Category Archives: Customized Blades

Acid Etching With Ferric Chloride and Apple Cider Vinegar – Wicked Results on High Carbon Steel

I recently did two posts about building a new heated tank out of PVC pipe and a digitally controlled heating element that is both effective and affordable. This also marked my first batch of blades where I moved from my traditional hot apple cider etching to using a mix of 70% ferric chloride and 30% apple cider vinegar heated to 90-94F.

The Chemicals

Let me give you a quick overview of the two chemicals I used to make my blade etching solution:

The primary ingredient is liquid ferric chloride from MG Chemicals. It’s available in quarts and gallons and is about 38-42% ferric chloride by volume. The MG Chemicals product is well regarded and that played a big factor in my selecting it. I purchased mine from Amazon and it arrived quickly and well packed.

The second chemical is regular apple cider vinegar from the grocery store. They tend to be normalized around 5% acetic acid by volume. The brand I used was at 5% and there were other brands at 4% that I passed over – go for 5% because you need the acetic acid. I literally bought this at my local grocery store – nothing special.

The solution I made was 70% of the ferric chloride and 30% apple cider vinegar. I wore lab goggles, nitrile gloves, old clothes and am in a well ventilated area when I slowly add the ferric chloride to the relatively weaker apple cider vinegar.

The ratio was based on looking at the end results from other blade smiths and talking about what they learned. In my case, I can tell you that this combination makes for a very nice dark etch.

The Process

  1. Heat the etching solution up to 90-94F before I put in the first blade. MG Chemicals recommends the operating range from 94F to 131F and not to exeed 131F. [Click here for their technical data sheet and MSDS]
  2. The blades need to be at least 70F prior to dunking in the solution. The warmer the solution and blade, the better chemical reaction you are going to have.
  3. Clean the blade with brake cleaner throughly
  4. Abrasive blast the blade – I am using Black Beauty these days. It is a coarse coal slag based product. Note, not all guys blast their blades – some just clean them very carefully.
  5. From this point on, wear nitrile gloves when handling the blades to avoid any oils and contaminants from your skin
  6. I again use brake cleaner to do a final cleaning and make sure it fully evaporates. Some guys rub down with acetone – do what works for you but it must not leave a residue
  7. Fully submerged the blade in the heated etching solution for 10 minutes
  8. Remove the blade and wipe off the remaining solution with a paper towel [as a reminder, you must be wearing gloves to not contaminate the blade]
  9. Used clean/bare 0000 steel wool to buff the surface of the blade and remove any loose particles. Note, this 0000 steel wool is bare wool – no cleaners or anything. You find these in woodworking / hardware sections of stores – not in the kitchen area.
  10. Submerge the blade for another 5 minutes and again wiped and rubbed the blade down with steel wool. I think I repeated this process three times per blade but experiment and see what works for you.
  11. Soak the blade in warm water with baking soda to neutralize the acid
  12. Spray the blade down with WD-40 to displace the water
  13. Apply finish – I like to use a 50-50 mix of boiled linseed oil and turpentine to apply severa thin coats. This gives my blades the worn post-apocalypse look. Many guys just coat the acid etched surface with oil to inhibit rust.
Here’s a small 5″ khukuri where all steel surfaces have been blasted.
Here’s the finished khukuri just before I mailed it to its new owner.
Here’s a look at the solution in the tank.
Here is one of the etched damascus blades. The beads on the blade are oil.
Here’s an even closer look at the finished blade.

Summary

I’m definitely very happy with the results and will be using this solution going forward.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com.


How to Make An Affordable and Effective Heated Tank For Acid Etching – Part 1

I like to acid etch blades that I build using apple cider and/or ferric chloride. I also manganese park firearms and tools. Assuming the part is prepped properly, there are two common needs in all of the above – the part must be submerged and the solution heated. So you have two options, buy a stainless tank and heat source or build one using PVC pipe. These next couple of posts are going to dive into how you can build an affordable and very effective heated tank to finish you parts plus have some fun doing it.

PVC or CPVC?

We can use rigid PVC pipe as the container to hold the etching solution. It’s cheap, easy to find and easy to work with. I need to explain a few things first about what we can and can’t do with it.

In plumbing, rigid PVC pipe has an operating temperature of 140F degrees. The reason for this is that PVC is a thermoplastic and begins to soften with heat and will burst due to the pressurized water. We don’t have much pressure to worry about other than atmospheric pressure but you don’t want to push plain PVC towards 200F – it really isn’t designed for it.

