If you think that a blade is the most critical component of a knife, it is time to reconsider this belief. This is often a misguided belief. Equally important is the handle, as its absence would make the knife futile. That knife will simply not provide its function.
While looking for any kind of knife for any purpose, the handle is a considerable aspect to consider, which otherwise is often overlooked. In fact, many chefs, outdoorsmen, and hobbyist cooks look for how to make a knife handle.
Regardless of the type and size of a knife, it is essential to make one with a safe, durable, and comfortable handle that will not spin or flip while in hand. At the same time, it should not demand a strong effort to hold or feel slippery if it becomes damp.
All blades are the same, but it is the look and feel of handles that make a big difference. Ensuring that the handle is long-lasting and safe to use is vital for any knifemaker.
Without good focus and attention to handle details, it is impossible to get a reliable knife. In fact, in their absence, you will end up in an unwanted move to damage the knife itself.
The main reason why knife enthusiasts look for how to make a knife handle is the poor grip leading to blisters. The task of making a handle may take some time but it is easy to do so once you know what to do. The basic mantra for this is to understand cut, drill, and sand.
Regardless of the handle material, these three procedures are the main ones to follow for making any knife handle that is like a sandwich. The tang or blade is inside, while the handle or scales form the outside. Everything is held properly using metal pins and epoxy glue.
In this post, you will learn how to make a knife handle using G10 and wood materials.
Making a Knife Handle using G-10
G-10 is a material made using fiberglass cloth layers and, thus, it is also known as a fiberglass composite laminate. This strong material is made using fiberglass strips that are soaked in resin and are then compressed.
It is an unbelievably sturdy and durable material. In fact, G-10 is the toughest material at present. Unlike wood and other traditional materials used for making knife handles, it will not scratch, chip, crack, or split.
G-10 is the commonly used material in tactical and survival knives having a fixed blade. This is because it is light in weight, resistant to water, and withstands all abuses. In short, the material has all features and capabilities for giving you reliable handle for a survival knife.
Typically, a G-10 handle is textured so that your hand can have a good grip, which is an important feature to have. Further, this material is comparable to carbon fiber in terms of various aspects. However, it is relatively more affordable. It is also available in different colors.
Such customizations make this material and its consequent knife handle-less appealing. However, this is fine if the functionality is retained well every time you use the knife.
Before choosing the G-10 scales, you first need to have a knife without a blade. May it be lying on around or you must buy a new one, you need it! It may be so that an old knife’s handle has just broken and now you want a better handle for this knife. Whatever the case may be, a full tang knife should be there for making a DIY handle.
Here are the materials required and steps to follow to make a knife handle using G-10 material:
Tools/Material: Bare knife, G-10 scales, hand drill, drill press, sanding belts, epoxy glue, brass pins, sandpaper, black marker, and file
- Configure the scales. This itself is a small procedure. First, you need to draw the desired handle design on the paper. Then, relocate this paper on the scales, trace the same, and make a mark using the marker. The G-10 material will not soak up the ink.
- Next, engrave the holes on one side of the scales pair, which you intend to drill. To ensure that they are in one line or in the desired order, use the hand drill to make a light mark and complete with a proper press. Doing so gives you square and authentic holes.
- Now, it is time to sand, drill, and glue. Make holes in one scale with the help of the drill press, pour an epoxy drip on the leveled inside surface, and paste the two scales together. This will make the scales stay coordinated. The epoxy glue holds the material tightly and prevents moisture from meeting the tang. While the scales may appear flat, they are not. A gentle sanding shall give you the flattering look and make the surface ready for a superior bond.
- Next, you need to perform rough shaping. Make an outline of the scales’ front with the file while affixing them using the light epoxy glue. It is not simple to clean the front after it is affixed to the blade without edge scuffing. Do consider profiling. It the scales well means to ensure that their faces will match up like the holes.
- Once the holes are made and rough profiling is done, simply place the blade edge on the seam amidst the scales. A gentle tap results in tearing them apart swiftly. This brings you to the next step.
- Now, you need to trace, cut, and glue. Trace the shape of the handle shape onto the G-10 material, cut to make a rough shape, and bind to the scales’ inside using the epoxy glue. In case the material has become dry, clean the edges and start drilling to complement the prevalent pinholes. Do so using a hand drill. Finally, the handle is ready for compiling/assembling.
