Tips, Tricks, & Useful Finds(FAQs too)

May 18, 1999
Yvsa said:
I knew I had another oil finish but didn't realize it was the Watco brand finish and I happily discovered it to be all right so I'm using it on the FF's handle.
It has always worked well in the past. but I don't know how it would be for horn handles. It is a very thin solution that's not overly sticky like the Tru-Oil and the Formby's so it might penetrate well into horn as it -is- a penetrating oil.
Posting this thread link so the information on the WATCO horn treratment won't be lost....

Arty updates the thread every so often with the continued results of his treating horn handles with the WATCO.:D
Thanks Arty.:D
May 16, 2002
At Nasty's request, I moved this here for the benefit of all...

Ferrous' stacked leather handle process...

I have done such a handle on a swedish laminated steel blade and two hunting knives. It is quite easy, and if cured properly with beeswax (or beeswax-paraffin mix) it will feel warm, and grippy always.

First, remove the existing handle pieces. We'll be able to reuse the buttcap if we cut the leather accordingly. Cut the tang longer to be nearer the cho, as you mention.

Get some "cow butt" leather, at least 1/8th to 1/4 inch thick. (the thicker you use the less cutting you have to do). Compress the leather by hammering the sheet of it for a bit, or wet it first then hammer to compress.

Now on most leather handles, there is no really big diff in the leather washer diameter, but on the khuk you might want the butt to flare. These thinngs should be considered when you're planning this. Also consider diffs in tang shape and thickness, and how the holes in the leather washers must be made to fit according to their placement on the tang.

Now use pen/pencil to mark the oval outlines of the leather washers on the leather sheet. Plan for bigger washers, oversized, because we will remove excess leather during the shaping process. I don't even draw and cut ovals, because the leather is easier to cut into rectancles or octagons (rectangle with the corners cut off)

After the outlines are cut, cut or drill the tang holes in the center of the washers. cut smaller than you need to, as you want a tight fit. If you have some variance in the sizes of the leather washers on purpose (you will, especially where the tang changes thickness), then number the washers so you can recall the correct assembly order.

After all parts of the leather are rough cut, you are almost ready for assembly. Here I will recommend that you make two brass/copper/etc (metal) washers, one for the bolster, and one for the buttcap (if you will resue the old buttcap, then you just need to make the bolster one). These washers hold the leather washers in place and help to maintain/equalize compression.

Assembly is best done with the blade clamped point-downward in a vise.
To assemble, drop on the bolster washer, followed by the first leather washer. use pliers whose jaws fit around the tang, and hammer the pliers down to seat the washer snugly. repeat until all of the washers are tightly seated. leave at least a 1/4 inch of tang visible for peening.

Now, add the buttcap, and using a ball-peen hammer (the peening=rounded end) strike glancing blows from the center of the tang pin to the outside of the pin. You should get the feel of the metal 'mushing' out and down, and should see some mushrooming as you work from center to outside and down all the way arond the tang. When the assembly all feels tight, give the peened tang-end a whap with the flat head of the hammer. (NOTE: Although we are using roughly shaped leather disks, you may need to make one that is close to finished shape to fit properly under the pen knife cap)

Now for the final parts...
Now, you'll have this rough stack of compressed leather for a handle. To shape it, I use a sharp knife and roughly 'whittle' the desired shape. You can also use sandpaper, files, rasps, belt sanders, grinders, etc for shaping.

After shaping, there is one final step that needs to be done--a process caller Cuir Bolli--which involves brushing beeswax on the leather (or immersing the leather handle in beeswax). This will make the handle weatherproof and chem resistant, and will tighten the handle up. What happens is the heated wax opens the pores in the leather, and it rushes in to fill these spaces. This causes the leather to expand slightly, which adds to to tightness fo the assembly.

I use standard beeswax (a readily available by-product from the honey industry--check your local beekeeper), but have a buddy who adds 1 part paraffin to 2 parts beeswax, for extra stiffness.

