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Looking for Handle Remod Tips and Material Resources

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

  1. roninsgrips


    Nov 19, 2011
    MrMike, you are gifted!

    I'm new to the forum so I read this for the first time. Are you still looking for Devcon epoxies? I'd recommend the industrial versions as they have a lot of different formulations plus they tell you about their qualities. A lot of epoxies will withstand up to 300-400F before they "let go" though they may start to soften earlier. One thing to consider is their ability to with stand shock and not "sugar". Cheap consumer epoxies often are the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality - they may look and smell like epoxy but the similarities end there. When you say "epoxy" it is a very general vague term and getting the right one for the mission at hand takes some reading. If the epoxy is too cheap other than to provide some vague PSI statistic, I'd recommend avoiding it.

    I've used Brownell's Acraglass for a number of projects involving firearms and it seems very durable. I know they did a lot of homework before they settled on whatever it is they use and you pay for it.

    In terms of DevCon, here's the manufacturer's site: http://www.devcon.com/products/products.cfm?brand=Devcon&cat=Epoxies and I am just listing this as an FYI.

    Most of my experience is with their metal repair products and I use their plastic steel and aluminum putties and liquid a fair amount. A lot of guys will use one of these to bed rifles because they withstand shock very well.
    http://www.devcon.com/products/products.cfm?brand=Devcon&family=Plastic SteelĀ® Liquid (B)

    In terms of surface prep, rough and clean are better. A liquid epoxy will soak into the wood pores pretty well from what I have seen. I am assuming the tang is rough and/or has holes. If you hit it with 60 grit sandpaper that will help with bonding. In terms of clean, use acetone or brake cleaner - you want to make sure all grease and oils are gone including from your hand.

    Now, you can buy this stuff relatively inexpensively from industrial supply houses like Enco, MSC, etc.
    For example, Enco has a 1 pound container, which is actually quite a bit, for $32.98 (make sure you get the liquid).

    Hope this helps give you some ideas. There are a lot of epoxies on the market.

    Also, let me give you a broad generalization - the longer the epoxy takes to initially set (what they call working time or pot life) and then cure fully, not only do you have more working time but the stronger it is. Sure 90sec, 5 min or 10 min epoxies can be nifty when in a rush fixing something simple but for really strong stuff, look at 12-24 hours and look at both the pot/working life as well as the cure time. The pot/working life is important because you need enough time to apply it and position everything.

    By the way, take the time in advance to build something to hold things in place firmly while everything cures - don't leave work holding to chance - especially looking at all the time you've invested in your handle. You want it held together with all the angles right vs finding out it is crooked the next morning when it is too late. Let me stress this - once the epoxy cures, there isn't a very pretty way to get it off and then get as good of a bond as you would have had if it had been done right the first time so you want to make really, really, really sure you get everything right the first time including very thorough mixing, surface preparation, work holding, etc.

    Hope this helps some.
  2. roninsgrips


    Nov 19, 2011
    BTW, it just dawned on me that I better tell you the steel and aluminum devcon products are grey. They are not clear or brownish. You can add a bit of powered tempra paint to epoxies to get turn them black, etc. With a grey base, you are stuck with grey or darker tones.
  3. MrMike


    Jan 22, 2006
    Thank you, Karda - I appreciate all of the tips from everyone. This has been a really fun project with a ton of learning thrown in to the mix - I would love to make Bura proud of the effort.
  4. MrMike


    Jan 22, 2006
    Great insight. I've been kicking around various epoxies and cure times for the past month while completing the handle. I'm sure this will be my most challenging effort - If I mess it up - it's all for naught.
    I'm settling on AcraGlass for the bore/tang and a strong 3200psi fast cure (5-min) for the front bolster and pommel. The reasons:

    1. AcraGlass - from what I read - pours like syrup after it's mixed. It's imperative that it fill every cavity in the bore and eliminate dead space. The caveat is that with a two-hour cure time, I don't want the blade shifting where it meets the bolster. That would produce gaps where the bolster is supposed to be flush. Rigging this with silver-solder afterwards is a hack.

    2. Bolster and pommel: Has to set within minutes. Devcon is a good choice for the cure time. It cannot shift or slip or it's a complete re-do.

