I'm in the process of shaping the handle for a western style paring knife, with integral bolsters. It's one of the zheng vg-10 laminated blade blanks. I've epoxied the scales on, and it looks like it's a nice tight fit against the tang and bolster, so if I can shape it correctly it should have good fit and finish.
The question I have is, how do you shape the handle so it has a smooth transition from bolster to wood, without completely scratching the bolster? Or should I just shape the bolster along with the wood, and then polish the bolster? (how much scratching can polishing compound remove?) I have the bolster covered in tape, but it seems like it would be nearly impossible to shape the wood without sanding through the tape, and very difficult to get tell if I have a smooth transition with the tape in place. And since the wood is obviously softer than the metal bolster, I'm concerned I'll remove more wood than metal.
I have a 1x30 belt sander, a lot of sand paper, and lots of files of all sizes and grades. I also have plenty of polishing compounds and buffing wheels.