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rookie version re-handle walkthrough

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kalaeb

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When I started to try some western re-handles I looked everywhere for a tutorial and did not find much luck. Of course it seemed simply enough, but it is harder than it looks. I thought I might post a thread on how I do it, however amature it may be, so if anyone else wants to take a stab at it they have a little help.

My only disclaimer is that I am not a professional, I don't do it for money, just for something to keep my mind off work. The handles I have done, including this one are completely amature and don't hold a candle to Dave, Stefan, Pierre (making some wicked hybrid handles), Adam, Brian or really anyone else. But, it is fun none the less.

First, start with the knife:



Find awesome scales that are going to fit, or buy a block and cut it yourself.



Protect the blade and your fingers with an edge protector or tape and remove the old scales. I use a drill press to drill out the existing rivets, then gently pry off the old scales, they are usually not on very well. In some situations my press slips off the rivet and I end up fighting the stock scale removal for a while.



Once the old scales are off I sand the surface of the tang to remove any residual epoxy or burrs.



Now I work on the new scales, first I get the rough shape by using a disc sander.



Then I make sure the scale is flat but putting it in a belt sander.



More to come...
 

kalaeb

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Now it is time to stick the new scales to the tang. I line up the scale where I want it to go, epoxy it and clamp using the poor man clamp, (essentially anything I can find, usually c-clamps).



I usually wait 24 hours before I remove the clamps, this is probably overkill...After I remove the clamps I drill the appropriate sized hole in the opposite side of the wood. In this situation I was adding a 1/4 inch mosiac pin and I drilled a 5/16 hole for the corby rivets.



Once the holes are drilled I line up the opposite scale and attach it to the tang. One more time with the ghetto clamps.



After curing, copy the holes you drilled in the first scale to drill the second.
If you are using corby rivets you will also need to drill a seat in the holes that will accept the rivets, in this situation I needed to seat a 1/4 inch rivet in the 5/16th holes.



I usually use a little epoxy for the rivets and the pin, just in case.



Now its on to the fun stuff, shaping. I cheat and do all my rough shaping on a belt sander at a 220 grit. For the areas I can't reach with my belt sander I use a hand files.



Then starts the hand sanding, I use a 320 grit, 600 grit, 800 grit, 1000 grit and 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper. This photo is after the 320 grit.



After I get to 2000 grit I put on two layers of Tru-Oil gunstock finish and buff with 0000 steel wool after each layer, then I apply a few coats of gunstock wax to finish it off.





Sorry about the remarkably poor picture quality, thanks for looking.
 

steeley

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Really like these DIY handle segments and nice burl wood .
 

Jim

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What a nice job. Thanks for showing us your "system"!
 

JohnnyChance

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Thanks for the write-up. Going to have to do a few of these myself pretty soon. Wood looks good too. Where did you get it from?
 

kalaeb

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Thanks for the write-up. Going to have to do a few of these myself pretty soon. Wood looks good too. Where did you get it from?
Johnny, I got the wood from Arizona Ironwood and I am very happy with the purchase. It was the first stabilized piece I purchased that did not feel like plastic.

I will definately be using them again.
 

RRLOVER

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That looks like a great handle:thumbsup2:
 

NO ChoP!

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how do you get the rivets smoothed out without damaging wood? (by the way, looks great- bet you could sell 100 of those rehandled Tojiros... everyone needs one!)
 

kalaeb

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how do you get the rivets smoothed out without damaging wood?
It has never really been a concern. I do the rough shaping with a belt sander, then everything else by hand. On the flat surfaces, like the face of the handle I use a rubber backed sander that fits in your palm, if I an not using that I use variable pressure around the rivets with my fingers to get even sanding. This wood was stabilized so it is a little harder and has a larger margin of error where sanding is concerned.
 

bcrano

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Great thread. As a hobbyist wood worker I've thought about giving it a go. But only on my ****** old knives...
 

PierreRodrigue

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Interesting, I have a vintage Premier Cuttlery bull nose butcher knife, circa 1950's my dad aquired when he worked in the mines (from one of the kitchen cooks) as well as a big dirty matching steel. I have been contimplating doing a rehandle, but keep wondering if it best to leave it as is...
Picture1518.jpg
 

Eamon Burke

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I say if it's old and worn down out of love and use, leave it. If it's old and gunky looking like that, refurb!
 

Eaglewood

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Good tutorial-- Those clamps are probably used by most here!!!!
 

PierreRodrigue

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I say if it's old and worn down out of love and use, leave it. If it's old and gunky looking like that, refurb!
Thats the way I'm leaning, I need to find someone with a wood lathe and some skills, to replicate the handle on the steel. Probably use a nice burl, and matching scales for the knife.
 

kalaeb

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Pierre, I realize you are on some form of pain medication, perhaps you have forgotten you are a knife maker and kick A handle maker.


Or perhaps there was some sarcasm that I missed.
 

TB_London

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Cheers for this, was looking for pics of an ITK without it's clothes on last week but couldn't find them. Am half way through my own rehandle at the mo. Did you use the same thickness scales as the originals?
Cheers,
Tom
 

kalaeb

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Cheers for this, was looking for pics of an ITK without it's clothes on last week but couldn't find them. Am half way through my own rehandle at the mo. Did you use the same thickness scales as the originals?
Cheers,
Tom
I usually use thicker scales because I like to shape it to my hand and I like to add palm swell. The very front and butt of the scales are probably the same thickness as the original scales, just a little more in the middle.
 

UCChemE05

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Nice write-up indeed!

The stabilizer seems to do a pretty good job of clogging the sandpaper. Just for my own curiosity, how much can you get out of a disk and a belt?
 

kalaeb

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Nice write-up indeed!

The stabilizer seems to do a pretty good job of clogging the sandpaper. Just for my own curiosity, how much can you get out of a disk and a belt?
I get pretty good longevity out of my belts. Some woods clog more than others and poorly stabilized wood can clog them too. If you take it slow and don't heat it up, they last longer. Generally I get 6 handles out of one belt.
 

PierreRodrigue

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Pierre, I realize you are on some form of pain medication, perhaps you have forgotten you are a knife maker and kick A handle maker.


Or perhaps there was some sarcasm that I missed.
No sarcasm at all my friend. Handles on knives are one thing, but I have yet to work in a round medium. I have a couple of custom shaving brushes to build, if they go well, then maybe I'll tackel the steel and butcher knife. The knife is easy, the steel, has sentimental value. If I do a restoration, I need it to be an improvement. Both pieces were my dads, circa pre 1950.
 

Don Nguyen

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Are you clamping the knife down in the drill press in any way?

Great procedure by the way. This isn't how an amateur does it, by the way.
 

kalaeb

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Are you clamping the knife down in the drill press in any way?

Great procedure by the way. This isn't how an amateur does it, by the way.
For oily woods I clamp the knife down with a quick clamp, for light woods I usually just use my hands, I have never had one bind up, but I face the spine of the knife in the direction of the drill rotation just in case.
 
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