Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knife maker, your handle determines the effectiveness of your knife. Although you can make it using different designs, you’ll want a handle that feels comfortable in your hand.
So, would you like to learn how to make a knife handle without breaking a sweat?
Luckily, we’ve prepared an easy guide to help you create your knife handle. So keep on reading to check our few easy steps!
Knife Handle Materials – Which One Should You Choose?
The first thing you’ll probably consider when making a handle is the material you’ll use. While you have many material options for your handle, the right one will depend on your knife’s purpose. For example, do you want a knife for kitchen use, hunting, cutting ropes, knife throwing, or self-defense?
Here, we’ll look at three types of knife handle materials. You can choose any depending on your purpose.
You can use natural materials such as wood, bone, or mother of pearl to make a knife handle. The good thing about natural materials is that you can easily find them around. With this type of handle, you can recreate an iconic weapon used by our ancestors.
Let’s look into the three options.
Wood is one of the most suitable materials for making knife handles. You’ll only need a piece of wood from a given tree to design them. Some tree species you can use include olive wood, maple, rosewood, walnut, desert ironwood, pink ivory, and mesquite.
Once you find your choice of wood, you can cut, carve, and shape it the way you like. However, a wooden handle can easily crack or break if exposed to moisture or dropped down.
You can start making bone knife handles using bones from animals such as cows, giraffes, or deer. With a bone, you’re guaranteed an eye-catching knife with an exotic touch. However, bone handles can easily crack or break if not handled well. Therefore, you can dye them and apply resins to make them strong and beautiful.
Mother of Pearl
If you want to make a stylish, sleek, and robust knife that stands out among the rest, use mother of pearl material. It’s found in mollusks such as pearl oysters, abalone, and freshwater mussels.
With the mother of pearl, you can design the handle the way you want to achieve exotic beauty. However, if you’re working on a budget, you may consider another material because the mother of pearl is costly.
You can use synthetic materials like carbon fiber, G10, and Micarta to make your knife handle. Synthetic handles guarantee polished appearance and durability, so you don’t have to worry about them cracking or breaking down.
Carbon fiber, also known as graphite fiber, is a durable polymer. As a result, it can make robust, yet lightweight knife handles. Also, it can withstand high temperatures and is resistant to chemicals. However, using carbon fiber may be labor-intensive and expensive.
Manufacturers make G10 from fiberglass cloth soaked in resin and compressed under pressure to produce a tough and light material. Because it comes in various colors, your knife handle can have layers of different colors, making a beautiful final output.
The good thing about G10 is that it’s inexpensive compared to carbon fiber and will still guarantee a durable knife handle.
Micarta is one of the best plastics you can use to make a knife handle. When making Micarta, manufacturers soak thin layers of clothes in a phenolic resin. The results are strong, lightweight, and elegant material.
However, there are some downsides to this material. It’s smooth, slippery, and lacks surface texture. In addition, Micarta is costly.
When looking for a material that’s hard-wearing, sturdy, and easy to maintain, metals can be your best bet. You can use metals such as aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel.
Aluminum can be used to make a knife handle that’s low in density and resists corrosion. In addition, it offers a secure and comfortable grip. One of the most commonly used types of aluminum is the T6-6061 alloy, preferred for its tensile strength.
However, aluminum is a good conductor of heat; it may feel uncomfortable to hold the knife during cold seasons because the handle will become chilly to grip.
If you’re looking for a metal material that’s resistant to corrosion and can increase the durability of your knife handle, stainless steel would be your go-to option. However, it’s a heavy metal and can be slippery.
Therefore, when using this metal, you’ll need to improve the grip by incorporating ridges or combining stainless steel with rubber or plastic. Hence, you may need to look for another material to make a knife handle if you want a heavy-duty knife.
You can make a unique, long-lasting, and attractive knife handle with titanium. Unlike aluminum, a titanium knife handle feels warm even during cold seasons and is comfortable for various uses. However, titanium isn’t a budget-friendly option, so it wouldn’t be your best choice if you’re working on a tight budget.
What Do We Need to Prepare Before Making Knife Handles?
Making knife handles requires putting everything in place beforehand. For example, you can learn a few basic metalworking or woodworking skills to have ideas on how to get going.
After equipping yourself with the necessary skills, you’ll need to ensure that all the required materials and machines are available. Here’s a list of the needed stuff:
- Knife blade
- Scales – these include materials for making a handle such as wood, aluminum, bone, carbon fiber, etc.
