A stick tang knife, or a stick-tang, is a specific type of a knife that has a part of the blade extending through the grip or handle. That appendix of the blade is called tang, and it is used in knives as well as swords. The tang can be full, half, encapsulated, push, stub or hidden, depending on the position and nature of the blade’s extension. Because of the tang that extends into the handle, stick knives, as with all other fixed blade knives, are stronger than folding or sliding knives.
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Things you need
- Knife blade
- Leather strap
- Utility knife
- Leather punch
- Leather cement
- Metal plate
- Coping saw
Cut leather squares from a leather strap so they measure from 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches. Make sure to cut enough squares so that when they’re stacked together, they are as long as you want your stick tang handle to be. Measure the tang of your blade to be sure. Ready-made stick tang knife blades can be bought at a store or online.
Cut a hole in the centre of each leather square with a drill bit, leather punch or a small chisel. The size of the hole needs to be the size of the tang. Notice that the difference between a common leather handle knife and a stick tang knife is that common handles need thin wooden blocks as spacers to reinforce the handle and stick tang knives do not.
Stack and slide the rectangular pieces of leather on the tang. Apply leather cement to the surface of each square to glue all the pieces together. While stacking the leather rectangles, hold the knife in a vice, between two pieces of scrap wood to avoid damaging the blade. The handle should be facing up so you can easily stack and glue the leather pieces. Remember that leather will eventually become compressed so stack as high up the tang as you can.
Drill a hole in a metal plate, the size of the tang. Then place the metal plate as a knife butt plate on the end of the leather stacked pieces.
Screw a nut through the metal plate and to the tang to tighten the connection and compress the stacked leather. Some tangs don’t have tightening nuts, so in that case simply tap the butt plate firmly with a hammer. When the tip of the tang appears through the butt plate, simply bend it with the hammer. This will secure your handle and hold it in place.
Cut the edges and the corners of the leather rectangles to get a rough shape of the handle first. Use a coping saw for this part of the process. Then use a file to shape the form of the handle. Finally, switch to fine grit sandpaper to make the handle smooth and shiny. Leave the stick tang knife in the vice for at least three days to allow the glue or leather cement to work itself into the leather and to properly dry and harden.
Tips and warnings
- For a better finish, treat the surface of the handle with cyanoacrylate glue, then sand and then treat with glue again.
- Use extreme caution when working with sharp blades and always wear tough protective gloves.
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