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Ron Benson

Assembling a handle

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As mentioned in another post, my son has requested a letter opener with a "fancy wood handle" for Christmas. I have decided to the handle from Macassar Ebony and Bubinga. The blade will be Bubinga. The pieces for the handle are cut and drilled for a 1/2" dowel insert. I have seen this process done on youtube, but with a metal blade which is often burned in. I don't think trying to burn in a wooden blade would work very well. :wacko:

 

So I'm looking for advice on how I can finish the handle and blade separately and then assemble. I am worried about excess glue squeezing into the slot for the blade and then having to remove it. There won't be much clamping space on the blade end, (if I insert the blade before gluing), of the handle because I plan on making a wa handle that tapers from butt to blade end.

 

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Edited by Ron Benson

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You can fill the hole with epoxy putty , Vaseline the tang, put it in and let the epoxy begin to cure and remove the blade.  Then let the epoxy fully cure before you work on the handle.

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I am assuming from your description, that you will be inserting a 1/2 inch dowel of Bubinga that will be shaped into the blade?

Is so, I would do this.

Clamp & Glue all the handle pieces together, but do not drill the hole until all the glue is completely cured. (unfortunately, it appears you have already drilled the wood)

Then drill your "blade" hole and shape the handle.

Mark your dowel at the depth of the drilled hole and prepare the blade with the remainder of the dowel.

Shape the blade end of the dowel.

Cut a few rings in the "tang" of the blade and glue it into the hole.

 

Being that you have already drilled the holes, here is what you can do.

Get a another wood dowel (or take the one you will use for the blade) that matches the hole diameter and mark the depth of the hole through all the pieces of wood

Chuck it up in a drill and holding a piece of sand paper around it (60 grit) and shave it down a few thousandths of an inch where it will go into the handle.

Wrap it in Teflon tape and use it to align all the holes when gluing the handle bits together.

After the glue has set, remove the dowel. It should come right out.

Shape the handle.

Shape the blade end of the dowel.

Cut a few rings in the "tang" of the blade and glue it into the hole.

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Thanx Jöel and Joshua.

 

Joshua - sorry I was not clear. My plan is to cut a slot in the dowel that will fit the tang. Then glue up the handle with the dowel in place and finish the handle. I will then insert the tang into the handle.

 

Ideas keep popping into my mind as I read suggestions, so I am still considering all suggestions....

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On 11/23/2019 at 7:08 AM, Ron Benson said:

Thanx Jöel and Joshua.

 

Joshua - sorry I was not clear. My plan is to cut a slot in the dowel that will fit the tang. Then glue up the handle with the dowel in place and finish the handle. I will then insert the tang into the handle.

 

Ideas keep popping into my mind as I read suggestions, so I am still considering all suggestions....

I that case, I have a different suggestion.

I do this all the time with kitchen knives and I learned the technique from Matt Parkinson.

 

Assemble the handle as previously described. 

Take that wood dowel and cut it down the middle lengthwise with a bandsaw, scroll saw, or by hand with a small saw.

Take the two halves of the dowel and lay them flat side down on some sandpaper, (60 or 100 grit) on a hard smooth surface.

Sand smooth.

Insert the tang into the hole of the handle and keep sanding the dowel pieces until you can just barely slide them into the space on each side. They do not have to go all the way in. It's actually preferable if they do not.

Once you can fit the dowel pieces at least 1 inch into the hole with the tang in place, put some superglue on the curved sides (do not get any on the flats that go up against the tang) and insert them into the hole with the tang in place and blade properly oriented.

Remove the blade leaving the dowels in place held by the superglue. and cut the excess dowel off the end of the handle.

Finish the handle as desired and eventually glue the tang into the slot as normal.

For this to work properly, the tang must extend into the handle past the end of the dowel pieces so it contacts the epoxy.

 

If you need some photos to explain, I might be able to put something together.

Edited by Joshua States

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I watched a youtube video on this method not too long ago, plan to give it a try someday....thanks for all the additional info

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7 hours ago, Jonathanbradshaw said:

How about using a piece of metal to burn the epoxy out just as you saw in the YouTube video? Then glue the wooden tang in

Sounds messy and stinky. Besides, the trick with epoxy is to avoid a thin layer if at all possible. Burned epoxy doesn't necessarily create a really good surface to try and bond fresh epoxy to either. The surfaces that epoxy like to bond with are clean, oil free, and slightly roughed up. Epoxy does not like smooth or dirty surfaces.

 

Seriously, the easiest way is the method Joël described. If you are planning on shaping the handle with the blade already glued in, just push the tang into the putty, cut the excess off and let it cure. The only problem with this is epoxy shrinkage. It may recess slightly into the handle.

If you shape the handle off of the knife and glue up later (my preferred method) use the dowel shim technique. It's really pretty easy.

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Joshua I learned that same technique from Matt Parkinson. As I learned it you cut the dowel halves flush with the handle in the end. They are then hidden with dye. If the video Ron is referring to is the one I think it is (simple little life) there will be a slotted bolster piece that the tang slides through that hides the round hole and dowel. 

I typed burn out the epoxy, but really you only need to get the metal hot enough to melt the epoxy. I suspect it is still messy and stink. I’ll find out in the next few days because I decided to try this process on a chef’s knife. 

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I was just rereading the posts and realized that I should have credited Joshua with the split dowel idea. Sorry Joshua...

 

Here's my current plan:

 

First, I have the following pieces - butt, body, three spacers, and the "bolster". The body has a hole drilled in it about 2/3 of it's length. The three spacers have holes drilled in them, and the "bolster" has a hole drilled about half way through with a through slot for the tang. I also have the dowel cut in half lengthwise, and the blade blank has the tang cut in it. (And it actually fits in the slot!)

I need to sand the two pieces of the dowel to make a almost tight fit with the tang in place, shape the blade, and glue up the handle so I can finish it before gluing the blade in place. I'm going to use either a Watco oil finish, or Tru Oil. I know the Watco looks great on bubinga, but I'm not sure how the oil will affect ebony. On the other hand, I don't think the Tru Oil will have much affect on the Ebony.

 

Any additional suggestions would be greatly suggested.

Edited by Ron Benson

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48 minutes ago, Jonathanbradshaw said:

They are then hidden with dye.

Exactly. You can also match the dowel with the wood, in which case they come out pretty invisible. Walnut dowels are pretty easy to come by at Home Depot or any woodworker's store.

This knife has a walnut handle and 3/8" walnut dowels.

Dowel (7).JPG

 

Dowel (6).JPG

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