The ultimate test for the quality of a handmade knife is in the sturdiness and durability of the scales. Since the handle is constantly under stress, you want the scales to be permanently secured to the blade and not break apart easily.
It would be best to have a strong adhesive like epoxy for attaching knife handles. Epoxy is like a liquid weld and penetrates all gaps, is extremely tough once set and is waterproof.
What is the best epoxy for knife handles? The best epoxy for knife handles is exceptionally strong, sets within a reasonable time, and is resistant to shock, vibrations, extreme temperatures, and water.
Nonetheless, the vast epoxy spectrum can make your purchasing decision seem like an uphill task, so read on as we uncover the best epoxy for knife handles. But first, how do you choose your epoxy?
How To Choose The Best Epoxy For Knife Handles
If you are new to knife-making, the array of epoxies will leave you wondering which one you should pick. Here’s a simple guide to choosing the best epoxy by considering the following.
Most Epoxies have a shelf life of about three years; and six months once the seal is broken. The shelf life is the period within which the epoxy is potent.
After this time lapses, the epoxy will not mix well and may fail to harden correctly. Therefore, always check the remaining shelf-life prior to purchasing epoxy.
If you do not plan on using it immediately, you should consider this expiration during storage. Also, opening epoxy lowers its shelf life; therefore, any leftover must be utilized sooner than later.
Epoxy is generally tougher than superglues and polyurethanes and forms the strongest bonds. Nonetheless, the holding power varies from one brand of epoxy to another, depending on the resin polymer ratio.
You can determine what epoxy is mechanically more robust by checking the epoxy’s PSI rating. Aim for a PSI rating of 2,500 and above, as the higher the rating, the stronger the epoxy.
Also, check whether vibrations, extreme heat, and shock impact affect the hold.
One of the fantastic qualities of epoxy is that it is waterproof. When cured, it cannot leech in water and is unaffected by chemicals or corrosion.
But not all epoxy varieties are fully waterproof. The degree of moisture tolerance varies from one type of epoxy to another.
Some epoxies soften from prolonged interaction with water. Go for epoxies that are entirely waterproof even underwater for long periods and will still last for years.
This is especially critical for knives that will be in constant contact with water, like kitchen knives.
The best epoxy for knife handles has a smooth gel-like consistency that fills the gaps between the scales and rivets sufficiently. In addition, it is self-leveling and doesn’t leave a thick, obvious glue line.
If the epoxy is too thin, it may fill gaps quickly but can be challenging to control running everywhere. Again if it is too thick, you’ll need more effort packing it in gaps, and the application can be messy.
Nothing lasts forever, even epoxy. As robust as it is, with time, epoxy will chemically break down. Therefore consider the holding life of the epoxy before buying one, whether it is 2 years or 2 decades.
Setting time should be considered if you are on a schedule or lack patience. It also matters if you have a slow hand or just don’t like to rush through crafting.
You can opt for a good 5-minute epoxy for quick handling. Nonetheless, experts will tell you that slow-setting epoxies are the best for professional results. They are far superior in strength and durability.
You also have plenty of time to align things properly before the epoxy becomes gummy.
Epoxy is commonly packaged in bottles or the syringe-style kind of dispenser. The latter offers a more convenient extrusion.
It features two separate barrels and a plunger that, when pushed, exerts uniform pressure pushing out equal amounts of epoxy and hardener.
Furthermore, this dispensing design usually also features a seal lock that keeps any unused epoxy and hardener airtight and fresh.
The ordinary bottles with long nozzles offer the more traditional way of pouring the product. The advantage is that it holds more product than syringes which have a capacity of just 1 oz or less.
The Best Epoxy For Knife Handles
We’ve gotten to the favorite part of the post where we reveal the best epoxy for knife handles rated and reviewed. These are what the experts approve of.
|1.||West System G/Flex Epoxy (2-4oz)||Most resilient epoxy, highest impact resistance, a long shelf life, plenty of working time|
|2.||J-B Weld ClearWeld 5 Minute Epoxy||High strength, multi-surface bonding, a convenient, tidy, and accurate dispenser|
|3.||Bob Smith Industries Clear Slow-Cure Epoxy||Superior strength, gap filling, crystal clear|
|4.||Devcon Epoxy, 2 Ton Epoxy||Strong, excellent viscosity, resistant to radiation and extreme temperature|
|5.||Loctite Marine Epoxy 0.85-Fluid Ounce Syringe||Extremely waterproof, shock and impact resistant, durable, and solvent resistant|
|6.||Gorilla 2 Part Epoxy, .85 Ounce Syringe||Quick setting epoxy, multi-surface use, very transparent, good strength|
|7.||PC Products PC-Clear Epoxy Adhesive Liquid||The fastest setting, solid bonding, gap filling, transparent, and air-tight cap seal|
1. West System G/Flex Epoxy (2-4oz)
Majority of knife makers tout West System G Flex as the best epoxy for knife handles. Well, it probably is, but the reason we have this epoxy at number one is its superior strength.
The two-part epoxy comes in 4oz bottles. When mixed in equal ratios by weight, or creates a seriously solid bond of unmatched strength that last many decades.
Unlike other epoxies, it is not brittle and is resistant to vibrations and shock. That’s because it is slightly flexible, allowing it to accommodate any impact from dropping and pounding.
It is also waterproof and unaffected by solvents. Another great thing about GFlex as a knife handle epoxy is that it has a 30-45 minutes work time. That is ample amount of time to assemble, align and tweak the knife parts before clamping.
It is a slow-cooking epoxy and sets in at least five hours. Complete cure is at least 24 hours. If you are looking for a foolproof knife handle epoxy that can take anything you throw at it, we highly recommend this product.
