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Need to Make a Handle for a Large Hunting Knife

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Aug 1, 2020 - 8:13:05 AM
5421 posts since 12/20/2005

I've got this hunting knife, a Silver Stay Alaskan Camper.
It came with a large stag handle. And a lifetime warranty.
Over time, the handle became loose. Silver stag told me I can mail it to them oh, and they will take care of it. No questions asked they'll just do it. I asked if they would use some other material, such as wood, for the handle. They won't do that, because the Tang is not long enough.
So, I decided I would do it myself. I removed the original handle, and they were not kidding. To me it's easy to see why the handle became loose. Though the blade has worked well, IMO this design is not good. Tang is not long enough.
I can still make it work.
I have different materials I can consider, including large whitetail and axis shed antlers, cape buffalo horn, and various hardwoods.
I have some ipe, cocobolo, East Indian rosewood, cucuru, maple, hickory and a mountain of walnut.
Some of the walnut is highly figured crotch and burl. I know it would look great, especially for a large handle. I don't know if it would hold up under heavy use, but I'm leary of this.
I'll show a photo of what I have to work with shortly.
If any of you have some knowledge of this, I would appreciate any suggestions.
Of course you can order anything
I have several kinds of wood on hand.

Aug 1, 2020 - 9:42:33 AM

5421 posts since 12/20/2005

It is a long one. Blade is 11 inches. Original handle was 6 inches. The tang is 2 inches.


Edited by - Leslie R on 08/01/2020 09:43:41

Aug 1, 2020 - 10:14:17 AM

5723 posts since 9/5/2006

Aug 1, 2020 - 10:24:13 AM
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10689 posts since 1/15/2005

I don't know Leslie. That is a pretty poorly designed and constructed knife. The tang should go all the way to the end of the handle and in my opinion should have been wider. Good steel is pretty expensive, but not at the risk of making a knife unsafe ..... especially one large enough for chopping and putting that much pressure on the handle. Personally I would not use that knife. You could probably re-grind it and move the guard up to make the handle longer, but not sure it is worth it.

Aug 1, 2020 - 10:27:58 AM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

324 posts since 8/9/2019

Antler, rock maple, ironwood, cocobolo all good materials for this application
I'm with you that a full tang is much more solid design. When I got a custom parang forged (wood-chopping machete variant) I made sure to ask my smith for a full length tang, pinned at the handle's butt;, handle is bird's eye rock maple and it so far has lasted 2 years of abuse.




Edited by - ChunoTheDog on 08/01/2020 10:28:38

Aug 1, 2020 - 10:31:20 AM

heavy5

USA

1313 posts since 11/3/2016

Extend the tang by soldering brass tubing to it that will just slide over the tang , Wall thickness should be min of .06 & both tang & tubing end will req tinning . U can squeeze the tubing around the tang before soldering in a vice .Trying to accomplish sq holes in even wood reqs special tools so going to round will make the handle much easier .
Rough up the brass w/ coarse paper & put it together using QUALITY epoxy .

Aug 1, 2020 - 12:07:57 PM

figmo59

USA

31817 posts since 3/5/2008

The picture will not load fer me..so I can not see it.
But any welder could add steel I would think..

Aug 1, 2020 - 12:22:52 PM

heavy5

USA

1313 posts since 11/3/2016

Fig , suggested brass as u can see the old tang has some corrosion & would not be enough heat to chg blade hardness

Aug 1, 2020 - 12:24:04 PM

5421 posts since 12/20/2005

I have thought of welding a piece of steel to make it longer. I'm not sure if that will ruin the temper of the blade.
I am definitely in favor of adding some length to the tang. I am still mulling this over.
I do like the idea of using brass tubing.

Aug 1, 2020 - 12:52:03 PM
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Brian T

Canada

16955 posts since 6/5/2008
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Make the piece of steel so you will get a full tang knife.
Won't take a few short whacks to weld that together.
You grind it "bump and pause," a little, a little, a little.

You wrap the blade with soaking wet cloth.
The blade can then get no hotter than boiling water.

I make up a lot of my own wood carving crooked knives.
Bash off the original handles, haft again as I please.
Dremel and cut-off wheels to shape the blade tips.
Maybe a couple dozen now, I don't count.

I like wood. It is always warm under the hand in any weather.
Q: Have you seen knives with "stacked birch bark" for handle?

Aug 1, 2020 - 2:19:12 PM
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heavy5

USA

1313 posts since 11/3/2016

Brian , You remind me of a repair long ago I did to a Honda Prelude ( I was a big Prelude fan for a few years)
An expensive tubing (to replace) w/ many bends about 1/2" dia on the top of the engine had developed a cracks somehow & I had to fix it or replace it so being the scrounge that I am i decided to splice in a piece w/ my torches . After much blanketing w wet cloths to the top of the motor , I successfully brazed in a splice piece of brass tubing which was all I had that would fit . Brazing brass w/ brass rod takes a bit of touch & go but it worked .

Aug 1, 2020 - 4:38:09 PM
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Brian T

Canada

16955 posts since 6/5/2008
Online Now

I use the wet rag trick to cut into domestic copper water piping to build "after-thoughts."
Shut off the water, open a tap to relieve the pressure and cut the pipe.
Next, use a pencil to shove a soft slice of bread up the pipe in both directions.
This dries the inside of the pipe or it will not heat for soldering.
Wrap wet rags (aka top quality face washing cloths!) around all nearby soldered joints.

