Micarta Knife Making

How To Make A Knife From A Knife Blank: A Step By Step Tutorial For Beginners.


In this tutorial we will make a knife using a Damascus blank with a full tang. The handle scales will be micarta and we’ll pin it with brass pins. This is the simplest way to make a knife and is a great project for the beginner.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. This means offgridmaker.com could earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, on the things you purchase.

Things you need


  • Knife blank
  • Micarta
  • 3/16″ brass pins
  • 100 grit and 220 grit sand paper
  • 2 part epoxy
  • polyurethane


  • Angle grinder with 60 grit sanding wheel
  • Coping saw for cutting out the micarta
  • Drill with 3/16″ drill bit
  • Clamps

The knife blank

If you don’t have a knife blank don’t worry. Knife blanks aren’t hard to find online. Some really great deals can be found on Amazon and free shipping most of the time. Just one example is below. Click the link below to browse all the different blanks available on Amazon.


Drill holes for the pins

In this tutorial, I’ve chosen to use 2 pins, but you can put as many pins as you want in the tang of the handle. The drill bit should be the same size as the pins that you choose to secure the handle. Some blanks will come with the pinholes already drilled in which case you just need to match your brass pins to the hole size.

The knife blank clamped and a hole for the brass pin being drilled

Trace the shape of the handle onto the micarta.

Lay the blank onto the piece of micarta and trace the shape of the handle then flip the blank over and trace the other side of the handle.

The knife blank laying on the micarta piece and the shape of the handle being traced onto the micarta
Don’t forget to flip the blade over to trace opposite sides.
Thumbnail for the how to make micarta article.
Click the picture above to see the article on making your own micarta.

Cut out the scales

Cut the pieces out of the micarta with the coping saw (or a jig saw). Leave a little extra material around the trace lines to be removed later

Drill holes for the pins

Drill holes for the pins into the micarta. Clamp one side of the scales to the blank. Drill through one of the pinholes and all the way through the micarta. Place a brass pin through the hole so the micarta doesn’t shift. Drill out each hole placing a pin in as you go. Repeat with the other side of micarta.

The knife blank clamped to the micarta cut out so the pin hole can be drilled into the micarta

Pin the micarta scales to the blank

Pin the micarta scales to the blank without using the epoxy and shape the outline of the handle. I use an angle grinder with a sanding disc, but you can use a belt grinder or even sand by hand.

both micarta scales are pinned to the knife blank with brass pins.
both micarta scales are pinned to the knife blank with brass pins.
The edges of the handle have been shaped with an angle grinder.
I use an angle grinder with a 60 grit sanding disc to do this, but you can use a belt sander or even a hand file.

Shaping the handle scales

Shape the front of the handle scales. To do this you have to remove the handle scales from the knife blank and pin them together. Now the front end of the handle scales can be shaped to match exactly.

Handle scales have been removed from the knife blank and pinned together to shape the front of the scales.
The handle scales pinned together with out the knife blank.

Finish the shaping

Pin the scales back onto the blank and finish shaping the handle. You want to get the rough shape completed before you epoxy the scales to the knife blank permanently.

The rough shape of the handle has been finished.

Attach the handle scales

Epoxy the shaped scales to the blank. Remove the scales from the blank leaving the pins in place.

Handle scales have been removed. brass pins are still in place. the knife blank is ready for the two part epoxy.

Use the two part gorilla glue to epoxy the scales to the blank.

Handle scales have been removed. brass pins are still in place. the knife blank is ready for the two part epoxy.
Click the picture to get the current price of gorilla epoxy

Now clamp the scales tightly to the blank and let set for the recommended time noted on the epoxy directions.

Handle scales have been epoxied in place and they are clamped tightly to the knife blank.

finish the sanding

Finish any rough shaping with the angle grinder. This will usually be around the pin areas to get them flush with the handle scales.

Do the final sanding by hand with 220 grit sandpaper.

Tape off the blade and seal the handle with Deft exterior grade polyurethane.

Deft brand spray polyurethane
Click the picture above to get the current price for Deft polyurethane
The knife blade is taped off and clamped so the handle is in the air ready to be sprayed.
Use a clamp to hold the knife in place with the handle in the air for hands free spraying.