Heat the wax (keep away from open flame!) so that it is all melted, but doin't boil it. then, either immerse the whole handle in the wax or brush it onto the handle. Once the handle seems totally saturated (will have a coat of wax visible on the leather), put your oven on its lowest setting and then put the piece in the oven on a cookie sheet or tin foil. This additional and even heat will open the leather pores a bit more, then will suck in the extra beeswax. when you see more runoff of wax then absorbtion, use a paper towel to remove the excess wax. when it dries and hardens, it can be poished up a bit if desired.

The key to this precedure is Compression! Tightness of the assembly is a must in every stage.

Mar 26, 2002
Deacidification of leather

The tanning process usually leaves leather with a low pH value (i.e. high acidity).
This is all right as long as the value does not fall below pH 3; anything lower will certainly have a negative effect on the leather.
When this happened the leather was 'deacidified', that is to say, the pH value was raised.
To achieve this the book was placed in a closed area, over a small tray containing ammonia (15%), and left for 15 minutes.
A potassium lactate solution of 7% has also been used to neutralise the sulphuric acid in the leather.
Mar 26, 2002
Diamond-tip rotary engraver.

[( see also 'better' items
#2 4-cell engraver $7, &
#3 4-cell Dremal $20 )]

Another surprising find at the "everything's only $1" store.
Excellent for light/fine etching/engraving of any surface --
metal, horn, wood, glass,.......
Used it to route out the top of a small windshield crack
before repair 'glue' would penetrate.
Carved out the rough edge around a buttcap.
Cleaned up a rough spot inside a handle-ring.

Used with a very light touch or it binds up.
The advantage for me is the slow progress let's my
clumsy fingers avoid deep gouges when I slip.
This is for fine, delicate work;
not for heavy carving.
Real diamond tip abrades edge of carbide scraper.
(industrial diamond abrasive not really that expensive)
Runs (so far) over 1-hour on 2-AA batteries.
Push button On as long as it's pushed.
Whole thing the size of a 2-AA Micro-light flashlight.
I did have to add a drop of CA adhesive to keep the bit
from spinning loose from the plastic sleeve/chuck
that it mounts in.

[[BTW--July 2004
I found this same item at Big Lots for $6;
And again at Harbor Freight,
with 2 extra bits included in a plastic box kit; for $15.]]

This $1.00 item is nice because of its maximum portability,
and way low price,


I found a smaller handpiece corded to a 4-"AA" battery pack
[from Big Lots store "Easy Marker Engraver" by "Hobby Shop {tm}"]
Slide switch On/Off, single speed
handpiece marginally smaller than #1 above,
but much lighter & better, much more comfortable shape
6' cord with belt clip on small battery pack (smaller than a deck of cards)
The extra batteries make a big difference in power
The unit does not get stuck on steel (better than #1)
at any firmness I'm likely to use--(remembering
it is -not- a 'grinder', but a light carver/engraver.)
I say it's well worth $6 for anyone to have one at hand.

Dremal makes a small, more powerful battery-run rotary tool,
(about $20, "Golf Cleaning Kit")
it is a little heavier & bulkier than this $1 engraver;
but has a small chuck for changing bits
& runs on 4 AA alkaline cells.
2 speeds Lo/Hi

Haven't tried the Dremal myself.

Alternate 1/8" bits are cheap cheap cheap
(10-20 pieces $5-$10)
as bulk 2nds at lots of discount tool stores,
in many size/shape points.
(use rechargable NiMH AA cells for maximum cost saving.
The cells & chargers can be found both very expensive
& very reasonably priced.
The important # is the mAh rating.
AA cells now should be 2000mAh rating or higher;
some older ones may be as low as 1200mAh.
Rapid-chargers cost a lot more than overnight chargers.)

(Alkaline cells are only better for long-term slow-drain applications
or long-term (1-year) storage in flashlight or such.
They also get -very- expensive, very fast.)

(Nickel-Cadmium batteries are old school,
I can't think of any use that NiMh doesn't do better.)

(if you go to rotary tools that plug into the wall
you're into an entirely different set of tools.
prices ranging from $15 to $200 and more.)


Mar 8, 1999
Unsticking this thread to put another ( having potentially serious conseqences if disregarded ) in it's place.

