Design and Build a Full Tang Knife


Step 11: Making the Handle: Final Sanding and Installing Pins

Getting close to the end, it's just basic sanding and pins now. The sanding is pretty self-explanatory, just work through the grits until you get to about 320 or 400. If you want to be silly you can use up to 1000, but I don't think it would make a huge difference to the overall feel of the knife. This knife handle was sanded up to 320 grit before finishing.

Since installing the pins goes with final finishing, I'm going to include everything in one step. Since I don't have any fancy rivets and such I use a method that may seem like cheating to some hardcore knife makers: I drill through the handle and blade, epoxy the pins in, then file them flat. The first step in this process is marking the holes. I usually eyeball the marks, then check their orientation with a straightedge to make sure they all line up. Next, you want to measure and cut your pins. For this knife I just used a brass rod (it may be a welding rod). To measure, just lay them across the handle and mark with a Sharpie. Make them a bit oversized though. It's a lot easier to remove material than it is to add it. Clamp the rod in a vise and use an ordinary hacksaw to cut the pins off. Then it's off to the drill press! Clamp your piece securely somehow, then drill through everything in one go. I put the drill on its slowest speed and use a really sharp bit. Repeat with however many pins you want to. When you finish, make sure to double check the fit of the pins in the holes. If they just barely fit, then you're in luck! Just tap them in with a mallet and file off the ends. If they slide in easily, then its epoxy time! Mix up some more epoxy, then put a bit on the middle of the pin. slide it in, and wipe any excess epoxy with a clean rag. leave it to dry before filing. When It's dry, just file the pins flush using a mill file.

Almost there, don't give up now! 
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If this was a truly functional knife, you would harden the blade before fitting the handles, thus making it almost impossible to drill through.

Ideally, drill the holes in the "tang" before hadening. Then harden, anneal, glue on one scale and drill the hole through from the exposed tang. Then glue the second scale on and drill through from the first scale.
xarlock6673 years ago
For an one handed blade no more than 3 pins should be used. More may weaken the wood, and for a knife, 2 is usually adequate. Once you have your pins cut, and your holes drilled, place a pin in a hole, back it with an anvil, or similar object, and GENTLY tap the outside edges of the pin until the edges flair. Once they are flaired, flip the knife, and repeat. If the pin is too long, cut it off and replace it. Takes a little experimentation, but you will get it down, and your handle will never come off. DO NOT over brad the pins, you will crack the wood. Be gentle and take your time.
emkayach3 years ago
Have you tried "peening" the brass pins? Try this, do everything the same but cut the pins about a quarter inch longer. Push the pin through the hole in the handle/tang assembly. Now place the whole thing on an anvil or anvil like surface and with a hammer start tapping the brass pin. Flip the handle every other strike so that you are hitting both sides evenly, more or less. You should get a functioning rivet. Of course if you work quickly enough you could still set the brass in epoxy and by the time you have finished peening it it will not only be glued in but it will have a mushroomed head to hold it in place. If you don't like the feel of the rivets in your hand try countersinking the holes in the handle so that the mushroom created by the hammering becomes flush with the wood.