Introduction: How to Make a Bread Knife Handle
I have had this bread knife for about 20 years and it still has a sharp blade.
The wooden handle started to rot awhile ago (left in the kitchen sink too many times), so it was time to make a new handle.
I used a leftover piece of laminated pine board about 1.5 cm (7/16") thick for the handle.
Pretty well any wood that is not too soft or porous could be used (or deer antler for example).
(Click on the [i] at the top left of photos to see an enlarged version.)
* This instructable is featured in the book How to Fix Absolutely Everything, available on Amazon.com.
- One piece of 4 x 10 x 1.5 cm laminated pine
- Approximately 3 mm thick copper wire (possibly 9 gauge, not certain)
- Hammer (with a rounded head, ball peen is best)
- Small anvil (or a solid metal surface)
- Handsaw (for wood)
- Hacksaw (for metal rivets)
- Electric hand drill
- Countersink bit
Step 1: Remove the Old Handle and Rivets
The old handle on my bread knife had partially rotted off, and I had wrapped it with temporarily with packing tape.
I removed the pack tape and the rotten wood. As you can see in the second photo, there are four metal rivets.
Two of the rivets are female (hollow), and the other two (male) are inserted into them from the opposite side.
I cut off the rivets with a hacksaw (this can be tricky so be careful*). If you're lucky, the rivets may pull apart, so try that first.
*Note: Throughout the entire process I handled the knife with the blade taped up to prevent any accidents.
Step 2: Making the Handle
I used a piece of laminated pine from some shelving I made awhile ago so I know the wood is quite dry ( a recently cut tree branch for example might split as it dries).
The original handle was slightly tapered toward the centre, so I followed the shape of the tang (part of the knife in the handle).
After cutting the wood to the appropriate shape I wanted. Then I cut a slot down the centre for the blade to fit into snugly.
Next I shaped the wood with files so that it fit the tang of the knife exactly.
Once the shape was just right, I drilled two holes matching the location of the holes left by the rivets.
I also countersunk the holes slightly to accommodate the copper wire spreading slightly at both ends (see next step).
Step 3: Inserting the Pins in the Knife Handle
In this step, I passed two pieces of copper wire (photo 2) through the holes in the wood, with the knife blade inserted.
As I plan to keep the knife dry, I chose to make the handle with only the copper wire pins, but using some epoxy glue in the slot will ensure that it is waterproof (prevent rotting).
I cut the wire so that about 3 mm protruded on either side, but a bit longer (4 - 5 mm) would have been better.
Using a hammer with a rounded head (ball peen is best), I held the handle on top of the anvil (photo 3) and slowly pounded the copper down so that it spread out. This was done on both sides of the handle, so the ends of the wire fills the countersunk area.
It made a very strong bond, there is absolutely no movement of the blade within the handle.
The last step was to file off the excess copper so the pins are flush with the wood surface.
Step 4: The Finished Knife Handle
Once the pins in the handle were complete, I rubbed on a few coats of teak oil (sanding with 400 grit sandpaper between coats), and then a couple of coats of varnish (not varnished in this photo).
I also rubbed down the blade with some polishing compound which made it look (almost) like new.
With any luck, I'll get another 20 years out of this knife yet!