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Thread: Lightest handle material?

  1. #1
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    Lightest handle material?


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    So what in your experience is the lightest handle material that you would actually feel comfortable using? The knee-jerk answer is probably going to be carbon fiber for many, but in my limited experience of handling and selling a bit of the stuff a few years backlit isn't all that light in thickness that we might use. It is intended to be much lighter WHEN replacing metals or thicker pieces of other types of composites of comparable strength.stiffness,etc. But if you are using a 3/8 thick piece because that is what you need for scales, it doesn't seem all that light because it is overkill for the MECHANICAL properties that you might be looking for. How does say a properly laminated 1 x 1.5 x 5 block of CF with no voids compare weight wise to a block of curly maple? Same question for G-10. I know that Micarta sure feels heavier to me than maple or walnut.

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    G-10 is quite heavy too. Heavier than micarta, slightly.

    Walnut or curly maple, natural as in unstabilized, is probably some of the lightest stuff that's still perfectly sound for use. Buckeye would be very light but it's one of the very few I doubt I'd use unstabilized, though if you had a pretty solid piece of figured stuff it'd probably be just fine.

    Stabilizing makes most woods approach, or in some cases exceed, the weight of micarta and g-10.
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    Everything John said. I think black locust would be some of the best as far as dry unstabilized wood durability but lighter than iron wood or similar, but it's plain and featureless.

    Maple would be my lightweight preference. Actually I bought some from John just for this purpose. 😎

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdm61 View Post
    So what in your experience is the lightest handle material that you would actually feel comfortable using? The knee-jerk answer is probably going to be carbon fiber for many, but in my limited experience of handling and selling a bit of the stuff a few years backlit isn't all that light in thickness that we might use. It is intended to be much lighter WHEN replacing metals or thicker pieces of other types of composites of comparable strength.stiffness,etc. But if you are using a 3/8 thick piece because that is what you need for scales, it doesn't seem all that light because it is overkill for the MECHANICAL properties that you might be looking for. How does say a properly laminated 1 x 1.5 x 5 block of CF with no voids compare weight wise to a block of curly maple? Same question for G-10. I know that Micarta sure feels heavier to me than maple or walnut.
    Rubberized cork , but most lightest material would be pure cork wrapped in carbon


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    One of the first knives I got when I was first getting into the hobby was a SOG Flash 2. Its handle is like some sort of FRN material and is extremely light. Seems durable enough. My Manix 2 Lightweight is Fibre Reinforced Co-Polymer which feels very lightweight as well, however it doesn't feel as sturdy as FRN. FRCP feels like it would chip if you dropped it on concrete. FRN doesn't feel like it would chip if you dropped it.

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    I agree, John. With stabilized wood, you are essentially creating a composite, but with wood fiber instead of some form "textile". Probably not quite as heavy as the others because you probably don't get the same level of "wetting." " Cold molded" wood boats, which are made from layers of timber or plywood stuck together with barrels worth of epoxy are lighter than solid fiberglass boats, but about the same weight as the really high tech foam or honeycomb cored boats with outer skins of composite. When I first read about stabilized woods years ago, they article was basically saying that the plasticizer takes up some of the space that would-be normally occupied by water in a "fresh" piece of wood.
    Quote Originally Posted by J. Doyle View Post
    G-10 is quite heavy too. Heavier than micarta, slightly.

    Walnut or curly maple, natural as in unstabilized, is probably some of the lightest stuff that's still perfectly sound for use. Buckeye would be very light but it's one of the very few I doubt I'd use unstabilized, though if you had a pretty solid piece of figured stuff it'd probably be just fine.

    Stabilizing makes most woods approach, or in some cases exceed, the weight of micarta and g-10.

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    As a maker of fixed blades, I run into the issue of a handle having to be yea thick. That's is where you end up with CF or even G-10 being overkill. Who needs 1/2 inch of solid CF on a knife? Its kind of the opposite compared to the folder guys where 1/8 SS is going to be heavier than 1/8 Ti.

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    No reason you couldn't frame or cut pockets in thick carbon.

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    You are still never going to get it down to the thinness where you only have what you need + 10%. We also can't really use cored products as we have a tendency to grind into the edges of the material a lot. Plus, do you want to be milling out bunch of CF?
    Quote Originally Posted by kuraki View Post
    No reason you couldn't frame or cut pockets in thick carbon.

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    Foam material such as foam aluminum !

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdm61 View Post
    You are still never going to get it down to the thinness where you only have what you need + 10%. We also can't really use cored products as we have a tendency to grind into the edges of the material a lot. Plus, do you want to be milling out bunch of CF?
    Then use light wood for handle , shape it as desired and above you wrapped carbon That way you have best from both ..........


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    Quote Originally Posted by jdm61 View Post
    You are still never going to get it down to the thinness where you only have what you need + 10%. We also can't really use cored products as we have a tendency to grind into the edges of the material a lot. Plus, do you want to be milling out bunch of CF?
    Sure, why not? It in putting in the mill I'm milling both sides and under coolant.

    My biggest fear would be getting too thin and it cracking in the users hand I guess.

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    Check out the Lion Steel Ti Dust.

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    This is turning into a "confirmation bias" thread as i was already thinking maple or walnut.

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    maple alright to use unstabilized? been looking for something to lighten up my handles. I make wa style handles and primarily out of rosewood/blackwood/ironwood atm so they are pretty heavy.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Natlek View Post
    Rubberized cork , but most lightest material would be pure cork wrapped in carbon

    good call Natlek - cork, cork, cork! But it won't withstand a zombie apocalypse or a napalm bomb, so as you already know gonna see very few makers using it. How hard is it to make another set of cork scales should your originals suffer blemishes? Prob not that hard, and prob way cheaper than going out and getting that followup custom leather sheath that will spend its entire life in a safe.

    Cork good enough for $500 fishing rods and the best trekking poles, so it's good enough for one of a man's many knives.

  18. #18
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    Maple and walnut have been used on guns of centuries, You just have to put some kind of finish on it and you can go crazy with that.
    Quote Originally Posted by comet_sharp View Post
    maple alright to use unstabilized? been looking for something to lighten up my handles. I make wa style handles and primarily out of rosewood/blackwood/ironwood atm so they are pretty heavy.

  19. #19
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    I like to use Bubinga when I want a light, strong, and attractive handle material that doesn't require stabilization.

  20. #20
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    If I wanted light weight and durability, I would use paracord.
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