Handle problems

Sean Yaw

Gold Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2019
Messages
234
Often times when I shape/sand a slipjoint handle (probably not slipjoint specific), I end up with high spots on metal components (e.g., pins, shields, bolster interface). This is more exacerbated with softer materials like wood, but can still arise with micarta. I am pretty new to using a 2x72, but my technique has been to radius bolsters on a 12" wheel, very roughly radius the handle material, then move to low-grit hand sanding. There are usually not high spots coming off the grinder, they show up during hand sanding. It seems my problem is that hand sanding erodes the handle material quicker than the metal components, hence the high spots.

What technique do people use to achieve a smooth consistent radii on handles without these high spots?
 

Richard338

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May 3, 2005
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3,898
I have a little yellow vise that can be rotated every which way so that you have good presentation of the part you want to work on. Bright led lights above. Then I use a piece of 416 steel as a backer and wrap the sandpaper snugly around it. This gets the pins flush with the handle material.
 

Sean Yaw

Gold Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2019
Messages
234
Certainly part of my problem seems the be the lack of a backer. I have just been using my bare hands to sand. It makes sense why that contributes to the problem though.

Is contouring handles with embedded metal components a good application for slack belt sanding or a rotary platen?
 

Taz

Joined
Apr 28, 1999
Messages
1,532
Slack belt, no. Rotary platen helps, but uses a rubber belt as a backer, so it can still be an issue since the rubber has some give to it. Wood to metal is always a pain. Metal to Micarta isn't as bad. I use a piece of G10 or Micarta often as my sanding backer.
 

Signalprick

Jason Ritchie - Ritchie Handmade Knives
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Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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Apr 3, 2009
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2,771
I use a hard strip of smooth rubber as my backer. That simple little "tool" improved my hand sanding 10 fold. Also just rough shape with 120 - 220 - 320 then hit on your wheel following the contour to knock down any slight high spots on your metal parts. It's a waste of time going above 400 grit until the knife is together and ready for final finish.
 

FredyCro

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Jan 11, 2019
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1,213
Look N wheelers episode on handle shaping in his bowie series. Basically for clear lines and flush pins you want to use hard backing 95 percent of the way.

I also work hard on improving my shaping skills on the grinder but no way to do that without vfd.

I use small files as a backing and when sanding the area around the pin, make sure to always stay at least partially on the pin with the sandpaper and your backing material.
 

FredyCro

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Jan 11, 2019
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Here are some self explanotory pics from the handle i am currently working on, these small files are fine cutting and wont gouge the pins too much. The scratches sand out easily with a 100 grit sandpaper wrapped around the same files. Half rounds files helps with the curves.

3X3HYk8.jpeg
ywqJS4k.jpeg
gEIgMUK.jpeg
 

Richard338

Gold Member
Joined
May 3, 2005
Messages
3,898
Here are some self explanotory pics from the handle i am currently working on, these small files are fine cutting and wont gouge the pins too much. The scratches sand out easily with a 100 grit sandpaper wrapped around the same files. Half rounds files helps with the curves.

3X3HYk8.jpeg
ywqJS4k.jpeg
gEIgMUK.jpeg
That's the little yellow vise I was talking about.
 
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
260
A light touch and a hard backer on your sanding stick. And a lot of time paying attention to these transitions.

But to answer your question more exactly, my technique is to use WA handles and avoid pins.
A man after my own heart! I too like to avoid problems that are hard to fix haha! But seriously, I'm digging the wa handles these days too, and I bed the tang which allows me to do all the handle shaping and finishing directly on my grinder.
 

Horsewright

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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Oct 4, 2011
Messages
9,555
I do handle finishing on a slack belt up to 330 grit. Tang and spine up to 600 grit on either a 10 " wheel or a 1" wheel depending on what side. Hand sand from there starting at 330 with a backer. Sheephorn, elk etc may only get the 330. Wood handles depending on the type get more. Then buff. No proud pins:

lXBZuoI.jpg


UedWlho.jpg
 
Joined
Dec 9, 2019
Messages
13
To piggyback off of this, I am having some trouble with getting my handle material (hardwoods) and steal flush with one another ( full tang knives).

When using my flat platen to do the majority of my grinding I have no issue everything remains flush and true. Ill sometimes hang the belt off the edge to begin getting into those more extreme curves.

I notice this issue more so when I am using my small wheel attachments. I have both metal and rubber small wheel attachments for my ameribrade (the metal ones they sell and some rubber KMG ones).

I am using j flex belts and running the wheels slow (around 10-20 on my VFD), but still notice that the handle material is being removed faster than the metal, creating that high spot/step between the two.

Do the belts need to be rotated out/ adjusted sooner to prevent this?

Any advice would be much appreciated fellas!
 

Taz

Joined
Apr 28, 1999
Messages
1,532
You need to use very little pressure on the rubber wheels, otherwise you can push into them and the metal will be proud. Keep the belts clean and work slow. Metal will always be slower to work than handle materials. The small wheels seem softer than the larger contact wheels and from what I have seen, tend to have more give. Also make sure you are perpendicular to the grinding surface so you are removing material evenly, too.
 
Joined
Dec 9, 2019
Messages
13
You need to use very little pressure on the rubber wheels, otherwise you can push into them and the metal will be proud. Keep the belts clean and work slow. Metal will always be slower to work than handle materials. The small wheels seem softer than the larger contact wheels and from what I have seen, tend to have more give. Also make sure you are perpendicular to the grinding surface so you are removing material evenly, too.
Thanks or the fast response I appreciate it!

Ok sounds like a plan, I may swap back to my all metal wheels then to minimize the give, and I also tilt my grinder horizontally with the work rest to really make sure I'm perfectly stable and flat when grinding.
 

Taz

Joined
Apr 28, 1999
Messages
1,532
Do you have the AmeriBrade tilting platform? How do you like it?? I have their Fastback and am debating getting their tilting setup or trying to come up with something myself.
 
Joined
Dec 9, 2019
Messages
13
Do you have the AmeriBrade tilting platform? How do you like it?? I have their Fastback and am debating getting their tilting setup or trying to come up with something myself.
I do!

Its awesome, I love being able to tilt it and work with my small wheels that way, minus the issues I've been having with my technique its build solid and like a tank an I much prefer to tilt and use the work rest than freehand it. I highly suggest it
 
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