Fixed Bladed Knives Only (No Folders)
Before: Here we have a heavy duty combat knife, custom made by a U.S. Navy seaman, while serving in the Pacific during WWII. He built the blade from a leaf spring off a wrecked Japanese truck. The now missing handle material was built from thin, round washers, cut out of the clear plexiglass cockpit covers of downed Japanese “Zeros.” Unfortunately this early type of plexiglass was not very stable, with a life of about 50-60 years before it broke down into small pieces, and lots of grit. Thus the now missing handle. The seaman also custom built the tough leather sheath, to carry her in, which came in handy as she went overboard with him when he had to abandon three different ships, as they sunk under him.
After: Surprisingly, after 75 years the blade was not rusted at all, with only surface stains and shallow scratches. Sanding and polishing brough her back to her original high satin finish. We also cleaned and gunblued the tang, to keep any future moisture from rusting it.
To rebuild the original style handle we cut out 1” circles from clear 3/8” thick polycarbonate. Adding two sets of red/bradd/red spacers, for extra color and contrast to each end of the new handle. The “S” guard and aluminum butt cap were set in place with J.B. Weld, while each plastic wash was set together using a clear, 2-ton, 2-part epoxy.
The new darker sheath was water proofed using my hot bees wax and saddle oil treatment. The wax will stiff the leather, while the oil will prevent dry rot from setting in.
Knife and Sheath, repair and replacement. A handmade Asian area(?) combat and survival knife. Used during the Vietnam War, it has been neglected for over 50 years. The blade is heavy with rust and pits. The three sections of black water buffalo horn have been attacked by a burrowing insect. The other three sections of leather washer has dry rotted, just as has the leather sheath.
A lot of hand sanding on the blade removed the rust, and then it was polished to a satin finish. The leather washers in the handle were replaced and dyed black. The insert hold in the water buffalo horn were filled in with wood putty and sanded smooth. To protect the leather waters in the handle, 5-6 coats of a high quality marine spar varnish was applied, to keep them from drying out and shrinking. A new black dyed, low carry vertical water buffalo hide sheath was built to safely carry this large family heirloom knife.
Early Machete repair and new Deluxe Sheath. Everything is bigger they say, in Texas. Here is a big project. This machete, a family heirloom, arrived at my shop missing its handle, and no sheath. We gave her a new black canvas Micarta handle with a thong tube for a lanyard. Then put a new razor edge on the blade after stopping the rust, but no removing it from going any further.
For the new sheath, the owner asked for a Deluxe style with black alligator hide insert, and being Texas, a silver Texas Ranger star on the front. The machete’s extra wide upswept tip forced me to build this sheath as a side insert of the blade. Leaving one side open, that closes with 3, 2-part snaps.
Full Restoration: A very old “corn knife” with a heavy 13-inch, hand-forged blade. Found on many early pioneer family farms, they were used to harvest corn stocks. This treasured family heirloom is from the Fort McCord area of PA. With plans to use her around their kitchen, the family asked me to bring her back after so many years of abuse and neglect.
Once cleaned of rust and sharpened, the heavy blade was found to be badly pitted, but still very serviceable, and she took a great edge.
For safety’s sake, because she will be used in a wet environment, a single brass finger guard was added to the new handle. To help balance the handle of this heavy chopper, a solid brass pommel cap was built and added.
Cocobolo, an exotic hardwood from Costa Rica, with a rich orange color and fantastic grain patterns, was chosen for the new handle. This oily wood will not dry out and crack from all the hand washing she will get around the kitchen. For extra color and contrast, two sets of red and brass spacers were added to frame the Cocobolo wood.
To add even more family history to the knife, the owner, who has a military background, asked for one of his military insignia and a C.A.B. award, to be inlaid in the handle.
Repair/Conversion: A one dollar yard sale find, forgotten in someone’s garage for many years. The sheath has been lost, the blade is a mess of rust and stains. Even the sambar stag handle has been chewed on by mice or squirrels. Yet no all is lost, of the steel under all that grime is still good, and this German-made Bowie can have a new life.
The blade was cleaned, sanded, and then polished to a satin finish. The best finish for a working knife.
The old stag handle was replaced with new red liners, red/brass mosaic pins, and Bocote wood scales. We also inlaid a pair of ivory elk teeth, one on each side, that the owner supplied.
A new sheath was needed and the owner liked the Mexican keeper-strap style. So we built one for him, adding a brass, Sam Brown button stud for the keeper-strap.
Handle Repair: An old prong or bolo knife, hand fired in the Philippines back in the late 60’s. Most probably from an old WW II truck or jeeps leaf spring. This knife was used and abused by a serviceman, during this tour in Vietnam. Every nick, scratch and chip on the blade shows its service history, so we didn’t do any work on it.
However,, the weak, hidden tang handle was broken off, somewhere during her rough life. Just welding it back onto the blade would destroy the interesting water buffalo horn handle. A new tang was built, and welded onto the blade. Then a new handle was hand carved and attached to the tang.
