View Full Version : Bolster thickness

11-15-2010, 09:34 AM
hi all,
This will be my first time making bolsters from scratch. I'm going to be putting them on an O1 hunting knife 3/16" thick x8 1/2 long".

What thickness should I use for the bolsters? Any recommended metal type?


Doug Lester
11-15-2010, 12:41 PM
The thickness of the bolsters will be determined, to an extent, by the thickness of the scales and how much they are to be tapered. The brasses, which includes nickel silver/German silver, are probably the easiest to work with. Bronze and aluminum might also work as well as other metals. Steel is more durable with stainless steel adding rust resistance. Mokume gane and pattern welded damascus, which is makume gane in steel, adds to the looks of the knife. They also add to the expence of making the knife. Some makers have even used non metalic material like horn or micarta for bolsters to good effect. I've even seen recon stone being used but I would put that on a knife that was a "looker" rather than a "user" as it can be a bit fragile. Pinning bolster can be done with the same material, at least for the metals, or with something that makes an interesting contrast. Another way would be to solder of braze them on. Epoxy could be use but a hard blow might break them off. Of course if the knife is something destined for a show case that's not a major issue; using the knife with a baton to split the pelvis of large game would be.

Doug Lester

11-15-2010, 01:46 PM
I generally start with 1/4" thick stock, in whichever material I like at the moment. Doug pretty well lined it out... so far I've used brass, nickel silver, stainless steel, micarta, and wood for bolsters. I use the same metal for pins as the bolster metal, and choose contrasting metal pins for the non-metallic bolsters. I have seen bolsters made from 3/16 stock as well. Primary considerations would be weight of the finished product, and the desired thickness of the finished piece.

James Terrio
11-22-2010, 08:52 AM
I'm a belt AND suspenders kind of guy, and would recommend using both peened pins or corby bolts, and an adhesive. If nothing else the adhesive will seal the tang against any moisture possibly getting at it. JB Weld seems to be about the best for metal-to-metal bonds. I haven't built any knives with bolsters but I've fitted guards on hidden tangs with JB Weld and let me tell you, if you goof one up you really have to beat the heck out if it to get the guard back off. Search for Tracy's "Glue Wars" thread for more info.

11-22-2010, 09:25 AM
^ I've heard the same about JBWeld and that's what I plan to use for the guard, spacer and handle on my fighter...

As for the bolsters, I am gonna try in with 0.262" 5160, just like the blade material. Although I will probably try to polish it out a little better than the satin finish on the blade.