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Frame Handles- How I do them

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There are a few more things I should show you about attaching the handle to the knife. There are three basic ways to do this.

1. Just glue it on. This can be done all at once or in sections.

2. Create a take-down version. This requires you to glue the scales to the frame separately, and then attach the handle to the tang with a mechanical fastener.

3. Glue it on and put a pin through the tang. This can be done all at once, or in separate operations.

I won't even get into the ultra super crazy way that Jean-Louis Regel does his take down version that needs zero glue. If you really want to test yourself, check out this thread and the video, or look him up on IG or FB to see this. 

For this knife, I am doing option #1 with a the variant that does this in two steps. Maybe over time, I will add to this thread with option #2 and/or #3.

No matter what method you choose, you have to decide what to do with the pins that attach the scales to the frame. Are they domed, or filed flush?


I first start by relieving a section of the mating surfaces on the frame and tang. Here is the frame with the area relieved.


Frame relief.jpg


You will note that I left a slim line around the outside and the inside edge. This is because I am going to glue the pins in and attach the scales to the frame before I attach the handle to the blade. I do this with a rotary tool and a long skinny round grinding stone. Dremel makes them for sharpening chainsaw blades. Pin the frame to one scale and draw the line around the inside. You want to create a matching channel in the outside of the scale and relieve the area in the center of the scale as well. You must keep flat areas on the outside of that line so the epoxy will not seep into the center area when you glue the scales to the frame. Do both scales and apply a small bead of epoxy in the channel. Pin the scales to the frame and clamp until cured.


Sand and notch the tang to give the epoxy a good purchase. The surface should should be sanded to 100 grit or rougher. You notch the tang and maybe drill a hole or two through it to create epoxy "rivets".


Tang nothes.jpg


Assemble and clamp as you would any other hidden tang.

Edited by Joshua States
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Thanks, but I was hoping for some 'glamor' shots.... Don't go through the trouble for me, though.


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  • 3 weeks later...

At the top of this page I mentioned doing a take-down version.  As luck would have it, I am able to do a short demo of that for two reasons.

1. I have finished everything I am taking to Blade Show and am not scrambling at the last minute.

2. My neighbor found out I am a knife maker and asked if I could put a handle on the blade he purchased from a DIY kit knife supplier. After looking at a few knives I've made, he wanted a take-down coffin handle. That was a few months ago.....I can spend a little time and put it together for him now.


The coffin handle is a symmetrical handle. The Damascus one I did earlier is asymmetrical. Making the frame for a symmetrical template has one small, but significant difference. The template has two center line alignment holes and you only use the pin holes along one edge side of the template.


Frame template.jpg


You clamp the template to the sheet stock you will use for the frame and drill the two alignment holes, pinning each hole after you drill it.


Frame process (1).jpg


Now you choose which edge side you will use for the pin holes and just drill those. Pin the holes as you drill and scribe that edge.


Frame process (2).jpg


Flip the template upside down and set pins in the center line alignment holes. Clamp the template to the sheet stock, drill the same holes for the other edge of the frame and scribe the edge line. This ensures that the pin holes are symmetrically placed across the frame and the frame shape is a mirror image from one side to the other.


Frame process (3).jpg


Cut it out and grind down to the lines.


Frame process (4).jpg


These photos are from a different handle that I made, but the process is identical. Now clamp the frame to the scales and drill the pin holes. Do not drill the alignment holes in the scale, they are not necessary, unless you want to pin through the tang in a non-takedown handle. They will be removed when you fit the tang to the frame anyway.

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  • Joshua States changed the title to Frame Handles- How I do them

The most common way in this type of take-down is to have some sort of threaded tang and pommel nut. There are multiple way to accomplish this. You can hammer the tang end out into a round bar and thread the end, you can attach a known piece of threaded rod to the tang (also multiple ways), you can have the threads protrude from the heel end and the pommel butts against the handle, you can have the threads inside the handle and attach a piece of threaded tube to the pommel, etc. etc. etc. Whichever way you decide to go, decide if you want to have the threaded part thin enough to pass through the guard and spacers. 

For this demo. I will attach a piece of threaded rod to the tang by notching the tang and shaping a piece of threaded rod to fit the notch and then just weld them together.  Sometimes I will braze them with bronze rod.

By this point, I have already pinned the scales to the  to the frame and fit my tang to the frame as I did in the first demo. The profile of the handle is finished to about 320 grit. I forgot to photograph the notching and welding, so I made a small drawing.


1 Notch tang.jpg


Weld or braze this together, leaving enough threaded rod to fully extend out the heel, and grind the flats onto the threaded rod to get through the guard. You must keep the threads opposite each other when you grind the rod flat. If they are at all off-center, the threaded pommel will not stay on. It will wobble and fall off.


2 Threaded tang end.jpg


Now I take that handle and mark the heel where I need to bore a hole for the threaded rod to go through.


3 Mark heel center.jpg


I do this in my mini mill with a ball end mill bit. By just barely touching the ball end down I can see exactly where the center of the hole will be. The micro adjustment of the mill let's me get pretty precise. This operation will likely cut the frame into two pieces. So have the sides and scales clearly marked as to which one goes on what side edge of the handle. 


4 Ball end mill.jpg


I bore the hole all the way through into the cavity inside the handle.


