Knife Making & Repair #1: Replacing a kitchen knife handle

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Blog entry by johngoes posted 12-31-2008 04:23 AM 23356 reads 2 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Knife Making & Repair series Part 2: Groovin' n gluin' »

I decided that it’s time to tackle the knife handle I’ve procrastinated on. We have had a nice kitchen knife for years that really felt good in the hand, held its edge, and sliced very well. However, the handle rotted away and I decided to do my first handle replacement. I had a perfect sized piece of canarywood left over from box construction that will become the new knife handle.

One surprise (see picture) was that the knife tang was a lot smaller that I anticipated. The blade top aligns with the handle all the way to the end of the handle

Knife Repair Material

Plan of action:
1) I plan to resaw the blank down the middle.
2) Plane the two faces super square and flat
3) I’ll carefully mortise out the tang shape in each half.
4) Then I’ll glue the halves back together with the watered-down glue and paper method.
5) I’ll rough-shape the handle, split apart and epoxy the blade into the handle
6) Give the handle a final shaping and finishing.

If anyone out there has dealt with knives, let me know if I’m off track here.

Making knife material

Marking Knife Material

While searching for articles on how to replace knife handles, I found an article on making marking knives. It seemed pretty easy so I salvaged a reciprocating saw blade from my brother and decided to make my own marking knife. The article used a hacksaw blade but I thought the old hacksaw blade I had was rather thin and when I stumbled upon the reciprocating saw blade I knew it was perfect for what I wanted to do. I’ll make a left and right knife and use the piece of mesquite pictured for the handle.

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsmen can hide his mistakes!

3 comments so far

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 4330 days

#1 posted 12-31-2008 05:30 AM

I have some old fishing fillet knives that I have been meaning to re-handle, and your blog is nudging me in the direction of getting started. If only it was warmer in the shop.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View johngoes's profile


54 posts in 4049 days

#2 posted 12-31-2008 02:21 PM

I spent 1.5 years in Mass and decided to move back home to Texas because it was too cotton-pickin’ cold! I’m sorry the weather keeps you from work because I just love puttering around in the shop and could imagine being frustrated at not being able to work.

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsmen can hide his mistakes!

View Chipmonk's profile


6 posts in 4401 days

#3 posted 01-08-2009 11:54 AM

My mum in law has severe rhumatoid arthritis. The handle of the knife she uses for cutting bread disintegrated in the dishwasher. With this particular knife the handle is at 90 degrees to the blade. I decided to make her a larger one, but discovered as you did that the handle was not well supported when the original handle was removed. But this wasn’t too important as only a part of the handle was to be used and this was just where the shaft and handle meet. I also found the drilling stainless steel can be difficult and discovered that if you use a masonry bit at a lower speed it will be cheaper and faster than more expensive bits which you will throw away after one use. To stop the bit from wandering when drilling use some electrical tape on the blade. I also used s/s screws and nuts. For the the handle I used a piece of waste Hickory.

-- I need more tools...and a place to put them!

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