Customising a Mora Companion Knife

A finished matching set

In terms of essential tools the knife has got to be up near the top of everyone’s bushcraft list. Available in seemingly endless sizes, shapes, materials and grinds, every knife has its own unique qualities that will fuel many debates around the campfire. For everyone who has an idea of what makes the perfect knife there will be a knife maker willing to sell you an option to fit your budget. This often means that there is an N+1 approach to owning knifes (where N is the number of knives you currently own). I have to confess to being guilty of this with many a sharp and shiny item capturing my attention. Over the years I’ve ended up with quite a few and like many people at least one Mora companion makes up that collection. In fact I’ve ended up with quite a few Mora companions; so I decided to customise one, not because there is anything wrong with the original (in fact they’re superb knives) but merely because I wanted to ditch the plastic handle and see what I could make. If you don’t fancy cutting up a perfectly usable knife there are plenty of blades out there you can buy and do the same project.

An absolute classic bushcraft knife
An absolute classic bushcraft knife – the Mora Companion

So with a new Mora in hand I headed out to the shed to see what could be made. First job is to wrap the blade in many layers of tape. The purpose of this is to protect the blade from being damaged while you work on it and secondly to protect you from the unsheathed blade. Once safely taped, place the knife in a vice or workbench and cut down through the plastic handle parallel with the blade using a hacksaw. The tape should protect the cutting edge from getting scratched. With some effort remove the blade from the handle and you’re ready to begin making your own handle.

Removing the handle
Removing the handle.

I’ve done this project before using some antler and having quite a bit in the shed I decided to try a slightly different section of antler than before (if you don’t have any antler, head to a pet shop and look in the dog chew section, there are often some nice antler pieces). For this project I used a piece cut from the centre of the antler as I planned to add a wooden end. Drill out the soft inner of the antler to the depth of the blade tang. You can remove all the soft inner marrow but remember the more you take out the more glue you will need to replace it. I’d recommend drilling out a slot and then widening this towards the front as this is where most of the force will be applied.

Next I made a brass bolster by cutting some brass plate to the rough shape of the antler, drilling a line of holes to the width of the blade and then carefully filing the slot to give a snug fit with the blade. Flatten the antler so that the brass bolster fits flat with no gaps and check the position of the blade in the handle. I hold the antler in my hand and make sure the blade looks square with how it fits with my hand.

Adding the brass bolster
Adding the brass bolster.

Next I filled the slot in the antler with epoxy and coated the back of the bolster with glue, I used tape to hold everything in place as it dried. I used 15 minute epoxy to ensure nothing moved while waiting for it to dry.

Shaping the bolster
Shaping and attaching the bolster.

Next I shaped the brass to fit the antler and drilled out the marrow on the rear of the antler to accept a wooden end. I used the same process as making the antler needle case: using oak for the end and epoxying this in place.

Adding the end cap
Adding the end cap.

The next step is to shape the whole handle to a shape you feel comfortable with. This is down to personal taste but don’t go too thin on the antler. A combination of files, rasps and sandpaper should get you to a final shape and finish you should like. I worked the shape of the handle and bolster to something I found comfortable and that I liked the look of. Remember, you can always take more off, but you can’t stick it back on.

Shaping everything for comfort
Shaping everything for comfort.

For a finishing coat I used gun oil, but any finish that drys fully works well as a protective coating.

Finally polish the brass bolster to complete the knife. Unwrap the blade and see how it all looks and feels, you can always make further modifications if you don’t like the way it’s turned out. 

The finished knife:

The finished knife
The finished knife.

Here’s a few other examples.

A finished matching set
A finished matching set.

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