There are many ways of securing the handle of your knife to the blade itself. Some like Corby pins provide a mechanical fit, others rely on the strength of the glue used to bond the handle to the tang of the knife with the pin providing anchor points. Some are plain, others go bling! Let us take a look at what options you have when choosing a custom knife.
These bolts were designed and used by Bob Loveless on his knives and have proven to be a very popular choice with makers all over the world. These bolts give a mechanical fit by the bolt passing through the handle and then being screwed up tight.
A step drill is used when drilling the handle with the bolt passing through the small hole created in the handle and tang, and then the larger circular nut sitting in the larger step created.
This means that when screwed together it pulls the handle securely to the tang of the knife. Used alongside a good quality epoxy glue this makes for a very secure handle.
Some makers and collectors however do not like using loveless fasteners due to the bird’s eye effect created when you sand the bolt flat. This is created when you expose a small area of thread between the nut and bolt which leaves a small semicircle on the pin.
Loveless bolts are often used on Bushcraft knives and come in three different materials. Stainless steel, copper and brass. You can mix and match materials to give a different look such as a stainless steel bolt with a brass nut.
Corby pins, also known as Corby bolts or Bull bolts provide a mechanical fit in the same way as Loveless bolts, securely pulling your knife scales together. This time you have a male and a female bolt that screw together. Each side has a slot so you can tighten it with a screwdriver.
Like loveless bolts, a step drill is used when drilling the handle materials.
This time when sanding your knife scales the slot that you used to tighten is removed leaving what looks like a solid pin but has the benefits of the mechanical fit.
I favour Corby pins for all my kitchen knives for the solid construction they give, and the smart polished look they create when sanded flat.
Solid pins do not provide a mechanical fit due to them being a uniform size, so when using them it is important to key them with sandpaper to create additional surface area for the glue to bond with. The benefit of solid pin stock is the sheer choice you have available. From the standard stainless steel, brass and copper you also have carbon fibre, micarta and resin pins. These can be made in a multitude of different colours and even made to glow in the dark!!
Again this is a solid pin, so no mechanical fit. It starts as a tube, and different combinations of smaller pins are carefully placed within the tube. Once the desired pattern is achieved the tube is filled with a resin to create a solid pin. The resin is often dyed a nice bright colour.
These pins add to the aesthetics of the knife if done well. As a maker check the placement when glueing up to ensure that all pins are sitting in the same orientation, rotating the pins to ensure that they all match. Pins that are set at different angles to me looks horrible. As a buyer, make sure that the maker has taken the time to do this as it shows good attention to detail.
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