How to Make a Bowie Knife Handle

Written by matt logan
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It's possible to use a knife without putting a handle on it. Some of them even work better without a handle -- throwing knives, for example. But a knife the size of a bowie isn't much good without a handle. A bowie's weight and the ways you use it make it hard to control and potentially dangerous without at least some semblance of a grip. Fortunately, it's not hard to make a simple set of handle slabs.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • 1/4-inch wood stock
  • Jigsaw
  • Belt sander
  • Small drum sander
  • Drill with 1/8-inch metal-drilling bit
  • Hammer
  • 1/8-inch pins or rivets
  • Epoxy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Trace the tang of the bowie blade (the part where the handle goes) onto two pieces of wood stock. Leave room for error around the edges.

  2. 2

    Cut out the handle blanks or "slabs."

  3. 3

    Attach the blank slabs to the tang of the bowie using epoxy or a strong super glue. Line them up as neatly as possible because once the glue sets they will be next to impossible to remove cleanly.

  4. 4

    Clamp the handle slabs in place and drill three evenly spaced holes through the slabs and tang. Place the first and last holes 1/2 inch from their respective ends of the handle; centre all three.

  5. 5

    Sand the handle down to your preference. The slabs and tang should join smoothly, with no overhang.

  6. 6

    Insert the pins or rivets and fix them in place. Most pins require that you tap both sides firmly using a hammer and awl. You need to tap some rivet types, while there are others you must screw into place.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a decent hardwood to make the handle slabs last. Oak and hickory work well.
  • You can make more evenly matched slabs using a single piece of inch-thick stock and a planing saw.
  • This procedure works only for what are called "full tang" knives. This means the metal of the blade goes all the way to the pommel and to the outer edges of the handle. Tail-type and half tangs require a different procedure altogether.
  • Wear safety gear at all times when using power tools.

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