View Full Version : Newbee needs help

11-25-2007, 05:28 PM
Hello, everybody.
I am na new kid on the block and have ten millions questions.
To begin with:
I have some nice woods for handles, but they are not stabilized.
Somebody told me that treating it (a ready handle I assume) with some good polyurethan woot finisher will do the trick. Is that so?

Also: I tryed to polish some wood handles, but they are loosing the color after polishing.
Simply speaking - they become "dirty" simi-chrom compound gets into wood pours and make handles look "dirty"
What do I do wrong?

Some makers are using spacer material between handles and tang on slab handles knives.
Is it for decoration only or it has some mechanical or technical benefits?

I have much, much more questions, but let's start with theese.
Thanks to all who are reading my nonsence and my gratitude to those who are trying to help.

Doug Lester
11-25-2007, 10:23 PM
Only ten million questions, you're doing good. It would be nice to know what types of wood we're talking about. On the wood, reguardless of type you have, it has to be dry. Then some woods are notoriously stable to begin with and really do not need any stabilization. I'm kind of thinking off the top of my head, but I think that Lignum vitae, Osage Orange, Deseart Ironwood, Mesquite, and some of the other really hard woods really don't need stabilizing. The oily woods such as the Rosewoods, Cocobolo, Kingwood, and African Blackwood buff up just fine on their own and are pretty stable too on their own. Some of these will resist treatment because of the oil in them. Other woods need to be at least sealed before finishing. The spalted woods and some of the softer woods such as Cottonwood and Cyprus and probably all of the burles need stabilization. The best thing to do is to Google the woods that you have and find out what their requirements are.

Stabilization can be as hard as you want it to be. A vacuume chamber can be nice, but not necessarily essential. The best ones for small lots, unless you just happen to have a vacuume pump around and you feel an outstanding need to build a vacuume table and a bell jar, is one of those vacuume canners with one of the large jars that come with them. You can, however, just soak it in solution for a several days. I've used Nelsonite, which leaves a natural feeling piece of wood, but it's towards the pricy side. That is unless you're checking out some of the other commercial wood hardeners, then it's cheap. The bad thing about it is that I didn't find that it hardens soft wood. I've used Thompsons Wood Sealer. It didn't thrill me, don't ask me why, but the price is good. Far better than Nelsonite. Then there are the hardening oils which, admittedly, I have only used with a vacuum, but it should penitrate most woods well by just soaking if done long enough. The cheapest of these is boiled linseed oil. There's also Danish Oil but again were starting to get into a price issue here. Hardening oils get hard as they dry and oxidize. They also generate heat as they dry so watch out for leaving the oil on rags, especially all bunched up. For really soft or punky wood, like some of the soft spots on spalted wood, needs to have some pretty hard resins introduce into the wood fibers to be strong enough to use as knife handles. Look for some of the products that are used to stabilze rotting woods on fences and decks, again we are starting to get a little pricy. Then are are outfits that offer stabilization. You'll need to check with them as to requirements and limitations.

Hope this helped and I'm certain that others will chime in too. Just think, now you only have 9,999,999 questions to go.

Doug Lester

11-25-2007, 11:47 PM
Welcome to the forums!

The reason your wood is discoloring is more than likely due to open pores in the wood absorbing buffing grit. Stabilizing/sealing the handle will prevent this.

Stabilizing is when you impregnate the wood all the way through with some sort of stabilizing agent. Sealing is where you just coat the surface, but the underlaying wood is still in its natural state. Stabilizing is a much better process since it helps prevent warping, cracking, etc. But you can seal the wood that way it doesn't absorb water or discolor when you buff. I like to use cyanoacrylates (super glue) to seal the surface on projects I am not stabilizing. Basically you just shape the handle to the dimensions you want then seal it with super glue and do your finish sanding (220 grit of finer) then you can buff and you shouldn't get discoloration. Just don't overheat when buffing and using buffing compound near the color of your wood is a good idea.

I've heard of people having good results using Minwax wood sealer that you can buy at most hardware stores for stabilizing. I'm not a big fan of polyurethane for knife use.

From my understanding of it the spacer material is mostly for looks. I've read that vulcanized spacer material is supposed to strengthen the bond but in my experience it doesn't make a difference.

Hope that helped some,

11-26-2007, 11:21 AM
Easiest for me is to go to Knife and Gun Finishing Supply or WSSI for stabilizing.

For stag dyeing, should you like it, go to Culpepper Company, Inc.

You'll probably have to call them to get information on what you want.

12-06-2007, 08:34 AM
Hello, everybody!
Thank you for taking you time to answer my question.
Here is a nother one of 9,999,999 remaining.
Task in hands: slab handle on the tapered tang. Usind Bob Loveless or Curby or any type of bolt-type revets.
I drill the hole in the handle before tapering. Assuming that holes are drilled in 90 degrees against the handle.
Problem: If I drill holes in slabs before I taper the tang and then mount them on the handle, holes in the slabs and in the handle will be on different angles.
If I drill the holes in slabs after I taper the tang, then hole in each slab will correspond to the hole in handle, but they will not correspond to each other. This create a cituation when slabs are uneven after mounting. Specially in the front, by the ricasso.
Anybody came across such problem? I'd relly like to hear how to overcome it.

12-06-2007, 08:50 AM
think the easiest way to attach the scales/slabs is to do one at a time, eg fit one side drill from the tang then fix the next scale by drilling through the predrilled hole. then the holes should be perfectly inline


12-06-2007, 09:24 AM
I fit and super glue one handle slab on, clamp in a horizontal drill press vise, mounted on the drill press table, then drill one side, glue other side on and drill it. This keeps the drill holes perpendicular to the axis of the knife. Works for me.
Here's a link that has some good ideas:

12-06-2007, 09:39 AM
Hey Greg, I don't think Steve is going to say anything, so I'd like to suggest you get his video. I bet 90% of your questions are answered in it. I don't think you're going to find a better one out there.

01-28-2008, 08:33 PM
Hello, again!
Another bunch of question, if you do not mind.
What would be the most popular micarta?
G10 natural green (kind'o mint green), G10 black, linen natural (dark honey, light brown)
paper based black (xx) ????

Would paper based XX make a good handle? (I can't get my hands on paper based XXX)

Also, I am fighting with handle a guard dimensions.
On the average 3" -to - 4" hunter/skinner with 4.5" handle, what would be recommended handle thickness?
What would be recommended guard thickness? How thick should be "palm swell"
I realize, that it is all very individual, but I am struggling with it.
My problem: I have a small hand with long skinny fingers (I was told that I should be either musician or pick-poketer. Well, I am not a musician :} )
Most of the time, when I try to make handle - if it is comfortable for me, it is not comfortable for other people.

Sorry for a headache, and thanks a lot for your time and attention.

01-28-2008, 11:47 PM
Any micarta will work. It's a personal preference thing, to a great degree. The new G10's are great and stronger, but how strong can a handle get?

I don't know what you mean by xx and xxx wood micarta. I personally don't think you'll have a lot of demand for wood micartas. Paper base, as long as it isn't white, is fine, as far as I know.
My guards are ether 5/6" or 3/8", usually. Occasionally I use 1/4" guard material.
You might just have to learn to make handles that feel "too big" for you. They might be "just right" for those with larger hands. 4.5" seems kind of long for a short bladed knife, IMO. Thickness is more a "feel thing, to me, rather than a measurement. You'll develop a feel for the right handle for the specific blade size.