Repairing gaps between tang and scale?

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
Jul 22, 2017
Reaction score
SW Floriduh
What can I fill the gaps on my older Western knife handles, especially by the bolster area where it seems the wood has dried away? Is an epoxy the best bet as a filler? Or maybe silicon caulking?
Here are some images of a 1950s or so German knife with the gaps I'm experiencing. Images include views from the spine andfrom the edge.
The last image is very interesting as it shows the V grind very well, although the focus is not quite perfect. The spine thickness is only 2mm.
Last edited:
I've used epoxy to good effect in the past. You can get dark grey epoxies if you want, tho with dark coloured scales clear epoxy is going to be barely noticeable anyway.
I'd try mineral oil and then beeswax. Soften the beeswax in the microwave till spreadable. Work it into the gaps and let harden. Once it's hard, you can hand-buff off the excess. Beeswax and mineral oil are sympatico. I don't think mineral oil then epoxy like each other.
I've also used JB weld and it held up well. It can be flaky if it's too thin though.
Last edited:
I was gonna start a thread on this but found this searching just now haha

I'm happy with the result of trying to shim softwood in the tang / scale gap with wood glue. Its a kind of low ish effort task, or unprofessional looking one compared to making new scales or refinishing the tang flush and then adding the new scales. But still this took a couple of hours. I cut the wood to size and taper (use kiridashi or similar blade. . . I used a kanna blade without a dai) via whittling and cutting pieces on a cutting board (I just cut it on a scrap piece of wood). I have the grain such that the end grain shows out of the handle gap that's now filled. I snap off the excess wood. This leaves a little ragged edge . . . I tried cutting a snap point to make a more clean break, or cutting the excess off but it was easy to slip and not worth the effort or possible cuts to myself or the scale wood. Then I filed the tang and wood scale and shims flush with the half round side of a file; I used an tsuboman extra hard file for stainless steel

What's difficult is staining the shims or using a better color match wood. I assumed a softwood would be better to fill gaps and compress and wedge better. Near the end of the handle it was important to not shim too much because it would start to wedge the handle scales apart and widen the gap. Smaller pieces of shim wood were more helpful to better fill rapidly changing inconsistencies, and have a tight fit

I've tried some epoxies before but they smelled enough that they bothered me so I didn't want to go that route for this knife. Beeswax was something I considered too, silicone was as well, smells less than epoxy

Knife is a Mexuer & Cie Sheffield chef knife I'm working on


Last edited:
@refcast That's a really clever method!
It has the benefit of keeping the texture the same since it's wood too.
Wish I knew this trick years ago.
Last edited:
Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. This is a great option since I probably would have just popped those scales right off, especially considering they look only pinned in place.
Sometimes it's nice to keep the wood original to the knife.

Here's an example I showed a few years ago; popped off scales sanded down on the tang-side, and then inserted a contrasting colored wood between the tang and the old scales.
15 before-after.jpg