- For compiling, consider using two brass bolts for pins so that you affix them to hold the scales firmly by just adding a nut and placing it down after applying epoxy. Let the epoxy glue dry. Pins not only help in holding the material firmly but also keep its lateral movement at bay.
- Once the glue dries, use a hacksaw or a file and clean the bolt’s head and its body on the nut side. The pins will then go inside.
- Finally, clean the handle and give it the desired shape so that it fits your hand. Perform this step gradually and check the fit frequently so that it finally fits well in your hand. Work through the grits of sandpaper to the desired finish and the handle is ready for you to use.
Making a Knife Handle using Wood
Knife handles made using wood are traditional. These handles are there since the knife discovery. Wood is known for its comfortable hold, warm touch, and lasting functionality, especially if it is hardwood. It is an easily available material due to which it is an ideal material for designing a handle. Here are the tools or materials required and steps to follow to make a knife handle using wood:
Tools/Material: Bare knife, wooden scales, duct tape, pen, drill, epoxy, sandpaper, pins, hacksaw, and clamp
- You get started by taping the wooden scales using strong, double-sided duct tape. The result of this step is to make the scales look and function as a single unit. This is a critical part to know and understand when it comes to how to make a knife handle.
- Next, you mark the scales. For this, you draw an outline of the desired handle design on a blank paper. Then, you cut the paper design to get the wanted handle template. Now, place this design on the scale and draw it using a pen. Perform this step 2 again using another scale.
- Then, track the original slabs of the handle using a thin marker.
- Now, it is time to shape. Using the traced design, start cutting the wood. For this cutting, you should use the hand saw. This tool is ideal for this task, as it is slow and facilitates repetitive work. Ensure that you patiently and gradually cut as per the marked line instead of cutting on it or inside it.
- Once you are done with general handle shape, you need to smooth it using a belt sander paper that does so by tracing the line. With this, the shaping process is done.
- Now, mark and make the holes through drilling.
- Once drilling is done, do sand the wood again using sandpaper. Doing so will give you a subtle look and feel.
- Now, with full focus and proper attention, separate the two wooden scales. Do not apply any kind of force or control, as if the wood is soft and thin, it will not accept the knife prudently.
- Apply a bit of glue on the rear of the scales and put them in place. Hold them there with a clamp for one day.
- Now, detach the clamp and the handle meticulously and clean it using paste wax or any other product used for finishing that is suitable to the wood you have used. That’s it! Your wooden handle is ready.
Things to Take Care of While Making a Knife Handle
You may prefer a duct tape and wrap some strong protective layers around the blade before working for the handle. This allows you to make a handle safely. Even after wrapping layers, it is wise to proceed carefully so that you do not cut your hands while designing a handle and attaching it to the other end of the blade.
When it comes to using tapes, there are a few types available. However, most DIY enthusiasts prefer duct tape. This is mainly because it needs the least number of layers.
When it is the matter of making knives or their handles, it is just that you are designing two wooden halves forming the handle. These halves are known as scales that are connected to a folding knife or a fixed knife (tang).
These wooden scales should be around 1/4″ thick and should come from a high-quality wood such as oak. The wood you choose should not have any major flaws.
Ensure that the wood pieces or scales you use are somewhat larger than the tang. This is because you will be cutting and sanding them while making a handle. Avoid choosing any kind of softwood; go with any hardwood, as hardwoods last longer and perform stronger.
In case you will be using a knife kit, you are likely to get the pins required for passing through the tang and binding one scale to the other. However, if such pins are not included, it becomes essential to make your pins. For this, it is wise to choose wood or a thin metal rod.
You should make pins equal to the number of holes in the tang. Further, design them such that they are a bit smaller than the holes in terms of circumference.
Doing so will make it easy for you to fit the pins through them. After making the pins, file down their ends such that they become smooth. It is okay if the pins are not fully flat at their ends, as they will be filed down later.
While using a clamp, it is wise to line it with plastic wrap. This will prevent the epoxy glue from sticking to it.
This step-by-step instructional guide on how to make a knife handle will truly help you in making the handle of your choice. You just must choose the right handle material before collecting the tools for making the handle. For this, you need to map the features of the available materials to your requirements and budget.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.