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Complementary page on The handle

Making Handles On Throwing Knives

By: Matthew Rapaport

June, 1977

Most of the handle materials used on factory production, handmade, and custom knives, will not withstand the abusive vicissitudes of throwing. Handle material will crack, crush, splinter, and loosen when held by pins, bolts, or epoxy. There are *some* materials like Kraton and other rubbers that will withstand repeated lateral impacts. These materials are frequently used to surround the tang rather than be slabbed onto it as is the case with every handled throwing knife I have seen. Eventually there may be some slab-handled throwing knives using some of this, though the matter of rugged attachment must still be addressed.

Throwing knife makers who do affix handles use either a really thick piece of solid leather, or a vulcanized cardboard like material that makes for a harder, yet durable handle with less friction than leather. Both materials tend to be affixed with large rivets that are pounded down into wide washers to spread the area over which the handle is gripped by the mounts. Even so, these can come loose once in a great while, or, in the case of the vulcanized material, crack. I've done both, but after many many hundreds of really abusive impacts, even strikes by other knives!

Handless throwers are perhaps more common in the professional arena. They are pretty much indestructable, but when they miss and slap the target with the bare steel handle they can make a terrific CLANG which can be something of a distraction. Also, some hands seem to fit a handled knife better. Some throwers feel it improves release, or makes the knife less uncomfortable to hold.

In the summer of 1996, Bob Karp taught me a way to make inexpensive, functional, and easy to replace handles on otherwise handleless throwers. The technique is described below.

Start with a strip of linen about 1 or so inches wide. An old sheet, or even a tee shirt may do just fine. Wrap this linen up to three times around the knife handle letting each turn overlap the one under it a bit. Leave an inch or so of steel portruding at the end of the handle, and make sure you start so as to make the LAST LAYER of wrapping go UP the knife. If, for example you put three layers on, start at the end of the handle and wrap up, if only two, or four layers, start at the hilt end and go down. The point of this is that if the last layer goes UP, the overlaps will go DOWN, and will not catch in the hand to interfere with release.

After wrapping with linen, do the same thing with two or three layers of common black electrical tape, again making sure the last wrap layer goes UP the handle. The inch of steel you left exposed at the end of the handle when doing the cloth will give the tape some place to get a grip on the handle.

You now have a very rugged handle that will make the knife more comfortable and suppress the CLANG if you should miss! It adds some weight to the back end of the knife, but not very much. You can control this to some extent by using fewer layers of cloth and tape.

If you want you can simulate slab style handles by cuting the tape and cloth away from the spine of the knife (on both sides of the handle), and then finishing with just ONE more layer of electrical tape to hold your now-slabbed tape-covered cloth onto the handle of the knife!

Have fun!

Mail to mjr, goto Survival, or back to Thrower

This page is part of the official ARCHIVE COPY of the pioneering but abandoned Thrower website on knife throwing. Copyright and details