How do you install a wa handle on a knife? Is it difficult?

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DevilJosh

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I am sure this has been asked before but I couldn't find it by searching on the forum. Sorry.

Are there any YouTube videos that show the process? I look but I could really only find how to remove a handle.

Also, what kind of tools would I need?

Thanks.
 

DevilJosh

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Hi Josh,

Check out this video by Maxim: Shigefusa Wa Re-Handle 2: http://youtu.be/AFTkCmPnIN8

Thanks. Does he just burn a hole into the handle and put it in bees wax after? (In his video before this one he just heats the tang of his knife until it gets red hot, inserts it into the handle hole and then in the next video he just fills the hole with bee's wax and sets it in.) That is all that keeps it in place? It almost seems too simple.
 

erikz

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I dont dare to answer this. There are a lot of people here who know how to do this properly though. Lets see what they say :)
 

CPD

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Thanks. Does he just burn a hole into the handle and put it in bees wax after? (In his video before this one he just heats the tang of his knife until it gets red hot, inserts it into the handle hole and then in the next video he just fills the hole with bee's wax and sets it in.) That is all that keeps it in place? It almost seems too simple.

There are a bunch of variations in how people like to do "burn in" wa mounts. I don't want to speak to Maxim's video or method (haven't seen it in a long time and not sure of all the steps he takes) nor do I want to try and say what the traditional method in Japan is....but a few things I can add in general about the process and how many will do it:

The burn-in process is relying partly on the heat cutting the opening to the right size and partly on the expansion and contraction of the wood (and metal) due to heating and cooling to create the strength of the mount. Wax is used to seal the tang hole and insure no water can get inside the handle where it might risk rusting or corroding the tang on carbon knives. Wax and sawdust can also act as a bit of a glue when added into the hole.

as to method. The general approach is to precut/file/drill the tang hole slightly undersized. The heated tang expands the wood fibers as its pushed in.
Variations --
Some like to insert and remove the tang once before seating it fully a final time.
Some people will add a little bit of sawdust to inside the hole (sometimes with wax) to further insure a tight fit
Some people will make a sacrificial tang slightly undersized to the actual one out of scrap metal to get the fit close before switching to the actual knife

when heating a tang, always hold the knife barehanded (no glove). You want to have sensitivity to the heat. If it gets too hot to hold, that is the warning sign you are heating too close to the blade and are about to potentially damage your blade's temper and heat treatment

while it looks simple to do a burn in, it's not nearly as simple as it looks. It is relatively easy to get slightly out of alignment or otherwise mess up the mounting.

also keep in mind, burn in mounts will not always work well on all types of woods. Trying to do a burn in with an exotic wood custom handle can be a recipe for trouble. If the woods' particularly dense it can crack (had this happen with an ebony handle)....

if the ability to easily remove the handle or replace it isn't a high priority, many people will use epoxy in their mount instead of a burn in approach.

personally I like the burn-in method but it's caused more than a few anxious moments when using it with a handle you've spent hours working on. Not being a pro (eg not doing it often or having the need to do it in volume) I tend to make a starter tang out of some flat bar. It adds a step and is much slower but it takes away the worry of damaging an expensive knife. Working with exotic woods, it also gives me a little more comfort that I'll get a good fit without damaging the handle I've made. For method: I trace the ouline of the real tang on it, grind it to slightly undersized...and use that to do the first pass of the burn in. For many that's unnecesary and extra work but it works for me.
 

DevilJosh

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There are a bunch of variations in how people like to do "burn in" wa mounts. I don't want to speak to Maxim's video or method (haven't seen it in a long time and not sure of all the steps he takes) nor do I want to try and say what the traditional method in Japan is....but a few things I can add in general about the process and how many will do it:

The burn-in process is relying partly on the heat cutting the opening to the right size and partly on the expansion and contraction of the wood (and metal) due to heating and cooling to create the strength of the mount. Wax is used to seal the tang hole and insure no water can get inside the handle where it might risk rusting or corroding the tang on carbon knives. Wax and sawdust can also act as a bit of a glue when added into the hole.

as to method. The general approach is to precut/file/drill the tang hole slightly undersized. The heated tang expands the wood fibers as its pushed in.
Variations --
Some like to insert and remove the tang once before seating it fully a final time.
Some people will add a little bit of sawdust to inside the hole (sometimes with wax) to further insure a tight fit
Some people will make a sacrificial tang slightly undersized to the actual one out of scrap metal to get the fit close before switching to the actual knife

when heating a tang, always hold the knife barehanded (no glove). You want to have sensitivity to the heat. If it gets too hot to hold, that is the warning sign you are heating too close to the blade and are about to potentially damage your blade's temper and heat treatment

while it looks simple to do a burn in, it's not nearly as simple as it looks. It is relatively easy to get slightly out of alignment or otherwise mess up the mounting.

also keep in mind, burn in mounts will not always work well on all types of woods. Trying to do a burn in with an exotic wood custom handle can be a recipe for trouble. If the woods' particularly dense it can crack (had this happen with an ebony handle)....

if the ability to easily remove the handle or replace it isn't a high priority, many people will use epoxy in their mount instead of a burn in approach.

personally I like the burn-in method but it's caused more than a few anxious moments when using it with a handle you've spent hours working on. Not being a pro (eg not doing it often or having the need to do it in volume) I tend to make a starter tang out of some flat bar. It adds a step and is much slower but it takes away the worry of damaging an expensive knife. Working with exotic woods, it also gives me a little more comfort that I'll get a good fit without damaging the handle I've made. For method: I trace the ouline of the real tang on it, grind it to slightly undersized...and use that to do the first pass of the burn in. For many that's unnecesary and extra work but it works for me.

I appreciate your in-depth response. It all sounds a bit out of my league. Maybe one day when I have enough money to buy the tools I will try it. Thanks again.
 

Burl Source

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There might be some tips that will help in this thread.
Even thought it is about fitting the handle to a hidden tang hunting knife some of the methods should work with a wa handle kitchen knife.
Link to thread
 

andur

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZajZh8aps6Q This is the way I've been doing it too. The difficult part with dense wood is getting the pilot hole. With oak you won't be burning the hole too well, so a lot of filing is still needed. I don't like too large holes and filling them with epoxy. It looks good if it's snug from the start. Extremely difficult to do with hardwoods. Also if using a buffalo horn ferrule it's easy to crack it when tapping the tang in. Wood might expand a bit but the horn won't. I've yet to invent a good way of filing a narrow tang hole if the tang is only about 3mm thick. Might have to forge some tang shaped tools for burning the wood so you won't have to heat your expensive knife tang 20 times.

Does anyone have other suggestions for getting a slot into the handle without making too big?
 

Norton

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Burning in happens a little too fast for me. I friction-fit with painter's tape on the tang and/or toothpicks in the hole, then seal with beeswax. If I decide to make it permanent, I can inject some epoxy.
 

nerologic

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Has anyone tried Crystalbond 590 instead of epoxy? You heat it to its flow point (150˚C/ 302˚F) then bond things together. It give a very strong bond, but can be dissolved in alcohol (or reheated) if you ever need to remove it. We use it to bond silicon and ceramic parts to a sacrificial substrates before dicing thin wafers from them.

https://www.tedpella.com/technote_html/821-1-2-3-4-6-TN.pdf
 
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