After re-grinding, I take the blade to my finishing room, and hand sand it. I usually start with 320, if I ended with 240 on the grinder. Polishing really goes fairly quickly, if I did a good job on the machine. If the blade had waves and dips, polishing takes forever! On this step, Iím sanding in the opposite direction that the machine did, which means Iím going lengthwise.
After 320, I switch to 400 grit, and I change the direction, so Iím sanding 90 degrees to what I did last step.
Once all the 320 grit scratches are gone, I change back to a lengthwise stroke, and use 600 grit, until all the 400 grit scratches are gone. If Iím doing a hamon, then I keep going until I work up to 1500 grit. But for most knives, I quit at 600.
At this point, the blade is ready to be fitted to the guard if itís a partial tang knife, and if itís full tang, with no guard, itís ready for the handle slabs.
To make the guard, I take a piece of barstock, draw a line down the middle, center punch at the appropriate intervals, drill a series of holes, then use a round file to remove the ďwebĒ between each hole. The I use a coarse, flat file to make the slot square and the size I want.
After itís fitted, I do most of the heavy shaping on the belt grinder. The surface that faces the blade gets itís final finish, and then the guard is J-B Welded on.
Next, I take the block of handle material and clamp it up in the drill press and drill out the slot where the tang will go.
Next I mix up some epoxy, flow it into the slot and insert the tang. I clamp the blade in a vise, and use a bunch of rubber bands to apply pressure on the block, to keep it snug against the guard.
After the epoxy is set up, I drill a hole through the block and tang, and install a pin.
Next I shape the handle on the belt grinder, using various sizes of work wheel, and then polish using a flexible slack belt.
Last step, if itís a wood handle, I seal with several coats of Danish oil. If itís Micarta, sometimes Iíll bead blast it to give it a nice non-slip surface.