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Burl Source
11-13-2011, 05:56 PM
I have never tried to make a wa handle before so this thread is to document the process as I fumble my way through my first attempt. The way I am constructing the handle is based on a post I saw by someone else. I don't remember where. It just stuck in my mind as it looked like a good way to make a strong handle.

If any of the handle makers have any tips or constructive criticism, please do not hesitate to post your input.

The final handle will be for the blade Mike Davis made for me.

1st I took a block of mediocre Ebony and marked approximate lines for size. I was thinking a slightly tapered handle going from 1 inch to 1&1/8 inch at the butt. I might change my mind and keep it straight though. I left it oversized for now to give something to clamp to. Plus room to correct mistakes if I get things off center.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/novem/1-1.jpg

Next I drilled a hole to hold a 5/8" dowel. My plan was to have a notched dowel to hold the tang and go down through the ferule and body of the handle. I was just a hair off center. Even though I was using a new drill bit, this ebony is hard stuff. I got lost in a cloud of smoke while drilling.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/novem/2.jpg

I picked a contrasting piece and drilled through it for the ferule.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/novem/4.jpg

Next I slid them both onto the dowel to check the fit.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/novem/3.jpg

Looked good so I glued and clamped the pieces. Then removed the dowel while it dries overnight.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/novem/5.jpg

Tomorrow I will trim to size and start shaping.

tgraypots
11-13-2011, 06:50 PM
I'm looking forward to the "next installment."

HHH Knives
11-13-2011, 07:00 PM
I have not tried a Wa handle yet? So Im gona be watching this one close. :) So far it looks good. I like the combination of materials you picked for this first handle.. :)

Mike Davis
11-13-2011, 07:17 PM
Great stuff Mark! I can't wait for this!!! That is absolutely not how i do my handles, but i am going to give this a try on the next one....This seems like a great way to do this...

Burl Source
11-13-2011, 07:37 PM
In theory it seems like a good way to do it.
But............there might be a good reason why it is not.
Won't know until I try.

PierreRodrigue
11-13-2011, 08:31 PM
Looking good Mark, I do pretty much the same thing, split the dowel, sand away some on the cut side to fit the tang, but I glued/epoxy the whole thing together at once, spacers and all. I cut a slot in a wood clamp, so I coule apply the pressure, and remove the knife blade while its all still clamped.

add
11-13-2011, 11:11 PM
Thanks Mark for your efforts!
Really lookin' forward to this thread...

May I request a good explanation of tools, materials, and steps used through completion (i.e. if you were teaching to a novice or just someone who is very sloooow :wink:).

Thanks in advance!

I do appreciate it.

apicius9
11-13-2011, 11:15 PM
I have tried breaking handles that I had epoxied together - easy if there is any wood to metal connection, almost impossible if it is wood to wood (stabilized or not). Consequently, I use the dowel method whenever I have these wood to non-wood connections and just epoxy if it is only wood. A few other small differences: aI don't drill completely through the ferrule, so you don't see the dowel in the finished handle. The downside is that I have to make sure I drill the ferrule slot so that I hit the slot in the handle... I also played with the split dowel and that works great if you have a new knife or make your own tangs. If you make it for replacement handles, those tangs are often twisted or warped, that's why I just leave the inside of the handle drilled out a bit wider without dowel, easier to accmodate a non-perfect tang. Finally, for many handles I have stopped clamping them. I had a few occasions where the clamping has pressed out too much epoxy and I fould it to be weaker than I wanted. Of course, i briefly press them togeher to avoid glue lines as good as I can, but I am not as obsessed with clamping anymore as I was. Also had handles that shifted on me in the clamp (mischievous little bastards shift over night after I leave the shop ;) ).

Can't think of anything else, looks like a good start to me, Mark!

Stefan

apicius9
11-13-2011, 11:28 PM
Thanks Mark for your efforts!
Really lookin' forward to this thread...

May I request a good explanation of tools, materials, and steps used through completion (i.e. if you were teaching to a novice or just someone who is very sloooow :wink:).

Thanks in advance!

I do appreciate it.

The tools cost about $12,000, better to buy handles from experienced makers :wink: :D Just kidding, of course...

Stefan

TB_London
11-14-2011, 04:43 AM
Looking good, I use a similar method but don't drill all the way through the ferrule so that the dowel remains hidden in the handle. As Stefan says you then need to line up the slot in the top of the ferrule with the one in the dowel.
Once you've finished this one I can envisage every knife you have getting a new handle :D

Burl Source
11-14-2011, 01:13 PM
Thank you for the input guys.
The reason I drilled all the way through the ferrule on this one is I can't find where I put my small jeweler files.
But..... it makes sense as the best looking way to go.
On this practice one I cheated and picked a wood that was a color match to the dowel.

Since the body and ferule are wood to wood I used wood glue instead of epoxy on this handle.
I figured with clamping I would end up with a better looking joint.
Won't know till I start sanding.

ADD,
I didn't give detailed instructions because I had a 50/50 chance of giving detailed instructions on how to do things the wrong way.
I don't know yet if this will turn out or end up as a chewie toy for the dogs.