If you want to do parkerizing at 190F, then you need to use CPVC pipe. CPVC rigid pipe has extra chlorination that allows it to withstand 200F while delivering water under normal household pressures. Fun trivia, CPVC was invented by Genova Products in Michigan.

If you are trying to figure out what you are looking at, if the pipe is white, it is probably PVC. If it is cream colored, it is probably CPVC. It ought to be labeled/printed on the side of the pipe also but be on guard for people putting stuff in the wrong bins at a store or clerks not knowing what is what.

In this post, I am working with regular PVC purchased from my local Ace Hardware because the tank is for acid etching knives and will the liquid will be 90-110F on average. If I ever build one for parkerizing, it would be in CPVC. The reason it’s an “if” is that I already have a big stainless steel parkerizing tank but it’s a headache to drag out and set up whenI need it.

The Parts List

Basically, we are going to build a tube with a cemented permanent cap on the bottom and a threaded cap at the top. You can go with any size you want. For most blades I work with, 3″ is plenty and I wanted it to be portable.

Let me give you a piece of advice – it’s aways better to be a little bigger than you think you need than to find that out later. When in doubt, make it wider and taller — within reason of course. Note, I knew a 3″ diameter and about 16″ tall would meet most of my needs but not all and I was fine with that. I’ll pull out my four foot stainless tank when I need to do something huge like a cleaver.

In terms of parts, you need the following:

  • A length of pipe of the diameter that is needed
  • A coupling for that size
  • A threaded adapter for that size – you cement it onto the end of the pipe and it gives you a national pipe thread on the other end
  • A threaded plug that fits into the adapter
  • An end cap of one type or another. If you use 3″ or 4″ pipe, you can use a toilet flange adapter to actually both plug the end and allow you to connect it to the wood if you aren’t making it very tall. I would be worried about torque on a tank with an overall length of 24″ or more. In those cases I would cement on a normal end cap and build up a crade around the pipe to support it.
  • You may want a drain for a big tank – I didn’t need one for this little unit because I can easily lift it even when it is full of the acid etching solution.
  • PVC cleaner and cement (note, PVC and CPVC use different cement)
  • Wood to form a base to keep the pipe from tipping over so it needs to be both wide and heavy enough. Really it’s up to you as to how you secure it to be vertical. I like a mobile base but you could tie it to something, etc.
  • A heating source and controller – we’ll get into more detail in the next post.

Weight Considerations and a Drain

Bear in mind that this tank can get pretty heavy if you plan on using really big piple (6″ or bigger). Water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon. You will find that other liquids can weigh more. Apple cider vinegar may be around 8.6 pounds and ferric chloride might weigh 10-12 pounds per gallon depending on the concentration.

I bring the weight up because if you are thinking of building a big tank, the weight is going to add up and you may want to install a drain near the base. There are two big reasons you need to think about this – you may want to move the unit around plus you will need to change the solution as it ages and breaks down from use.

This is my 3″ tank I just built. The toilet flange us availab;e for 3″ and 4″ pipe and is handy for smaller tanks. I’d build a cradle/surrounding frame to support a bigger tank.

The pictured tank is about 16″ tall with 3″ pipe and has about a gallon of 70% ferric chloride and 30% apple cider vinegar in it. I can move it around very easily and portability was one of my design goals.

Assembling The Pipe

PVC is really easy to work with. You cut the pipe to the length you want or have the store do it for you. I use a big miter saw for stuff like this to get nice square ends and use an airline to blow all the loose plastic out (wear safety glasses).

To “glue” the pipe together, you first prime the surfaces and then apply the cement. Note, PVC and CPVC use the same primer but different cement. In this case,I use Oatey’s purple primer and clear cement. Read the directions on their box just to make sure. Bear in mind the solvent is really thin and is going to run everywhere – especially in cold weather.

I’m a creature of habit. I’ve had very good luck with Oatey products so I stick with them. There are other brands out there such as Ace’s own private labled stuff, but I stick with Oatey to avoid surprises. When following their directions and using their products, I’ve not had a joint fail/leak yet,

The Base

To make the tank stable, you need a big enough base both in terms of area and weight. I had some old 1×12 stock that I chopped into squares and stacked if four deep for weight. You can do whatever you want and your goal is stability, however you get it.

I centered the flange on the first board and screwed it in. I’m not sure I would trust the flange to handle the potential torque of a long pipe. For me, once I get around 24″ overall, I am going to build a cradle and not subject that flange to a ton of stress.
I then applied epoxy and clamped the layers together. I was kind of experimenting as I went. Just one piece of wood wasn’t heavy enough so I then added the additional layers after. I could have glued the base and then used longer screws to secure the flange had I known more up front. I wound up with four layers of wood in the end.

