Introduction: Dyeing a Genuine Micarta Knife Handle

My husband decided to get himself and me VERY nice ka-bar knives to add to our growing prepper collections of items for Christmas this year. He also purchased for each knife (a 7" for him, and a 5" for me) a genuine micarta handle to replace the original "scales" the knives come with.
He did the research on dyeing the handles, and ended up choosing to dye his with plain gun oil.
I chose to have a more "colorful" knife and went the rit dye route instead. That is what this 'ible will be covering.

Step 1: Gather Needed Materials

Get your list of materials together, some items I used are not pictured, but most are.

• micarta knife handles
• rit liquid dye in your choice of color (I used emerald green)
• rubber gloves
• towel (or layers of paper) to protect the surface you're dyeing on
• paper towels (or cotton balls)
• cotton swabs (for getting down in screw/bolt holes)
• fine grit sandpaper or sanding block (I used 150 grit)
• water (not pictured)
• 1/2c salt (not pictured)
• 1/2c white vinegar (not pictured)
• stainless steel/glass/enamel coated pot you never want to use for cooking EVER AGAIN!! (Not pictured)
• stirring utensil (I used a short wooden dowel and a bamboo skewer) (not pictured)
• dawn dish soap (not pictured)

Step 2: Dyeing Process

First, lay out your protective towel or paper. If the dye gets on any hard surface you don't want dyed, use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove it. If it gets on your clothes, try rit dye color remover, but be warned, it will remove ALL color. So I recommend wearing old/crafting only clothes.
Prepare the surface of your handles by sanding lightly with the fine grit sandpaper. I found the flexible sanding block worked well for getting into the holes.

Step 3: First Dyeing Attempt

I first tried the "dye only" method. First I put the rubber gloves on. (I think I got them at dollar tree)
I used straight dye from the bottle and applied it like I was staining a piece of wood. It ended up looking like I wanted to...until I washed the handles.
After letting the dye set for a few minutes, I cleaned the handles with decreasingly hot to cold water and a bit of dawn dish soap. They ended up looking like the second picture above. (Which was NOT what I was going for).

Step 4: Dyeing Process (take 2)

I next tried the hot water dyeing method.
I put enough water in the pot to cover the handles (about a half gallon, give or take). I used my enamel coated canning pot to dye the handles (and some other items earlier) so it is now my dedicated dyeing pot.
Then I added the rest of the bottle of dye, (way more than honestly necessary), and the 1/2c salt and 1/2c vinegar. I turned the stove on to about medium-high and let the mixture heat up a bit.
I placed the handles in the pot and constantly stirred them with the wooden dowel for 10 minutes. Other YouTube dyers recommend dyeing for 20, but 10 seemed to get my handles to the color I desired. The longer you dye, the darker they will become.

Step 5: Final Cleaning

I removed the handles from the hot dye bath with the bamboo skewer (again I wanted to use something disposable for stirring and removal. DO NOT use any utensil you intend to use for food. Even on the rit website it says to never use the pot or stirring items for food after use with their dye.)
I rinsed the handles in straight cold water with a little dawn dish soap until the water ran clear. I also blotted the handles on some paper towels to check for dye until those also came out clean.

Step 6: Assembly

I allowed the handles to dry for about an hour, although in truth it only took about 15 minutes.
I then used a 5/32 hex key to remove the original handles and replace them with the newly dyed micarta ones.

As a side note: when removing the hex bolts and nuts, keep each bolt and nut TOGETHER! My husband had problems screwing 2 of the bolts back on, but after switching them, he had no problems. I learned from his mistake, and had considerably less issue when placing the bolts and nuts back together. (I also put them back into the same holes I removed them from and started with the middle bolt first when putting the new handles on).

I hope you enjoyed this instructable, and please vote for me in the dyeing for color contest!
Dyeing for Color Contest

Fourth Prize in the
Dyeing for Color Contest