The Complete Online Guide to Knifemaking, REMOVABLE SCALES
A variety of removable scale hardware is available for knifemakers. We tend to stay away from the fancy connectors and choose to use durable threaded aluminum stand offs and cap head screws. Both are readily available online. Making removable scales is a bit more involved than standard pins but it actually less time consuming because there is not epoxy drying time required.
The process started by drilling a pin hole through the first oversize half of the handle. Use predrilled holes through the blade as a drill guide. After each hole is drilled insert on of the threaded inserts. If using a drill press make sure a clamp is positioned to prevent the blade from spinning if the bit binds. Once all of the pin holes are drilled in the bottom half of the scales remove and use that half as your drill guide for second half of the scales. Do the same thing when drilling these holes. Use threaded inserts to hold placement after each hole is drilled.
Once all of the pin holes are drilled hold the to sides together with threaded inserts and cap screws. Now shape, sand and polish the forward edge of the handles. Next separate both side and place them flat onto drill press table. Using a bit that is just slightly larger than the outside diameter of the cap screw. Set the depth so drill will not go all the way through the handle material but rather leave a lip. Now carefully line up each of the holes and counter bore each pin hole with this larger bit. The scales can now be mounted onto the knife and profile, shaping, sanding and polishing completed.
We have created a short how-to video which details the process (link above). Please not removable scales are often used in conjunction with acid etched and stonewashed finished blades because the hardware allows the blade finial assembly to be done after etching.
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.