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Giving up on wa handles

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by chefcomesback, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. chefcomesback

    chefcomesback Founding Member

    I have made some wa handles , some more basic than the others with just ferrule and recently some with metal spacers etc.
    I shape them on grinder free hand then try to flatten them on my dmt xxc , then hand sanding and buffing . I don't have a disc sander , I am aware it will make things faster easier but it seems like I am spending 2-3 times more effort and time on them compared to my western handles and they still look not nearly half as good. And recently on top of that a wa handle I made for a friend came apart from ferrule
    I do like using wa handles and like the minimalistic approach to them . Any tips how to make them more efficient without buying more equipment ? I am about to give up making wa handled knifes altogether
  2. apicius9

    apicius9 Founding Member

    Sorry to hear that they are giving you trouble. But they are clearly more work than Western handles... Not sure about any short cuts, but IMHO metal pieces add much more work than they are worth and unless you use interior dowels will cause the handles to come apart.

    Wish I could help more.


    I know you don't plan on investing, but Woodcraft has a cheaper 12" disc sander that is not a precision instrument but would make life much easier for you... I think I paid around $200 for it.
  3. chefcomesback

    chefcomesback Founding Member

    Thank you very much Stefan , the handle that came apart had half inch soft wood
    dowel in it , maybe the glue joint wasn't as clean as it should be . I don't mind the investment , just don't have any space left anymore , I have a new grinder sitting on dinner table , gas forge in laundry room , my wood stash in library ...
    What bothers me most is the unevenness despite spending serious time on it
  4. apicius9

    apicius9 Founding Member

    Haha, that sounds familiar. Grinder on the dinner table is a problem - the dust kills vacuum cleaners, ask me how I know... Didn't know you were improvising that much, even more kudos to your output!

    Again, not sure what I can say. Starting the angles completely free hand definitely causes more correction work. When I started I made a small jig, really just to clamp the handle in there and have more to hold on to while sanding on the belt than just the slim handle piece. Before that I also did it by hand: I squared the pieces as good as I could, clamped them into a vise, and cut the angles with a japanese rasp. That was actually more efficient than it sounds, but won't work with anything but wood.

    Once I have the octagon angles fairly even, I move up through the sanding grits, and I constantly correct the symmetry as I go along. Not every handle I start makes it to the end, and the most common reason to throw one out is that in the attempt to correct for symmetry, in the end it has become too thin to be useful...

    I also spend a lot of time on the gluing - probably overkill, but I make sure the surfaces are all squared, then roughen them up on 60 grit sand paper, with oily woods or metal I normally then take the Dermel/Foredom and a diamond bit and Scratch the surface or drill little 'dimples' into the pieces to increase the gluing surface, then thoroughly clean everything with acetone, apply epoxy, let the epoxy set up slightly, and then assemble. Most people don't know about all these little steps that go into making them, but they do take time and effort. There may be easier ways, but we all want to do the best and stand behind what we make, so we do all these little extra things.

    One thing where you are even ahead of me is that I don't pay much attention to the pieces being even in size before I assemple them, I do all that on the sander. But cutting pieces as close as possible to the final size certainly saves time and material cost (I use way too many belts...).

    Sorry, that's all I have...

  5. chefcomesback

    chefcomesback Founding Member

    Thank you for your help Stefan , I haven't used the new grinder yet , I need to bribe my neighbour to wire in the electrics , swmbo is already giving me enough grief with the cars, being covered in ashes and sawdust , I think she will probably choke me in my sleep if I start using the grinder indoors . I have sent the picture of my set up to Cris Anderson and I have traumatised him , don't want to scare anyone else :D
  6. Your western handles looks great and I honestly don't see real reasons why you'd be sorry about doing mostly western handles. Yes, there's some percent of failed WA handles (either because of bad shaping, or splitting), but that's just normal IMO.
  7. pleue

    pleue Founding Member

    I am still really new to the whole thing but I found it infinitely less daunting to start with 1 piece handles in predictable woods like maple. I shape them on a 12 inch delta disk sander I bought used for around a hundred bucks. Chris' tutorial was incredibly helpful especially the part about using a caliper to scribe a set of # to find the center point, cut the tapers and then cut the octagonal in by making a triangle at each corner. Having the table to use as a guide to pivot off of onto the disk is far easier than anything I tried on a belt. Let me know if that makes sense but I would advocate the purchase of a disk sander.
  8. MattS

    MattS Founding Member

    Getting the angles perfect is tough, I have definitely lost more $ to wa handles than western.
  9. chefcomesback

    chefcomesback Founding Member

    Thanks for all the feedback guys , I have taken Cris Anderson's tutorial as reference but it looks like I may have to upgrade soon to a disc sander
  10. scotchef38

    scotchef38 Founding Member

  11. MotoMike

    MotoMike Founding Member

  12. chefcomesback

    chefcomesback Founding Member

    Their catalog just came in actually I was looking into that model , thank you for the heads up
  13. chefcomesback

    chefcomesback Founding Member

  14. chefcomesback

    chefcomesback Founding Member

    D style Meiji it is for me from now on I guess
  15. MotoMike

    MotoMike Founding Member

    Looks nice
  16. chefcomesback

    chefcomesback Founding Member

    Made peace with wa handles , all good for now :)

  17. Taylor

    Taylor Professional Craftsman Founding Member

  18. WarrenB

    WarrenB Contributor

  19. MattS

    MattS Founding Member

    Well done.
  20. Yeah, pretty cool handles. And the size seems to be just right. Love the tapering

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