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Alex Middleton

Olson fixed blade - loose handle

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A buddy at work brought me this today and asked if I'd be able to tighten up the handle on his uncles old knife.  It's an old Olson fixed blade hunter with an antler handle.  I've seen these knives before and I know that the handle loosening up is a relatively common issue for them.  I'm wondering if anyone has tackled into trying to tighten up the handle on one of these before.

20190719_115102-2.jpg

20190719_115119.jpg

The best I can tell is that the pommel nut is screwed in to tighten the handle, and then the tang is peened over to lock the nut in place.  It won't take much more than a 1/4 turn or so to tighten things back up again, but before I start into it I want to make sure that my thought process is correct.  Given the amount of sentimental value that this blade holds for him, I really don't want to wreck anything.  Any thoughts or past experiences with one of these knives would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Alex

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That is my understanding as well.  The one potential problem is if the peening of the tang has locked the nut in place, in which case you'd have to get the bits of tang out of the slot, tighten the nut, and re-peen the tang.  Maybe use a little boiled linseed oil to try and expand the shrunken leather spacers first? 

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That's a good idea Alan.  I'll give that a try first.  I have a jar of thinned down BOO that I'll give it a soak in.

He's got a crazy story to go along with this knife.  Apparently his uncle passed away 40+ years ago.  A few years ago they were doing some maintenance at the old family house and had to take down an old tree in the yard.  When they dropped the tree they saw just the pommel of the knife sticking up out of one of the crotches.  After carefully splitting the wood out,  they found the whole knife there still in good condition.

Russ has been known to spin a good yarn now and then, and given the condition of the blade and antler I'm a little suspicious.   Either way it's a good story though.  After I tighten up the handle he wants me to make a sheath for it so he can use it as an EDC.

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A buddy of mine has a knife very similar to that one, except I believe the markings say "Enley Co.".    Re-peening the tang sounds good for a permanent solution,  but what about some locktite on the nut instead of peening ?  Provided you can get the whole thing off anyway if necessary.   That way if it needs to be repaired again due to use/abuse it can be more easily worked on.   I like Alan's idea about the Boiled linseed oil.  I'll have to keep that one in the vault for when I run across that sort of problem. 

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I would make a two pronged wrench to try and tighten the nut, and if that didn't work I'd try driving it with a punch. Also the blo and locktite...

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you might consider adding some red loc-tite to the threads to bind the nut in place and keep it from backing out or loosening up...

 

 

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I have a very similar situation. A coworker brought me a knife with the exact same construction. I used a mill file to remove the peening enough to unscrew the nut. The antler handle is a mortise construction and I have to take that apart and reassemble as well as clean up the blade. I will post a pic tonight.

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Once I filed off the peened end, I could unscrew the cap nut with a small pair of needle nose pliers. After I got that high enough, I used a flat head screw driver.

Cap nut V2.jpg

This knife has some strange maker's mark.

Marks V2.jpg

Nice little knife though

Full shot V2.jpg

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Very nice.  Thats probably my plan C right now.  My project is currently soaking in a 4:1 of mineral spirits and BLO. 

I will ask though, having filed off the excess material that was left from peening, what is your plan for locking everything back together?  Obviously loctite or a dab of epoxy is an option, but not one that I would be totally comfortable with.  I suppose driving a sharp punch into the end of the tang would help to mushroom it enough to lock the nut in place, but you'd have to be very careful not to ruin the aesthetics of it.  Then again maybe I'm just overthinking things too.

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You could reduce the thickness of the nut a little so that the tang would protrude enough to peen again.

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Posted (edited)

Did you finish the knife? A couple things,,, Sometimes the leather spacers just get dried out,,, Fieblings of some sort, whatever you can get might stabilize some handles, that one is probably to old to just moisturize to expand it back. Lately I have been using Fieblings with silicone in it just called "Saddle Oil" but no idea on longevity of that. For sure since its apart, consider replacing the leather spacers as the old leather rots. 

The knife as it is, most likely will not be going back "into the woods" and will be more of a trophy. Some may disagree but maybe consider some kind of tinkers dam fill onto  a smaller nut to give it a smoother fancy finish when its done. 

Edited by Bryan Bondurant
mispelling

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On 8/1/2019 at 6:59 PM, Alex Middleton said:

Very nice.  Thats probably my plan C right now.  My project is currently soaking in a 4:1 of mineral spirits and BLO. 

I will ask though, having filed off the excess material that was left from peening, what is your plan for locking everything back together?  Obviously loctite or a dab of epoxy is an option, but not one that I would be totally comfortable with.  I suppose driving a sharp punch into the end of the tang would help to mushroom it enough to lock the nut in place, but you'd have to be very careful not to ruin the aesthetics of it.  Then again maybe I'm just overthinking things too.

My plan is to use blind pins to hold this thing inline and together. There are 4 or 5 pieces in each of those spacer packages.

14 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

You could reduce the thickness of the nut a little so that the tang would protrude enough to peen again.

This is an option and so is the thread locker and so is both. The peening really doesn't need to be a lot. It's there to keep the nut from backing out, not to hold it tight together. The whole purpose of the threaded through tang is to allow the owner to tighten it up when it gets loose from shrinkage, and to take it apart when things get too wonky.  In theory, you could just dimple one or two spots on the tang and have enough to keep the nut from backing out. You really do not need to peen the whole mass down. Think about through tangs and finial nuts like this one. This is just tightened enough that you need a wrench to loosen it. No thread locker/Loctite, no peening required.

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