    Another challenge: The pommel has to seat on the handle butt flare with NO GAPS. I am carefully.... very carefully filing down the profile of the handle flare and the pommel to ensure a perfect fit. I've even recessed a groove in the pommel so the wood will seat without gaps... adding wood putty after the fact would be subpar.

    Thanks much for the tips!!
  5. JayGoliath


    Mar 27, 2010

    You have some serious skills Bra!
  6. roninsgrips


    Nov 19, 2011
    With liquid epoxies you slowly drizzle it in. This is where a longer working life can be a plus. You mix it in paper or plastic cups per instructions. Do a second pour into a new cup, scraping the sides of the old one plus one last round of mixing. You slowly drizzle (tiny stream) the epoxy into the hole. Be sure to understand how long you have. 5 minutes to cure may not mean you have 5 minutes to work. Brownell's tech support is really good and is part of what you are paying for when you buy their products. If you have any questions, you can call them. They also sell small packages of dye to change the color of the epoxy *while* you are mixing it (not after it has cured) if you want.

    For any fast cure, it will eventually break down sooner than the longer cure products like Acraglass and Devcon. It's a bit of a shortcut. Even with a 5 minute epoxy you will need to be very careful to position and hold the work, ideally with fixtures, to avoid anything shifting.

    BTW, lacquer thinner works really well to clean up epoxy until it cures. A razor blade works really well while the epoxy is still soft.

    Look forward to seeing the results. The wood really looks nice.
  7. MrMike


    Jan 22, 2006
    Ok, more testing.... more research today. I've pretty much come to the conclusion that there is a chance that quick-set epoxies can break down over time. Even Devcon. After 5-10 years I don't want the buttplate or bolster to come loose. Acraglass appears to excel in this area with zero shrinkage or reduction in holding power. HOWEVER - I am concerned that Acraglas is very runny - the consistency of syrup from what I read - How am I supposed to keep this in place on the buttplate without it running all over the place - even when clamped until it sets with a two-hour set time? Duct tape and clamps only do so much.

    Not concerned about the tang/bore hole. Acraglas is designed for that purpose. Any insight?
  8. arbiter


    Jun 4, 2011
    Try JB weld(slow set) on the buttplate.Very strong epoxy-comes in 2 small toothpaste type tubes,mix,apply and wait 24 hours and you will have a rock solid set.
  9. bladeright


    Sep 5, 2011
    i rehandled a full tang 3 rivet kukri from another co and used some of devcons 2 ton 24hr epoxy.

    it all fit together nice and easy. kept in vise and used screws to go back together.

    i need to do some chopping with it, but its way more solid now
  10. Duzzy


    Sep 1, 2009
    I just saw this thread, but if you choose to use a more viscous epoxy there was a neat video on here somewhere. The man warmed the epoxy up, then scooped it with a straw, and used the straw to direct the epoxy where he wanted within the knife's handle.
  11. roninsgrips


    Nov 19, 2011
    MrMike, I don't think any epoxy will last forever as an adhesive, but if you do a good job at surface prep and making sure the epoxy has plenty to hold on to mechanically, you will be in pretty good shape. What I mean by this is that besides a joint from the adhesive properties, you want to enable mechanical locking as well. Imagine a tang that is perfectly smooth going into a smooth cylinder. In that case, only the "glue" is holding it in place through adhesion. Scenario two - take a tang with holes, slots, grooves, or whatever and then put it into a handle with recessed areas and rough surfaces. In that case you not only have adhesion but also the mechanical bond of a relatively strong solid that is tightly fit into areas that it can't get free from. In other words even if the adhesive lets go, the mechanical lock would still be in place.

    The reinforced epoxies will be the strongest. JB Weld isn't too bad but is a lot of hype. Devcon metal repair products such as the ones I mentioned in the other post are very strong. Acraglass is proven too.

    Another option for you, maybe, is to use cross rivets vs. epoxy or the two in combination if you are really concerned.

    Do you have a vise? What if you clamp the blade vertically in the vise and after pushing the blade down into the handle that is sitting on a box/chair/support of some type? Use levels to make sure it is perfectly plumb. Use the triangular hardwood shims that are used in carpentry and floors to make sure everything is plumb.

    If your garage is cold, use a flood light or space heater to ensure the knife stays at or above 60F. I think the minimum may be 50 but anywhere from 60-100 ought to be okay. The warmer it is the faster it cures. Some epoxies can be too warm,cure too fast and crack so look at their recommended working temperature.

