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Thread: WIP - Western Rehandle(s)

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    Dave Martell's Avatar
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    WIP - Western Rehandle(s)

    I'm going to show the process of how I rehandle western knives. The mules are Hiromoto AS knives - a gyuto & a santoku. The gyuto will be getting a hidden tang conversion, the santoku will receive full tang scales.


    First we see the knives laid out along with all of the materials required. The wood has been cut down to size, squared up, and the scales (for the santoku) have been cut as well as have their G10 liners glued up.






    (The wood isn't really called "baconwood" - the owner dubbed it this name as it reminds her of bacon)




    From here I took the knives to the grinder and thinned the blades. I didn't take pictures of this because they pretty much look the same, just shinier as they're all polished up ready for the etching tank.

    The blades are then wrapped in protective tape and then the scales were removed from the handles. Again no pictures, I should have taken some here though. The procedure is to grind the heads of the rivets off and then punch them out - scales fall off.

    The holes in the tangs were drilled out to a larger size to accommodate the pins I use. In case you're wondering why I need to drill the holes out, the Japanese use rivets with large heads yet tiny shafts so the factory pin holes are very small. The tangs are hardened and require a carbide drill bit to cut through them.









    Here you'll see the knives laid out at the point ready to have the wood attached. I have some more fitting to still do to ensure a clean fit up but otherwise the next step will be mounting the wood.





    You'll notice that the gyuto's tang has been ground down to make the hidden tang conversion. The owner requested a hidden tang handle on this knife because she wants to show the maximum amount of "baconwood"as possible.






    Here I'm drilling the pin holes for the santoku. I bring the whole assembly (knife included) to the drill press to drill my pin holes. I've found over time that if I do it this way I can make one pass through both scales and get perfect alignment without having to run the risk of over-sizing the holes from drilling the second scale as is more commonly done. *Note - Doing the drilling like this works great for tapered tangs - perfect fit every time.

    I finish the holes by using a reamer (shown in the picture) to get the perfect size for a (hopefully) perfect fit.






    I then cut out the shape (pattern) for the scales.






    Here are the santoku scales with pins inserted part way, ready for glue up.





    I then moved onto drilling out the tang hole in the "baconwood" block.





    Then onto the fun part - burning in the tang!

    The process starts out by heating the tang's tip to orange color (very hot).






    Then I push it on home, sometimes we get flames.





    Also lots of smoke too. Good thing I have a dust collector set up below sucking the smoke out of the shop.






    Then finally I drilled the single pin hole that this handle will have.





    Now for mounting & gluing.....


  2. #2
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    damn Dave, you aren't taking those pics yourself while your doing that are you? Can't wait to see you finish out that hidden tang.

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    Senior Member Erilyn75's Avatar
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    I got so excited when I saw the title. I was like, "OH! OH! OH!"

    Then I clicked the link and was like "oh" lol

    I love to see WIPs. It's very fascinating how it goes from an ordinary knife to a beautiful work of art. Can't wait to see the finished product and what that bacon wood looks like!

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    Senior Member Matus's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing this Dave. So cool

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    Senior Member MAS4T0's Avatar
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    For the hidden tang conversion, to account for the weight of the lost metal, do you do anything to bring the balance back?

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    Dave Martell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookinstuff View Post
    damn Dave, you aren't taking those pics yourself while your doing that are you? Can't wait to see you finish out that hidden tang.

    My wife is taking the action shots.

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    Dave Martell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erilyn75 View Post
    I got so excited when I saw the title. I was like, "OH! OH! OH!"

    Then I clicked the link and was like "oh" lol

    Oh your knife is all done.












































  8. #8


    Dave Martell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAS4T0 View Post
    For the hidden tang conversion, to account for the weight of the lost metal, do you do anything to bring the balance back?

    Western handled knives are already handle heavy so it's not really a big deal to convert them. Plus the epoxy and use of stabilized wood often adds to handle weight. In this case it works out good since the blade has been thinned which then keeps the balance pretty much the same anyway.

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    Dave, share some secrets: do you always burn tang holes? I still have yet to see handle mounted by you, but from the photos they all had the impression of perfectly sized holes.
    I haven't tried burning handles myself, because always afraid that that procedure would break handle if there are any non wood spacers.

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    Dave Martell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icanhaschzbrgr View Post
    Dave, share some secrets: do you always burn tang holes? I still have yet to see handle mounted by you, but from the photos they all had the impression of perfectly sized holes.
    I haven't tried burning handles myself, because always afraid that that procedure would break handle if there are any non wood spacers.

    I don't think that I'd try burning a handle that had non-wood spacers, I'm sure something will go wrong there.

    No I don't always burn on handles but when I can I do it because it's fast. Instead of filing away for 1/2 an hour you just heat the tang and push. It does, and should, take a few attempts when burning hardwood (vs ho wood) to get the tang in all the way yet it's still a lot faster than filing. It also serves to allow a tighter fit so that you don't so easily blow through into a drilled cavity when shaping.

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