The Complete Online Guide to Knifemaking, PINS

The Complete Online Guide to Knifemaking, PINS



Pins are used to help secure scale material to the blade. Historically pins would have been hammer peened to hold the knife scales in place. Today, most makers just use epoxy to secure scales and add pins for some additional lateral strength. For most materials, we also glue our pins. Once the glue is dry, the excess pin material protruding from either side of the scales can be ground down on the flat platen of a belt grinder. Be careful to not generate too much heat. Quench frequently to keep the pins cool, especially if using a scale material that can melt.

If using wood scales, we are a little less fearful of cracking the scale material and will also hammer peen the pins for a stronger mechanical bond. Greg Phillips once told me that there are many examples of 100-year-old knives with peened pin secured scales. The same cannot be said about epoxied scales. Epoxy has just not been around that long. If peening, you can ream the pin holes with  a tapered reamer. The larger side of the taper should face out. The smaller end of the taper should face the tang. Ending up with an hourglass-shaped hole. Pins for peening are commonly a soft malleable material like brass or copper. Carefully tap both sides of the pins until they completely fill the void created by the tapered reamer. Be careful, the wood will crack if the pins are expanded too much.

Another option is to epoxy the pins in place and then just lightly hammer each side of the pins to slightly expand the diameter of the pin. This is done in straight drilled holes and just adds a degree of a mechanical bond to otherwise epoxied pins.

Check out our Stainless precut and chamfered pins

1/4 Dia Stainless Pins

1/8 Dia Stainless Pins

Mosaic Pins
Mosaic pins can add an additional design feature to the blade. These can be made with small tubing and rods placed and epoxied into a pin sized tube. Mosaic pins can also be purchased in a huge variety of styles. Mosaic pins are epoxied into place and not peened.

Pin Bolts

For some knives, removable scales are desired. Specialize pin bolts are used which are available in different sizes and finishes. This method of attaching scales has a couple advantages. For the knifemaker, the mounting process is actually faster because there is no epoxy drying time to deal with. They also allow for forced patinas to be done on full tang blades. Typically, when scales are epoxied, the excess scale material is profiled to the blade after the glue dries. This results in a perfect fit but will also polish off any patina from the spine. Having removable scales allows the knifemaker to completely shape and sand the scales before mounting them to the blade.


Check out our Knife making tools, huge assortment of topic specific how-to knife making videos, our Complete Online Guide Knife Making  and our New Book Introduction to Knifemaking by Dan Berg and Jason Northgard.