How to Make Knife Handles From Recycled Skateboards

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About: Just a guy who likes building things for my family.

In this Instructable I am going to show you how I took old trashed skateboard decks and used the wood to replace the handles on some standard utility knives.

Old skateboard decks are a great place to find some unique wool. I would love to find out more about the process on how the wood is colored.

If you are looking for a first knife project I would recommend looking for a kit as it will be much easier to put together.

Supplies:

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Materials

  • Old broken skateboard decks
  • screws (to replace the ones I broke taking the utility knives apart)
  • Wood finish


TOOLS
The tools I used on the project were as follows:

  • Cordless drill
  • Drill press
  • Screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers
  • Band saw
  • Oscillating spindle sander
  • Cordless drill
  • Sand Paper
  • Clamps

Not all of the tools in this list are required, but will make the construction much easier. Your build may need more or less than what I show.

NOTE: If you plan on using any tool for a project please make sure you are familiar with the tool and all of the dangers associated with it. If you are not familiar with a tool then you should ask someone who is to show you the proper way to use it. A lot of communities have classes at local colleges on the proper use of tools and machinery. There are also local woodworking clubs that offer classes at very reasonable rates for beginners. I highly recommend using these resources for your safety and for the most efficient use of the tool.

SAFETY FIRST

Always wear eye and hearing protection.
Always work safe with the proper safety equipment and guards on your tools.

Step 2: Removing the Grip Tape and Sanding

Removing the grip tape from the top of the skateboard deck is easier than you might think. Use a hair drier or a heat gun and warm the tape up. The heat helps the glue soften and it peels much easier.

If you have trouble getting the edge of the grip tape up from the board then try heating it up and then use a utility knife to cut under the grip take and get a edge started that you can pull on. Heat the grip tape as you peel it off the board.

If you have bunch of sticky residue from the grip take you can try removing it using the following methods:

1. Use some acetone on a rag to take it off. This only seemed to work for really thin residue.

2. Try using GooGone brand sticker remover.

3. Use a heat gun and a spackling knife to heat it up the residue and scrap it off with the spackling knife.

After the grip tape is removed you can start sanding. I used a random orbit sander to sand the top and bottom of the skateboard deck. Even a little sticker residue from the grip tape can make your sanding disc gum up relatively fast.

Make sure you sand both sides of the board if you are going to glue pieces together.

Step 3: Cutting the Skateboard Deck Into Pieces

I cut the skateboard decks down by first cutting the rough edges off on the bandsaw.

Next I cut the curved ends off the boards.

Then I cut them into strips on the bandsaw so I ended up with a nice uniform selection of strips to choose from.

The center parts of a couple boards I decided to use for one of the knives. I went with the purple colored piece since I liked it more.

While I only needed a few pieces for the knifes, I processed 8 skateboards for a few upcoming projects. It was easier to do them all at the same time.

Step 4: Gluing Wood Strips

I took some of the uniform width strips of skateboard and glued them together with liberal amounts of wood glue. I wanted to make sure there was plenty of coverage in the wood. I didn't want any weak spots in the glue up.

I thought it was interesting how the blue coloring in the blue wood layer bled into the glue.

After the glue dried I ran it through the drum sander several times to get one side nice and flat. Then I turned it over and did the same thing with the other side.

Step 5: Disassembling the Knives

I have to say that I wish I would have taken the knives apart earlier in the process as both knives had screw heads break off when I was taking them apart. It became obvious when I started taking these apart that they were not meant to be disassembled. They were pretty challenging to take apart.

It helps to put all of the screws and small pieces in a container so you don't lose any.

I ended up having to order some replacement screws for the knives. They weren't exact replacements, so I had to make due with what I had.

Step 6: Trace and Cut the Knife Handle Shape

I used one of the knife handles to trace the shape of the knife onto the glued up piece of wood. Then I cut out the shape on the bandsaw. I left a little extra around the outside of the tracing.

I used the bandsaw to cut two slices from the handle outline. I wanted the thickness to match on each side of the knife.

I then ran the handle slices through the drum sander to remove the blade marks from the bandsaw and make sure they were the thickness needed for the handles.

Step 7: Epoxying the Metal Plates to the Wood

I used some epoxy to attached the wood handles to the metal side pieces from the knives. I used some small spring clamps to hold the metal pieces in place while the epoxy cured. Since the epoxy cured relatively slow I was able to get the positioning on the striped handle as close as symmetrical as possible.

Step 8: Trimming and Sanding to Size

I used the bandsaw to trim off the extra pieces of wood outside of the outline of the metal side pieces. I got as close as I could without hitting the metal with the blade.

Then I took the pieces to the oscillating spindle sander and went right up to the metal piece. It really made a nice guide for sanding.

Step 9: Shaping the Handle

Next I used the drum on the spindle sander to put a small radius on the handle. I did this by tilting the handle at different angles and checking the progress often. I didn't want to make a mistake at this point.

Step 10: Drilling Holes for the Screws

Drilling the holes for the screws was relatively easy. I started by drilling through the metal side plates and through the wood handle. The I flipped the handles over and drilled with a slightly larger diameter drill bit to create the countersunk hole for the screw heads.

I was very nervous doing this as one slip up at this point could have meant starting over for that piece.

Step 11: Reassembling the Knives

I did a quick assembly of the knives to see how the handles turned out. I did this just in case I wanted to do a little more sanding or shaping of the wood before I put the finish on them.

I was very satisfied with the look and feel so I took them back apart and got ready to apply the finish.

Step 12: Adding Finish

I used Maker Brand wipe on Simple Finish on the knife handles. I wanted something with some oil in it to help bring the color out of the handles. I also wanted something that would be easy for touch-ups if the knife handles got damaged and I needed to refinish a spot.

I game each piece three coats of the finish with ample drying time in between.

Step 13: Final Thoughts

I think it really is possible to turn trash into treasure. The skateboard decks were heading to the garbage.

I am really happy with how these knife handles turned out for them being my first knife projects. I really didn't want to spend very much on the hardware in case I had issues with making the handles.

I would suggest if you are thinking about making a knife or knife handle that you look for a knife kit at this may be slightly more expensive than the knives I used, but I had to buy some replacement screws since I broke a couple of them taking the knives apart. Waiting for the replacement screws also stopped the work on the knives and held up progress for several days.

I would love to hear from anyone else if they have attempted a knife handle replacement like this, even if it isn't with skateboard wood. Let me know what you think was the hardest part of it for you. I would love to get some input from others since I am new to this type of project.

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    2 Discussions

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    BakkerJo

    25 days ago

    Nice project! Where did you find the old skateboard decks?

    1 reply
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    stevemoseleyBakkerJo

    Reply 25 days ago

    I found a local skateboard shop and asked them if they had old boards available. Surprisingly, they actually threw most of them away.