For the past four years my Micro Canadian has always been one of my very favorite objects. It blends practicality and elegance in a way which few other categories of things can. Restlessness, and extreme specialization (river rescue), are the only real reasons I’ve used anything else. To address the former I bought a Bark River Ringtail this past winter (the brown handled knife with the ring, above), the idea being the Micro is a bit short on edge length and blade volume where processing game is concerned. The Ringtail is very good for that, and has reminded me that if the Micro has any shortcoming, it is the blunter angle of the tip, which makes for a cutting bit whose acuity erodes quickly.
My parents chose a gorgeous stabilized wood burl for the handle (scales) when they bought me the Micro, and over the years the wood has suffered, with many damper outings causing swelling, and after enough cycles, cracking. A few weeks ago, one of these cracks propagated far enough towards one of the pins, and the front of one scale fell off. The knife worked fine without it, and a few hours after sending an email to Bark River about a repair the idea to make new scales myself was firmly stuck in my head. So I pondered that for another few days, then ordered some safety yellow pieces of G10, 1/8″ thick. To this day, several weeks after sending the email, I still haven’t heard back from Bark River.
G10 was an easy (and cheap, on sale!) choice, being durable and impermeable. 1/8″ is a hair thinner than the wood scales, something I figured would slim down the somewhat blocky/squarish cross section of the handle as stock. While I was at it, I knew I wanted to make the scales extend ever so slightly further towards the blade, to give my thump a bit more purchase.
After punching the pins out of the blade and cleaning it up, I clamped the blade to the front of the stacked scales and used that as a template to drill the holes. I sharpied the outline to the scales, rough cut that out with a coping saw (both scales still together, then epoxied the whole thing together. In spite of being very careful with alignment one of the rear holes was off a bit, and getting the whole mess together required a bit of last minute swearing and elbow grease.
After the epoxy was set finish work was the simple yet tricky matter of lots of sanding. G10 sands well; I used an orbit sander with 220 grit for the initial stuff, and finished things off with lots of hand sanding. I used a 1″ dowel as the template for the finger grooves, which worked well. I am very pleased with how the whole thing came together.
The past four years of fixing things, renovations, and projects have seen home ownership being a huge catalyst for me embracing making stuff as equal parts an end and a means. Something like this, which I carry virtually everywhere I go, every day, seems set to serve as a reminder of the many rewards that process has shown me. Next in this series, my adventures making canoe paddles.
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