- Masking tape
- Wood band saw
- Drill press
- Metal sanders
- Woodshop sanders
- Metal band saw
How to Make a Knife Handle
Now it’s time to get to the meat of the matter. Here, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step process that’ll help you successfully make your knife handle. So let’s get rolling.
Choose the Material
By now, you know the materials that can be used for making handles. The only thing you need to do is choose suitable materials based on your knife’s purpose. With a wrong choice, the results might frustrate you.
But how do you choose the right material for your knife? First, consider whether your preferred material guarantees comfort, safety, and durability. A natural material like wood can be your best bet when looking for comfort and safety.
However, you may consider using a metal material such as titanium or a synthetic material like G10 for a solid and durable knife handle. Also, you can combine different materials if you want impressive results. For example, you can use wood and G10, wood and Micarta, and G10 and Micarta.
When combining other materials with wood, remember to choose a stable wood to avoid ending up with a handle that’ll shrink or swell. Sturdy woods include desert ironwood, cocobolo, African blackwood, and Kingwood.
Lay Out the Scales
After you’ve chosen all the materials you require, you should lay them on a flat and clean surface. This will help you to locate your material with ease. After laying them, you can start the initial preparations. For instance, you can cover the edges of your blade with masking tape. This will help protect you from getting cut or the blade getting scratched.
Cut the material into sizable squares that you’ll use to make your handle scales. Next, use a pencil to trace the edges of your blade onto the handle scales. Then, cut the handle material to your handle’s required size and shape. Leave an extra room on the handle material to avoid cutting away the parts required.
Mark the Holes
In most cases, your blade will come with predrilled holes on the handle. Place the blade handle on top of your scales and use a pencil to mark where you’ll insert the pins. The holes on the blade handle will help you determine the size of pins you need to make a compact knife handle.
However, if your blade came with smaller holes or didn’t come with holes at all, you can use a metal drill press to drill holes in your blade.
Sand, Drill, and Glue
First, use your sandpaper to sand and shape the part of your scales that’ll be in contact with the sharp edge of your blade for a stronger bond. Then, glue the two handle scales together. Now, it’s time for drilling.
When drilling, you shouldn’t separate your handle scales. Instead, drill the scales together on the point where you marked with a pencil. Ensure you do this correctly to avoid finding it challenging to assemble your knife.
You should be keen to choose the right drill; make sure you use a drill that’s slightly larger than your pins. You don’t want to end up with too large or small holes.
Profile the Scales
Profile the front of your scales to make sure your handle is clean and easy to grip. You need to do this step when the handle scales are still attached by glue. If you profile the front of your scales after being attached to your blade, you might end up scratching its edges. In addition, profiling the scales while attached ensures you match up your scales’ faces.
Pop Them Apart
You now have evenly drilled holes and scale faces that match up. The next thing you should do is to pop the scales apart. Remember you’ve been working on them while attached using glue.
To pop them apart, place the edge of any knife that you use every day between the scales. You can use any spacer material to ensure your knife stays firm.
Trace, Cut, and Glue
Place the handle on the spacer and trace its shape using a marker. Then, with the shape of your handle on the spacer, cut the rough shape and glue the spacer to the inside parts of your scales. Wait for the glue to dry up.
Once it’s dry, clean up the edges to ensure your spacers have a standard shape and size with your scales. Use a hand drill to drill holes on the spacer, matching the holes on your scales.
Now you have all your materials ready for assembly. Apply epoxy on the spacers attached to the scales. Next, you can place your blade handle between the scales and ensure the holes match.
Once epoxied and clamped together, your handle should be compact and ready for pins. Push the pins and pass them through the drilled holes to clamp the scales and the blade handle together. Then, hold your knife to make sure the whole assembly fits perfectly.
If there’s any epoxy that squeezes out when assembling your knife, remove it before it dries. You can use sandpaper or a wet cloth with acetone and gently scrape off the epoxy. However, be careful when using sandpaper to avoid damaging your handle.
That’s all you need to make your true masterpiece. It’s no wonder knife making is considered an art. You can combine skills, personality, and a touch of creativity to make a stunningly beautiful knife handle that gives your blade a unique look.
With our easy-to-follow steps, you can start right away and make your knife handle in record time. And with your perfect knife, nothing will stop you from getting out there to put it to work.However, if you’re still not yet done with forging your knife, you can check our guide on this topic.