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making a knife handle

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Forum topic by Karda posted 04-06-2020 02:13 AM 577 views 1 time favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Karda

2201 posts in 1285 days


04-06-2020 02:13 AM

Hi, i want to make a handle for a carving knife I have. This knife has a rat tail tang about 2” long. How can I mortise for the tang by drilling. I want to turn the handle, should i turn it first then drill or drill then turn. The wood i want to use is a one of a kind piece. I was givin a piece of bocote just right for a handle. I don’t want to mess it up thanks Mike


34 replies so far

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Kelly

2937 posts in 3675 days


#1 posted 04-06-2020 05:28 AM

What I do is, split the wood, joint it, then join it with grocery paper between the glue joints. You could turn it or shape it, then split it apart with a chisel where it breaks easily at the paper, using a chisel.

Once broke apart, you can router for the tang, then glue the mess back together.

When I have to drill something on end, I use a square I made for that purpose. It is two pieces joined at ninety, and a base added. I can clamp the piece into the corner for a perfectly plumb drill. A little epoxy and I’m off and running.

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tvrgeek

941 posts in 2380 days


#2 posted 04-06-2020 12:27 PM

Turn a knife handle? Round is a very poor shape as it is hard to grip.

One can burn a hole, but it takes a lot of time and patience. Cleaning it up so epoxy will hold can be hard. I would drill as Kelly suggests.

One way to hide a split is to cleave it with a chisel so the slit is along the grain. Then route as suggested. When glued back, the seam will be invisible. You do need to start with enough bulk that the split is in the center where you need to carve it out for the tang but you would want the grain to be very much iline anyway

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Lazyman

5188 posts in 2118 days


#3 posted 04-06-2020 12:46 PM

I would probably use a small drill bit to cut a slot. You may have to ream it out to get a good hole but leave it as tight as you can. I would drill 2 holes to fit a finishing nail through the handle and the tang and put cut off nails through the tang as you epoxy it in. Cut off, file and slightly peen the nails and then sand the handle to shape. You can also use heavy gauge wire or brass rod instead of a nail.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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tywalt

99 posts in 895 days


#4 posted 04-06-2020 02:05 PM

I’m with tvrgeek. Can’t see a turned handle for a carving knife being very user friendly. I like my carving knives to have a decent curve to the handle.

That said, I also echo lazyman. To make layout a little simpler, drill the cross hole (that will hold your brass rod) through one side with the blade inserted so that it makes a mark on the blade. Then remove the blade and drill the rest of the way through it. Then reinsert the blade and drill through the other side. That way your cross hole is nice and aligned. If your mortise/slot is a little loose, you can move the hole up 1mm to make a bit of drawbore action.

-- Tyler - Central TX

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Karda

2201 posts in 1285 days


#5 posted 04-06-2020 04:00 PM

I like the split turning, I may do that. I thought of aligning the split with the grain but won’t that weaken the knife, that puts the cutting edge in line with the split. A turned handle will be know problem I will put a flat on the sides with a belt sander thanks Mike

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Kelly

2937 posts in 3675 days


#6 posted 04-06-2020 05:07 PM

To those opposed to turning knife handles, remember:

1) Sometimes, it’s more about the aesthetics than the function;

2) Other times, that turned handle can then be shaped and sanded to keep the details at the ends and even somewhat in the working area;

3) Many things are done a certain way in life merely because that’s the way it was always done, even though another way may be better for a given person or situation.

Consider a cheese spreader we had. It’s plastic handle died. That was a good thing, because it may never have gotten a much better handle had it not. The new sycamore handle is FAR more comfortable and that, of the four cheese cutters we have, is our favorite, because of comfort (P.S. They all sharpen just fine).

I was looking at a small paring knife and, aside occasional dainty work, wondered why it had to have a handle proportionate to the blade. There are many folks out there who cannot use one because of the small size of the handle. In short, there is no reason even a paring knife couldn’t have just a bit bigger handle, if needed.

Then there are axes and things. Heck, consider the world of painter poles. Many suffer broom sticks, and are spoiled, later, after using they much larger in diameter painter poles that are so much easier on the hands throughout the day.