London,
You are right.
I also have a bunch of blades different makers have given me to mess around with. I will grind the tangs on some for Wa handles.

The more I get into this, the more respect I have for the wa handle makers.
Not something I would want to do as a job, more for my own diversions away from the daily routine.

El Pescador
11-14-2011, 02:05 PM
Keep it up!

Burl Source
11-14-2011, 02:40 PM
Now I am starting to trim to shape.
There was a small bark pocket that showed up in the maple so I gave it a couple drops of CA glue to secure the bark and help with the fill I will do later.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/novem/8.jpg

Now it is trimmed to a rectangle shape and close to actual length. Right now I am a bit longer than normal at 6&1/2" long. I will probably shorten it, but I want to see how it looks and feels after I sand the octagon shape.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/novem/10.jpg

My center hole is off center a bit top to bottom so I will correct that before going any further.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/novem/9.jpg

El Pescador
11-14-2011, 02:44 PM
this is going pretty quick!

Burl Source
11-14-2011, 04:41 PM
Well......I thought I was doing pretty good. As I went along I was thinking about more efficient ways to do things.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/novem/11.jpg

Then, on the other side I saw what looked like a little bug hole. Pressed on it and got this.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/novem/12.jpg

Lesson Learned
When you are drilling out a block, make sure you have it clamped perfectly square instead of eyeballing it.

Now I need to start over.
Anyone want to place any bets how many times I will mess up before I get a keeper?

apicius9
11-14-2011, 05:05 PM
Hey, that looks familiar :) With a 5/8" hole that can happen easily. Three things I try to avoid that:

- I drill a slot by setting 2-3 1/4" holes next to each other rather than a round 5/8" hole through the whole handle. Then only drill the 5/8" round 1/2" into the handle.
- check that the piece is in square before I drill - well, I wing it more often than not, but after having done a few hundred, I do o.k. without measuring each one unless the pieces themselves are not squared.
- mark the center of the hole on the bottom also. I sand them to shape, and it can happen easily that you make sure the hole at the tip is centered but you are skewing the piece and the hole is not perfectly straight anymore after that.

Not sure if that helps, just a few additional steps I found helpful.

Stefan

Burl Source
11-14-2011, 05:09 PM
Stefan,
It's OK to laugh. Thank you for the input. I will try some of your suggestions. I seem to be one of those who tries all the wrong ways first before I settle in with the correct way that works for me.

I have about 30 years of various types of woodworking experience so I should have known better.
When I take short cuts or eyeball things instead of measuring and double checking,
It usually bites me in the butt.

Next step I will be making a couple jigs for drilling and grinding the angles.
Then I will start over again.

El Pescador
11-14-2011, 05:15 PM
minor setback...

apicius9
11-14-2011, 05:17 PM
Looks like you have about 25 years of experience on me then, Mark ;) If you find out how to make a good jig for the angles, let me know... I was thinking about it, and I am sure it would be faster and more precise with a jig, but since most of mine are a bit tapered and I don't make the taper the same on every handle, I am not using jigs. More work to do it all free hand, but I also like that they come out a bit more 'organic' in lack of a better word. That said, I also like the clean, precise, and crisp lines of Marko's handles, just differences in personal style.

Stefan

PierreRodrigue
11-14-2011, 06:04 PM
What I have done as far as eyeballing, is to have a length of flatbar from blade stock, available to insert into the slot, then as I am grinding away the sides, I have a visual reference for my alignment. Also gives me another place to hold/steady the handle as I am freehanding the taper. if I hold the bar near the platten while grinding one side, when I flip it over, I hold the bar in or near the same place. Gives me a more balanced handle, asthetically speaking. :)

Marko Tsourkan
11-14-2011, 06:17 PM
Well......I thought I was doing pretty good. As I went along I was thinking about more efficient ways to do things.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/novem/11.jpg

Then, on the other side I saw what looked like a little bug hole. Pressed on it and got this.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/novem/12.jpg

Lesson Learned
When you are drilling out a block, make sure you have it clamped perfectly square instead of eyeballing it.

Now I need to start over.
Anyone want to place any bets how many times I will mess up before I get a keeper?

That is how we all learn. :(
I don't think I have learned anything without failing if not the first time, then definitely the second.

Nice looking handle otherwise.

M

SpikeC
11-14-2011, 06:36 PM
I use a ShopSmith to bore the holes in my handles, as a horizontal boring machine. It is really easy to keep it aligned. I start with a true piece and lay out the bevels with a meat caliper. I rough in the bevels on the bandsaw with the table set at 45 degrees, then plane and sand to the lines. I've done six now with no failures, which means that the next one will blow up!

