CRKT Bear Claw customizing

Nov 25, 1999
CRKT Bear Claw customizing.

Reviewing some months ago Columbia River Knife & Tool Bear Claw knife I noted that some it's properties I do like considerably less. Here are results of my efforts to lighten this little but very useful knife and to make it a bit prettier what would not be the last issue, especially for ladies. I would like to remind that originally Russ Kommer designed this knife as defensive tool for ladies.

I replaced black Zytel scales with the ones of home-made Micarta in very light beige color. My intention was to make all in beige and golden color combination, so blackened screws should be replaced with brass ones. Unfortunately I couldn't match brass screws to screw holes, the thread of screw is untypical for Polish standards. Maybe in future I'll try to coat authentic screw headers with brass or copper.
Multi-carry sheath was a bit heavy and too thick for neck carry, so I made my own one using the same home-made Micarta as was used for scales but in thinner piece. This material is quite springy and being properly formed it holds the knife in upside-down position very securely. On the other hand it is pretty easy to deploy the knife. I formed my sheath directly on the blade using the opposite form made of thin cardboard.
I also replaced paracord with ball-chain in golden color. I do not know what the metal it is, it doesn't responses the magnet - so it could be brass or bronze. The rivets joining two parts of the sheath are made of brass plated soft steel.

As result the knife became noticeable flatter and lighter.

Is it prettier now - let everyone decide for him or herself. My wife said - much prettier and at least it is her knife, although she doesn't carry it.

After all was done I had an idea to reduce the weight of the knife skeletonizing the handle, this should make the package even lighter and more comfortable for neck carry. I didn't worry about handle's strength, it would be strong more than enough even with a lot of drilled holes. Unfortunately I couldn't do it because of very tough steel. No problems were with column drill in my friend's gunsmith's shop, but we have broke two bits and stopped this insensible work. Next week I'm going to skeletonize the handle using electro-erosion drill (not sure I'm naming properly this device in English).

Here is the result of our clumsy efforts. I had opportunity to check in practice how "week" is this "week steel" or "low end steel".

Some conclusions: think it was mistake to do all in beige-golden colors. First - these colors are slashing with light-gray color of bead blasted blade. Initially I had intention to polish the blade but my wife didn't allow, she likes this "velvet" appearance of fine bead blasted metal very much. Second - golden rivets and chain are noticeably changing color in contact with body, think nickel-plated ones would hold the surface more stable. Additionally seven rivets is a bit onto exaggeration side, five would be quite enough.

My next intention could be to make the same but in light-gray and silver colors using nickel plated chain and rivets, light-gray Micarta and striped from blackening screws.

Sergiusz Mitin
Lodz, Poland

[This message has been edited by Sergiusz Mitin (edited 06-23-2000).]
Very nice work, Sergiusz. I'm looking forward to seeing your next effort in gray & silver. I would also be interested in learning more about the "home-made Micarta" that you used.

Sergiusz, I very much like what you've done. It really adds to looks and I'm sure the feel of the knife. I gave my wife one of these as well, and if she see this she'll want me to do a modification. I'm looking forward to see your next transformation of the Bear Claw.

I'm with Brian, I'd also like to know the recipe to homemade Micarta.

Great job!

Take care,
Very nice indeed. I'm looking forward to your next trail at the Bear Claw. I would perfer it skeltonized for wieght reasons or maybe wrapped in paracord.

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me.
Sergiusz- nice work, great idea. Will look forward to seeing next pictures. I, also, would be interested in hearing about your homemade Micarta. Thanks.
That is good work. Gotta admire you folks who can roll up the sleeves and go at it.


AKTI #A000356
Beautiful work! Can you please explain how you make your micarta? I would love to be able to produce results such as yours.
Thank you friends!

As to home-made Micarta, three reasons caused me to try with it:
1. No factory-made one is available in Poland, Kydex for sheaths also is not available.
2. My cousin makes jeans and country-style wear, so I can have plenty of linen off-cut in different colors for free.
3. My wife is cosmetic product wholesaler and she has good contacts with some local manufacturers, so I can have small quantities of powdered dye for experiments in different colors also for free.
Well, to make home-made Micarta for Bear Claw handle I choose linen off-cut in very light beige color and talc powder (I had an idea about cosmetic dye a bit later, saying honestly it was my wife's idea). Epoxy resin itself has light-golden color, mixed it with talc I obtained light-beige mixture exactly matching linen in color.
When I applied second part of epoxy resin to let it polymerize (sorry, I don't know how to name this component properly in English). Now I had something about one hour to work, within this time epoxy remains liquid. I applied resin onto each layer of linen, put them together into some kind of "sandwich" and put this "sandwich" between two flat metal plates using polyethylene foil to let them not stick to epoxy. Six bricks (together about 20 kg) served me as press.
After 24 hours this "sandwich" was hard and two days later it was completely ready to work with.
Obtained "micarta" was a small bit too porous what is clearly visible when polishing it to high polish. Next time I'll try to dilute somewhat epoxy with acetone to let it fill linen better and I'll apply more pressure when polymerizing.

If someone has more ideas in this matter let's discuss them

In thinner layer (I used 4 layers of linen) this "micarta" can serve as sheath material as well. I never worked with Kydex but I think the only difference would be that here you can do nothing after epoxy is polymerized. Important: do not forget to put thin polyethylene foil between blade and formed sheath! Otherwise your sheath will stick your blade for ever!

[This message has been edited by Sergiusz Mitin (edited 06-25-2000).]
There have been some posts in Shop Talk about making your own "Micarta," too. Of course it isn't really Micarta (Micarta is phenolic resin, not epoxy) but who cares ... it might even be more durable than real Micarta ... seems to hold up okay, anyway.

-Cougar :{)
i've been thinking about putting my Bear Claw on my keychain but the same problem...a bit heavy, and the sheath will definitely get noticed. i like what you've done; who can do something like that here in the States (lightweight handles, nicer lighter sheath)?
Inspired by the nice work described above,
I thought I'd try something similar. So, I removed the black plastic handles and made some out of scrap cherry wood. When I was done, the cherry wood was actually thicker than the orignal plastic (fit my hand better) and I liked it that way, so I kept it.

[This message has been edited by gearfreak (edited 01-14-2001).]
Nice job!
Don't you think leather sheath in light natural tan color would match this handle much better? Does someone have idea how to make leather sheath suitable for upside-down neck carry?

Absolutly, this wood handle asks for
a natural looking sheath to match. Unfortunately, thats were my skills are limited - I've little experience in leather. It seems that a neck sheath in leather might require a snap fastener to hold the knife. Vertical sheath might be straightforward.

Walt, a guy who likes gear
Hey Sergiusz, did you ever get the chance to use that electro-erosion method to skeletonize the handle? (just curious)
Unfortunately not so far.
Life is crazy and I still have more job than money

Maybe later, when I will cope with my book and a couple of translations...