Looking for Handle Remod Tips and Material Resources

Discussion in 'Himalayan Imports' started by MrMike, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. MrMike


    Jan 22, 2006
    Guys – I'm debating on rehandling an 18" Bura sirupate and was looking for some advice on wood choices. I want to keep the look very traditional and was interested in cocobolo, desert ironwood or American walnut. Of the three, walnut stock is the cheapest, but I'm worried about it splitting, even if i saturate it with pure tung oil. Looking for advice and any online resources for stock. Piece of wood needed is 2.5" square x 7" long.

    Next, I'm completely redoing the buttcap and am looking for an online resource for nickel-silver blanks. Keeping the bolster as is. Assembly will include the cap and diamond keeper.

    Any help is appreciated. Since this is my first complete takedown, I also want to avoid any pitfalls in the process. I know that laha is one tough..... to get off.

    thanks in advance.
  2. JayGoliath


    Mar 27, 2010

    Sounds like stick tang to me.Bura should be very proud to have it re-handled.
    You may read up a few of the posts we did in the HI Vault. Rock6 recently asked the same question:

    One of it was a big help from my good friend Hung from Vietnam on HI Salyan model:


    The one Hung used is Ironwood and Walnut smells amazing.Since you are drilling along the grain (for a stick tang), i don't see any problem with the split.
    Reminded me of an experimental work with Lignum Vitae; the grain was so intertwined you have to be very careful punching a hole through it.
    I would pick a tough yet light wood for a Siru as you don't want to compromise the geometry and balance of the design- swift and fast. Best idea is to remove the current handle and weigh it. Carve out your fav. wood to approximate that weight with tolerances. If i would re-handle any in the future (possible M-43I) i will opt for a slightly longer handle.

    I suggest you sketch the outline of the Sirupate and the kind of handle you want and super-impose it. That way you could visualize the new handle.
    Did just that on a paper and cut it out,mail it to Hung and he worked accordingly to it (i couldn't send him the blade due to the strict knife laws in Vietnam).

    This link should help you with carving out your intended block to a desired handle:


    Just curious, why do you want to re-handle it?
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011
  3. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    My first recommendation would be to repair the handle you have, if it's at all repairable.
    The Royal Kami is no longer making khukuri, which makes any bura made piece more valuable and collectible.

    I don't have any recommendations for suppliers, i would have to search those myself. I would suggest using google or asking some of the knifemakers in the knifemaking section of this site. I do know that a blank big enough to make a buttcap and keeper are going to cost approximately $20.

    First....tape the blade edge so that you do not cut yourself during the handle removal process.
    Removing the handle is the easy part. The best way is to grind off the peened end of the tang and place the khukuri handle down in a pot of boiling water. Make sure the whole handle is submerged, so that the laha softens thouroughly and evenly.
    it may take several boiling and pullings, but the handle will eventually come off. You can clean/scrape any leftover laha from the tang at this time.

    Then you are ready to make your handle and install it.
  4. hunglvq


    Jun 8, 2008
    Re-handling is a tough job. It requires experience. Until I work on the handle for the 3rd time, I could know what a proper handle should be.

    Nice to hear you want to retain the traditional look for the blade. It fits best with Bura's.

    Iron wood is really dense and heavy while for a Siru, you need something lighter. I dont have much experience in Cocobolo or Neem or Walnut as they are not available here. Buffalo horn is also a light material, too!

    I already bought some block of moose antler (thick dense near the animal head) but it's too heavy, as heavy as bone then I havent decided to use it for my Siru.
  5. MrMike


    Jan 22, 2006
    Jay, the handle was not up to the quality of the blade. There was a substantial divot that I tried to repair with superglue that really detracted from the quality of the blade itself. I want to do this justice as a tribute to Bura. The pommel also needs a facelift.
  6. MrMike


    Jan 22, 2006
    I'm planning on using AcraGlass as the bonding agent. Looking for tips on the best way to secure the keeper to the pommel. Thanks much for your response.
  7. oldschool45


