How to Make a Custom Chef Knife Handle !




Introduction: How to Make a Custom Chef Knife Handle !

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Today we are making a custom chef knife handle.

It’s a personal project I have been working on, and which I shared on my YouTube channel as well.


Viewer’s discretion is advised :

During this process we’re using dangerously sharp & stupidly powerful tools. WEAR Protections !


A knife handle is like a sandwich.

Handle or Scales outside, and the blade or TANG inside Everything is held together with epoxy glue and metal pins.


First operation today is to disassemble that chef knife. I did it very quickly in the previous episode but here’s how to do it step by step.

Insert a flat solid thing, and using a leverage action, pop those sides off.

Removing the handle is not usually a big deal as it’s frequently NOT properly sealed.

Like for all good cheap knives, blade can be decent but the handle will always suck.

If You see rust stains, it’s not good. That’s because that cheap handle was hollow, there’s air inside and air plus metal plus moisture equals rust. which kills the knife.

Let’s clean the blade with fine sanding paper, let’s also get rid of those writings.

You should end up with a clean blade


For those, I’ve got a 5mm brass rod. Problem : it has 4mm holes Solution : Drill bigger holes. sounds simple...

To do that you need a metal drill bit, not 5mm but more like 5.5 mm so that glue will also also have room afterwards.

Use a drill press or just be patient, strongly secure the blade, stay vertical and apply some pressure not too much, go slow... and if you do all that then, maybe, you won’t break the drill bit.

Finally, I am using a file to make it smooth, flat, and to get rid of any shards.

Job’s done. Bigger holes.


You can make scales out of many materials, but I am choosing OAK WOOD, cause it’s nice, Available, Hard, durable and quite cheap.

Bought a one meter strip of 27 per 9mm at my local hardware store for about 3 bucks.

Cut two pieces to the length of the previous handle.

Now Tape those together with the blade on top.

Secure and drill them with the previous metal drill bit. Drilling holes this way allows for a better alignement, and way less troubles afterwards.

Try to be as vertical as possible, or better use a drill press.


Epoxy glue strength is no joke so before moving forward, give it a quick test. Assemble it, and make sure everything runs smoothly.

Leave the window open, or do it outside.

Epoxy glue sets up in less than 5 minutes which is more than enough if you are prepared, but definitely too short to get any problems during action.

Prepare epoxy glue following instructions on package, then apply a nice coating on one scale, add pins, spread more glue, then the blade, spread more glue, last the second scale .

Center the pins. Tighten it as much as you can with clamps and let it dry.


Cut off excess pins

Remove the excess wood material, I am using an electric file to do it.

Go slow ! if you go too fast you'll mess with the shape it’s gonna be too late.

Customize the handle to perfectly fit your hand and your needs. e.g. I made a slightly bigger handle, with an angled knife-butt to give it a sharper look.


Give it a quick sanding action. And then apply and then finish it with a coating of oil.

if you have tung, danish or linseed oil, or even wood wax, that would be perfect.

Polish it & make it shine.

So guys that’s it, You now have a beautiful custom handle on your chef knife.

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    4 years ago on Step 8

    Very nice basic intro! As a professional chef's knifemaker, I have a few thoughts on basic improvements that will make a significant difference...

    A) Don't use oak (or any other open-grain wood such as walnut). The pores are hard to seal and can harbor bacteria. Use a smooth, dense, hardwood instead - maple's a good example and widely available (in the US and I think in Europe too).

    B) Seal the wood. Plain oil isn't enough - you need a finish that will seal and protect the wood. Humidity changes can make it swell, warp, and crack; and just oil can let bacteria breed too. As you mentioned, an easy finish is "Danish oil" - a mixture of varnish and 'drying' oil that will leave a very nice finish. It's available at any hardware store in the US. You could also use tung or linseed oil, but many/most common brands now include a somewhat toxic drying agent I don't want near food.

    C) Use a "slower" epoxy. 5-min epoxy not only doesn't give you much time to set things up, it's also usually not as strong nor as flexible as 15-min epoxy (and flexible is a key benefit for a knife handle). The most common one I see is G-Flex, from West Marine (available all over the US, Amazon, etc.); I like BSI (Bob Smith Industries - also Amazon and lots of craft/hobby stores) - but most importantly, give yourself the extra time to get things right and clamped nicely.

    D) Shape the 'front' of the wood before gluing it on. It's very difficult to shape the front end of the handle pieces, once they've been glued on, without scratching the blade. (You might want a nicer curve, too, rather than just a chopped-off straight-line like the original handle.)

    E) Use hand tools (and, yes: go slowly when shaping). It's surprisingly difficult to get a nice symmetrical shape to a handle at all - using a power-file is a recipe for disaster (or at least a lot of really bad language). I'd strongly recommend using rasps/files for basic shaping and then sandpaper. (Make sure to use a firm backing block when sanding the brass pin areas, otherwise you'll wear the wood down first and end up with the pins standing out.)

    Again, nice job - bien fait! :-)


    5 years ago

    Very nice! Thank you!


    Reply 5 years ago

    haha indeed ! There's an edge to it :)