I have another tank that is full of a boiled linseed oil an turpentine mix that I use for hydrating wood handles in khukuris and cleavers that I restore. It has a rounded end bap on the bottom and the base is more like a heavy cradle made up fo 2×4 lumber that gives it weight and then goes up the sides to provide support.

This is a 4″ pipe with a wood scaffold base. It’s very stable. This is a tankI use for moisturizing and treating long wood hanndles.

Summary

That’s it for now. In the next post we are going to talk about heating the tank. This is where I did the most experimenting and can share some ideas with you.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com.


20 tips for getting better results with epoxy

I use a ton of epoxy as part of my work plus fixing all kinds of stuff at home, on cars, guns, knives and more.  I’d like to take a few minutes share some lessons learned with you to bear in mind on your next project that involves epoxy:

  1. Buy quality epoxy – not cheap junk.  Epoxy is a generic term and a lot of the no-name blister pack retail stuff is crap.  Go for brand names.  If they list real specs about the formulation then it is probably legit.
  2. I recommend industrial epoxies and not the consumer stuff.  My hands down favorite epoxy is Brownell’s Acra Glas liquid.  It is strong and resists breaking down from repeated impacts very well.  It’s one down side is that it takes a long time to set up so it may not be your best bet if you need something to be fixed and back in service quickly.
  3. Know your application and match the formula to your need – there is no magical formula that does everything.  You may need a putty, a fast cure, a short pot life, higher heat resistance, improved impact resistance, shear strength, etc.  Figure out what you need and then look for the epoxy that will work best for you.  At any given time I probably have 3-4 different formulations on hand.
  4. The longer it takes an epoxy to cure the stronger it is.  All things being equal, an epoxy that cures in 24 hours will be stronger than one that claims to do so in 5, 10 or 30 minutes.
  5. Read the package – setting up vs. curing and reaching full strength are two very different things.
  6. If you want to get epoxy to flow into wood or difficult areas, heat it up.  The liquid thins as it warms up but note this will also speed up how fast it sets up and cures.
  7. As epoxy gets colder, it takes longer and longer to cure.  If you are working outside, use a space heater, flood light or other heat source to keep the epoxy and the work piece area being repaired at least 70F.  I shoot for 80-90F.
  8. Epoxy can get really thick as it gets cold and not want to come out of the containers.  Either keep it inside where it is warm or at least warm it up before you use it,
  9. Epoxy resin can sugar with age just like honey.  What I mean is that will develop a solid mass in the resin bottle – it’s not really sugar!  If you heat up a container of water, take the resin container’s lid off and then set it the container in the water, the resin will warm up and the solid will dissolve back into liquid.  I buy 28oz or larger bottles of Acra-Glas that I don’t always use right away so when it sugars, I do this.
  10. As mentioned above, I buy my epoxy in bulk.  Acra-Glas can be measured by volume and it has a ratio of 1 hardener to 4 resin.  The way I deal with this is very simple – I use 10cc syringes without needles.  I have on syringe in a cup that I use for hardener and one syringe stored in a cup that I use for hardener.  The reason I do this is that the two parts do not react to the air very fast.  I may be able to use one syringe for a several weeks/months before it stops working so I set the syringe in its dedicated cup when done to be used again.  I do not use fresh syringes every time.  A 100 count syringe pack will last me at least a year.
  11. You can definitely color epoxy.  You can buy purpose-made dyes such as So-Strong or add in powdered tempra paint.
  12. You can add fillers for strength or looks.  When filling gaps, I mix 1/32″ milled glass fibers with the epoxy.  The ratio depends on the epoxy you are using, how thick/pasty you want the result to be or how much you want it to still flow into place.
  13. To get rid of bubbles you either need to draw a vacuum, apply pressure or at least use a heat gun to thin the epoxy once it is applied and this allows the trapped air to escape.
  14. When I am gluing big objects together, such as wood panels, forms, or other construction I will use a cartridge based epoxy.  My favorite is Hysol E-20HP.  To use a cartridge, you need the dispensing gun and also the correct mixing tip.  This allows you to squeeze the trigger and properly mixed epoxy comes out of the tip.  When you are done, you just let the tip harden in place sealing the epoxy.  When you are ready to use the gun again, you simply remove the plugged tip with a new one.  This allows for you to deploy a bead of epoxy very quickly but the con is that you throw away a tip every time you stop.  You also can’t color the epoxy first but it is fast and convenient on larger projects.
  15. The surface must be clean for epoxy to work best.  Remove dust, dirt, oil, etc.
  16. A rough surface is always better than a smooth surface.  I always recommend sanding, brushing or blasting a surface to improve adhesion.  Not only do you increase the surface area but you also are creating a texture where the epoxy can get under the base material in thousands of tiny places to really grab hold.
  17. Wear disposable gloves to avoid making a mess.  I buy boxes of the Harbor Freight 5 mil nitrile gloves when they go on sale for $5.99/box of 100.  They really are a good value for a medium-light duty disposable glove.
  18. If you need to clamp parts together, wrap the assemble with wax paper to avoid gluing your clamps to the work piece – yeah, I’ve done that.
  19. Whenever possible, I prefer to clamp work together to get this best bond.
  20. Check, double-check and come back in again later and check your work again to make sure nothing has shifted.