    Oct 15, 2007
    MrMike, be careful when you remove the original and heat the end of the tang and peen the new one on the way the original one was. That statement will make more sense after you dissemble it. Here a link for nickle silver in sheet .025" http://www.knifemaking.com/product-p/an025.htm Karda was close it will be about $20 with shipping. I'd also consider maple for the handle most of the walnut I've see & used is too soft (for my liking) I'd look-up user Burl Source on here for something else. AcraGlass should be perfect for "glue up." Good luck:thumbup:
  8. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    I use Devcon epoxy with good results for holding keepers in place. I also use it for gluing in handles.
    It is not necessary to heat the tang for peening. The unhardened steel is malleable enough to cold peen, if you are careful.
    Laha works well with hot peening, as it will resolidify and still hold the handle well because it is normally worked in hot. Modern epoxys have the tendency to lose their adhesiveness when overheated and could potentially lead to handle failure.
  9. fierywind


    May 20, 2010
  10. oldschool45


    Oct 15, 2007
    Thanks Karda never occurred to me to try and cold peen steel but I do it all the time with brass & copper.
  11. Cotherion


    Aug 7, 2007
    If a handle of micarta or g10 could be made then it'll be great. Read somewhere a forumite did just that. I'd send my khuk for a rehandle if I knew who could do a proper job :)
  12. MrMike


    Jan 22, 2006
    Just got back from vacation. Thanks for all the tips, guys!
  13. MrMike


    Jan 22, 2006
    I'm making progress, but it's a long slow road with just hand tools. I'll try to post some more pictures this weekend. I've selected a piece of black American walnut and have it bored and rough shaped. I also started to work on the replacement pommel using a piece of 1/8" nickel silver. That stuff is heavy and hard to bend!!

    Question on the epoxy: I don't understand how you can get it to fill the entire bore of the handle if you have to mix it and then apply. The viscosity is too thick. If I just coat the tang and then mount the tang, it won't get in all the crevices. How do you deal with this issue and the fact that five-min quick set doesn't give you a whole lot of time to set up - and no room for errors!

    I also can't find Devcon anywhere around here. Looking for feedback - thanks.

  14. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    Get Epoxy with a longer set time..... quick set will not give you enough time to align everything properly.
    You will probably want to increase the size of the buttcap bore to provide more aligning adjustment room. It will be filled with epoxy later and won't matter.
    Always do dry fitting before glue up and try to get it perfect before putting any epoxy to use. You may need to bend the tang slightly to get things aligned.
    Make your buttcap overly large and grind away excess after epoxy has set fully.

    As for getting the epoxy in there.....

    Fully tape up the exterior of your handle and bolster so you don't get epoxy all over them.
    Apply epoxy over wood insert part of bolster and put it on.
    Using a syringe or stick or popsickle stick...etc... fill handle approximately 3/4 full of epoxy.
    Slide tang into handle. properly align them and let set. You may want to tape them in place.
    Once this is done, cut buttcap to size, drill hole and fit it and keeper in place. Epoxy them down.
    When set use a punch approximately the size of the end of the tang and peen edges over to hold everything tight.
    Trim buttcap and do final finishing and buffing.

    Doing these things with mainly hand tools sure gives you an appreciation for just what it takes to make a khukuri.
    Just putting a nice finish on can be an excercise in stamina and patience.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2011
  15. JayGoliath


    Mar 27, 2010
    Nice tip Karda!

    MrMike one handy tip:
    Soak the walnut handle into tung oil/boiled linseed oil for 1-2 weeks before you deal with the epoxy.
    It's a lot easier than having to apply coats of polish/tung oil to your lovely handle later. Do let it dry out naturally before you toy with the epoxy.

    i used a Loctite version of Quickset with 3200 PSI. At that pressure i wonder if any crevices will even escape?
    Like what Karda mentioned, fill it the interior to about 3/4 and you might want to roll along the axis so the epoxy gets around to fill in. Do that a few rounds until you are confident. I would also pour some on the tang and and insert it into the 3/4 filled interior and pull out. Repeat that with a wet towel ready as spill is certain.

    I ground the tip of tang slightly pointy before the epoxy sets in; depending on how you want to mount the exposed tang.
    You will either welt the tip to the pommel or insert a butt-cap (no pun) on it and hammer it down, one at a time so you don't introduce stress on the tang.The latter i did that to my Salyan using a table clamp. The enlarged tip now will serve as stopper for the tang.

