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The Newbies Arena Are you new to knife making? Here is all the help you will need.

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  #1  
Old 11-27-2002, 11:47 AM
Tom Tom is offline
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Suitable handle materials

Hi Guys

I'm renovating an old house and upon ripping out an old fire surround was advised that it is mado of old growth(1930s) teak and mahogany. I know that these are usually considered furniture makers woods but is there a specific reason not to use them as knife handles. If not any suggestions as to how they should be treated/stabilised.

Cheers
Tom
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  #2  
Old 11-28-2002, 10:38 PM
Jakedog Jakedog is offline
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Material

Well I do not know a lot about knives (at this point). However, I would know that both mahogany and teak are pretty hard woods and I think that either would make fine handle materials. That is why sailors use them for their boats, very durable. Someone with more experience please correct me if I am wrong. I have a 5" x 5" x 6' piece of mahogany that I plan to use in the near future. I do not think either needs to be stabilized.

Bill


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  #3  
Old 11-29-2002, 02:03 AM
rickcook rickcook is offline
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handle material

I wouldn't call either teak or mahagony particularly hard woods, but they should both make nice handles.

When I'm carving I use mahagony for preference when doing relief carvings because it is easy to carve (ie, fairly soft), holds detail well and finishes nicely. I've also used teak and find it somewhat harder but not nearly as hard as things like wenge, redheart, Brazilian cherry or other woods I typically make handles with.
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  #4  
Old 11-30-2002, 06:39 PM
Dan Graves Dan Graves is offline
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Teak and Mahoghany

The boat builders used this wood because it was more suitable for water. There are more than a thousand different species of mahoghny and a great deal has to do with wich one you have. A plywood called luann is sold at Hone Depot. You can write your name with your thumbnail. Very soft wood. Some mahogany is hardwood. My advice is, if you spend all that time on making a knife, use good handle material. If you want to use wood, there are a lot of handle material sold at knife supply houses that are good and not expensive. But some is not real good. They sell walnut at supply houses that you can dent with your thumbnail. Soft woods that have a pretty grain are stabilized for knife use. You want a handle that will take the abuse that I knife will get. I like cocabola, dessert ironwood. African blackwoodetc. These woods are very dense. Some are oily and do not need sealing. My hole point of rambling on is that, know what you use and and how to treat it (seal , stabilize, etc) for knife use. If the mahogany or teak will pass the thumbnail tests, than you could use it. Just not my choice for a knife. I am a cabinet maker and would make something out of it. It is good wood.


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  #5  
Old 11-30-2002, 09:16 PM
rickcook rickcook is offline
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mahagony et al

I should have been more specific. I was talking about the 'true' mahoganies, which come from central and south America and are all (I think) swietenia species. All the pieces of those I've seen pass the thumbnail test with ease. (The original mahogany came from places like Cuba, but you're not likely to find any of that around today.)

There are a number of other hardwoods that are sold as 'mahogany' of some sort (ie, 'African mahogany', 'Phillippine mahogany', etc.) which are much more variable. The various species called 'Phillippine mahogany' in particular are questionable for something like a knife handle. Not only are they soft and splintery, but the grain is extremely open.

You said you were salvaging this wood from an old house, so I assumed you would be getting one of the true mahoganies. But that's only true if the wood was installed more than about 50 years ago. Later than that and you're increasingly likely to be getting Phillippine Mahogany.

All the teak I've ever seen would be hard enough for knife handles. But both teak and mahogany need to be sealed in some way because they have very open pores.

So give it them thumbnail test and then decide if you want to use it. It might be especially worthwile if the pieces have unusual grain or figure.
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  #6  
Old 12-01-2002, 03:09 AM
Tom Tom is offline
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Hi Guys

Thanks for the info. The mahogany is at least 75 years old so I would imagine it is true mahogany. Both woods pass the thumbnail test but as far as i can see neither have particularly good grain or figure. So I think i'll save it and make my wife a jewellry box or something.

Thanks
Tom
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  #7  
Old 12-01-2002, 07:54 AM
C L Wilkins C L Wilkins is offline
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As a former wood worker (that still has all of his fingers!) be aware of some of the inherit traits of teak. Teak has silica in it. It will dull drill bits and saw blades post haste, as in RIGHT NOW. I would recommend using carbide tipped sawblades for cutting.

When working with any wood and especially teak, wear a respirator. The silica will play heck on your respiratory system and is quite harmful. Many a wood worker that has worked primarily with teak have contracted silicosos, the same lung disorder that plague workers that do a lot sandblasting.

Craig
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  #8  
Old 12-01-2002, 12:13 PM
Tom Tom is offline
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Hi There

Thanks for the heads up.

Cheers
Tom
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