I hope these tips help you with your next project.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com.


How To Make a Kydex Cross Draw Khukuri Sheath

I recently made a sheath for a khukuri with serrations on the back of the spine and it was a bit of a learning experience compared to how I normally make a khukuri sheath and though I would share what was done.  The khukuri in question had a nicely done blade and fitment was good.  It had about a 10″ blade, 6″ handle and 16″ overall.  The spine was between 1/4-3/8″ thick.  All in all, it was a medium weight nice khukuri though I am not really sure who made it

Now for this weight range, I could go with .080 or .093″ Kydex.  I went on the heavy side and used .093″ thick black Kydex that I buy in 12×24″ sheets – usually from www.knifekits.com.

So, first up I do two layers of blue painters tape on each side to allow for some “wiggle room” between the blade and the Kydex.  If you want it tighter, use just one layer.  I would recommend having this space to allow for dust, dirt, etc.  Next up is to trim the Kydex so it is long enough to have a bit of material past the end of the blade, a few inches onto the handle and then an about 1.5″ or so on each side when the Kydex folds over.  If you want to use two pieces, you certainly can.  The final sheath I did for this khukuri uses two sheets of Kydex trimmed to size.

Once the Kydex is trimmed to size, you need to heat it to around 360F but less than 400F.  I Use a 16×20″ MPress Heat Press with a digital controller to set the temperature at 360F and to heat the Kydex for 40 seconds.  Note that I also have Teflon/PTFE sheets attached with rare earth magnets to protect the press’ faces if the Kydex were to melt.

In years past, I used a modified hot plate / electric griddle to heat my Kydex.  For a tad over two years now I have had the MPress and really like it.  At any rate, once the Kydex is hot and pliant, you need to mold the Kydex to the blade.  In this first take, I used my HD Industrial vacuum press to do the work.   You draw the vacuum down and let the membrane do the work and cool down so the Kydex stiffens again.

 

Next up, draw your planning lines around the blade.  You need to figure out your rivet pattern and then drill the holes.  I do 0.75″ centers to accommodate large Tek-Lok belt fasteners among other options.  Notice the big flap drawn at the top above the handle.  That creates the “funnels” that will guide the khukuri into the sheath and then lock it into place.

Next, debur the holes with a deburring tool such as the Mango II in the above photo.  Then, install the correct size rivets in the holes.  Orient the larger factor finished end of the rivet to be facing viewers when the blade is carried.  It looks better than the small end that results after compressing the rivets.  After that, use a rivet tool to flare and secure the rivets.  I use purpose-built dies in my 1/2 ton arbor press to do that but there are cheaper manual units for use with hammer.  If you plan on doing many sheaths or holsters, go with the arbor press.

Here’s the result.  Note that the round tools are what I use to form the funnels.

Next, I use a band saw to cut close to the outside cut-off line I drew.

I then use a Rigid Oscillating End Sander to do the shaping.  I bought thebunitat Home Depot two years ago and it works great for this.  I use a 40-60 grit belt to quickly do the grinding.

Now I did the test fitting and had an “oh crap” moment.  I normally expose the blade to allow for quick insertion and extraction but I couldn’t do that with this model due to the serrations.  They were exposed and would clearly hang up on everything so it was time to come up with a plan B.  It dawned on my that I needed something to serve as a “sheath” for the serrations that would give me work room inside the sheath once it was formed.  So after thinking about for a few minutes, I took some 3/16″ fuel line, slit it down the middle and pulled it onto the khukuri.