    One thing though, Hung made the handle slightly angled (~ 10-15 deg) in such a way that when you clenched your mitts around the handle, the surface area of contact increased but the pommel doesn't eat into your wrist. I must say that's a very ergo thought of his.

    Come to think again, this is just small fraction of what the Kamis do EVERYDAY! Long live the Biswarkarma!

    Edit:Should there be any visible gap between pommel- handle-bolster, the wood dust that you sanded off could be mixed with the epoxy to fill it up. Merci Monsieur Graves.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2011
  16. bladeright


    Sep 5, 2011
    i just rehandled a kukri from another co.
    i used g10 material
    used devcon 2 ton epoxy
    ss screws to hold it together

    this was my first time to ever do this kind of work
    ill try to get pic later
  17. MrMike


    Jan 22, 2006
    Jay, I have no experience with these types of epoxies. By 3200psi, you mean the shear strength of the bond, right? Not the force required to inject it in the bore cavity. Also, do you have to premix both the base and hardener and then put it in the syringe? Or do some brands come premixed and thin enough that you can just use from the tube?

    Great point on the ergonomics on the handle. I've been planning that from the start. Both my Sher CAK and Rajkumar BAS have a graceful curve and taper from the bolster inset to the pommel flare. The trick is to not remove too much stock near the grip ring, as the width of the interior bore hole would then be exposed. That would be a disaster. If you draw a centerline from the tang, the grip is actually offset about four degrees. Luckily, Bura forged it straight, so with minimal bending I was able to insert the tang fully through the front slot and rear pommel hole while having the entire assembly line up nicely with the ricasso. My big challenge will be to file down enough wood to seat the bolster inset deep enough to allow for peen clearance on the tang point.

    Would it be best to silver solder the keeper to the pommel? Or is epoxy strong enough?
  18. JayGoliath


    Mar 27, 2010

    The 3200psi is the shear strength of the bond. Epoxy is just the modern version of the laha used by the Kamis to secure the handle onto the tang.
    The trick is to mix both base and hardener into a sludge. The version that i used has a double tip that you could squeeze them straight into a flat pan:
    You could either transfer this onto another disposable syringe that will make your life much easier and tidier (Spot on Karda!)
    squeeze both tips into the hollow part of walnut handle and spread the gunk inside with popsickle stick. Do the same to the tang and bolster as well and start assemble.
    Get your wet towel ready should any mess occur. Get organized as this epoxy is ultra-sticky. Might want to wear a safety mask if you are allergic to epoxy.

    If i remember it right this was how i did it:

    After the alignment of bolster, tang and pommel i found a large space and pre-assembled the tang with bolster.
    With the double tip of epoxy ready i applied the concoction into the bolster (squeeze both tips onto a piece of paper and mix, why? see the trick below)
    Immediately i slid the wooden handle (pre-squeeze the mix into it, don't fill it up) onto the tang and applied the remaining concoction using the the paper, rolled it into a cone shape much like what a chef do to apply topping, cut the tip off and pressed the epoxy towards the rear pommel hole.
    Repeat that to the pommel plate.

    For purist reason i don't favor the habaki bolster so i would remove the protruding steel to a min. You will then have enough space to fit into the handle.
    I would remove some steel off the back of bolster AND some wood on the inset. Compare both horn and wood handle when you are done. If it doesn't fit on the new handle how did it fit into the horn one?

    You will appreciate rehandling a stick tang, which is much difficult than that of full tang. It's about timing and alignment.:thumbup:

    Good luck and i hope you will manage to type to us again without turning your digits into a frog paw.:p
    Go Bura!
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2011
  19. MrMike


    Jan 22, 2006
    Making some serious progress on the handle and pommel. Again, this is all done by hand - with only a Dremel for polishing/grinding and a drill press for the initial bore hole in the handle. Pommel turned out very well - graceful taper made from 1/8" nickel-silver stock and silver soldered for strength. It's got some heft... at least five ounces and should provide a good counter-balance for the blade while still allowing the blade mass to be weight-forward for great hitting power.

    Next step is assembling the handle parts and final sanding to shape.

    The handle is more stout and fits my hands perfectly. The old handle was much too thin. Enjoy the pics - more to come when finished in about a month.

  20. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    It's lookin' good mike! I can't wait to see it when finished.

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