2. J-B Weld ClearWeld 5 Minute Epoxy
Second place in strength and durability is JB Weld 5 minutes epoxy. The brand is lauded for its super-effective adhesives for steel and other materials, and this product is no different.
The epoxy is as solid as steel once set and is rated at PSI 3960 for strength. It bonds various materials, including metal, wood, and fiberglass.
Although labeled as a 5 minutes epoxy, it certainly cooks longer than that. It starts congealing and being unmanageable in 8 minutes. Compared to GFlex, you must hurry through assembly, especially for several knives.
JB Weld epoxy hardens in 4-5 hours and cures within 24 hours.
The highlight of this epoxy is its mess-free, waste-free dispensing mechanism. The 2-in-1 syringe is cleverly designed to express equal amounts of epoxy and hardener, eliminating guesstimation.
On top of that, it tightly seals any leftover product, so the epoxy remains usable in the future.
3. Bob Smith Industries Clear Slow-Cure Epoxy
Third on the list is Bob Smiths Industries slow cure epoxy. This epoxy performs extremely well for knife making.
It provides the most secure reinforcement on metal, wood, and other materials. Rated at 4500psi, the bonding is as solid as a rock.
The epoxy goes on thin, settling in crevices, and is very clear. It sets in 30 minutes, and complete curing takes 24 hours.
Notwithstanding, many reviewers reported the working time to be less than 10 minutes and not 30 minutes as claimed.
You also have to be very accurate with the equal amounts of the epoxy and hardener, as well as temperature and humidity requirements, and thorough mixing; otherwise, it won’t cure well.
It is a crazy good epoxy when mixed right and about the strongest out there; relatively affordable, but also too meticulous, more so for beginners.
4. Devcon Epoxy, 2 Ton Epoxy
Fourth place is Devcon 2 ton, a reliable name among epoxy users. It is easy to mix with a good flow and excellent gap-filling qualities.
Devon 2 ton is one of the strongest epoxies you can get your hands on, with a rating of 2500psi. It is also resistant to radiation and extreme temperatures.
The slow cure epoxy provides users thirty minutes of work time, after which it begins to set. Curing is attained after 24 hours.
The shelf life of this epoxy once opened is, however, wanting. It clumps and dries up quickly once opened, perhaps because the caps don’t provide a tight seal.
Unless you are crafting many knives and plan on utilizing the entire 8oz, it can be a wasteful purchase.
5. Loctite Marine Epoxy 0.85-Fluid Ounce Syringe
Marine epoxies are the best for watertight knife handles. That is what you need if you’ll be regularly washing your knives.
In that regard, we chose the Loctite marine epoxy, which is not just tough and durable but also seriously waterproof. It is also resistant to vibration, shock, and solvents.
Loctite has a high bonding power with sheer strength rated at 3000psi. The epoxy is compatible with all surfaces except a few plastics.
It comes in a convenient double syringe for clean and uniform extruding of epoxy and hardener. It is thin only within the first few seconds of mixing but thickens quickly, making it harder to flow in gaps.
It also takes a long time to harden with a set time of 50 minutes.
Its white color, however, can be a deal-breaker for some people as it tends to be visible. But if strength and durability are your priorities over aesthetics, we strongly suggest this wonderful product from a reputable brand.
6. Gorilla 2 Part Epoxy, .85 Ounce Syringe
The Gorilla brand has a lot of amazing repair products. It’s no surprise that epoxy made the list.
It is a two-part epoxy that comes in a syringe with separate chambers for epoxy and hardener. This allows for easy and equal dispensing by the push of one plunger.
We also liked the tight-sealing cap that keeps any remaining product usable even after a long period.
The epoxy bonds with a wide range of materials. Also, it dries transparent, unlike many epoxies with a yellow tinge.
And finally, here’s an epoxy that sets fast; no more delays. You get about 5 minute of working time, and firmness is reached in 30 minutes.
7. PC Products PC-Clear Epoxy Adhesive Liquid
Next in line is the PC clear epoxy. It is one of the few epoxies that do a commendable job with knife handles.
The epoxy is rated at 2300psi with a pretty solid bond at full cure. It is easy to work as it goes on thin, fills gaps nicely, and dries crystal clear.
But the tip of the iceberg is the thoughtfully designed syringe dispenser. There’s no way your leftover epoxy is drying out, so if you have been throwing out a lot of wasted dried-up epoxy, you want to try PC.
The double syringe is made with a twist mechanism at the bottom. Turning it at a 90 degrees angle tightly seals off the two compartments.
A tiny protruding piece has to lock in the right groove within its holding frame to replace it. Those unfamiliar with this design may find it impossible to replace the cap.
PC epoxy sets very quickly and has a short working time. The 4 minutes indicated in the package is about right.
Once epoxy and hardener are mixed, there’s limited time to work it, so you must act fast in applying and wiping off excess. It hardens enough for handling in an hour, but the full cure is 24 hours.
There’s no reason not to try this epoxy for your knife handle as it is incredibly affordable too. It is not compatible with plastic, though, and may not be a good choice for plastic knife handles.
Epoxy is your best bet when it comes to joining knife scales securely for decades. It works well with steel, wood, fiberglass, and other materials commonly preferred for the job.
However, there are over a dozen epoxy variants, so you must consider a few factors to find the best one for knife handles. These include waterproof, shockproof, resistant to extreme temperatures, solvents, UV, and most importantly, strong enough against the stress knives undergo.
We recommend any of the best epoxies for knife handles featured above. Each has its uniqueness and strengths, so you won’t fail to find one tailored to your needs.
Here’s an insightful video on epoxy basics when knife making by Walter Sorrels with great tips to help you get started. Happy knife-making!