Introduction: How to Make a New Micarta Handle for Lockpicks
Most lockpicks come with no handle and those that do are often very bad handles that either break or are ugly and uncomfortable to hold. Not having a handle can cause your hand to cramp up as the picks are so small, you also get less feedback which makes picking harder locks much harder, all this makes picks without handles pretty much unusable so I will be upgrading my picks by putting handles on them.
- Whatever you want to put the handle on (in my case a lock pick with no handle).
- Wood or micarta, both of these can be bought on eBay by searching micarta/wood knife scales. this will come in one of two rectangles normally 1/8 or 1/4" thick.
- Epoxy, I used uni-bond two-part 5-minute epoxy, anything strong will work.
- (Optional) beeswax wood polish.
- Hacksaw or bandsaw
- mini files
Step 1: Micarta and Lockpicks?
First of all, I want to just talk about lockpicks and micarta themselves.
Micarta comes in different types but it is normally some sort of paper of fabric (in my case canvas) layered and soaked in resin, this results in layers of whatever colours you want and is very hard, this is why it is often used in knife handles, by using different materials you can give it different looks and texture, for example, you can use very fine weave materials such as paper or you can use very thick weave materials such as denim or hessian.
Lockpicking is a big hobby of mine and most picks come without a handle with can get annoying/painful if you are picking for an hour or so at a time as it can start to cause your hands to cramp and can rub and cut your skin due to it being so thin, also thinner picks can bend in your hand which give less feedback/feeling making it harder to feel what is happening in the lock a handle will fix this.
In the end, I decided to make my handles out of micarta instead of wood as I wanted to try something different to what I normally do, its also very cheap (about $1-$1.50 per pick).
Step 2: Preperation
First of all, it is best to polish up the pick before putting the handles on, it just makes it easier as you don't have the handle getting in the way, for this I used 800grit wet&dry sandpaper then 1200grit and then buffed it on my Dremel using jewellers red rouge to get it pretty shiny, you could use higher grits and green rouge to get a mirror finish however I am not too bothered about it being mirror so I did not do this, you also want to sand the face where the handle will be attached, use coarse sandpaper as this will help the epoxy stick. covering up the part that will be on how with tape is a good idea as it will stop you from getting epoxy of scratches in it.
Next, you want to sand the face of the micarta, this is because it comes with a glossy finish from the excess resin, sanding this off will allow you to draw on the micarta, this can be done on a belt sander or regular sandpaper however using a belt sander will make it significantly quicker.
next roughly draw the size of the handles you want to make, be sure to leave a bit of room for error and the blade used to cut it.
Step 3: Cutting
Cut the handles out, this can be done with a hacksaw, Dremel cutoff wheel or a bandsaw. It doesn't have to be a neat cut as it will be refined in the sanding process.
Step 4: Gluing
for the gluing, I would recommend toothpicks or lollipop sticks to mix the epoxy as well as a scrap piece of wood or card to mix it on.
Mix the glue as instructed, spread onto the sanded sides of the handles and put the pick in the middle, I would recommend getting the edges towards the edge of the pick lined up perfectly as it can be awkward to line them up after it has cured.
Clamp it up making sure the sides of the pick are completely covered by the handles as they can slide around while putting it together, let cure for at least a few hours (more for some epoxies).
Step 5: Sanding
WEAR A DUST MASK, IT IS VERY DUSTY AND NOT GOOD FOR YOU
Now we will sand the pick to the rough shape using rough sandpaper on the belt sander to take away a lot of material. Be careful as the material can disappear very quickly and you don't want to ruin it by taking too much off. right now you only want to get it to the rough shape, you want to round the edges slightly and get it to the right thickness.
Next move to finger files and sandpaper to get it to the exact shape and round the edges more evenly, go over the whole thing with some 500-800 grit sandpaper to finish up the shaping.
Step 6: Finishing
You could leave it here and it looks good or you can finish it up by rubbing some beeswax furniture polish its meant for wood but it works great with micarta too. I used 5 coats and buffed it with a cloth and let it sit for a couple of hours between the coats, doing this brings out the layers and just gives it a nicer finish.
And there you have it, a new handle for a lock pick or whatever else you want a handle for, it took about an hour of work (not including curing time).
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