Slippery handle problem

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Shorttime, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. Shorttime


    Oct 16, 2011
    I have a commission from a fella who wants a skinning knife. I came up with a blade shape that he's happy with. The problem is, the handle material.

    I did one with micarta, and he told me it gets very slick during the dressing process.

    Some commercial knives have a handle material made out of Santoprene, or similar material. He's used these, and found it very satisfactory.

    Santoprene is typically molded, and I have no way of doing this.

    I have been told that a low surface-tension adhesive will glue these kinds of materials to steel, but after half an hour on the phone with 3M, and four separate call transfers, they could only give me three possible adhesives that might do what I want.

    I thought of wrapping the handle in some variety of rubber stripping.

    I don't think he'll go for cord-wrap; too "mall ninja".

    At this point, I have more questions than I have answers, and I hope somebody here can help me. The color of the material and the method of attachment isn't really important, just so long as the handle stays put on the knife, and stays put in the user's hand, even when covered in "deer fluid".

    Any help?
  2. Robert Dark

    Robert Dark

    Aug 27, 2004
    Have you tried leaving a rough finish on the Micarta (i.e. 60 grit)?

    I have used Neoprene rubber on full tang knives, and have had customers tell me that it is very "grippy", even when wet. I used micarta rod as pin material and epoxied the rubber and pins on. It works best to leave at least a 220 grit finish on it, as it doesn't polish up anyway. You can get Neoprene at Texas Knife and probably other places.

    Here is a photo of one with Neoprene scales.............. Robert

  3. Jason Fry

    Jason Fry KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 5, 2008
    What about horse stall mat? I've used it a few times with good results. Finish out to 120 grit or so, nice and grippy.
  4. foxx


    Sep 5, 2010
    Lots of handle materials will get slick once covered in blood and gunk, that's an obvious statement. It's often the handle shape that helps with the grip. If if were my knife, I'd rather keep the micarta, and just put a ranger band (bicycle inner tube) over the handle for the hunting trip. Once home, it can be taken off, the handle washed, and the same rubber can be put back on for the next time around.
    I've never owned a knife with horse stall mat, but I would think that although grippy, it could be hard to sanitize?
  5. russianpolander


    May 23, 2011
    What about G-10? IMHO it is very grippy, sometimes too much so. I have a few knives that I had to smooth up the scales because of the aggressive grit to the G-10. I don't know about the addition of blood on it as I have not used any of them for deer. I have also used knives with santoprene and kraton, both are very good for wet use. Good luck.

  6. Shorttime


    Oct 16, 2011
    Yar, no problem with epoxy and Micarta.

    Problem is, epoxy doesn't glue santoprene to steel.

    JKF, Robert: what epoxy did you guys use?
  7. Robert Dark

    Robert Dark

    Aug 27, 2004
    Devcon 2-Ton. There is a whole other thread devoted to epoxies floating around somewhere. Its a good read if you don't mind getting a headache.

    Devcon has worked for me, even on Neoprene.

  8. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    A completely different kind of solution:
    How about checkering the handle?
    Armhouse likes this.
  9. Remyrw


    Jun 17, 2010
    I'd go for somehow texturing/shaping the G10 or micarta type material if you don't want to go with neoprene. Personally I prefer a solid handle to neoprene but everyone's different and it really depends on what the customer's after.
  10. tryppyr


    Feb 5, 2010
    Maybe something more aggressive than checkering... carve finger slots specifically designed for the way your customer grips the knife. That way it becomes TOTALLY customized to the customer. You'll practically be carving his fingerprints into it.
  11. elasmonut


    Feb 15, 2006
    If your gunna use some kind of rubber then you could use hollow pins and flare them to secure the slabs then the glue only has to hold the sides down
  12. Shorttime


    Oct 16, 2011
    Texturing the handle, something like what Jens Anso does, is an appealing idea. It would give more surface area for the hand/handle interface. However, an increase in surface area would only present more surface area to get slippery.

    I want to get this right, and to do that, I'm going to have to use a different material.

    A skinning knife travels through an arc during use, requiring the knife be re-gripped at regular intervals. Likewise, if the user chokes up on the blade, a handle which is too customized can actually get in the way.

    I appreciate the advice, because it would be nice to stick with Micarta. But I don't think I can manipulate it to serve my needs this time.

    Anybody know where to get some Neoprene in small lots? Say 12" x 12" x 1/4" thick?
  13. Rick Lowe

    Rick Lowe

    Jan 6, 2005
    The horse mat material is really good for staying non-slip even covered in gore or fish slime. I've made several hunters, choppers, and filet knives handled in the stuff with very good response. Like Robert, I use the Devcon 2 ton epoxy with corby bolts or flared tubing.
  14. Shorttime


    Oct 16, 2011
    Looks like we have a winner. Thanks, guys!
  15. thegeek574


    Sep 3, 2010
    I will warn you, stall mat is uglier than sin. this had better be a working knife.
  16. Shorttime


    Oct 16, 2011
    It's a working knife, all right. The first time I met the guy who commissioned the knife, I almost missed him, he blended into his office so well! Flannel shirt, camo Dekalb ballcap, work boots. He's also my heat treater. I don't think he'll care, as long as it works.

    It's also a guthook knife, which, personally, I think is ugly as sin!

    But that's just me...
  17. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 6, 2000
    An electric engraving pencil will add a very grippable surface to Micarta. You can even do it in patterns, and you can do it on any material-even steel.
    All for less than $20, and a little practice.
  18. Kunklec


    Aug 21, 2006
    I have made a number of knives with horsestall mat handles. It is made from shredded tires. Very grippy, but not soft. I used a guard and pommel on these knives to make sure the rubber stayed in place. Used acra-glas epoxy, stainless pins and no finer than 220 grit, usually 120. While it is not as nice as ironwood, it is very stable, like a tire! Put in a palm swell and you have a handle that is comfy in any position. I bought a large mat at Tractor Supply for about $40, about 4/8 feet, enough to make a lot of blades.
    Chip Kunkle

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