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Knife making by the stock removal method Part 3 - Beginning the Handle work

This is part 3 of the knife making tutorial. In this part we do some of the handle work. If you came directly to this page you can start the tutorial right here: How to Make a Knife Part 1


First let's take a look at the wood for the handle

There is definitely something to be said for a great knife handle. And because you are making your own knife you can really pick out something special and unique. There are a lot of different materials that you can use and I am going to cover just some simple woods. First off I really like burl wood. Burl wood comes from deformed growths on trees. They are big knotty sections that have peculiar knotted grain patterns.

And one of the best burl woods is Amboyna burl. It is a rich color and a wonderful grain. The knife that I make in this tutorial has an Amboyna Burl handle. And there are lots of other types of wonderful burl woods. The picture below shows another type of burl wood on the right (Afzelia Burl).

These types of woods are often sold in small pieces just like you see in the picture and I bought mine at a place called Woodcraft Workshop.

Knife Scales -

You can also buy pre cut pairs of wood for knifemaking projects. These are called "Scales". In the picture you can see two sets of knife scales (the left set and center set). One is Ebony and one is cocobolo. They do come in different sizes and of course lots of different attractive woods. I also bought these at the Woodcraft Workshop Store.


They also carry some of these on amazon.com. Here are some great samples:

Honduras Rosewood 3/8" x 1.5" x 5" Knife Scale 2pc

Macassar Ebony Knife Scales Pair

Amboyna Burl 2 pc Pistol/Knife Scale 1/4"x2"x5" 701


Lay out the handle

Lay your blade on your piece of wood or your scale and draw the outline with a pen or pencil. If you have a pair of knife scales be sure to do both. And while you are doing this try to select the orientatation and grain that looks best. My piece of wood is not much bigger than the tang on this blade so I didn't have a lot of deciding to do.

Now use whatever tools are comfortable for you and cut out the rough shape of the handle. Make it just a little bit big. We will trim it down exactly to size a bit later. For now it is important that it be a little big - about 1/16 to 1/8 inch oversize all the way around is good.

Cut in half lengthwise

I used a piece of wood that was one inch thick. So I cut mine in half lengthwise as shown. This gives me both handles and each is about 1/2 inch thick.

Clamp and Drill the handles

Clamp the blade to each of the handles one at a time and drill out the holes.

Pin the handle

Now assemble the handle onto the tang by pinning it with wooden dowel. I sanded down a couple of small pieces of dowel by putting them in a drill and using some sandpaper.

Your handle is much bigger than the final product so let's start working on it.

At this point we want to work the handle down to almost it's final shape and size but I leave it just a little oversized. This way, once we harden and temper the blade then glue/pin the handle on for good we can do some final sanding and rasping to get it to its final shape.

I used a belt sander to do some of the rough work.

Rasping the Handle

But the majority of the work is done with a wood rasp. You can get a really nice handle shape with the rasp.

Ok, Once you got it to just about the right shape unpin it and put the handle halves aside. Now we are going to harden and temper the blade.

NextLet's Continue on with the KnifeMaking Tutorial and harden and temper the blade

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Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop, Revised

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