How To Make A Stag Handled Hunting Knife

How do you make a stag handled hunting knife? Stag is a beautiful traditional material to work work with, but it is also somewhat brittle and must be worked with a bit of care. Another concern is the legality of stag. Some localities, and some varieties of stag are illegal to use, buy, or sell. Therefore, the person wanting to make a stag handled hunting knife would do well to look into this before hand.

The materials needed to make a stag handled hunting knife are as follows:

  • Knife blade
  • Stag
  • Epoxy
  • Pin material
  • Band saw
  • Clamps
  • Anvil
  • Hammer
  1. Pick a hunting knife blade. Pick a hunting knife blade you want to put a stag handle on. The area that is important here is the type of tang the knife has. If it has a stick tang (meaning a long thin tang hidden in the stag), you will want a piece of stick stag, like a tine or crown piece. If it has a half tang (a short stubby wide tang, which is the full width of the blade), you will want the same type of stag. You will want a piece which is as wide as the tang which will be visible. If you have a full tang knife which has a tang that is the same width and shape as the final handle, you will want scales, or slabs of stag. You can even buy a stick piece of stag and cut it in half with a band saw.
  2. Prepare the stag for the handle.  This is where you decide what it will look like. On stick pieces, you will want to saw the end so that it will be flush with the guard. On half tangs, you will want to use the band saw to cut a slot for the tang. You will also want to decide if the butt of the handle will be a crown, and how any twist or curve to the stag will be situated for holding and comfort, take small bumps and tines into account. What you want is a comfortable handle as well as a good looking one. For scales or slabs, you will want to cut them into pieces and cut the ends.
  3. Drill holes. On knives with a stick tang, you will want to drill the hole for the tang. There is a small trick which can be used here. Drill a very small hidden hole on an angle into the large hole you drill for the tang. This hole is used to allow the epoxy to flow into the handle and allow air bubbles to exit when it is fit. If your handle is using pins mark and drill them. If you are planning on peening pins in place, you will want to counter sink pin holes a bit in this process.  
  4. Assemble handle.  Mix your epoxy and assemble the handle materials using the epoxy and pins. Slip the tang into the hole and push it down tight, epoxy will ooze out of the air hole after the air escapes so prepare for this to clean it. Cover the small hole now with tape to prevent more from coming out. Put half tang pieces in the slot and glue and pin them in place. Assemble scales on full tang handles and put pins in holes if using them. Clamp everything in place. Clean off excess epoxy.
  5. Peen pins.  If you are peening pins into place, you will want to place one side on an anvil and peen them down on alternating sides until they are tight. If you are not peening them in place, dip them in epoxy when inserting them into the handle scales. You should use either peened pins, or epoxy, not both, as it is messy to peen uncured, epoxied handles.
  6. File smooth. Use a fine file and smooth everything, pins, excess epoxy, and any rough edges on the stag.

That is the basic process of putting a stag handle on a hunting knife. It will make a pretty, durable, and traditional handle; good luck with your project!

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