5 Bored hole.jpg

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You should now be able to slide the tang into the front end of the handle and have the threaded rod poke out the back end.


6 Fit through tang.jpg


You may have to fiddle around with this to get it to fit flush and flat against the guard or spacer package. That may mean slight adjustments to the front end of the handle, opening up the hole in the end of the handle so the threaded portion can move, or taking some more off of the inside of the frame. Something somewhere is pushing the tang out of alignment and you need to identify what that is and remove it.


If you have a spacer package, now is the time to set you alignment pins. See this thread for details on that. Once you have everything fitted nicely together, it is time to make the pommel nut. For this knife I am using a piece of 416 Stainless that measures approximately 3/4 x 3/4 x 1/2. I will first mark the center of the pommel piece and the drill bit for desired depth. The hole will not drill all the way through.


7 Mark pommel.jpg


Drill the hole and tap threads that match whatever your threaded rod is. attach it to the threaded rod and make sure you can get good purchase on the threads. If the pommel wobbles or doesn't stay on, you need to remove the threaded rod and do another one. Cut off the threaded rod  where it will be just short of bottom out. You wnat it to tighten against the handle and lock the whole package together.


8 Reduce tang end.jpg


Check the fit.


9 fit pommel.jpg

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I now add my grinding reference lines to the handle scales, and front spacer. The spacer package is rough shaped as a unit.

Then I assemble the handle with the spacers off the knife and insert a piece of threaded rod through the entire assembly. I add nuts and washers to hold the whole thing tightly together. This is ready for shaping off of the blade.


10 add spacers.jpg


Note the guide lines.


11 Ready for shaping.jpg

Edited by Joshua States
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Joshua, wow I picked up some valued information from this thread! I have never seen another maker in person. What I have learned in my knife making has been self-taught and gleaned over the years from knife forums! Believe me when I say the self-taught can be the most frustrating. IE, screwing up a knife at the last minute. Or having an idea of how you want to do this procedure and a year later you just happen to see a thread or video and think. Oh sh!$ that is ten times easier than the way I did it!


Imparting knowledge  unselfishly is one of the greatest attributes a maker can have in my opinion! When I first got into this knife making I had a grand delusion that all makers would want to share "how to". Don't get me wrong because, most are eager to share info.

Every once in a while you meet one that is a real a$$ about it! I get that you may be making a living off of knife making. But I just want an idea of "how to" do such a piece. Then I can make a 100 or more and they still don't look as good as yours! Believe me I am not out to take away your business the "how to" is the part I can't get figured out in my head!  


OK enough ranting. I commend your sir, for it is threads like this where a lot of get the "how to" and for being a teacher not a lecturer of how I have nothing I want to share! Hat tip.jpgJoshua, a great thread again and how you went back and added the end, I like that! I know folks don't see anything from me anymore except words. With my wife being sick it is about all the time I have to steal off and pound the keys and glean information from great posts!

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Thank you for the kind words @C Craft. I do threads like this for two reasons: I hope someone can use the information I present to help them along the way and I also hope someone gives me a better/simpler way to do it! I don't worry about losing business to anyone. I don't really have any business to loose. I am not a fulltime maker and most would consider me to be a hobbyist at best. I've just been at it a while now......

Anyway, I make more money in my day job as a building code guru than I ever hope to make at knifemaking, so I can afford to part with my "secrets" (most of them anyway). There are also going to be small gaps in the information, because I just get going and forget to photograph a step somewhere. So I hope people feel free to ask questions about these tutorials. And if anyone thinks of a better way, please tell me!


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  • 4 weeks later...

So in another thread I mentioned another method of adding a threaded rod to a tang with a hinge pin connecting the two. It just so happens that this tang was slightly off center and the threaded rod wouldn't go through the handle at the correct angle. So, I had to go back and modify the threaded rod. I took a few pics of the process for you guys. I am using 8-32 rod for this. Some makers use 10-24. Use what ever you like. The process is the same.


First cut off a piece of threaded rod that is longer than you need. Grind one side of it just past halfway and grind the threads off the other side.

This one still needs some fine tuning.


1 Ground rod.jpg


Then drill a hole through the remaining flat piece. I am using a 1/16" pin to hold this to the tang.


2 drilled rod.jpg


Drill the end of the tang and round off the corners. Grind a wee bit into the tang on the side you will attach the rod to.


3 Drilled tang (2).jpg


Attach the threaded rod to the tang with a pin and check the alignment. This is temporary. Don't peen the pin yet.


4 Pinned to tang.jpg

Edited by Joshua States
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If you are using a sold block handle, slide this through and check the pommel nut fit. If you are doing a frame handle, like I am, you will need to check the fit in one scale pinned to the frame. This one took a little reworking to make it fit right. I had to offset the rod from tang center to get proper alignment.


Check fit.jpg


You can see how I have drilled the frame with holes for the epoxy to grip to.

The surfaces are also ground down between the holes to provide purchase for the epoxy. I leave very thin areas of flat between the holes and the edges so epoxy weep doesn't get into the tang area. I also grind channels into the handle scales to match. This is where I will epoxy the handle together, off the knife.


5 prepped scales.jpg


Note the shallow groove cut to allow the threaded rod to slide through the handle.

Edited by Joshua States
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