Solder all the new stuff. Turn on the water. No leaks?
Run a nearby tap wide open with no screen to blast out the soggy bread.

Aug 1, 2020 - 7:29:30 PM

Enfield1858

England

19 posts since 8/1/2020

Leslie R - I would second the suggestion of Brian T, to weld an extension onto the tang, and having protected the temper of forged shovels and bill-hooks by wrapping with wet rags, I'm sure the same would work for you on your blade.  I'd be very reluctant to rely on something as weak as brass tubing to act as an extension, especially with an 11" blade.
As far as a steel extension goes, you could do it one of two ways. The strongest would be a full-width extension (or a much longer tapered tang), which you could do with a fish-tailed joint, as shown in the sketch below.

(sorry - the picture uploading facility is down at the moment;  I'll try uploading the sketch and pictures of my knife tomorrow)

The welding process I'd go for would be MIG, on the basis that it would heat up the relevant areas of metal far quicker than any form of gas welding or brazing (hard soldering), and would give you a far neater joint than stick welding.
If you'd prefer to stay with a tapered tang, you could make the extension tapered, too - but far longer than the original.  Re. the point made by Bob (Heavy5) about the difficulty of making a square hole without specialist tools, there is a way of not only making a square or rectangular cross-section hole, but also of making it a very accurate fit - and that's to burn it in.
First, drill a pilot hole through the handle, making it slightly less deep than the full depth of the tang, and of such as size that it's only just big enough for the tip of the tang to go in. Then drill a larger diameter hole more like the size of the thicker part of the tang, but much less deep - the idea being that the tang itself has to burn away some material in order to go fully home, so the less of the hole you make by drilling, the better the grip the tang will have.
Mount the hand-grip in something solid like a carpenter's vice, or clamp it firmly to a bench, so that you only have to hold the blade, and you can eyeball the two to get them in line.
After wrapping wet rags round the blade, heat the tang up to a black heat - not even dull red - and push it firmly onto the blade so that the tang makes its own perfectly fitting hole.
(the best way to avoid over-heating the tang is to heat it in the shade, or a gloomy corner - and try it now and then on a scrap piece of wood as it heats up;  when it scorches the wood as soon as it touches, it's hot enough)
If the tang cools down and you can feel it slowing so that it won't get fully home, pull it out, thoroughly cool down the blade, and take a second go (though you'll probably do it in one).  The idea is that as much of the hole as possible has been made by the hot tang, so the less wood you take out with the drills, the better - and you want to have the tang hard up against the thumb guard as it comes to a stop.
You can leave the tang in place until the whole thing has thoroughly cooled down, and you'll find the hand-grip has a very tight hold on it indeed;  it's how I fit handles to my files, and even the 10" files never come loose in rough service.
Don't worry about the scorched wood inside the hand-grip;  the little bugs and beasties which rot down wood won't touch the charred surface, so it's well protected.
Alternatively, you can pull it out as soon as it's made its hole, leave it to thoroughly cool down, coat it with brewer's pitch, or Stockholm Tar (wood pitch made from resinous trees), and then drive it home.  Either of those two work very well on horn and antler, too, and will protect the joint from damp penetration.
(in the case of the pilings facing the jetties at Aberdeen Harbour, despite being constantly drenched in sea water, then dried and drenched again, and having the fishing fleet scraping up and down as the tide changed, the combination of scorching and wood pitch meant they were still sound as a bell after 300 years!)
Another approach is to weld a round bar extension to the tang which is long enough to go right through the hand-grip and out the far end - but this must be finished in such as way as to be under tension.  One way would be to finish it off by riveting the end over a metal plate or slice of bone;  another way would be to make the extension from a length of studding (metal rod which is threaded for the whole of its length), and top it off with a nut, or a threaded bobble of some sort, screwed up tight - though for security, I'd still opt for leaving enough of the studding to let you slightly rivet the end over so there was no chance of it working loose.
I have an Iron Age replica dagger which uses a full length tang, riveted over onto a slab of bone;  I had it made for me by a German blacksmith over ten years ago, it's done some pretty rough cutting, and it's still as tight as a drum.
HTH, and best regards,

Jack

Aug 1, 2020 - 9:46:05 PM

5421 posts since 12/20/2005

Wow !

Thanks for the ideas for the tang.
I do like the idea of heating the metal and burning it in place. I've heard of doing that. And I do like a solid fit.

For the handle I am thinking of going with ipe. It is tough stuff to work with, but I do like the idea of having some weight in the handle, with the blade being so long.

Aug 2, 2020 - 9:42:19 AM

Enfield1858

England

19 posts since 8/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Leslie R

Wow !

Thanks for the ideas for the tang.
I do like the idea of heating the metal and burning it in place. I've heard of doing that. And I do like a solid fit.

For the handle I am thinking of going with ipe. It is tough stuff to work with, but I do like the idea of having some weight in the handle, with the blade being so long.


Hi, Leslie - Eric has fixed the upload problems, so here's the sketch and the two pictures I promised.

Best regards,
Jack


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