Dean, can you pick it up from here and add a link to it as with others?
Oct 18, 2003
It seems to have worked. The Watco stopped the shrinkage of the horn, and there are no new cracks.
As I recall, I let the Watco soak in for a couple of hours on the first treatment. I used 3 days of Watco treatments for one Khuk and 4 for the other. I recommend following the recommendations on the can for 4 days of treatment. It can not hurt to let the stuff soak in for some time the first day.
I cleaned off wax with a solvent (Formby's wax remover) and then used 2000 grit paper to lightly clean the surface before starting to use the Watco Danish Oil - plain.


Mar 8, 1999
Dean: I mean add a link below your signature line to the Tips, Tricks, and Useful Finds thread.


Chief Cook & Bottle Wash
Nov 11, 2003
I agree...append the new troll, I mean safety testing to the safety thread if you must, but please put this back topside where it belongs?

May 18, 1999
Oops. meant this thread to be put back as a sticky, not the short one with the same title and no information.:rolleyes: Doh!:grumpy:
Mar 26, 2002
Another '$1 store' find

A fabric water-bowl intended for travel with your dog.
Approximately 1-quart size.
Heavy sewed fabric leaks slowly with liquids,
but anything dry is fair game.

Throw one in the tool-chest for a catch-all.
One by the door for change, keys, whatever.

Toss in a handful of nails or bolts or what-have-you
to carry to where it's needed.
Use one to keep your batteries from rolling around.
Fill one with sand and make a zen-garden.
Use in the garden for collecting or planting, wet-carry.

A handy place to put all the screws & bits & other small odds & ends
that accumulate as I work.

Looks similar to this one:
Mar 26, 2002
I ought to call this thread "the dollar store thread".

Reading glasses at the everything's $1 store--

Useful for anyone who needs to do close work
and needs just a little (or a lot) of magnification.
A lot easier to wear than the visor style magnifiers
that many tool stores sell.

Magnification commonly available varies from 1.25 to about 3.0
[1.25, 1.50, 1.75, 2.00, 2.25,.........]

Easy to try out in the store,
just put them on and look at your fingertips
Focus distance gets closer with increasing power #.

works well as closeup lens for a camera in a pinch
only problem is holding it in place
unless you do a little rigging.
Mar 26, 2002
And the $1 store again.

Small strong magnets
for whatever reason you want small strong magnets:
sticking knives to the metal plate in your head
holding down paper to metal

found a 'magnet stick' toy--
about 15 sticks with a tiny magnet in each end (total 30)
and about 8 pea-size steel balls

magnetic earrings --
a dozen to a card, so 24 small magnets total.
Strong for their size.

Best find in the past was a magnetically mounted
cell phone hanger/mount.
A -strong- 3/4-in neodynium magnet in each.
A lot cheaper than the $4-5 each + shipping price
that I could find on ebay at the time.
Mar 26, 2002
Precious Metal Clay

metal powder, in a binder that burns away when fired (heated)
form as with clay
no mold required
The metal is slightly porous after the binder disappears,
so not as strong as 'solid' metal


Basic Member
Nov 26, 2002
AS WELL AS, if you follow Colin KC's 'I am not left handed' link in his signature, the entire screenplay to "The Princess Bride". He's in the 'Mosaic Pins' sticky thread.

(Well, maybe not useful, but cool.)
Mar 26, 2002
-------For dispensing liquids----
use a pump-type soap dispenser
found in bathroom or kitchen departments.
Some work better than other for thicker or thinner liquids;
oils, waters, solvents.
Some are more durable than others.

Also any sort of 'squirt' bottles;
such as dish soap and other products come in.

Every container
Every time
in an unmistakable manner

A zip tie around a container indicates to my family
that whatever it is, I need to be reminded to put it away.

-------For dispensing powders----
Use salt/pepper/spice shakers
A lid or tape to seal the holes
may be required if the the powder is hydroscopic.
A little rice or silica gel may prevent clumping,
as with salt shakers.

Every container
Every time
in an unmistakable manner

I prefer to use orange or other bright color for the zip tie,
which can also be used to hold a tie-on label.
Otherwise I use a very bold permanent marker
either on the container or on white cloth tape
wrapped around the container twice
to prevent it coming loose.
Sometimes all three--
just in case.
Native XF ad, Below bottom BC