Adding the Extra Slots

This is the additional tutorial for adding the extra item slots, nothing too difficult. The tools are usually a toothpick and tweezers or pen. As essential as these tools are, there is nothing to stop you making your own tools for these slots or just go ahead and glue the wooden scales on as they are (back to previous).

Equipment and Materials

  • Milling tool e.g. rotary tool (or a drill and small file no more than 3 mm in width)
  • A 3 mm milling head
  • Drill and drill press
  • A 2.5 - 3 mm drill bit (a 3 mm bit is probably best if you are filing.)
  • Small vice
  • Cleaning solvent such as rubbing alcohol
  • Epoxy and superglue
  • Small sheet of ply (approx 15 cm width) and some square dowels of wood to match the ply's area. See pictures below to get the idea.
  • Flat-sided piece of wood (at least 5 cm x 10 cm)
  • Clamps (for gluing)

Here is my set up; a Proxxon drill press, rotary tool and vice.

A drill press, rotary tool and vice.

A rotary tool allows for both drilling and milling (amongst other things). Note the rotations per minute (rpm) are between 5000 and 20 000 on the Proxxon. On an ordinary drill 5000 rpms would be very fast, but this works well for small items.

I've used Proxxon because I started out making models and small items. They design small, very quiet and very stable (no vibration) tools for model makers and people who do not have much space. Consequently their tools are less powerful and more expensive, but very accurate and small. If you want to buy Proxxon pay close attention to the specifications and reviews with consideration to your demands. If you have space for bigger more powerful tools that will do the job just as well and more then don't buy Proxxon. Their rotary tool is excellent and far superior to the popular Dremel for anything requiring accuracy and stability (anything other than grunt work).

With this set up, you will also need a flat surface to work on, which I made with a piece of plyboard and the square dowels. The middle strut goes into the vice (see picture below). You can also use a dowel to clamp onto the flat surface to use as a fence - also shown below.

Plyboard platform

To make the tool slot we first have to mark it out with drill holes and then we will mill/file through it. To make this easy I superglued the plastic scales to the wooden scale and drilled a series of holes along it's length. The actual slot depth is 1.5 mm but I drilled somewhat shallow so that I could test the fit with the tool piece as I was milling. I used a slightly smaller drill bit than the actual slot width of 3 mm in case I went off a bit. This didn't matter because I had a milling tool of just the right width. If you are using a file then it might be best to use a drill bit of 3 mm so you don't have too much work to do.

Plyboard platform

Now we have drilled the guideholes we seemingly have a problem. Not only is the scale tapering but the slot space is at an angle. This would make it very difficult to mill in a straight line. This is easily fixed by using the flat-sided piece of wood to superglue the scale onto and then running it along a fence as shown below.

Milling the slot hole

To get the alignment correct, take our flat-sided piece of wood and draw a line through the middle and then align the wooden scale's drill holes along it. Check that the mill head will be on target from the first to last drill hole. Draw a line around the scale piece and then super glue it in place. Check the alignment again with the mill head as the glue is drying.

When you are sure the glue is dry you can begin milling. I found the best technique was to mill with a very shallow depth using the lever and then to lower a bit on the next run. It shouldn't take any time at all and you can test the slot hole's depth by placing the scale against the knife and inserting the tool.

Now that the slot holes are done we can glue the scales onto the knife. First scratch up the surface of the gluing areas of both the scales and the knife with some rough sandpaper. This gives the glue something extra to grab hold off. You can also score the wooden scales with a knife, being careful not to score deep marks at the edges. Next clean all the gluing areas with a solvent such as rubbing alcohol or acetone to remove dust and grease. When everything's dry you can apply an epoxy glue. Most knife makers prefer Araldite epoxy for this. The spec' sheet says that a very thin layer of glue is best, as it is a space filling glue and will not be absorbed into the wood. Be very careful not to get glue into the tool slots. Once the glue is applied use the clamps to hold the pieces together.

Clamps after gluing

Now it's time to make the tool handles.

Plyboard platform

Sorry about the dark picture. Observe the overhang at the handle end of the tweezers so that the metal doesn't show in the finished piece. I forgot, nevermind though it still looked great. Also note the lower area of the plastic tweezers. This can be used to help grip the slot. Trace it onto the wood with a pencil and remove some excess, but don't try and shape the handle yet. You can then remove the plastic and glue on the wooden part.

Once the glue has set on the knife we need to remove the extraneous wood so that it flushes with the metal on the sides. Don't start shaping and rounding it off yet, you are merely looking to make the width and length equal to the plastic scales (see below picture). Afterwards place the plastic scales over the wooden one and pencil in the area where there was a gap for the tool handle and either file it away or mill it by using the same technique as when you cut the slot holes (with the flat-sided piece of wood). Note there is an angle filed at the inside end to get your finger nail into to push the tool out.

Knife overlayed with the plastic handle.
Top of knife showing the area to remove for the tool handle.

Once the glue on the tool handle has dried, insert it into the slot and shape it at the same time as the wooden scales.

Close up of the inserted tweezers.

For some finishing advice and more finished shots return to the first page.

1 2 H