My awesome and generally mischievous webmaster Skreep showed up at my bunker the other day with a very sad looking little knife that he’d dug out of the bottom of a tackle box. I took pictures of it, but they got lost when my old phone died, so unfortunately, I have no photos of the process of the restoration… only of the end result.
That said, the knife was completely rusted over, and the leather-washer handle was rotting and growing mold. The pommel and brass hilt were loose, and I honestly told him not to waste his time, and just to throw the knife away. He knew just which buttons to push, however, and challenged me to restore the knife… damn you, Skreep.
I started by disassembling the knife, which wasn’t difficult. It had a rat tail tang, and the pommel functioned as the nut that held the leather washers in place. I tossed the rotting leather, and scrubbed the blade, hilt and pommel with steel wool and WD40 until I’d removed all the rust I could. They were severely pitted, so I knew I’d be coating the knife at some point. I hate sliding tubular handles over rat tail tangs due to their inherent instability, and I didn’t want to go to the effort of fabricating, so I decided to apply a simple cord-wrap directly over the tang. I used epoxy putty to hold the hilt and pommel in place permanently and also build up the thickness of the tang. Once set, I wrapped the handle with nylon cord and melted it back into itself at both ends using a simple bic lighter (boy scout skills FTW).
I sprayed the entire knife with Rustoleum Professional primer and let it dry in the sun for a day, then coated it again (pommel, cord wrap, and all) in black spray-on truck bed liner, and let that dry in the sun for a day as well. Once cured, the bed liner was flat black with a very cool textured feel that added significant grip to the handle and disguised all the pitting beneath. The bed liner is certainly designed to take punishment and will function as a rust proof coating throughout its life. If it wears away, I’ll simply spot-spray more on… but I have a feeling it’ll last.
Lastly, I used five progressively finer honing stones until I’d put a razor edge on the knife. It’s a small knife, so I’m not too worried about it being used in ways that could potentially chip the fine edge. It will likely be employed in a stealth-tactical role, but would serve as a fine filet knife as well.