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How to make a leather handled knife

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By Michael Salmon The techniques used to assemble leather and birch-bark handled knives are very similar, though the finishing techniques are rather different. This tutorial will focus on producing a leather-handle, but will also bark handles. The choice of blade is more or less infinite, provided it has a stick-tang, and has either sufficient length to set a rivet (5mm longer than the handle for a simple rivet and 10mm for a rivet washer) or alternatively it has a threaded end to take a lock-nut. Solingen blades sold here are ideal for the lock-nut arrangement. Most of the blades shown in this picture are good for riveting, but the two at the top are too short. These are both high quality hand made blades, so dont assume that a blade will work, though factory blades are more consistent. Photos are often clipped, not showing the full tang length, so tell the supplier what you need the blade for. You cant make an entire handle out of leather. The end pieces play an important support role, they can be metal, horn, antler or wood. The 3mm brass or nickle silver bolsters and butt washers shown at the top are available here and work well, or you can make your own, as I did here. Moose antler is strong and attractive. I use rosencrans to avoid marrow which may weaken the handle. A strong ebony, or

buffalo horn section will also work well at either end. The last 10-15mm of the tang has to be filed (or ground as here) to fit through the butt cap and to form the rivet later on. If you have a strong material for the back section, you wont need a rivet washer (pommel) to set the rivet, you can countersink the rivet and finish it flush. Ill go into this later. If you make your own butt cap, drill a 3mm hole for the thinneddown end of the tang to project through.

The solid front piece (bolster) should be finished perfectly before fitting it to the tang, it is much easier to do this now than later when the knife is put together. Most hand-forged blades have a curve where the blade joins the tang. This reduces the likelihood of stress-fractures, so dont file the shoulder of the blade flat to fit the bolster. File the inside of the bolster to fit the blade! Why buy an expensive blade and then make it more likely to break?

The bolster should be fixed firmly to the tang before you do anything else. Wrap the blade and the front of the bolster carefully with masking tape, then smear with Vaseline; this makes it less likely that you will get epoxy in the wrong place. Use rapid set epoxy, but leave it overnight to cure.

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How to make a leather handled knife

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The leather you use should ideally be 44.5mm thick, I usually use thick shoulder leather. It will be compressed to some extent, so you don't want it to be too thin. It is best 1 to sand off the glossy side of the leather before you make it in to a handle. This isn't essential, but it improves the line of the finished handle. Cut the leather into small rectangles of about 35mm x 25mm. Draw in the centreline and use the tang itself (or a calliper measurement) to mark the position of the hole, so that it falls 1mm or so either side of the top and bottom faces of the tang (Fig 6). Each piece of leather should be made to fit the tang in the position that it will sit.

The tang on this knife was just over 3mm thick, so I used a 4mm drill bit to punch in holes at the top and bottom of the Lammi 105slot, then cut the remainder out proposed 105x19 mm Thickness: with a sharp 3mm knife. If you do this sloppily, 36,00 EUR just drilling a big hole in the middle of 23,90 themEUR all, and pushing them on you will regret it later, when the sections start to slip and rotate. This is a 35 piece handle, each section requires careful attention. You only need one piece to be out of line or twisted around to cause problems. As soon as you have marked the leather Acrylic Orange/Black block pieces for drilling, it is important to 25x40x125 mm develop 10,00 EURa system to keep them in order. After drilling and cutting, I gently buzz 6,90 EUR them with a barrel sander to smooth the faces. Make sure Kitchen that you test assemble the Wastila whetstone, handle several times under tension in 300x30 mm your clamp. I used the clamp sold here in 18,90 EUR the tools 9,90 EUR section, but you could make your own, look at the Saami knife tutorial for ideas. If you are using spacers, make