Handle Conversion with Shoulder Harness and Sheath: Another Cold Steel handle project on their Trailmaster Bowie. On this conversion we used a customer provided, shed elk antler tine, that had been bleached of its color by the sun. As we built the new handle, we added two black spacers to frame a beautiful section of A2 Desert Ironwood, in a burled grain pattern. We also dyed the bleached antler back to its original dark brown color.
To store and carry this beast, we built it a tough, thick, water buffalo hide sheath. With an adjustable shoulder harness and a sheep’s wool shoulder pad.
Handle Conversion: Are you tired of all black micarta handles on your knife collection? Then add a “pop of color” with rich red micarta. Available in blocks or scales, it will give those of you who enjoy color a chance to upgrade your knives. As the owner of this Regulator knife asked from me, along with quite a few extras.
We started this build with a solid brass, finger guard, then added a ‘hand stop’ with a thong hole, and finished with a brass pommel nut. For added color and contrast, we framed the block of red micarta with two sets of brass/black spacers. The colorful handle was hand sanded and polished, down to a comfortable design of 3/4” wide at the front guard out to 1” did at the back hand stop. For a stronger grip we also added a deep set of hand carved finger grips.
To complete the whole new package, we also built her a new sheath. The design for this one is a right handed, low carry, vertical with a keeper strap, dyed a jet black.
Handle Repair w/ Sheath: An old German made knife in very bad shape, marked ‘Original Bowie’ with a mismatched set of stag handle scales, and lost its thin double brand guard. Dry rot was setting into the old leather sheath, and its stitching was also rotting away. We started this project removing all the rust, then sanding and polishing the blade to a mirror finish. We then built a new, thicker double S.S. guard. Using a matched set of sambar stag scales, we built a new handle. To bring in some color and contrast, we added a set of red liners, and three red/brass mosaic point. A new water buffalo hide sheath was built to carry and keep it safe.
Handle Repair: Here we have an old Asian style kitchen knife with a hand forged blade. With its broken handle, it can no longer be used safely around the kitchen, where many family members had enjoyed using her. Now they wished to pass her on to the next generation of family cooks.
For this family heirloom I recommended using an oily wood like Cocobolo. The oil will keep the wood from drying out, and cracking from the years of hand washing it will get. Using solid, round, nickel silver bar stock, we built a new front bolster, and a matching back pommel cap. For added color and contrast, we built two sets of spacers, using nickel silver sheets, and red spacer material.
The blade was cleaned, polished and sharpened. However, following the original makers design, we did not remove the hammer marks, nor the black scale, left behind from the forging process.
Handle Repair: An old unmarked, wood handled hunter, with plenty of rust issues and a broken handle. No sheath provided. The blade, double guard and pommel cap were sanded and polished to a high satin finish. A new handle of A2 desert ironwood, presentation grade A.A., in a burled grain pattern, was installed. Using two S.S. pins and a S.S. thong tube. A new ager buffalo sheath was built with an added holder for a diamond coated, retractible sharpening steel.
Handle conversion: How can you tell when your friend is a “knife-nut?” That’s easy. Just look at his knife collection. Of course, they are always super razor sharp, no matter how much abused they get. However, the nut can’t just leave them as is. He will always be tinkering with them. Sanding, filing, polishing parts, and changing out the handles. Here we have a extreme case in point.
The unusual Cold Steel Natchez Bowie arrived at Bart’s home in Gulf Breeze, FL as a plain jane. He says it’s a heavy use, brush knife, but from looking a the mirror polished blade you would never know it. I’m sure he sands out every nick and scratch, then polished her after every camping trip. Beside the flawless mirror finish on the blade, he also decorated the cross guard and the pommel cap with some fancy file work. He didn’t stop there, but also added a band carved design in the black Micarta handle. See the “before” photo.
Finally, here is where I come into Bart’s vision for this Bowie, with a new handle He chose a beautiful block of golden burled, presentation grade A.A., Desert Ironwood. Project completed?
Handle Conversion: A Cold Steel Recon Tanto with their cheap rubber handle. To add insult to injury, the small built-in rubber finger guard offers very little protection. To solve the safety issue, we built a new, larger guard of nickle silver. Replaced the rubber handle with a solid block of ivory micarta with a N.S. thong tube added for good measure. For a little color and contract, we also added a set of red/N.S. spacers.
The rust satins and small scratches on the blade were hand sanded away, then polished to a high luster, satin finish. Then the bradd guard and alum. pommel cap were also cleaned and polished.
The stag handle’s color had faded over the years, and it was drying out and starting to creack. We dyed it back to its original deep, rich, dark brown. Danish oil finish put moisture back in the stag, then 5-6 coats of marine spar varnish will protect it for many years of hard use.
The split cowhide sheath was toast. Dry rot had set in, and it would not have portected the knife while out in the field or woods. We built a new water buffalo hide, low carry one that will last for years.
