problem with wood

Mar 28, 2001
I have been having trouble getting the wood handles to stay completely glued to the tang.
I am roughing up the tang and wood before glueing. I am using a spacer obtained from Texas Knife Supply and it keeps coming alose in areas between the spacer and metal. I started using the long set epoxy and got the same results. I'm fixing to try one with out the spacer material and see what happens. I'm using some maple and walnut that is not "stabilized" but it should be cured enough not to move around. I also thought I was mashing all the glue out when I clamped after glueing. Did not help when I clamped just enough to hold together. It's getting to be a pain. I end up with a nice job and 3 to 4 days later I start seeing cracks between the spacer and blade. Can't sell nothing like that.
Any one have any sugestions?? And can someone describe what stabilized wood is and what it takes to get it that way?
I appreciate the help. I have already picked up some good info thru the forum.
Thank you and take care.
You didn't say if you used pins or not,but my guess would be that you didn't clean the tang and spacer beforehand.I wipe down the tang with acetone,alcohol,or mineral spirits.Fingers can leave alot of oil.If you are not using pins you should still drill some holes in the tang and some shallow holes in the wood to help holding.Dave
I agree, You must clean everything,and after you get everything clamped together, forget about it til the next day. you may also be geting air bubbles in your epoxy mix, try mixing slow. Good Luck.

Tim Duncan
I have had some trouble with maple .It seems to expand or contract with heat.Super glue will fill in the small gaps.Every time I try a slower epoxy the handle doesn't stay on. I use 5 min on everything.It has more adhesion.
Soak the handle material in Min-Wax wood hardener for a couple days even if you can't vacumn.That will stabilize some and seal the pores.
Works for me. email me if you want more info
Take Care
TJ Smith

[This message has been edited by TJ Smith (edited 04-22-2001).]
I do wip both parts with acetone before gluing. I also have had it happen using pins and bolts. You gave me an idea about the epoxy. I would of thought that the slow curing stuff would have more strength. I'll try the fast stuff again. You may also have been right about maple and temp changes. Seems it doesn't happen until I have the knives in my truck for a few days.
As always, thank you for the help.
Take care,
Yeah try the wood hardener it does seem to help. I haven't tried soaking a handle in water as a test but they don't seem to grow or shrink as much.I tried clamping a scale on with some 20 min epoxy and had to pullit off to re align it it came right off.
i tried the same thing with 5 min. it took some pulling.David Boye uses 5 min if it's good enough for him it'll work for me
Take Care
TJ Smith
How old is your epoxy?; old epoxy can be a problem. I'll also tell you that even a tiny bit of WD-40 simply ruins the efectivness of SOME epoxy materials such as (fishing) rod maker's epoxy. They (rod makers) won't even have a can of the stuff in the same room as where they do their glueing.

regards, Mitch
It may be an idea to check to see it your tangs and handle scales are really flat before glueing.Spacers will not take up any space and once the glue dries you see a space. Stay with it and I'm sure you will find an answer. Frank.
Try this,Put your wood in the truck for a couple of days before you are going to put it on the knife,this way it has to swell before it can shrink and thus swell and fill those nasty gaps that are caused by it shrinking first.I have this problem in the winter time with some of my materials,when I bring the finished knife into the house after it is finished and the pins raise (the handle shrinks some) so I started bringing the handle material into the house for a few days brfore tha knife is completed and the problem went away...
Your problem may be like mine where the air is very humid and so is the shop but the house isn't,so you are not fully drying the handle material.

Bruce Evans Handcrafted Knives
The soul of the Knife begins in the Fire!!!!!
Member of,AKTI#A000223 and The American Bladesmith Society
I appreciate the help. Going to keep working at it. I think I understand why many like the micarta now,,,,But I do like looking at that pretty grain.
Take care,
I'll tell you what works for me:

First, send your wood to Mike Ludeman at Wood Stabilizing Specialist's Int'l. Mike will REALLY stabilize your wood, and the benefits far outweigh the cost (I am glad to say I was able to meet Mike face to face last week-end at the Oregon show, he is a great guy to do business with!

I can appreciate these guys that are trying to save money or whatever...but if you care about your time, your health, and the finished product, send it to Mike.

Once you get it back, sand it either on a disc, a 6X48 or something similar. Then check it with a piece of precision ground steel or glass to make sure it's flat.

Now super-glue your liner material to the flat side of the material. Then put it liner down on a piece of waxed-paper, and that on top of a piece of precision ground plate. Clamp it all down. Let it sit for a while...

When you get to the point that you have your tang outlined on the scales, drill small holes on the inside surface of the scales. Drill through the liner and into the wood.

This way, the liner and wood will have a lot of surface area that is being held onto by the epoxy.

I have had the best results with the epoxy from K&G. I wouldn't use 5 minute epoxy, it doesn't have the long-term strength that a slow cure does.

This is just how I do it. You can take it or leave it as you like

There has been a thread somewhere recently about people having long-term trouble with epoxy and moisture, on serious working knives. Several people have gone to Brownell's acraglass as the only thing that would stand up to heavy use (fillet knife, say) for the long term. Just an aside, doesn't help for this situation.