Refinishing a Knife

Introduction: Refinishing a Knife

About: I enjoy the outdoors. Camping, fishing, canoeing, all of it. I love working with my hands. I take on any project. I love to work on cars. I have been making knives since 2011. My skills slowly increase. Knif...

A friend of my brother, wanted me to simply sharpen a knife of his. However, the handle was loose, and the back pommel piece was just cast metal, so it was very weak, and broke after taking a few swings with it. The handle is cheap plastic. I felt like this was in need of a total change, so I decided to restore it.

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Step 1: Refinishing the Blade

The knife was made in Pakistan, as printed on the blade. The surface of the blade was scratched and uneven so I wanted to fix that. I started with sanding it with 120 grit paper. I moved up to 220 and 500 to finish it. When sanding the bevels, I angle the blade against the workbench surface to prevent injury. Other then that, it's all straightforward. I like to use a block underneath the paper, to make it easier.

Step 2: Preparing the New Handle

First I had to pick what type of wood I wanted to use as a handle. I chose hickory, because it is a very strong and resilient wood. I took a large block of it, and proceeded to cut off a generous length in proportion to the tang of the knife. I used a band saw to cut it, although anything could be used. I split off large chunks of the corners using a large knife. I used a different knife to shave off large shreds of hickory from the block. Fairly straightforward process again. Use sharp tools, keep it simple. This is just to prepare it for drilling the tang hole.

Step 3: Drilling the Handle

This knife is a partial tang knife. That means that the blade only has a small tang, that is hidden from the outside.

I started the process by cutting the block level, so I could drill it on the drill press. I used the drill bit closest to the size of the tang and went as deep as I could.

After that, I drilled the wood to fit the larger part of the handle tang.

Step 4: Burning the Handle

The drill bit wasn't deep enough for the tang, so I had to burn the hole.

I did this by heating up the tang on the stove, while keeping the higher portions cool with a wet paper towel.

I placed a pot of water on the stove in an effort to reflect back more heat.

The process was fairly simple. I heated the tang to a red/orange color and pressed it into the whole, using a block of wood to protect my hand.

After every heat, I used a coat hanger to scrap apart more wood. Minimal extra progress, but it kept me busy.

It took over a dozen cycles, and would have been much faster with Mapp gas torch or even propane.

I finished when I had enough space for the guard, as well as an extra eighth inch for room for compression.

Step 5: More Handle Work

Next was just more work on the handle. I left the size of the wood much bigger then the finished product, to make room for error.

First I marked out the size of the guard on the wood. I used a band saw to cut away much of the excess.

From there I used a grinding wheel on an angle grinder. I ground down the main curve and worked on rounding over the whole handle overall.

After getting most of the shape, I went to my small belt sander and worked on refining it. I used the top curve of the sander, to work on the knives finger curve.

Final finishing is all done by hand. I get the handle to the final desired shape, and continue sanding. I continued to increase the grit of the paper, until I was happy with the finish.

Step 6: Epoxy Time

I didn't get any pictures of this step. I was too distracted in the project.

In order to have the glue hold everything better, I like to roughen up the surfaces. I used a utility blade to cut into the soft steel, making a network of hatching and cross hatching. I then used a file to cut notches into the sides of the tang.

Next I used a coat hanger to scratch out the charred wood from the inside of the handle, as that surface won't bond as well.

Anyways, I simply mixed the two part epoxy, slathered the composition in the hole of the handle, pressed everything together, and secured it all with a few taps of a rubber mallet.

I used the excessive epoxy to cover the handle, as an experiment to how it would turn out as a finishing surface, and I was pleased with the result. It ended up having a shiny tacky grip to it, that was really pleasing.

Step 7: All Finished

Here's the finished project.

Any questions? Criticism? Tips? Did you have a similar project.

Comment please. Post pics.

Happy Crafting -

Basement Craftsman

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    3 Discussions


    5 years ago

    lovely handle, did your brothers friend appreciate it?