(copied from my blog post
Two days ago I posted about the wooden scales I made for my Swiss Army Knife, more specifically a 84mm Tinker knife. Yesterday I took the scales off to engrave them with my name and put some slightly darker varnish on them, and today when they were dry I thought I’d go to the store and get some glue to attach them since I used up what I had left the first time around. I was browsing the multitool.org forums which I’ve done so much since I found the site, and came across a thread with a guy making brand new scales for a Leatherman Squirt by machining them out from a single piece of aluminum. I thought it was cool, and even though I don’t have the tools to machine something out from a single block of metal I do have access to enough tools to get somewhat of the same result. I jumped on my bike and went off to the workshop at work where I had everything I needed to do so.
The workshop is both awesome and annoying at the same time. They have a lot of big, awesome machines I don’t have at home and the scrap bin is enough to keep me happy for years in terms of materials, but they lack the smaller tools that I have myself, like a Dremel or precision belt sander.
I started off with a single piece of steel and used the old plastic scales to draw a rough shape on the steel piece. I cut out the rough scape using an angle grinder and continued to work it down to size. After getting the shape more correct I put the scales in a vise along with the old plastic scales and drilled straight through the old scales to get the holes perfectly aligned on the steel on the other side. After making sure it fit I worked on the shape some more while attached to the knife so get it perfect.
After that it was time to make the scales thinner and round them off. I used a sanding disc with the angle grinder and reduced the size drastically while shaping the scales, cooling them off every few seconds as they got very hot. I switched to a belt sander to get more precision and then packed up and went home, where the precision belt sander took over and smoothed it all out. Lastly I used some sand-like polishing “goo” from one of my Dremel kits to give them that brushed look, then attached the scales using super glue. The whole process took about 2.5 hours and even though the scales added a lot of weight, I like the end result very much.