Rescaling a Folding Pocketknife

Here's a quick one. I was given this pocket knife at a garage sale, for free, given its poor apparent state. The guy didn't even try to sell it to me! The scales were bit worn, and there was a small amount of surface rust (mostly on the steel plates in the handle), but it really wasn't all that bad.

Instead of cleaning up the scales, I figured I'd take a shot at replacing them using a bit of ipe cutoff. I think it came out quite well, and the process was quite simple:

  1. Disassemble and take stock:

    Initial state.

  2. Plane (at least) one side of the wood that will be used, so that the inner faces of the scales will be as flat as possible. Using a jointer isn't necessary, but I used it since I had it. If you need to bring your wood down to a certain thickness, now would be a good time to do it.

    If you don't have a jointer or surface planer, another option is to place a large piece of sandpaper on a flat surface and slide your piece of wood across it, repeatedly, in a figure-eight pattern.

    Note that I used the jointer on a larger piece, and but the small piece you see in the picture from it. I'm not ashamed to say that I'm more scared of this tool than almost any other in my workshop, and really wouldn't recommend planing a piece this small with it, lest someone lose a few fingers.

  3. Trace the scales and any other pieces to be replaced with wood, and cut using the bandsaw (a coping saw or similar would also do).

    Trace, cut, and sand.

  4. Round and smooth the edges using a belt sander, disk sander, or by hand. If you'd like to add any curves to the handle to make it more ergonomic to hold, have at it.

  5. Next, I wiped all of the metal parts down with a bit of 000 or 0000 steel wool, and wiped them with a bit of Johnson Paste Wax. Even in the humid heat of a Florida summer, I find it to do a great job of preventing future rust.

  6. Fasten everything back together, and enjoy!

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