Total Knife Build: If you like FallKniven knives, but would rather put your own spin on one, they will sell you a blade blank. Here we have such a Fallkniven blade, sent to my workshop by its owner, to finish it for him. He asked for ivory micarta scales, black liners, and a set of two black/brass mosaic pins. To also safely carry the knife, we built him a left-handed, pouch style, water buffalo hide sheath.
Handle conversion: The owner of this Cold Steel Trail Master Bowie asked for a replacement handle, with a uniquely Native American flavor.
We kept the standard oval brass guard, then added a large spacer of burled AZ Desert Ironwood, just behind it. The main body of the new handle was built from thick Water Buffalo hide washers. Each dyed a dark brown, then stacked and glued together with a 2-ton epoxy. Then sealed with multiple layers of high grade Marine Spar Varnish.
A large piece of Sanbar Stag “crown” antler was used fo rthe new pommel cap/butt end. For a little color and interest we added a thong “drop” using a bear claw and feathers.
Click image for larger view
I received my knife yesterday and I am extremely happy with the results. The handle that you have crafted is a work of art and has transformed this knife into a fine piece.
Best Regards, Larry
Handle Conversion: Here we have a 10 year old Cold Steel Trailmaster. Its rubber handle had worked loose, and rust was eating away the tang. We replaced the handle with black canvas micarta, and added a strong brass pommel cap for good measure. Before (right)
Click images for larger view
The knife arrived on Wednesday night. All I can say is WOW! it is everything I imagined as we talked about it – and more. Absolutely great. It’s better balanced and looks much better after the polishing. I have not been able to put it down when I am in the house. My wife and two kids think I am a bit weird. LOL They are “city folk” and I know they don’t understand my ways.
Thanks again so much, Thomas
Handle Conversion: Here we have a Cold Steel Laredo Bowie, with a coffin- shaped, fake cocobolo wood (it’s dyed plywood) handle. Its owner asked for a 6 inch sambar stag crown handle, with four sections of red spacers. A polished red lace agate was inlaid into the crown, to bring it all together. Before (right)
Click images for larger view
Repair/Conversion: An old, well-used Smith & Wesson Hunter, with a carbon steel 5-1/2″ blade – the owner had replaced its broken handle years ago, with a black, bake-a-lite handle. Now he was ready to have it totally refurbished for the next generation of hunters. Polishing the blade and guard and etching some scroll work into the blade, was the first order of business. Using brass, mosaic pins the new sambar stag handles were added with rust colored liners underneath. Before (right)
Click images for larger view
Handle Conversion: An old German-made dress Bowie knife, with a bone and nickel silver handle. The handle material was very thin making it uncomfortable to use. It was replaced with thick scales of creamy white ivory. Before (right)
Click images for larger view
Handle Conversion: The Cold Steel Trailmaster, comes standard with a brass oval guard, black neoprene (soft-grip rubber) handle, with a brass thong tube. A black nylon sheath with a thin plastic insert completed the package. The owner really liked the blade’s length, shape and weight but not the handle or the sheath. I built him a new sheath from 9 oz. tough water buffalo hide, totally sealed against moisture, with a hot dip mixture of beeswax and saddle oil. For the knife handle I made a new brass guard, both lugged and crowned, and a solid brass pommel with a thong hole. Purpleheart wood was chosen for the handle replacement, with an inlay of bocote wood added to the top and bottom edges for contrast. To bring it all together red liners were used throughout. This big knife certainly took on a whole new look and feel. So, what can I do for you? Give me a call or send an e-mail, and we’ll talk over your requirements.
Click image for larger view
Testimonial: Jay: Ya know, some people say they’re artists, then you have the ones who really are. You, my man, are among the latter. I was speechless about the handle, it’s more than what I could have imagined. You were right, the color scheme is great and the sheath is also more than what I could have expected. Now I know why you were so excited. This is truely a unique knife and NOW it’s mine!!! I don’t want to sound like a crazy man, but this is the only knife like this in the world. I like that. Thanks, Jay, I owe you a tall, cool one someday. I’m super happy with the knife. Looking forward to seeing it on the internet. Again, many thanks and you will be hearing from me again.
Handle Conversion: Another Cold Steel knife, their huge “Gurkha Kukri” with a standard black, molded rubber handle, that was over an inch thick. The owner found it difficult to get a solid, comfortable grip around it. He asked for an indestructible handle of black micarta, and a strong protective finger guard allowing him to use this big, bushwacker on a regular basis with complete confidence. I rebuilt the handle, adding a 3/8 inch thick pinned and soldered brass guard and a birds-beak pommel. Black linen micarta scales with ivory micarta inserts, were pinned to the tang with matching black micarta rods. The deeply-set finger grips were added as an extra message of security. Red liners were chosen to offset each part, and add color and contrast.
Click image for larger view
Testimonial: Hi Jay,
I received my Gurkha Kukri with its new handle yesterday afternoon. I must say the new handle looks fantastic. The handle fits just right on my hand and I really like the finger grooves (and the guard and the pommel). I hope I am not being biased but I think this project turned out better than the Trailmaster project shown on your Web site. Thanks for all your help.