How to Refinish a Knife Handle

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If you are planning to refinish a knife handle, understand some important points before you get started. Whether they are composed of wood, bone, fiberglass or metal, knife handles all share one characteristic: they are ill-suited for adhesion. You must condition the knife handle a particular way, based on its composition, or you will end up with flaking. In addition, you should choose a specific finish and employ the right application strategy, or you could end up with disappointing results.

Things You'll Need

  • Trisodium phosphate cleanser
  • Coarse plastic brush
  • Rags
  • Towels
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • Professional painter's tape
  • Heavy-duty fabric drop cloth
  • Acrylic spray primer
  • Galvanized metal etching spray primer
  • Oil-based spray enamel
  • Oil-based stain
  • 1- to 2-inch oil paintbrush
  • Mineral spirits
  • Varnish

Painting

  • Wash non-wood knife handles with trisodium phosphate cleanser, using a coarse brush. Rinse the knife handle with wet rags and dry it with towels. Skip this step if the handle is wooden.

  • Abrade bone, plastic and fiberglass knife handles to promote adhesion by sanding them with 180-grit sandpaper. Stop when the handle feels rough. Skip this step if the handle is metal or wooden.

  • Protect portions of the knife handle you do not want painted by covering them with painter's tape. Place the knife on a drop cloth.

  • Coat non-metallic knife handles with acrylic spray primer. Use metal etching spray primer on metallic knife handles. Maintain an 8-inch distance between the knife handle and the spray nozzle as you apply. Wait three hours for the primer to dry.

  • Coat the primed knife handle with oil-based spray enamel. Maintain an 8-inch distance between the knife handle and the spray nozzle as you apply. Wait three hours before handling the knife.

Staining

  • Sand wooden knife handles with 180-grit sandpaper. Stop when the finish appears dull.

  • Protect portions of the knife handle you do not want stained by covering them with painter's tape. Place the knife on a drop cloth.

  • Coat the knife handle with oil-based stain, using a 1- to 2-inch oil paintbrush. Wait four hours for the stain to dry.

  • Wash the brush with mineral spirits.

  • Coat the stained knife handle with varnish, using the clean paintbrush. Wait four hours before handling the knife.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never paint unprimed knife handles, or the finish will flake.
  • Don't use acrylic primer on metal knife handles, or the finish will chip.
  • Don't use ordinary latex paint on a knife handles, or the finish will not remain durable.
  • Photo Credit PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
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