Knife Handle Replacement

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Project by InventorFisher posted 08-01-2015 05:29 PM 1257 views 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Back in 1992, my girlfriend gave me my Christmas present and terrified me by saying “if I play my cards right, I get these back!” We married two years later and have been using these Chicago Cutlery knives a LOT. Unfortunately, a few have broken and a couple of the handles are decrepit. So, I decided to learn how to make knife scales. I also bought a special mosaic brass pin to hold the scales to the blade. First lesson, the brass pins on these knives have an apparent large diameter (3/8”) but the actual pin is much smaller (3/16”). Because I loved the mosaic pin (they are my knives, anyway), I decided to open up the hole in the metal to accept the larger pin. Second lesson, high carbon steel is very hard to drill and I ruined a hardened cobalt drill bit opening up two holes in a 1/8” thick sheet of material. Holy cow, this stuff is hard. Anyway, I then applied maple scales and applied epoxy just like YouTube taught me. Lesson three, use lots of masking tape on the knife blade. Make that bad boy totally harmless. Now, I shaped the wood on the handles using various sanders – mostly a table sander and my trusty Dremel tool. For my first attempt at shaping a handle over a metal substrate, I am pretty happy with the output. Finally, I finished the knife using 5 coats of Waterlox. Lesson four, no matter how much finish you put on a knife, running it through the dishwasher will mutilate the gorgeous finished piece that went into the dishwasher. Now, I need to find ways to make a bullet-proof finish that can withstand the heat and high pH of a dishwasher!

-- Inventor Fisher

7 comments so far

View SteveW's profile


392 posts in 2281 days

#1 posted 08-01-2015 06:36 PM

Nice looking handles! I used Marine Spar Urethane Varnish on my steak knives,
and they’ve gone through the dishwasher hundreds of times, and look like new.
I highly recommend that kind of finish.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! SteveW

View farmerdude's profile


606 posts in 1462 days

#2 posted 08-01-2015 10:17 PM

Mighty fine job for a first handle. I like the look of the pins too. And, I agree with SteveW on the spar urethane, good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

-- Jeff in central Me.

View JoeinGa's profile


7383 posts in 1429 days

#3 posted 08-01-2015 10:31 PM

My basic rule of thumb is NEVER put ANYthing with wood in the dishwasher. That includes wood bowls, utensils with wood handles, and wooden spoons/spatulas.

My wife (and or daughters ) ruined too many pieces doing that !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View ChesapeakeBob's profile


365 posts in 2905 days

#4 posted 08-02-2015 02:07 PM

Inventor…Where did you buy the brass pins / rivets?
Steve W… Who makes the Marine Spar Var that you like?

-- Chesapeake Bob, Southern Maryland

View OnhillWW's profile


56 posts in 655 days

#5 posted 08-02-2015 03:12 PM

I’m with JoeinGa, I never put wood in the dishwasher. Inventor how did you trim and polish the mosaic pins?
ChesapeakeBob – EBay has many of those pins listed.

View InventorFisher's profile


17 posts in 455 days

#6 posted 08-02-2015 03:19 PM

The pins were sourced off eBay. My recommendation is to find out the hole sizes in your handle, first. Many pins have flared tops that make the pin look larger than it really is.

For finishing the pins, just use sand paper. The mosaic materials in my pins are brass, copper, and epoxy. They are barely harder than the wood, so sandpaper works great – I epoxied them in place and sanded to a contour as usual. Some pins use stainless steel and I hope they are made from 310 or softer. Most steels are substantially harder than wood and might make it difficult to make the pins flush with the scales.

-- Inventor Fisher

View InventorFisher's profile


17 posts in 455 days

#7 posted 08-02-2015 03:24 PM

Also, I might have my a scouts build a knife this year. They sell some “inexpensive” kits on eBay. A lower cost alternative woukd be to make laser cutouts so they can learn knife anatomy & design – lower cost & less danger… but I need to learn how to use a laser cutter, first.

-- Inventor Fisher

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