Old Makes New

What started off as a question ‘could you refurbish my old K-Sabatier knives?’ turned into one of the most difficult things I’ve done with knives to date.

First of all they were in a pretty disheveled state.

The handles were broken in several places from years of repeated cleaning in a dishwasher.

Never a good idea for knives with wooden handles people.

Secondly, they were badly rusted (same reason) and I was guessing the rivets had rusted at the male/female connection points so wouldn’t ‘pop’ when a bit of elbow grease was to be applied.

But nevertheless – challenge accepted.

The old scales came away pretty easy, but yup – the rust was worse than I’d first feared.

But manageable.

The rivets on the other hand could not be popped and saving to reuse wasn’t an option.

So out came the angle grinder to trim them off.


For the rust I used the same method and ground them down to a decent finish.

Then I gave them a quick rub with an 80 grit sandpaper just to get the remainder of the surface rust off.

Looking pretty decent now happy to say.

With a quick file to the bolster open edge I managed to get a decent surface that the new scales would sit evenly against.

So now to cut scales – I decided to go slightly rounder with the new handle to give it a nicer weight/feel in the hand as the old shape on a small knife wasn’t overly natural.

A bit of a risk when re-handling old blades, but one that I wanted to try here.

Sometimes you just got to trust your gut.

So I went with a 12mm scale (as opposed to 9mm originally) for the two of the larger knives – I kept the same 6mm for the small paring knife.

Attaching went pretty straight forwards and the 2part epoxy nicely sealed the gaps between the bolster and skateboard scales.

Got to say those colors that went on these suited the fact they were old French blades very nicely – not ‘in your face’ colorful, but subtly colorful almost.

Once they were glued/clamped/riveted and set I started shaping.

Going through the usual 40-80-120-240-400-800 and finally finishing on a 1200 grit sandpaper to ensure the finest of finishes to the touch (which thinking about it is a bit silly considering they get covered in polyurethane next).

But anyways – that’s what I did.

Second to last stage, apply 2-3 coats of 100% Tung oil depending on how thirsty the wood is.

These knives took 3 coats to really bring out the depth of color.

Once dry the only thing left was to give them 4 coats of marine grade poly ensuring they had a toasty 28 degrees (average) to cook in.

Luckily we were in the middle of a Christchurch heat wave so that process went very well indeed.

4 coats in 4 days and after they were finished curing I trimmed off the edges, cleaned and moderately sharpened the blades (no opting for professionally sharpening this time around by the owner – that’ll come later).

And then on the fifth day they went back to their owner who I’m pleased to report was very happy with the finished product.

There’s another nine items in this set that will be re-handled in different styles over the next few months and while it’s a bit of a daunting prospect – I look forward to the challenge.

So if you have any knives you need re-handling (or just want to give a face-lift) – contact me for a chat/quote.



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