Handle question


Well-Known Member
When joining two pieces of material for a handle. How is the best way to clamp it all together to dry? I'm confused with needing pressure on two differnet axis.

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Are you making two-piece scales, or a hidden tang handle with a ferrule?

For scales, I use a liner as a backer and I leave the wood/material in rectangular form rather than trying to glue up a profiled handle shape. The liner provides a continuous substrate to act as reinforcement. You can also put a strip of liner material in the joint between the two pieces. Epoxy every side that touches something else. Then I use clamps on the edge of a workbench such that there is a clamp on each piece of the handle, clamping it down to the workbench. (wax paper or something under the liner material will catch epoxy squeeze out and prevent you from gluing it all to the benchtop.) Once everything is clamped, recheck it after a minute to make sure nothing has moved out of place. (uneven clamp pressure will cause the pieces to drift, so you might have to readjust your clamps to make sure they aren't pushing your pieces around.) Once everything is clamped up and not moving, let it sit until the next day.

For a hidden tang, I assemble the handle / spacers / ferrule on the tang the way it's going to go- just to make sure I have everything in place. Then I chuck the handle in vise and remove the blade and fill the cavity with epoxy. Then set the blade back down into the handle. I let gravity do the work. If everything is square and has been pre-fit correctly then the blade will sit vertically and there will be no gaps. What epoxy needs to squeeze out will squeeze out. Check it in about ten minutes, if all is well come back tomorrow.


Well-Known Member
It can be tricky and the more parts you are trying to keep together the tougher it is. If your joining edge between two pieces is at an angle, they have another direction they want to move as well. As John said above putting it all on a liner piece helps a lot. I have also done one piece on the liner and let it set up and then butted up the second piece as a second glue up. Seems to be easier to clamp it that way with the added stability. I did a full tang one (below) that had an angled joint and decided to put a sandwich of brass sheet and black liner material between the two pieces. Had stuff moving all over the place and didn't quite get the brass pieces all they way down on the flat tang side. Frustrating. So, lots of clamps, not too much pressure, and if doing an angle - maybe butt it up between two pieces of scrap material to keep it from sliding along the angle joint when you squeeze from the ends.
10 Maple and marble.jpg

Chris Railey

I pretty much do the same as Randy but I put masking tape on my clamp pads to keep them from sticking. If I am going to use bolsters and spacers I like to glue those up using one block of wood then I rip the block to create two scales. That way I know they are exactly the same. Randy does precision way better than I do.