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Picture of Stacked Leather Knife Handle

You may have seen axes and knives with brown, striped handles. While modern copies may be made from plastic or composite material, that striped pattern was originally the result of stacked leather.

A stacked leather handle is incredibly comfortable and durable. It's also a great way to use up scraps of thick leather. It requires a fair bit of planning and some special tools and techniques, but the result is very rewarding and unique. As always, I've tried to provide alternatives to expensive tools and materials where I can. Remember, though, that the quality of your end product will depend on the quality of the material, skill, and time that you put in to it.

Step 1: Tools and Materials Overview

There are a lot of different options for the tools and materials you'll need. I'll get into specific requirements in future steps.


  • razor knife
  • ruler
  • rotary tool with drill bits and sanding drums
  • sandpaper - various grits from 120 to 600
  • knife vise:
    • two thick 4" x 4" plates (UHMW, metal, or wood)
    • 2' threaded rod (approx. 3/8" thick)
    • 4 nuts and 4 washers that fit on rod


  • thick veg-tanned leather scraps (6-8 oz. or thicker)
  • knife blade with hidden tang
  • bolster material (I used tagua nut; hardwood is another fine choice)
  • leather cement
  • Gorilla Glue
kekker7011 days ago
I also make Pens the same way
Jan 1. 2015 008.JPG
Cherzer4 months ago
Ooo! I have a bunch of leather scraps, now I just need to figure out what needs a cool new handle. Thanks for the idea!
iacchus5 months ago
Nice instructions. I have no experience working with leather except for a wallet in art class back in the late 70's in the 8th grade. I have an Estwing hatchet I found with little signs of wear however the top piece of leather broke off and it feels like a piece has expanded near the bottom. I've tried Estwing - they no longer do repairs... Any suggestions are welcome.
seamster5 months ago
This is a neat technique, I like it! I have an old hammer with a stacked leather handle, but the individual pieces have shrunken and become loose. I wonder if I can "rehydrate" them . . or maybe add more in the way you've shown here. Hmm. Thank you for sharing this process!
Noodleworks (author)  seamster5 months ago
sidecar1235 months ago
I also have an old hammer that the leather handle that is worn and beyond hope.
Is it possible to use the top or shaft part of old boots for the leather to replace the handle?
Thanks for the informative instructable.
Noodleworks (author)  sidecar1235 months ago
I'm not sure leather from a boot would work the same as veg-tanned. You could test it by cutting a few pieces, soaking, and clamping them in a stack. See if they'll sand/polish or just fray like fabric.