ssories Para cord & Accesso ries Skull s& Beads Che ese slicers Book s& Media Vide o tutorials Flas hlights and Outdoor Scho ols / Scout groups Fitti ng bolsters Cred it card update [=] Product Listing them symmetrical, in other words, if you have 8 leather pieces between the SanMai bolster Trapper 95/Sc and first spacer, there should be Blade length: 95 mm Blade width: the same number between the back 99,00 EUR spacer and the butt cap. The small pile of 59,00 EUR spares is are important for two reasons: Firstly because you are likely to mess up one or two pieces during the gluing process, throw that piece away, because it is probably covered with epoxy and will make a mess. Move on to the next piece, it will still fit and you can use pieces from the spares pile to fill in at the end. Secondly, these "spares" will be glued together to form your practice block. This is an absolutely essential part of the process. Before you do the final assembly, tape the blade and grease the top of the blade and the front of the bolster with Vaseline; this prevents the epoxy from getting where you don't want it! Assemble the handle one piece at a time, applying only a small smear of 24hr epoxy all around the skin side of the leather, then press it down firmly on to the pile. Don't saturate the leather with epoxy, just lightly glue the pieces together and to the tang. Fix the top clamp bar in place and compress the pile. Don't try to squeeze the life out of it, you should compress the pile down about two or three thicknesses of leather. Fill the top hole with Vaseline, again this prevents any epoxy that might squeeze out from causing grief. Very little glue should come out under compression, this is not a messy process if you do it properly. The spare pieces of leather should be clamped to make your practice block for finishing. You will need to rivet the knife tang to the butt cap. Rivet washers are the easiest to set and make the strongest form of rivet, because they press over a greater surface area. They are essential if you are riveting into soft antler marrow, but rosencrans, any decent hardwood or metal will take a simple rivet, or a flush countersunk rivet. For a thick metal buttcap, I would usually countersink the rivet, but in this project I am using a rivet washer to show how it works. Both are formed in the same way by even tapping with the round face of a ball pein hammer directly to the centre of the

tang-end. If you do use a simple rivet, countersink the butt-cap slightly.

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How to make a leather handled knife

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Password forgotten The leather pile should be compressed in the clamp for 3 days to ensure that it compacts evenly. When you remove the clamp, you need to set the rivet. The length of tang that should be left above the rivet surface is equal to its diameter. This will always make a good rivet. Tap 1 accurately with the hammer until the metal deforms to make a strong rivet. It might take 5 minutes, but it will work. Dont rush it. A belt sander makes shaping very quick and easy, but leather knives are easy to shape by hand, because the material is still quite soft. I always let the sander scorch the handle at the beginning of shaping. The heat hardens the leather and the scorching is only on the surface and is easily removed with further sanding.

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Shaping should always be completed by Lammi 105 hand with strips of abrasive as shown. 105x19 mm Thickness: 3mm This ensures a smooth and even surface. 36,00 EUR leather grease can be used to Some 23,90 EUR lubricate the surface of the leather. If you want a hard glossy surface, treat the leather with super-glue then sand it smooth with grits from 240 to 800, then treat with CCL knife handle polish. Birch bark handled knives can be finished with CCL oil without Acrylic Orange/Black block the need for superglue first. 25x40x125 mm
10,00 EUR 6,90 EUR My favourite more traditional finish is

much slower than that. You need good quality soft leather grease such as Gold Quality Laederfedt and some gum tragacanth will help achieve a tough Wastila whetstone, Kitchen smooth finish. Sand to 240 grit using a 300x30 mm light action. Now rub some grease into 18,90 EUR the leather with your fingertips, then 9,90 EUR

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leave it for half an hour. Wipe off any excess, then sand lightly with 320 grit abrasive. Rub in some more grease, wait SanMai Trapper half an95/Sc hour and sand with 400grit Blade length: 95abrasive. mm Blade width: this for 600, 800 and Repeat 99,00 EURgrits, then substitute a drop of gum 1000 59,00 EUR tragacanth in place of the grease. Rub this in very hard with vinyl or latex gloved fingertips (helps the polishing). Leave for half an hour, then sand with 1200 grit abrasive. Do the same for 1500 grit, then leave it overnight. The next day, rub in some leather grease very gently and sand with 2000 grit abrasive and repeat for 2500 grit. If you have a buffing machine, you can buff the handle with pure bees-wax after the gum tragacanth stage. You can do a lot with stacked leather if it is compressed properly. The knife with the reconstituted jade spacer and butt cap has been used heavily for several years, with no problems for the handle, the rather deep guard is completely solid. That is more than you can say for the blade though. I dont recommend the use of reconstituted stone spacers in leather handled knives. The dust produced by sanding clings to the leather fibres. This knife has a strong rivet washer underneath the jade cap. The knife at the bottom is interesting because it was made the old-fashioned way with no glue at all; it is held together entirely by the strength of the rivet. You might like to try that for a later project.

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