A few years ago, I wrote an article about a knife I made to carry for SWAT. Since rekindling the knifemaking hobby again last year, I decided to construct another blade, this one as a homage to my two decades spent carrying an H&K MP-5 on duty. But this knife had to be special.
This SWAT knife would be the third blank of my 3 1/2”-bladed series in Alabama Damascus steel. I felt the handles should be black and OD green to reflect the uniforms I was issued. Although I glued up a pair of bi-colored slabs from commercial Micarta, I wanted to do something more personal.
On a lark late one Sunday afternoon, I found myself at a West Marine supply store purchasing epoxy resin and hardener meant for boating applications. The internet had sent me on an adventure to make my very own handle scales!
Rummaging through a closet, I located two sets of BDU’s that I had worn at work, but no longer fit me. Curse age-related inflation. I took scissors to ripstop and cut the fabric of the uniforms into single-layer rectangles of about 3” x 5”.
Assembling clamps, wood boards, wax paper, brushes, and the fiberglass resin on my deck, I was ready to make what some call “My-carta.” I remember building homemade skimboards in my youth, so I have worked with the nasty resin. I was prepared for an outdoor mess.
I laid up the cloth on the wax paper, soaking each rectangle individually. I figured 36 layers would amount to about a 1/4” in thickness. It was important to get the material thoroughly impregnated since I had read that polyester-blend fabrics did not always accept the resin well.
With crossed fingers, I clamped the sets of black and green goo. After letting them cure for an anxious 24 hours, I unwrapped my scales and found the material to be solid and usable! I cut off a sample piece of the OD green and sanded it to see the pattern. I was satisfied. You could even see the ripstop stitching in the material. Now, back to knifemaking.
Measuring twice before the first cut, I mated the black to the green, including black G-10 spacer material. The rest involved drilling and fitting the scales for G-10 pins and a carbon fiber lanyard tube, then epoxying them to the finished blade.
Shaping the handle, sharpening the blade, and forming a Kydex sheath completed my SWAT Knife II project.
The final product very much pleased me. Not only is it a nice little knife, but the homemade handle scales bring back good memories (and some slightly less good) of a rough job that has to be done and amazing experiences I never thought I would have.