I used my Ka-Bar BK 14 a little bit and thought about how I wanted to color the scales. I thought staining them might look good. To test the stains, I prepared some small blocks of the same Water Oak I used on the scales. I looked through the stains I had and picked a couple that I thought would look good. Here’s a pic of the stained test pieces.
In the end, I really didn’t like any of the stains. It didn’t darken the wood the way I was hoping it would so I decided to go with a simple Boiled Linseed Oil finish. It’s easy to apply and renewable in case I need to touch the finish up later.
While I was using the knife, I went to put it into the sheath and noticed that scales were too long in the front. As a result, the knife wouldn’t fully seat in the sheath and wasn’t retained as tightly as it would normally be. In retrospect, this is something obvious I should have checked but I managed to overlook it. Oops! Here’s a picture of the knife in the sheath showing where the scales were contacting.
Here’s a pic to compare with the one below to show how I changed the front of the scales.
To fix this problem, I removed the scales again and sanded then down to make them 1/8 inch shorter. Once I checked to make sure they no longer hit the sheath, I rounded the edges over to smooth it all out. When I was happy with the overall shape of the scales, I sanded them to 240 grit and put a couple coats of Boiled Linseed Oil on them. Here’s how they came out.
I had considered stripping the coating on the knife, but at this point I’m going to leave it alone. I’m curious to see how well it holds up over time. I think this simple project came out well and helped improve the usability of the knife for me. I think that anyone could successfully accomplish this project with a little bit of time and effort. Customizing knives is fun. So, you might see some more of this kinda stuff. Ka-Bar has some other cool and historic knives that I have my eyes on. Just don’t tell the wife!