This will take several coats. Allow to fully cure between each coat. Sand between each coat stepping up to a finer grit each time. When to stop is completely up to you. It depends on how smooth you want the handle to be. The more coats and the higher grit used in the sanding the smoother the handle will be. I do recommend at least three coats.

The knife is finished
a close up of the micarta knife handle.

If you’d like to take a deeper dive into how to make a knife with simple tools check out this book.

Just click the image below to get current prices on Amazon

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a simple micarta press made from 5 pieces of scrap lumber
Micarta Knife Making

How to make a simple but effective micarta press

Making a micarta press is easy, nearly free and can be done in just an hour or two. It takes just 2 pieces of scrap lumber cut into 5 smaller pieces, some wood glue and some screws to make a press that can be used to make countless number of micarta blanks.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. This means offgridmaker.com could earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, on the things you purchase.

The 5 pieces of wood needed to make a micarta press

What’s Needed


wood saw

Screw gun

tape measure

speed square(optional)

Marker or pencil


1 x 8 16″ long

2 x 4 8″ long

Wood glue

6 – 1 1/2″ screws

The Pieces

Step 1

Mark out pieces A thru D on a piece of 1 x 8 x 16″ as shown in the picture below.

Step 2

Cut out the pieces in the above picture.

Step 3

Cut a 2 x 4 8″ long. Now we have all the pieces. Label them A thru E as Pictured.

Pieces A thru D should be cut out of 1×8 material(3/4″ thick). E should be cut from 2×4 material(1 1/2″ thick).


The cradle

Place piece E on a flat surface and put C and D on edge at the sides of E. Lay a bead of wood glue on the top edges of C and D. The two side pieces C and D should be about 7/8″ higher than the 2 x 4(E).

Don’t allow much of a gap between the 3 pieces. This will form the channel known as the cradle.

Now place piece A on top of the side pieces to form a sort of table over the 2 x 4 and screw the top to the side pieces allowing the 2 x 4 to move freely.

Set the cradle to the side now and add glue to the top of the 2 x 4(E).

Place piece B on top of the 2 x 4. The pieces should be flush length wise and the sides of piece B should overlap both sides of the 2 x 4 approximately 7/8″.

Now you should have 2 separate pieces. The press should fit nicely into the cradle. There should also be a gap between the 2 x 4 of the press and the bottom board of the cradle.

the cradle on the left and the press on the right,
In this picture you can see the gap we’ve created. If all worked out yours should have a gap of about 3/8″. This gap will determine the final thickness of the micarta.

If you made it this far please leave a comment at the bottom of the page to let me know if you liked this article and how I can improve it.

If you would like to see the article describing the step by step process for making micarta with this type of press click the picture below.

Now that you have a micarta press LET’S MAKE SOME MICARTA!
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Micarta Knife Making

How to make micarta

What is micarta 

Micarta is a composite material made from resin layered with fiberglass, linen, cotton, denim, even paper. It’s extremely durable; more durable than most knife handles made today. Micarta is a trade name marketed over 100 years ago by Westinghouse as an electrical insulator. 

These composites are surprisingly simple and inexpensive to make. Build a simple press from wood. 

Find some material (old blue jeans for example). Layer strips of the material in the press with a 2-part epoxy. Press out the excess epoxy. Let it dry. Pull it out of the press and there you go. 

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. This means offgridmaker.com could earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, on the things you purchase.

The Cost 

The most expensive part of the process is the resin. One quart of fiberglass resin will only cost you about $15 and this will make enough micarta to finish 2 to 5 knives depending on how big the handles are. Figure in another $5 for ancillary supplies like latex gloves, wax paper and a mixing cup. Now we can make enough micarta to make handles for 4 average size knives. Now we can make a one of a kind handle for a knife that will last long enough to pass down multiple generations. 


The press 



2-part epoxy resin 

1-quart mixing cup(disposable) 

Latex gloves 

Wax paper 

The Process 

Step 1-Building the press 

A simple two piece press made from scrap plywood.
The wood press before it’s loaded with material

Build a simple wooden press. I make my presses out of wood. They’re simple to make and can be made with scrap lumber at zero cost. Decide how large you want your final piece of micarta to be. Build your press to be 1” larger by length and width because you’ll have to trim the edges when it comes out of the press. Be sure to glue and screw the pieces together so the press will last long enough to make several pieces of micarta. 

