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Instructions for Blades Using Pinned Bolsters and Pinned Handles

"Pinning" is one of the oldest and most traditional ways to attach your handle slabs to a full tang knife blade. The basic concept is that you drive a brass or stainless steel pin through both knife handle slabs with the full tang blade in between, thus locking the blade and handles in place, adding strenght and durability. Typically, once you get the pins in place, the pins are then glued in place and peined down with a ball pein hammer, causing the exposed part of the pin to mushroom out over the handle.

The guide below are some basic instructions on how you can pin your full tang blade to handle slabs.

Before you start this project, be sure to select materials and tools required for your project and read the procedure carefully before beginning.

Materials & Tools You'll Need


  1. Cover sharp edge of blade with masking tape. This will protect you and the blade.
  2. Using 220 grit sandpaper, sand the bolsters flat, removing any burrs that may exist on the side, make sure they will fit neatly against the tang of the blade.
  3. Fit bolsters by aligning the pin holes in the bolsters and blade. Pin the bolsters to the blade making sure pins protrude equally on both sides. Make sure bolsters are tight against the blade on each side.
  4. Clamp bolsters to blade. It is important that the bolsters remain tight against the blade during pinning. Pein the pins by placing firmly on anvil. Pein one side then the other, alternating sides until pin has swelled sufficiently inside the hole assuring a very tight fit. NOTE: While peining, check frequently to make sure the bolsters do not slip and that they remain tight against the blade. As you work down the bolster, the metals will mesh and you will not be able to see the pins at all. The bolster will appear to be one piece.
  5. Mark the side of your handle material that will fit next to tang being careful to match any color patterns that your material may contain. Mark end of each piece that will fit against bolster.
  6. Fit handle material to bolster by filing and sanding until you have a good square fit with NO GAPS or lines showing. Do both pieces.
  7. Lay blade on handle material carefully making sure it lays squarely and tightly against bolster. Scribe outline of blade onto handle, (you may want to clamp first so that handle will not slip.) Repeat with second piece of handle material using opposite side of the tang.
  8. Leaving slightly oversize, remove excess handle material with jewelers saw, belt sander or other means available. DO NOT OVERGRIND.
  9. Using 200 grit sandpaper, sand the handle material flat on the side that will fit against tang of blade. Sand tang of blade with same paper. This will remove any foreign material and assure a good adhesion of blade to handle material.
  10. Carefully attach one (1 ) piece of handle material to tang of blade with epoxy. Make sure the handle material is centered properly and that it fits perfectly against bolster with no gaps. Clamp and allow epoxy to set. You may want to allow drying overnight.
  11. Using pin holes in blade as a template, drill these holes with the proper drill bit. Be sure to drill in center of holes, drill slowly and carefully so you will not splinter handle material, (a drill press is best if available.) EXTREME CAUTION is advised when using your blade as a pattern for drilling holes. Be sure the blade and handle materials are clamped securely and the blade is protected with tape to help protect the operator from being cut or otherwise inijured if the drilling operation trys to twist or grab the work out of the vise.
  12. OPTIONAL THONG HOLE: If you wish to use a thong hole, drill this hole using blade hole as template.
  13. Repeat step 11 using second piece of handle material.
  14. Drill holes for pins and thong hole (if desired) as in steps 12 & 13 using holes through handle material as guides. Holes must be drilled straight and properly centered for pins to fit correctly.
  15. Insert pins through holes drilled in handle material. It may be necessary to polish your pins and thong hole tubing with emery cloth to assure they will slide in and out of the holes easily. They should be snug, but not tight enough to risk cracking the wood when pushing in or out.
  16. Mix a small amount of epoxy. Roll pins and thong hole tubing (if installing) in epoxy. Insert pins in holes. Allow to dry until set. Excess pin material will be sanded off when shaping and buffing handle.
  17. You are now ready to shape your bolster and handle into one. Power tools such as belt sanders and Dremel tools with sanding drums aid greatly in speeding up the shaping and roughing work. However final hand shaping and sanding produce the best results. Using a file, a half-round second-cut works great, shape your handle and bolster to desired shape, fitting to your hand. Sand with sandpapers, finishing with a 600 grit wet-dry. If a polished look is desired, buff with a muslin wheel and a white rouge.
  18. Remove masking tape, clean and sharpen your knife to a keen edge.


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