How to Make a Bread Knife Handle




About: I am a freelance translator living in Japan. I like to create furniture and signs etc. using reclaimed wood. See my blog for photos of other projects, and a link to my 3D models on the 3DWarehouse. My "How t...

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

Materials used
- One piece of 4 x 10 x 1.5 cm laminated pine
- Approximately 3 mm thick copper wire (possibly 9 gauge, not certain)

Tools used
- Hammer (with a rounded head, ball peen is best)
- Small anvil (or a solid metal surface)
- Handsaw (for wood)
- Hacksaw (for metal rivets)
- Files
- Sandpaper
- Electric hand drill
- Countersink bit

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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!

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    9 Discussions


    3 years ago

    The part about hammering the copper wire isn't very well explained. How do you do that part of it??? The picture shows a great deal of wire protruding from both ends. If you lay it flat on an anvil, the other side will have even more wire protruding, and will simply bend when attempting to hammer it. This seems the most tricky part of the entire operation, especially for those of us who've never hammered any metal into shape before. How exactly is this part accomplished?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Are you sure the wire is copper? From the photos it looks like anodised aluminium bonsai wire.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    With your experience in making handles, could you tell me what kind of handles would best work for these blades I'd like to work with? Thanks.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I was surprised about the pine. I have not seen it used for handles. Hardwoods like ash or hickory are typically used. My favorite is Dymondwood, but it can be hard to work (tends to be 'chippy").

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I had actually planned to use a harder wood, but my main objective was "recycling", and I happened to have some chunks of laminated pine left over from a bookshelf I made awhile back.
    I liked the way grain looked, it reminds me of tiger's eye quartz.

    The Rambler

    7 years ago on Introduction

    That's a very interesting knife. I don't think I've seen a double sided bread knife before, are both sides of the blade actually usable?

    The handle looks really good. I'm working on my first knife handle right now. It's made out of an antler, but this makes me want to do another one out of wood.

    1 reply

    The blade is about 19 cm (7.5") long, and both sides of the blade are indeed usable.
    The serrated edge still cuts soft bread easily, and the scalloped edge would probably work on tomatoes etc.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Wow! Looks good. I wish I had some wood that nice just laying around.