Knife making - Lesson 11...Making the handle slabs

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    Let's make the handle slabs. My suggestion is to use a dark hardwood as this will wear better.  My favorite wood to use is cocobolo, but their are lots of good choices available.  Dark hardwoods are the best as they won't show wear and dirt. Softwoods like cedar and pine will dent when dinged or dropped. Oak is a good hardwood to use and can be stained or oiled to a darker color.  

    Take your piece of wood (or micarta, plastic, bone, etc.) Lay the handle section on the piece and outline it. We want to cut it a little larger than the handle and grind to size after the handles are affixed to the blade. Cut out the slabs in the shape, and then split the piece to make two slabs, one for each side. I use a band saw to cut my slabs, but a scroll saw, coping saw, or jigsaw will work as well.  

      Next flatten the inside. The wood surface that goes next to the blade must be perfectly flat for a good fit. Press the wood to the handle and eyeball it, keep on sanding until you have a perfect fit.

    Next we will drill the holes to mount the handles to the blade. Using C clamps (at least two) fasten one handle to the side of the blade. Turn the piece over and use the holes you drilled in the blade as a guide to drill the mounting holes. Using a drill bit exactly the same size as the mounting pins (I use 1/8 brass brazing rod and a 1/8" bit), drill through the handle everywhere you plan on putting a pin in the finished knife. The holes must be drilled straight and true, at a 90 angle to the blade. Using the glue holes added in  Lesson 5  as a guide, drill some shallow holes (about 1/8") in the handle material to give the epoxy something to grab a hold of.

    Before you remove the C clamps, insert some extra long pins into the holes until they are flush with the steel. This will hold the first slab in place. Then mount the opposite side handle slab on the blade and clamp the whole thing together with C clamps.

    Now remove the extra long pins. Drill the second handle slab from the side with the first slab. Try not to wallow out the existing holes when you do this. When you are done, insert the pins all the way through both slabs and check for proper fit and alignment. Now is the time to check this, not later when we've got epoxy all over everything.

    Remove both handle slabs. Drill some shallow glue holes in the second slab as we did the first.

    Take both handle slabs and fit them together using the pins (without the blade in between them). Now grind the front of the slabs (at the blade end) until they are exactly the same length. Taper each side at  45 from the front (where it will touch the blade)  to the full width of your handle slabs. Usually this transition area will be about 1/2" to 3/4" long. This will make a nice clean transition from the handle area to blade when the slabs are mounted.   

    Assemble the entire piece with pins minus epoxy and check for fit. Wrap tape around the blade as close to the slabs as possible to keep the glue off the blade. Next we will epoxy the slabs to the blade - Lesson 12.   

Lesson 1   Lesson 2  Lesson 3  Lesson 4   Lesson 5  Lesson 6  Lesson 7  Lesson 8  Lesson 9 Lesson 10  Lesson 12 Lesson 13

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