I also wanted the khukuri to push a lot further into the rear piece of Kydex so that meant I needed to use the khukuri press that I designed just for this.  It is built like a tank from layers of 3/4″ plywood and uses four 500# Quick Clamps to compress the Khydex.  The results is tight uniform clamp around the handle and blade of a khukuri.

Next, it was time again to mark, cut and rivet the sheath.  Again, note the tabs drawn above the handle to form the funnel.

After cutting, I use a heat gun to heat each tab and bend it over a round mandrel.  I have a 1/2″ round piece of aluminum that I normally use.  Note, I have burned out a number of cheap heat guns.  The DeWalt is over two years old and still going strong.

I use MEK solvent on a rag to smooth over the edges of the Kydex and make it look good.  If you use MEK, be sure to wear solvent gloves and work outdoors or in a very well ventilated area.  That stuff is hot – meaning it evaporates fast and is not something you want to be breathing.

I used 1″ heavy duty nylon webbing for the retention strap along with a snap stud and quality heavy-duty #24 snap head.  I heat an old small screw driver to melt a hole in the strap for the stud and the snap head and then a purpose built die in my arbor press to actually open the rivet head inside the snap.

The Tek-Lok is secured to the sheath via slotted posts, screws and rubber spacers cut to the length needed.  Note, use Vibra-Tite or blue Loc-Tite to secure the screws and nuts or they will work lose and fall off.

Here is the end result.  The old buffalo hide and wood sheath is above for reference.  I like adding paracord for lashing and survival use.

In the next photo you can see the opening for the tip of the khukuri to slide into – that pocket is essential.  Once the tip is inserted, the handle is pushed towards the funnels that open, allow the handle to pass and then spring closed locking the handle in.  To truly lock it in and protect against brush, you need a retention strap that serves to keep the sheath closed – if the sheath is held shut then the blade can’t come out.

Here are two more shots

I hope you found the post of interest!

 


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com.


How to make a custom khukuri handle for a rat tang with micarta and epoxy

I am a huge fan of Nepalese khkuris including ones from Himalayan Imports and GK&Co (Deepak Sunar).  I do like customizing them also and have made handles many ways for both the full-tang and rat tail tang blades.  What I am going to show below is a rat tail tang and you’ll notice the curve the tang has.  This is the traditional tang and is very strong.  Westerners have a mistaken belief that full-tang is better.

The Nepalese bladesmiths, known as “kamis”, have evolved their design over centuries based on real world experience.  Their rat tail tang is very strong, allows for the traditional handle to be changed relatively easily and since the handle can flex somewhat on the tang, some of the shock is absorbed there vs. by the wielder’s hand.  When the British arrived they mandated a full tang on their Army models based on their experience and beliefs.  In short, when you are looking at khukuris, do not discount rat tails as weak because they are not.

The first step I do is to blast my slabs of Micarta to prepare them for maximum adhesion.  I am a zealot on cleaning too before gluing.  Do not attempt to glue the shiny micarta to the blade or it will knock right off with the first shock. Basically we are going to make a handle by sandwiching a piece in the middle that has the tang outline cut out between two outer slabs.  These are black canvas micarta slabs that have already been blasted – that is why they are dull.

The thickness of the middle slab needs to be the same thickness as the thickest part of the tang to keep things simple.

Next, I lay the middle slab under the tang and trace its outline.

I was doing two blades at once.  See the one above sitting in the cut out notch and the one below I have just traced the outline with a Sharpie marker.  Please note I have not taped the edge of the khukuri’s blade yet.  I would recommend you do that at some point to protect yourself.

This is slightly out of sequence but see the two round drill holes at the end of the tang?  I did them before sawing to make turning around at the end easier.  The numbers marked on the micarta correspond with which of the two blades I was working with.

I would then use a jig saw or band saw to cut the section out where the handle went.  Note, I more often use a band saw these days and you can do whatever works for you.

[Update 7/19/18:  Don’t buy the above Skilsaw.  It’s not strong enough and I wound up giving it to a friend.  Either get a Dewalt scroll saw or use a band saw]

See how the tang fits in?  It does not need to be perfect as this will all be filled with structural epoxy.

I do not have a photo, but I would abrasive blast the tang until it was clean shiny steel.  I would wear nitrile rubber gloves and hose everything (tang and slabs) down with brake cleaner to make sure no oils from my skin contaminated the work pieces.  Note, I often drive a 1/8″ brass cross-pin in through the thick part of the tang to lock everything in place just in case and also use a piece of thick wall 3/8″ brass tube at the rear to make a lanyard hole.  I did not do these things on this particular model and they are features to consider.  For people new to this, I would recommend the brass cross pin.  I always do this now even though I have never had a handle fail but I evolved this method and learned over the course of a number of years.