Just for reference, this sycamore cheese cutter handle was made using the paper joint trick, to allow routering for the uniquely shaped tang.

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Lazyman

5188 posts in 2118 days


#7 posted 04-06-2020 05:32 PM



I like the split turning, I may do that. I thought of aligning the split with the grain but won t that weaken the knife, that puts the cutting edge in line with the split. A turned handle will be know problem I will put a flat on the sides with a belt sander thanks Mike

- Karda

The glue joint will be plenty strong. If do want to turn a knife handle, I would consider off axis turning technique. I have used it to make mallet handles. Not sure that I would want a carving knife that was totally round.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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Karda

2201 posts in 1285 days


#8 posted 04-06-2020 05:34 PM

thanks kelly, I am one of those people that need a bigger handle. My knife is a spoon knife, the handle I knocked off was bigger but to short. i have arthritis in my hand and can no longer use a spoon knife with one hand so I am making a longer handle to accomidate both hands that way the power to cut comes from my left hand. may be someday i will get a left handed knife. off center turning is an idea thanks

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Kelly

2937 posts in 3675 days


#9 posted 04-06-2020 06:19 PM

As “they” say, end joints are never as secure as side grain joints. That said, I’d have few qualms about turning all edge grain, if it was a good joint.

It MIGHT be epoxy, which soaks in to the grain more, might further insure the strength of such joints. Especially if it’s done with 2:1, which tends to run thinner than the five minute types.

My 2:1 has a 24 hour set period. With that comes a fair amount of working time. As such, I might be tempted to mix just enough to brush on a layer or three of epoxy, allow it to soak in a bit (e.g., fifteen minutes or so), then, when it seems it quit soaking in, apply my last weld coat.

Contrary to what some say, epoxy shines up fine. Use a lower speed and plastic polish. I only sand to 320 and go from there with the polish on the lathe or the lathe (they call buffers lathes too).


I like the split turning, I may do that. I thought of aligning the split with the grain but won t that weaken the knife, that puts the cutting edge in line with the split. A turned handle will be know problem I will put a flat on the sides with a belt sander thanks Mike

- Karda


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Karda

2201 posts in 1285 days


#10 posted 04-06-2020 08:15 PM

ok

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tvrgeek

941 posts in 2380 days


#11 posted 04-06-2020 08:22 PM

West system epoxy. Stronger than the wood. 9:1 mix.

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Phil32

1057 posts in 634 days


#12 posted 04-06-2020 09:36 PM

Mike – It is certainly your right to make the knife handle any shape you choose. I would like to point out what has evolved among carvers in actual use. Those that do a lot of knife carving have discovered their hands get tired and sore from an ill-fitting handle.

This photo shows three typical carving knives. From the top – Woodcraft (chip carving), Drake (whittling), Flexcut (whittling) In the first case the tang is riveted. The Drake is split with the halves epoxied together. The Flexcut is drilled and the tang wedged or epoxied. The main point is that the shapes are a result of years of feedback from actual carvers. Not one is round.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

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Kelly

2937 posts in 3675 days


#13 posted 04-06-2020 11:41 PM

On tailoring handles to the users need and want, consider the world of wood burners. I and, no doubt, many others find the majority of wood burners to be a joke, but that’s the way it’s been done for three thousand years. Give or take five.

Of course, so are many of the cords feeding them (if heat is being lost in the cord, that’s energy wasted that could have been used at the tip). I layered mine with silicone for comfort. I think I might look into what this gal uses for hers. I’m betting the heat from the handle is far less a problem than it is on most.

https://youtu.be/NMIMc4hJm4I

In the end, a carving knife handle does have to be comfortable. As such, a ball like she uses may not [understatement] be the best for this application.

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Karda

2201 posts in 1285 days


#14 posted 04-06-2020 11:49 PM

i hear what you are saying phil that is why I flatten the side on a belt sander

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Karda

2201 posts in 1285 days


#15 posted 04-09-2020 05:32 AM

ok I did a split turning, I used titebond II for the glue. i have cleaned off the paper and glue but will it glue together ok since it has been glued once. I don’t want to sand to much on it because I don’t want to ruin the fit

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