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After years of good and loyal service, kitchen knives often show signs of weakness or lose their filling. But it is always possible to give them a second youth and to redo the handle in particular.

making a knife handle

Recovered from the bottom of a kitchen drawer, this knife has lost its two plates (wooden, plastic, horn or metal elements that cover the sole). This is a knife called "flat sole" where the silk follows the contour of the handle and remains visible between the two plates. These are the latter that will have to be recreated for a good grip.

Choose a dry wood for the handle

The first job is to polish the rusty metal and then to revive the edge of the blade and its emetting (flat, concave, "V", etc.).
The wood chosen for the wafers must be dry and stabilized.
Regarding the essence, the ash is interesting for its hardness, its resistance and the sobriety of its veining.
But nothing prevents to choose fruit wood more or less veined, as here cherry.
Each plate is 8 mm thick, the total thickness of the handle must not exceed 19 mm, including sole, to remain pleasant to use.

Assemble three elements for the knife handle

In order to reserve the most beautiful drawings to the visible parts, it is necessary to check beforehand to identify the veining of each plate which composes the new handle. The sole (or silk) is sandwiched between the pads, fixed with rivets.
These are made of metal logs cut into nails or cut into a steel rod of the same diameter as the holes drilled in the sole and small flat washers (diameter 3 or 4 mm) on which the ends are crushed.

If it is desired to suspend the knife, it is also possible to cut shorter or beveled plates.
This leaves a steel angle at the end of the handle which, once pierced, can be equipped with a leather lace.
To strengthen the pads, it is possible to add on the handle a pair of "mitres" (kinds of metal shells) blade side and a knob at the end of the handle.
At the end of the assembly, a treatment based on linseed oil and turpentine oil (in equal parts) will provide lasting protection (to be renewed regularly).

The different bristles (soles) of knife

The different types of knife

1 Toupee silk
2 half silk
3 Three quarters of silk
4 Full Silk

draw the sole of the knife

  • Use the sole of the knife as a guide to draw the outline of each wafer in pencil.
  • So that the veining is identical on both sides of the handle, draw them back to back.

cutting chips with a jigsaw

  • Then cut the two plates with the jigsaw by following the drawing as closely as possible.
  • Prefer a fine toothing that will generate fewer chips.

sand the pads

  • Round off the edges with sandpaper to give the two wafers an identical shape.
  • Start at medium grain (80) and finish with fine grain (120).

pierce the sole of the knife

  • To mark the holes, press the sole of the knife onto the piece of wood.
  • Place the assembly on a martyr wedge and pierce each of the wood chips with the wood wick.

knife assembly

  • The nail sections must be 1 mm longer than the total thickness of the handle.
  • Place these in the holes of the sole and position the wood chips on each side.

with a hammer flatten the nails

  • Set up the puck and knock with the hammer until you crush the nail on the puck.
  • Place the knife on a stable metal stand for this operation.

polish with grinder

  • Once the rivets set up and leveled, carefully polish the handle to the grinder equipped with a soft abrasive disc, so that the grip of the knife is softer and therefore more enjoyable.

polish the wooden knife

  • Coat the handle with a mixture of 50% linseed oil and 50% turpentine, the latter facilitating the penetration of the oil into the heart of the wood.
  • Polish and let dry between each layer with a soft cloth.

Tips for DIYers

  • Better to finish the maximum parts to assemble before the final assembly because once the rivets put in place, it will be more difficult to sand and round the corners respecting a rigorous symmetry.
  • Use a soft-disk grinder to remove the last splinters and smooth small burrs of rivets "flush" wood.


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