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Antler handles


Barney Barnett
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I'm getting ready to do a couple antler handles for the first time. Been reading on how to do them best. One way is boil it and push it on, let dry and it hardens to tang.  Others drill is out and epoxy it on.  Figured I'd ask on here which method do you prefer to use or have had the best luck with?

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I've done a fair number of antler handles.  I've never had an epoxied handle fail.  I often do a through tang with a threaded capture nut.  Sort of belt and suspenders.

 

Geoff

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If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

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So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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The pith inside the antler is quite friable and will dry out and break under stress. If you are going to leave it in place, you really should solidify it somehow. A long time ago I simply saturated it with danish oil and let it dry. This took a few days, but that knife has help up well over time. (I got to clean it up and resharpen it several times since) I have also seen guys use the thin Cyano glue (superglue) and a vaccuum hose to pull it into the pith. Also questionable on longevity there. This is why the common wisdom says to remove the fragile stuff and replace it with something more solid. 

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I've boiled antler before but not for the fitting up to a tang. It was a three part antler handle with two more bronze spacers, and I boiled it in a mixture of instant coffee to patina it. The process did very little if nothing structural, and a small bedding of epoxy soaked into the pith was used for the final fitting. That was maybe seven years ago and the handle is still just as solid as it was then.

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These have all been out in the world.  These are all filled with G-Flex

 

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Stagbowie.jpg

 

Geoff

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"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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  • 11 months later...

For excellent grip of the epoxy to the tang, tape up the blade, or wrap it well in clean paper and tape seal it, leaving the tang uncovered.  Sandblast the tang well just before glue up.  Do not touch the tang, do not wash it with solvents, alcohol, etc.  these all leave a film.  A freshly sand blasted tang has the best adhesion in several tests.  If you cannot sandblast, sand well with 80 grit just before glue up and as above do not touch or wash it.

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3 hours ago, Martin Brandt said:

For excellent grip of the epoxy to the tang, tape up the blade, or wrap it well in clean paper and tape seal it, leaving the tang uncovered.  Sandblast the tang well just before glue up.  Do not touch the tang, do not wash it with solvents, alcohol, etc.  these all leave a film.  A freshly sand blasted tang has the best adhesion in several tests.  If you cannot sandblast, sand well with 80 grit just before glue up and as above do not touch or wash it.

I have a 1/2 in carbide burr in an air driver that I go over the tang with and leave a series of small divots all over the tang something like a miniture rasp and have a very good adhesive surface.

Von Gruff

http://www.vongruffknives.com/

The ability to do comes with doing.

 

 

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I've boiled and pressed in tangs multiple times. These knives are still fine. Only with one knife, the tang loosened, which was due to the core of the antler being too porous, so it didn't grip the tang well. With this method, the tang should not be too large, as you can only press it into the porous part of the antler. If the tang is too wide, you split the antler, or it gets stuck part of the way in. So in your case, I'd recommend drilling the antler and glueing the taing. 

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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On 11/4/2022 at 12:35 PM, Doug Lester said:

Jeroen, how fresh does the antler have to be to boil it and press the tang in?

 

Doug

It doesn't have to be very fresh, as long as it hasn't been laying outside for long. 

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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