Next, take the outer slabs and round the outside edges over.  What you want to do is to create the taper you want before you glue the handle on.  It is hard to sand up front on the handle once it is glued together.  I would take the three pieces, clamp them together and then work on the belt sander until I got the shape I wanted on the front leading edge.  This is all we want to shape at this point.  I always preferred to do the majority of my shaping once the handle was epoxied onto the blade.

For gluing the handle, I will only recommend Brownell’s AcraGlas liquid.  It is a very strong, durable, and shock resistant epoxy.  Absolutely do not use a cheap epoxy as it will likely break down and crumble (“sugar”) over time with repeated heavy blows.  Always bear in mind that the big khukuris are choppers and heavy.  What you do needs to hold up under extreme use compared to many knife handles that see very light relative use.  To be safe, I would recommend you always abrasive blast the steel and the micarta before applying the epoxy – don’t try and just get by with sanding or otherwise scuffing the surface.  By blasting you are almost doubling the surface area for the epoxy to adhere to and the irregular surface creates countless shapes where the epoxy can get under “ridges” in the micarta and the steel to really securely hold the parts together.

Follow the AcraGlas mixing instructions to the letter.  I add in a bit of milled 1/32″ glass fiber to increase the strength in the filled areas.  The ratio for AcraGlas liquid is 1 part hardener to four parts resin and I’d add about 1 part of the glass fiber.  It is a bit of a balancing act because you do not want to make the resulting epoxy too thick.  You need it to run in, fill voids and seep into the micarta as much as possible.  [To get the most out of your epoxy, please click here to read a post I did a while back detailing my lessons learned over the years.]

Next, cut a piece of wax paper to wrap the handle.  You want to apply a ton of epoxy, clamp the heck out of it and let it sit and cure for 24 hours.  When you remove the wax paper, if there are any imperfections you need to fix by adding more glue, first blast the surface, clean it and then glue it.  Do not just put epoxy on top of epoxy without preparing the surface first.

Next, if you haven’t done so yet, tape your blade’s cutting edge to make sure you don’t get sliced when sanding the handle.  When working with a belt sander it can grab hold of the work and surprise you – you don’t want a sharp edge to be flying around!!

I do a lot of my handle work on a Rigid oscillating belt edge sander from Home Depot with 40-80 grit sand paper.  Hook your shop vac up to suck up the dust and be sure to wear both a good dust mask (such as a N99 rated mask/respirator) and eye protection.  The dust goes everywhere so be sure to have the vacuum hooked up and stop periodically to clean up and also to inspect your work.

In terms of shaping the handle, I will relay a piece of funny sounding advice – remove all the material that isn’t part of the handle.  Really useful, right?  When the fellow told me this years ago his point was that making a handle is applied art.  You are sculpting a handle by removing material and working towards a shape you have thought out.  I would remove a bit and test the feel, remove a bit and test the feel over and over.

I have experimented with many shapes over the years and it is really up to you.  I would stick with coarse sanding to keep the handle from being slippery and did both one handed and hand-and-a-half models.  In all cases, I wanted to user to have control while chopping / hacking with the blade.  One real strong recommendation:  ALWAYS build a finger stop or hand stop into your design.  You do not want a hand to slide forward onto the blade.  I always built the stop into the handle but you could certainly make your own metal cross guard or do something else — just be sure to protect the user’s hands.

The below blade is acid etched with a combination of apple cider vinegar and phosphoric acid and then everything, including the handle, had boiled linseed oil (BLO) applied to it. [Click here for my post about acid etching blades.]

This is a handle from a big HI WWII model blade.  Note the lanyard hole at the end.  I would drill the hole both for a friction fit and I would cut the tube longer than needed, blast it, clean it and then apply epoxy liberally before inserting it into the blade.  I would then sand it down to size as part of the final shaping of the handle.

This is black paper micarta that comes out a beautiful obsidian black.  It is on a long, elegant 24″-ish Sirupati.  Notice the oversized pommel to serve as a hand stop and the finger groove up front for indexing and grip.  This is a hand-and-half design meaning a person could grab hold with their second hand if they really wanted to.

The cool thing with the handles is that you have a ton of materials and options to consider to make a very unique functional piece.  I hope this blog post gives you some ideas.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com.