For a descriptive step by step article about making a micarta press click the picture bellow

a simple micarta press made from 5 pieces of scrap lumber
Most cost effective micarta press there is.

Step 2-Preparing the material 

Now choose the material you’re going to use and cut it down to size. You want your material strips to take up the full width of the inside of the press so it doesn’t shift around as much during the clamping process. The length can vary as long as it doesn’t extend over the edge of the press.  

The number of layers you’ll use will depend on how thick the material is and how thick you want the final product to be. A good way to determine the number of layers you need to use is to stack about 15 pieces of material. Using your thumb and index finger pinch the edge of the stack firmly. The distance between your thumb and finger is an approximate thickness the final product will end up being. 

Step 3-Prepare the press 

Line the press with a sheet of wax paper large enough to wrap your stack of material like a burrito. Place the wax paper in the press and crease the wax paper into the corners of the press. This will help keep the wax paper from shifting around when you’re stacking the material in the press. Stack the material next to the press so you can easily grab one piece at a time to put in the press. If you’re using a mixed pattern of materials have them stacked in reverse order so that the first piece you grab off the stack is the bottom piece in the pattern you’re creating. Now prep your whole area and be ready for the next step. Have latex gloves ready. Have the work space covered with a disposable cloth.  


This can be a really messy process. Two-part epoxy or fiberglass resin is mostly permanent once it dries and is extremely hard to clean when it’s wet. Whatever it gets on it is going to stay on. 

Loading the press with the material and resin. be sure it's wrapped in wax paper

Step 4-Loading the press 

I use disposable measuring cups from the paint store to mix the resin in. Whatever kind of container you use to mix the resin in just know it will be ruined when this is all over. Precisely follow the instructions for mixing the resin you purchased. Once you get to this point you must move quickly. Most resins have a limited working time.  

The 2 part Epoxy resins you can buy at most local brick and mortar stores are a dark amber in color. This is fine if the materials you’re using are dark and you know the application of the epoxy will darken it even more.

If, on the other hand, you are using bright or light colors and don’t want color of the final product affected by the epoxy the you need to use a clear epoxy. This is very hard to find locally, but I’ve included an amazon link below so you can check current pricing.


Put one piece of material into the press and with gloved hands smear and dab the resin into the material completely. Repeat this for each piece of material. Once they’re all stacked and covered with resin you need to wrap the stack of material in the wax paper completely. Now it’s a good idea to put on a fresh pair of gloves. 

Step 5- Clamping the press 

Micarta clamped up in the press, allowing the excess resin to be pressed out

Put the top of the press on the wax-wrapped stack of material in the press. Start adding clamps to the press. At first, just put them in place firmly. Typically, I’ll use 2 clamps on each side of the press unless I’m using a large press, then I’ll use three clamps on each side of the press. Now tighten down the clamps so the excess resin begins to get squeezed out of the ends of the press. Make sure you tighten the clamps evenly so the thickness of the micarta is uniform across the piece. Let the piece cure for the amount of time recommended by the resin product label. 

The final product

Once the micarta has cured it’s time to remove it from the press. The wax paper should come off easily from most of the piece. It’s likely some small pieces of wax paper will remain stuck to the micarta, but those small pieces will come off during the sanding process.

You’ll notice the edges of the piece are rough and ragged from where the resin was pressed out of the material. these edges can be trimmed with a saw I use my cordless circular saw, but you can use a table saw, a saber saw or even a hand saw.

Once the edges are trimmed it’s time to sand it down. I use a belt sander and start with 100 grit then finish with 220 grit. This is a rough finish. The final finish will be done when you make your knife handle, slingshot or whatever you make with your micarta.

It’s that simple. And as an additional bit of advice, I have more than one press and set of clamps so I can make more than one piece of micarta at a time. That way since I’m already making a mess to make one piece, I might as well make more than one piece.

Okay, now that we have some micarta made, Let’s make a knife. Click the picture below to read a step by step tutorial on making a knife with a micarta handle. In this article I make a knife with the exact piece of micarta I just made in the article above.

How to make a knife thumbnail

Please ask your questions in the comments. I would love to see pics of your creations. Please post them in the comments also.

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