AUSSIE BURLS
11-14-2011, 06:42 PM
Great attempt Mark, Looks good. I still havent attempted it yet but im looking forward to doing it. Your post is inspiring!!!- I also have a great respect for the Wa handle makers. It just looks and feels right!!!!
Thanks--The Other Mark.lol

SpikeC
11-14-2011, 07:42 PM
OK, full disclosure- my first WA I glued 2 pieces of wood together and then tried to make a slot for the tang. A 3/32 drill will not go straight into end grain. So I used a bandsaw to slice the blank into 2 pieces and cut a slot in each piece, so that when glued back together I would have a perfect hole for the tang, and in the process removed part of my middle finger in the tablesaw blade. The handle ended up fine, and most of e meat grew back on my finger.
Now I relieve the inside of the ferrule or bolster and make a tidy slot for the tang, then epoxy that onto the blade. The rest of the handle gets two parallel 1/4 inch holes bored into it and it is epoxyed onto the blade with a pin blind drilled into one side for suspenders. I got the idea from a WIP that Bill Burke did here.

Burl Source
11-14-2011, 07:58 PM
I appreciate the input from you guys.
There have been a lot of great tips.
Tomorrow after shipping I will be back to my attempts.

Spike,
Bummer about the finger. Glad to hear it healed up most of the way.
I have seen enough saw injuries that I am probably overly cautious anymore.
Big thing I have to remember is don't use the saws when I am tired.

Mike Davis
11-14-2011, 08:02 PM
Aside from the obvious, i think it turned out really nice. As good, if not better than mine lol. I did devise a cool jig to make the holes straight down in the wood, i will get pics up as soon as i find it lol

mhenry
11-14-2011, 09:10 PM
That's a damn nice first attempt Mark!

JohnnyChance
11-15-2011, 01:28 AM
I use a ShopSmith to bore the holes in my handles, as a horizontal boring machine. It is really easy to keep it aligned. I start with a true piece and lay out the bevels with a meat caliper. I rough in the bevels on the bandsaw with the table set at 45 degrees, then plane and sand to the lines. I've done six now with no failures, which means that the next one will blow up!

Is there an advantage to using the ShopSmith horizontal as opposed to setting it up like a drill press? I have an old ShopSmith, the way I am picturing it, you have the table horizontal as well and that way you can clamp the handle piece "laying down" as opposed to "standing up" like in in a drill press.

Marko Tsourkan
11-15-2011, 08:24 AM
I think it comes down to how you secure the piece you drill. If you use a drill vise, those don't tend to be tall, and the upper half of the block might not be as rigid as the bottom. I had pretty good results with using a drill vise. Bear in mind that you might have to bolt it to a drill press table, otherwise you might setting yourself up for a failure.

Some people use pen vise. Those are designed for taller blocks.

Vertical or horizontal drilling? Both work well. You have to adapt to what you have. Sometimes you make some sort of jig to help you drill straight holes and minimize block wobble.

I often pre-drill with a smaller bit, and then follow up with a final size diameter bit.

M

Burl Source
11-15-2011, 11:55 AM
I am using an old drill press.
Last attempt I just clamped a couple pieces of wood and held the block against them when I drilled.
This time I fabricated a piece that I can clamp to the table, and then clamp the block to it holding the block vertically square.
I think the pre drilling with the smaller bit is a real good idea.

SpikeC
11-15-2011, 02:26 PM
The nice thing about the horizontal drilling setup is that you can use the miter gauge for alignment and the fence for a stop. The table is adjusted to set one dimension of the hole and the gauge for the other. Everything is solid and stable. I use a forschner bit to start the hole to get it straight and true, then finish to depth with a brad point.

Burl Source
11-15-2011, 02:40 PM
My problem with the working areas and tools here are that most everything they make is free form, naturalish looking stuff.
Not like the precision tools in my brother's cabinet shop.
I was lucky to find one of the drill presses that doesn't wobble.
Lot's of old tools from the 50's and such. Most of them look cool, work good, but not overly precise.

El Pescador
11-15-2011, 02:43 PM
pictures!

WillC
11-15-2011, 02:50 PM
I've done that before! I've got a couple of blocks with drill bits stuck in somewhere too.:D A good bit that doesn't wander is a great help, once you know your drilling square. I like the dowel system. I've been using a brass dowel instead of wood sometimes when extra weight for balance is required. I cut the slot in the dowel with a steady hand and a 2mm disc in a 9"grinder.

TB_London
11-16-2011, 06:24 AM
Dont forget if its out of square getting the handle and blade in alignment will be a PITA as well

Burl Source
11-16-2011, 07:20 PM
I will be holding off for a couple days while I catch up on things.
Then I will make attempt #2
Thanks for all the great input everyone.

Ivan Campos
11-17-2011, 08:27 AM
Just a tip for those who donīt have a vise in their drill presses: turn the block being drilled at each 1/2" more or less, so you will have less of a chance of it hitting the block wall from inside. Not to be used when precision is needed obviously but it will be enough for handles.

l r harner
11-17-2011, 10:01 AM
i use 3/16 drill to hollow out the main and mille the back of the spacer with 3/16 or 1/4 inch end mill to within about 1/8 inch of the front of the handle then a 3/32 end mill to slot for the guard

test fit make pin hole and part grind then glue up and finishh while the handle is on the knife (jsut got to watch that you dont scratch the blade shaping the handle out