and such, and the tolerances have to be on the money. But it damn sure works; it's nearly invisible when done right.
Whichever method you use, good luck with it. And don't forget the pics!
05-27-2011, 10:03 AM
Yeah, it really surprised me too Peter. You can faintly see the one's I did if you polish the bolster to almost mirror polish...so I took it back down to a fine scratch pattern to get rid of them. That's probably as much about my craftsmanship (first peened boslters I ever done) than anything.
05-27-2011, 10:24 AM
That is really clever. I will have to give it a try! Beats the alternative of grinding some glue grooves and hoping the glue holds the bolsters in place....
05-27-2011, 11:24 AM
Are you putting the handle on yourself or just modifying the current handle. The pins don't need to be an interference fit but the fit has to be good. I use a step hole and peen the pin so that it swells and fills the step then grind and polish. everything has to be cleen to get the pin to disapear into the bolster.
05-27-2011, 11:30 AM
Bill, have you ever done hidden pins on a bolster?
05-27-2011, 12:18 PM
05-27-2011, 02:08 PM
Hi Bill, I'm installing the handle myself. Hidden pins sounds like an interesting idea. Then I'd be sure they wouldn't show through. Bolsters aren't all that thick though - do hidden pins provide enough gripping power if they're penetrating only part of the bolster?
05-27-2011, 03:30 PM
I think that there may be some missunderstanding here. drill all the way through the bolsters with a drill the size of the pin that I am going to use. Then from the outside of the bolsters I drill about halfway into the bolster enlarging the previous hole two to five thousandths larger that the pin. I then sand the pin clean of any oxides and clean the hole with a pipe cleaner and acetone. put the pins in the holes and peen them in. you need to hammer firmly at first but not too hard. then when the bolsters are firmly being held on the blade mammer the pin pretty hard. What you ant to do is to swell the pin enough to hold the bolster on then drive the pin into the larger part of the hole upsetting it enough to completely fill the holes. If there is ant oil or dirt in the hole or on the pin it will show up in the finished product. if you start to see a line around the pin try re hammering evrything down a little harder than before. use the same material as the bolsters for pins.
05-27-2011, 04:28 PM
Thanks for spelling it out for me Bill! We're on the same page now. That also looks like a good method. Maybe I'll give them both a shot on some practice metal and see which works best for me.
05-27-2011, 10:58 PM
That is the same way I do things, would have chimed in earlier, but work sucks! Just to add, I leave about 1/8" or a hair less sticking out of each side of the bolster, tap each pin on each side to swell the ends, once the bolsters are tight against the tang, firmly hammer them. I use a 2 1/2 pound hammer, and pound the pins till their flat against the bolsters. Grind and polish, if you like, or leave satin finished. The biggest isue I had was once or twice, I got an odd pin of a slightly different stock, you could see the pins as a slightly discolored circle.
05-28-2011, 09:51 AM
bill.....what if you're using damascus or mokume on your knives and have a pattern on the bolster?.....obviously you can't use a regular pin....what dop u do in those circumstances.....ryan
05-28-2011, 10:38 AM
Are you doing this on Mokume bolster as well?
05-29-2011, 09:45 AM
Are you doing this on Mokume bolster as well?
I'm certainly not on my first attempt!
05-29-2011, 10:04 PM
If using Mokume or damascuss bolsters then you only have two choices. iether learn to solder really well and solder on your bolsters or us a pin that contrasts and make the pins part of the design. I go for the solder
05-29-2011, 10:41 PM
thanks bill...that's what i was guessing...thanks for the info....ryan
05-31-2011, 05:52 PM
Came across this
06-03-2011, 11:10 PM
What size (weight) peen hammer do you guys use and what type steel and pins do you use? I know that 416 is used, but not sure if is used for both stainless and carbon, or just stainless.
06-04-2011, 12:33 AM
I have a 12 ounce hammer. I used 303 on my AEB-L suji. That is a good question about what to use on carbon blades too.
06-04-2011, 02:45 AM
I use a 12oz to get 'em started, then a 3 lb to hammer them home. For bolsters, I think I would use stainless anyway, a patina on a blade is nice, but not so sure about the handle. If its an integral, thats a different story. I like 416.
06-04-2011, 02:46 AM
you can use about anthing on anything. I use 416 on both carbon and stainless. I also use nickle silver and brass. just make sure to use the same material for the pins if you don't want them to show. I have even cut some of the bolster material and turned pins on the lathe to get a match.
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