These bolsters are the second set attached. The first set I had to remove since the pin didn’t blend in like it should have. I had to drill them out, knock them off and start with a fresh set. If your pins show after rough grinding like this, they probably can’t be saved. Pins shouldn’t show. In this case, this was my first knife using my pin press I built earlier. The press worked fine on the second set and I like it better than peening.
To get a tight fit for a curved bolster and wood, you have to check your work. Here I’ve used a large marker and I blacked out the entire curved part of the bolster. I used the horizontal grinder and tried to square up the edges. You can see after grinding, half of the black is gone and half remains. I will grind on the horizontal until all of the black is gone. This way, I’ll have a much better chance of the top edges and the bottom edges lining up evenly. Squaring both sides up like this is not for the face on view, it’s for the top and bottom views so both sides are even.
When I’m fitting the wood to the curved bolster, I number several witness marks on both the wood and the bolster. You can’t see the matching witness marks on the bolster due to the flash reflection but they are there. I will trial fit each side for up to an hour, taking just a little off the wood, test fitting, noting where it has a high spot and removing the high spot using the numbered witness marks as a guide. You keep doing this until you can’t slide a piece of paper in between the metal and the wood anywhere. Some times it takes just 10 minutes, some times it takes an hour. Doing it this way has lowered the tolerance for my bolster/wood fits by several thousands and is worth doing..
Taking a scrap piece of the same wood, grind off a little pile of it. Scoop that into a cup. Mix your epoxy up that you bought from Midwest Knifemakers Supply, LLC in the other cup. I’m using 30 minute epoxy so I have a comfortable amount of time to work with. I then take some of the mixed epoxy and add it to the cup of wood dust and mix it to the consistency of dry toothpaste. When it is dry, it will take on the exact color of the wood.
Here you can see that I’ve put the wood/epoxy mix at the joint between the bolster and the wood. I’ve also forced it into the pin holes. Do NOT put it anywhere else! Use the ‘plain’ epoxy to join the scales to the tang as you would normally. The wood/epoxy mix is only to blend in a joint and pin holes. It will dry to be a very close match to the original wood.
Dried off and I’ve just ground the top of the scale enough to get the pins flat. You can see how close the color of the wood/epoxy mixture is at the bolster/scale joint.
I’ve started hand sanding to shape the scales for this knife. The bolster had been brought to a high polish initially just to make sure the pins didn’t show. They get all scratched up again when the wood gets shaped and sanded. There really isn’t any other way to do it other than double work.
I sanded a lot -- all the way through 1000 grit.
Here is the result of all that trial and error fitting, sanding and polishing. A nearly invisible fit and worth the effort.
And the final product....
Mickley Custom Knives