How to make bone handles for knives

Written by brian connolly
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How to make bone handles for knives
. (Fodor90/iStock/Getty Images)

Traditionally constructed from antler and other animal material, hand-carved knives are a staple among indigenous and stone age hand tools. While the majority of knives found on the market today use resin and plastic materials for handle-construction, a dedicated craftsman can easily construct his own bone handles with a minimum of tools and components.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • High-grade whittling knife
  • 6 inch x 2 inch x 2 inch sturdy length of desired bone
  • Mitre-box saw with carbide blade
  • Dremel tool with attached carbide burr
  • Electric belt-sander
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Ruler
  • Safety goggles

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  1. 1

    Decide on the length and width of your bone handle. Designate the blade-to-handle ratio by placing your blade on a sheet of paper and drawing out potential handle sizes to ensure your desired length.

  2. 2

    Select a sturdy length of bone that matches your desire size, or mark the measurement along your bone sample. Add a half-inch for saw-blade width and mark the length with a line on your bone. Make an even cut at this length using a mitre-box saw.

  3. 3

    Hold the bone in your hand to test the width of the handle. Decide on the desired thickness of your handle: most traditional widths come in 1¼ to 1¾-inch with a thickness of ¾ to 1¼-inch. Mark the desired cuts on the bone and add ¼ -inch for whittling. Cut the desired measurement with a mitre-box saw.

  4. 4

    Sand down the corners of your bone to ensure smoothness. Measure ½-inch inward on both ends of the handle and use the Dremel tool to cut a small groove at these points.

  5. 5

    Pencil in the desired design along the handle, making sure to deeply shade the necessary indentations and grooves. Decide if you desire a simple or complex design, or simply an unaltered bone handle of minimal decoration.

  6. 6

    Dremel your pencilled grooves along the handle, creating hard-edged or rounded indentations as you prefer. Take your time while carving your design and avoid the urge to rush through the job. Put the materials down if you grow tired or distracted and come back later, completing the job in many sessions if needed.

  7. 7

    Using a whittling knife to carve a slit at the end of your handle for inserting the blade. Make your cut just wide enough to accommodate the metal, while ensuring a secure tightness to the blade. Reassemble your knife and enjoy.

Tips and warnings

  • Always use safety goggles when working with bone or any other hard materials. Exercise extreme caution when operating the mitre-box saw and only handle power tools while sober and highly-alert.

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