Poor tang & bolster fit and what this means when re-handling a knife....

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Dave Martell

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I often get in knives to be rehandled that are in poor condition from the maker. Certain brands are pretty much guaranteed to have some particular problems associated. Without the handle maker addressing these issues then all the customer can expect is a prettier handle with the same fit 'n finish problems.


Below is a typical example of a Teruyasu Fujiwara that has angled (not square to the tang) uneven bolsters that are different on the top & bottom and also rounded unevenly where it joins the tang plus the tang has been ground into with a belt, cut off wheel, or stone wheel in several spots....






In this example, should I leave the metal as is (from the maker) the result will show similar to what we see here, with glue lines/filled holes in the tang and along the bolster with a very poor fit up. This would be the quickest and cheapest thing to do but as mentioned above, all the customer gets from going this route is a fancier looking handle.

Instead, I prefer to remove the maker's mess, grind the tang down to a hidden style and square up the bolster in all directions. This is more work, and more expense, for the customer but it is the correct thing to do if what is desired is top quality workmanship.

I'm showing you this so that you can examine your handle(s) pre-shipping to see what problems may arise and need addressing prior to re-handling your knives. It's not always going to be so clear as the above example yet if you look close enough you will see things that I too will see and have to bring to your attention.

Dave
 

malexthekid

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Thanks for this Dave. I am slowly refurbing an old Sabatier and am going to have to overcome some of these issues myself. And nice to see how a pro does it so i have something to aim at (and miss 😁).
 

ThEoRy

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I've done a few older knives and some German knives that had these problems. Rounded inside corners or uneven sides. It's a pain in the ass to work with.
 

malexthekid

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I've done a few older knives and some German knives that had these problems. Rounded inside corners or uneven sides. It's a pain in the ass to work with.
Yeah not looking forward to an issues i find. Given in just doing it with some files.
 

aboynamedsuita

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This is a good post Dave, I imagine that sometimes things may also look pretty on the outside, but once the scales come off, it's like a dogs breakfast. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but using liners between the tang and scales would also help to buffer the unevenness, and the other option would be to grind the tang/bolster flat/perpendicular?
 

Dave Martell

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In the past I've done a lot of repairs to tangs, I've flattened and made them even and I've ground on bolsters too when needed. I've also had to use liners and colored (tinted) epoxy on some knives to fill in some unsightly gaps that were beyond repair but this type of thing (seen in these pictures) is so far beyond all that.

What's that saying about computing? (I think it relates here) Garbage in...garbage out :D
 

chiffonodd

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I ran into this issue on the old sab I tried to refurbish. Ended up cutting off the bolster with a hacksaw and filing things flush w/ a bastard file. Almost had a stroke. Do not recommend trying this without power tools.
 

malexthekid

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I ran into this issue on the old sab I tried to refurbish. Ended up cutting off the bolster with a hacksaw and filing things flush w/ a bastard file. Almost had a stroke. Do not recommend trying this without power tools.
This isn't what i want to hear.... though i shoulf have guessed it given the effort to take the finger guard off with a file
 

Dave Martell

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I ran into this issue on the old sab I tried to refurbish. Ended up cutting off the bolster with a hacksaw and filing things flush w/ a bastard file. Almost had a stroke. Do not recommend trying this without power tools.
This isn't what i want to hear.... though i shoulf have guessed it given the effort to take the finger guard off with a file
Eh it's actually quite fun at the end of the day :) just be prepared to sweat

Too funny! :biggrin:
 

aboynamedsuita

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In the past I've done a lot of repairs to tangs, I've flattened and made them even and I've ground on bolsters too when needed. I've also had to use liners and colored (tinted) epoxy on some knives to fill in some unsightly gaps that were beyond repair but this type of thing (seen in these pictures) is so far beyond all that.

What's that saying about computing? (I think it relates here) Garbage in...garbage out :D
Glad to hear flattening is viable, I have something in mind for a knife and the preferred option would be for full tang and scales ;-)
 

malexthekid

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I'm thinking I'll call my finished product "rustic" to overcome this issue.
 

aboynamedsuita

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I wouldn't say "viable"... more like a last resort. :D
The reason I asked is it was sort of the look I had in mind without liners for a particular project, if it costs more for extra labor that's fine, but we can discuss (if there's more to it than just that) in due course ;)
 
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