    BTW, these are all details. To me, making that handle and pommel were the hardest parts and you aced them.

    One last story - I have a general purpose axe - maybe 5-6 pounds. It kept coming off the handle. I filled it with relatively cheap, but name brand, DevCon or LocTite epoxy from Ace - the kind in a plastic syringe. It must be at least 5-8 years later and a fair amount of use and that axe head has never budged. Moral of the story - rough surfaces are good. Most brand name epoxies are pretty tough. I didn't want you to overly agonize over this but just wanted you to think the epoxy you choose through.

    I think Acraglass or Devcon Steel will do the job for you. If it were me, I'd use either one. I have used both and they are quality products that tradespeople use every day. In terms of keeping it together, figure out how to hold the knife in a vise or cobble some fixture together in 3/4" plywood.
  12. roninsgrips


    Nov 19, 2011
    BTW, I'd be real curious to see laha first hand some day. I'm curious what it is really close too in terms of commercial adhesives.
  13. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    The closest thing i've seen to it is the black JB Weld putty. Laha holds better, But JB weld smells nicer......
  14. roninsgrips


    Nov 19, 2011
    I can't begin to imagine it :)
  15. arbiter


    Jun 4, 2011
    Hype or not, JB weld slow set is very strong and durable.And unlike Devcon syringe type epoxies will not become brittle with age.
  16. roninsgrips


    Nov 19, 2011
    arbiter, JB Weld is definitely strong in part because it is reinforced with metal - iron powder if I recall right - and from personal use, it seems like they use good components. I've repaired car parts and even bedded a rifle with their Industroweld product. I guess I am parrotting what more experienced (than me anyways) guys have told me about it in regards to hype and performance relative to the industrial Devcon metal repair products.

    With Devcon, I am referring to their industrial metal repair products specifically. I have used a fair amount of the consumer grade Devcon epoxy and it's not too bad but it's not reinforced either. I'd hazard a guess that JB weld would hold up better than most unreinforced epoxies alone, but that's a best guess on my part.
  17. arbiter


    Jun 4, 2011
  18. MrMike


    Jan 22, 2006
    When I was cleaning out the excess laha from the interior of the bolster with a dremel and small wire wheel brush, it would heat up and partially melt, then instantly solidify after I removed the dremel. I've never seen anything like it. This is TOUGH STUFF and shows that the old ways are grounded in the mentality of "if it works don't fix it." It shows the amazing ingenuity of the Nepali Kamis.

    I ended up having to boil the bolster in an old pot for about twenty minutes until the sludge broke loose and floated to the surface. The debris looked like old, ratty wine cork shreds encased in tar. It stunk to high heaven and my wife has questioned this project ever since! :)
  19. crimsonfalcon07


    Dec 27, 2010
    I'm glad you threw in that last post. I was seriously considering a rehandle project with one of my cocobolo boards. Although I might just rehandle one of the full tang ones, because that would be easier.
  20. davidf99

    davidf99 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    I think this is the second time cocobolo has been mentioned in this thread.

    I've worked with cocobolo. It's beautiful wood with many fine properties. However, people should be aware that cocobolo is one of the more toxic woods out there, so be extra careful with the dust produced by cutting or sanding this stuff. Obviously it's bad to inhale any wood dust, but with cocobolo you don't even want to get the dust on your skin.

    It's never bothered me personally, but I typically work on small projects and for short periods of time. One of the staff at MacBeath Hardwood got some of the dust on his arms while resawing cocobolo boards. He told me that it gave him a skin rash that had lasted six months and was still hanging on. I never saw him again. That sounds ominous, but I only go to MacBeath two or three times a year and staff people do move on.

    There's a web site whose URL I can't find at the moment that lists many varieties of wood with their toxicities. Cocobolo is way up there with the worst. I think ebony -- another of my favorites -- might also be pretty bad.

    [Added later] The toxicity URL is:


    Here is a knifeforums URL that discusses the issue and corroborates my impressions:


    Both sources point out that people can develop allergies to cocobolo, after which it becomes dangerous to work with other rosewood varieties, which would be a real bummer.

    I don't mean to be alarmist; just be very careful if you work with cocobolo.

    -- Dave
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011

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