A few weeks ago a lady brought me two knives that her father had made for her many years ago. She really liked them because they are really nice knives to use. They are similar to cleavers although not as heavy as a traditional cleaver. The problem was that the handles kept coming loose.
It turns out that the handles were fitted by heating the pointed tang of the knives (the bit that goes into the handle) and then forcing the hot steel into the wooden handle.
I found the problem with both knives was that the tang was not anchored in any way in the handles. In both cases the tangs were very short and unsubstantial – only extending about two centimetres or less into the handles. The leverage effect of using them eventually caused the handles to come loose and they had to continually be forced back into the handles. This went on until they were only good for a minute or two of use before the handles parted company with the blades.
With the first one, the larger of the two, I took the approach of extending the tang with a length of eight millimetre threaded rod that I welded onto it. I then carefully drilled through the length of the handle and slid the handle down over the now extended tang until the threaded rod protruded out of the back of the handle.
The threaded rod was then cut to allow about ten millimetres to protrude through the end of the handle after which a washer was fitted and a domed nut was screwed onto the thread.
The original, handmade, handle was now firmly attached to the blade with no chance of it coming loose.
After sharpening the blade I sprayed the handle with a couple of coats of varnish.
The smaller of the two knives was next and I took a slightly different approach with this knife. Instead of extending the tang I cut the blade back about a centimetre effectively giving it a longer tang and a slightly shorter blade. I then made a cut across the width of the handle where the blade was to fit and, after heating the tang I forced it into the handle so that the width of the blade would also extend inside the handle for about a centimetre.
The next step was to drill two five millimetre holes through the handle and the part of the blade seated inside the handle and fit two brass machine screws and nuts. This did not turn out to be as neat an operation as I had hoped but it was a workmanlike solution.
Once again I sharpened the blade (another service that I offer) and varnished the handle.
The owner was very pleased with the results and that she could now use both her knives.