Fitting backspacers on folders

Oct 26, 2000
I'm having trouble fitting the spacer pieces on my folders. I'm curious how other makers are able to shave the tiny amounts off but still keep the things square and true.

Round spacers have a nasty tendency to angle off to one side or the other. You can turn the darned thing around and file from the other direction and end up with it angling the other way. I've tried shaving a little off on the platten and really have problems. I'm considering doing a larger spacer out of G10 or micarta and am cringeing at the thought of the trouble to come keeping it flat and consistent. Any thoughts?
Peter, back spacers are hard to get flat by hand. I currently use a tag mini mill and a enco lathe, makes things alot easier. If you dont have these I would use your platten to get it close and then use sand paper. I staple my paper down to a wooden table making sure it is very tight. If it isnt tight, as you push the paper it will roll in front of the backspacer resulting in front and back clearances being alot less than the middle. I will move it in a figure 8 pattern and Mic it after every few passes. After doing this for a while you will get the touch down. I usually make the backspacer the size of a 150 grit blade. This way after heat treat and final tweaking I will have to remove some backspacer material and will take my time to make sure it's exact. Hope this helps a little.
If you are planning on sanding by hand, it is best to do it on a mirror or a piece of glass, that way you have a flat surface, a wooden surface will wear, and be inconsistant depending on grain. The easiest way is on a surface grinder. Materials other than metal are best done by lets say using 5/32 micarta and a blade that is 1/8. there is about .030 difference and you can just but in washers to make up the difference. No sanding or surface grinding required!
Hey thanks guys. Those are both great suggestions. It is really tough to do things by hand as you know. I'll be trying these tips out this week as my first tactical liner lock comes closer to being finished. Here's a pic of the first stage:

1. Get a precision ground piece of tool steel slightly thinner your spacer.

2. Drill and ream a hole to the exact diameter of your spacer so it cannot tilt in the piece of tool steel. Make sure the hole is perpendicular to the face of the piece of tool steel.

3. Have the precision ground piece of tool steel full hardened.

4. Secure a flat abrasive sheet to a surface plate or thick piece of tempered glass.

5. Hand sand away! :)
Tom, I don't get it. I think what you're trying to say is to use the precision ground steel as a backing piece to hold the spacer to while you sand on the surface plate. That makes sense but I'm not really getting why you have to heat treat the steel and also how exactly you are proposing to secure it to the steel. If the spacer material was micarta I would think it would have a nonthreaded through hole or two drilled into it.

Not only that but isn't it true that just because a piece of steel is precision ground doesn't automatically make it perfectly flat? ALso, isn't rocking a danger when handsanding these types of things?
Actually, Peter I thought you were talking about shortening little round "standoffs" that are sometimes used as spacers. My suggestion was a plate that would keep them parallel to the sanding surface. Hardening it would eliminate excessive wear.

Sorry for the confusion!
I'm in the same boat Peter. I sure wish someone would offer .155 and or .165 precision ground 416 stainless. That would be the proper thickness for a 1/8" blade plus a pair of either .015 or .020 washers. Guess theres no substitute for a surface grinder.
Hi Peter, this is off topic, but I really like the the form you have given your knife. It looks to be real comfortable to the hand.
Regards, Greg
Thanks Ripper, but this is what it looks like now:


I didn't like the blade shape on the first rendition. It seemed clumsy to me. The new shape is more harmonious with the handle and the whole thing feels really good in my hand. I still have a long way to go, grinding the blade, heat treat, cutting and relieving the lock, filework, etc. I need to make a pocket clip for it as well.