How to replace the wood handle on a knife

Written by sue ake
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How to replace the wood handle on a knife
Knife blades made from quality steel can last for centuries. (hunter knife image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from

Many knife blades are made from quality crafted steel and will last centuries with little care. However, the wooden handles are no match for the blades endurance. The countless hours of use and the wear and tear from washing can render a knife's handle useless. There is no need to throw out a quality knife blade because of a broken or cracked handle. Replace the handle and the knife is as good as new again.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Drill
  • Wood drill bit
  • Rubber mallet
  • Sandpaper
  • Epoxy
  • Wood block
  • Whittling knife
  • Gray tape
  • Paper towels
  • Compression rivet
  • Wood saw

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  1. 1

    Wrap the blade of the knife in a paper towel and wrap grey tape around the knife blade. Remove any of the remaining wood from the knife's old handle. Use wire cutters and cut the old rivets as close to the knife blade as possible. Repeat this process on the other side of the knife handle. Use a metal punch to push the remaining pieces of the rivet from the holes. Clean all dirt, rust, and grime from the metal part of the blade, or tang. Use a fine grit sandpaper to buff away any stubborn rust spots.

    How to replace the wood handle on a knife
    The steel of the blade extending into the knifes handle is called the tang. (blade image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from
  2. 2

    Lay the tang on the wood and mark the rivet holes on the wood. Move the tang off the wood. Using a wood drill with a bit that matches the size of the rivet hole, drill a hole through the wood slab. Carefully saw the chunk of wood evenly in half long ways. Using the epoxy, glue the wood slabs on each side of the tang, matching the rivet holes in the wood up with the rivet holes in the tang.

    How to replace the wood handle on a knife
    Select a hard wood for the new handle. (wood image by Amjad Shihab from
  3. 3

    Insert the male end of the compression rivet through one side of the hole and insert the female side of the rivet through the other side of the hole. Place the knife handle on a padded surface and with a rubber mallet hit the rivet forcing the two pieces together, this compresses the rivet and causes them to lock. Repeat this step with the second hole.

    How to replace the wood handle on a knife
    Compression rivets binds the handle tightly to the knife blade. (rivets pop en aluminium et leur reflet dans un mir image by jcm from
  4. 4

    Sketch the shape of the knife handle onto the wood chunk. Using a sharp blade whittle away the wood block until it is the desired shape. Use varying grits of sandpaper to smooth out the new handle.

    How to replace the wood handle on a knife
    Use a whittling knife to transform the block handle into a well shaped instrument. (wood image by Jakub Niezabitowski from

Tips and warnings

  • Be careful handling the blade during the replacement process.

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