Chapter 3: The Back-spacer and Handle
After the blade and liner have been created and the lock has been fitted, the next step is to create the back-spacer. The back-spacer is an important part of the knife in that it provides a measure of stability and support to the handle housing--similar to a backbone or spine. The back-spacer (or stand-offs) must exactly equal the thickness of the blade plus two washers. (Therefore, if the blade is .120" and the washers are .010" each, the back-spacer should be .140"). I prefer to use back-spacers on my custom folders, but some folks also like to use steel stand-offs in lieu of a solid back-spacer. For this particular knife, I used .250" black G-10 for the spacer material. The desired thickness of the material will be achieved at a later step. The first step is to drill out all of the holes for the threaded barrel bolts and lanyard tubing (as shown below). Please note the addition of the stop-pin in this first picture. I didn't have any pictures showing this particular step, but basically the stop-pin was added prior to making the back-spacer for this particular knife. This can be a stressful step in the knifemaking process. The placement of the stop-pin must be accurate--otherwise, the lock will not function appropriately:
The results should look like this. (Note the outline of the spacer has been sketched onto the G-10. This will be key when fitting the blade into the handle later on):
Here is an inside view of the blade and the back-spacer. Notice how the blade compliments the back-spacer. There should be approximately .030" to .040" clearance between the blade's edge and the back-spacer:
Next, the liner is used to form a template on the Micarta scale material. The outline of the liner is etched onto each Micarta scale. It is important to pay close attention to which side is right and which is left. The scales are now ready to be cut and shaped:
Here, the scales have been rough-cut on the saber saw:
The scales, liner, and back-spacer are sanded flush at a perfect 90 degrees. (This is one of my favorite steps):
The finger grooves are formed using the barrel sander:
And the results should look something like this:
At this point, the grunt work is done. Now comes the fun part: finish work! I also like to call this the "elbow grease" stage, because most of the work from this point forward is done by hand. Specifically, the lock will be fine-tuned, the handle will need to be contoured and buffed, the edges of the handles softened (this includes cutting a recessed area into the top scale to allow for clearance to the Round Hole), the hardware holes will need to be countersunk/counterbored, the machining marks will need to be ground/sanded out of the blade and liner, the lanyard tube will be buffed, chamferred, and fitted, the pocket clip will need to be added (this means drilling and tapping the titanium liner), and the blade will need to be ground thinner and sent out for the heat-treat. Depending on the steel type, I usually grind my blades only to about .040" to .050" at the edge to prevent warping during the heat-treat.
To Be Continued...