Wrapping the handle is fine. If you look at some of the artwork...not sure if it's abec's or fan art...the handle is in a spiral wrap. Personally I'll be using a flat leather wrap stitched up both sides (I have to keep the handle in two pieces for this to work, since I have to sew it inside out, then roll it on).
Budget constraints are holding me back. I really, REALLY want to grab some Polyurethane resin ($85/gallon + $15 shipping...220 miles ish), but they don't take paypal (BillMeLater, lol), so unless I get a normal credit card (which I keep getting denied despite having a pretty good credit score) I'm pretty much held up til mid-march. I can work on Dark Repulser some (edges need finished, detail sculpting with Apoxie, the crossguard gems ARE going to be Polyester resin), but otherwise I'm at a full stop. Anything with a load of detail or semi-large volume I need PU resin (or epoxy, which means I'd need a mail scale) to avoid the shrinkage.
And we're not even talking paints yet. Thankfully, I have some good contacts in a local auto tool/paint supplier, so I can probably work out a deal with them.
I wish I made more than $17k/year (that's slightly above average around here, by the way)...