The following was collected from another thread and moved here for relevance:
It's so dry out here in Colorado that your nose bleeds in the winter (no lie). Winter is also much dryer than summer and summer is definitely dry compared to where I grew up in North Carolina. Organic handle material of all kinds will shrink, sometimes with disasterous results. I decided to experiment with a rehydration method and by gawd it works!
I've done this with several knives now. The results have been excellent with zero complications. People have asked, "Will it rust the blade etc.?" Uhhh.... no.
A picture is worth a thousand words so see for yourself:
Ricardo Vilar's sheep horn handle shrank badly, to say the least. It is now almost exactly like it was when I bought it from him in Atlanta at BLADE about three years ago. You may not be able to fully tell by the picture but the pins are now flush with the handle and there is no gap at the front of the handle. There remains a small gap on the lower half of handle/butt cap junction that admits a very thin piece of paper. I will return this knife to my hydration chamber for another month and see if that goes away too. I bet it will.
Here's a crude drawing of my rehydration chamber:
My experience is that sheep horn takes longer than ivory of any type. Wood is variable with softer, more open grain woods being faster to rehydrate than denser tight grain woods. Bone rehydrates relatively quickly too.
My strategy has been to rehydrate a handle in need, then apply Butcher's (bowling alley) Wax to retard shrinkage. I can't say if this will make a difference long term since I have also attempted to add a bit of humidity to areas in my home where knives are displayed or stored. But to my way of thinking wax offers more protection than say, mineral oil. I could be wrong but as long as I'm able to control handle shrinkage I probably won't worry about which product is better.
In response to comments and questions...
I got no results at all from submerging handles in mineral oil for days and even weeks at a time. That's part of what drove me to this experiment. In some cases I know the handle took mineral oil into natural cracks (fossil ivory) or joints because upon rehydrating them using this method the mineral oil would be slowly squeezed out and collect on the surface of the handle!! Every couple of days I'd wipe down the handles and marvel at what was going on.
The water in the trash can is just regular tap water. According to the dates I included in the before/after photo above, it took 74 days to get the results you see there. That's the longest of the ones I've tried. The louvered door was enamel painted wood - metal might scratch the finish. Other than that I don't see a problem with metal.
How do you protect from rust and corrosion forming? As above, it seems this process will also promote rust.
My working assumption is that there's so little moisture in the air around here that the increased humidity under my plexiglass box is enough to rehydrate (most?) organic handle materials, but not enough to induce oxidation on the ferrous surfaces of the knife. Going beyond that, I'd bet the localized humidity my contraption produces is not even close to that of your ambient conditions in Virginia. If I lived back in NC where I spent the first 29 years of my dubious life, my knife collection maintenance routines would be much more oriented toward preventing rust than preventing handle shrinking/cracking.
...mineral oil and such will deter cracking, however I don't think it will reverse (dehydration caused shrinkage etc.)
I think you've hit the nail on the head - my challenge here is to reverse something that mineral oil, wax and other treatments are meant to retard.
When I first realized I'd been in denial about the risk to some of my knife handles, and that the problem had gotten completely out of hand, it made me kind of crazy for a few days. I'd lie in bed at night and imagine I could hear my ivory handles cracking!
Here's one thing I hadn't contemplated until it actually happened: Imagine a beautiful folding knife with creamy ivory scales and perfect black-lip MOP escutcheons (one on either side) sitting inside it's fleece-lined "Bill's custom case" inside my safe. Now, imagine the ivory slowly shrinking over a period of 8-12 months, tightening around the non-shrinkable MOP. The MOP escutcheons begin to bulge and then one day they crack! Now imagine the feeling in the pit of your stomach when you go to the safe.... You get the picture. (May God bless the maker, who took pity on me and fixed everything, including a new stabilization treatment for the ivory!) I'm a lot wiser now, and I think I've found a way to reverse some of the shrinkage I've experienced and go forward from here with an aggressive prevention routine.
Last edited by HTMD; 05-17-2008 at 10:12 PM.
Last edited by Keith Montgomery; 12-31-2008 at 05:26 PM.
Avatar knife is by Charles Vestal. Sheath by Paul Long.
Any of these knives actually get used? A knife is a tool, so why prep it for some other bloke to abuse when you are old or dead.
Ha! a bit of rust? Scratch it off & oil it with whatever is around @ the time. Sharp is essential, tough is really good, pretty is kinda nice, & i DO keep some knives 'almost' as artworks, but they are tools, & i would rather i ground the blade away than some other dude!
I need help I have a limited edition sas commando knife. There was only 1000 made. It has a 24ct gold plated handle and on the blade has he sas motto and soldiers. I am trying to find out how much it is worth. Help.....
1000 grit sandpaper and motor oil
Okay, I have a few serious questions.
First, Johnson's Baby Oil appears to be nothing but mineral oil and fragrance. Any reason this wouldn't work as well as mineral or even clove oil?
Second, I already have some super fine/light rust on some carbon steel knives. If they are satin finished to 400-600 grit, will Pikal (easier to get in Korea than Flitz/Simichrome) take the rust off without altering the finish?
Finally, I have been storing these in zipper cases with WD-40. I know, major no-no. How should I store them to prevent the problem from reoccurring? And should I wash the zipper cases to get rid of the WD, or will it just evaporate?
Thanks for all the great info above,
I am obviously low budget and low tech when it comes down to it.
For my users I keep them oiled.
For a cable damascus blade I made for my friend I used some Neverdull to clean off some surface rust, and to help fight against surface rust and damage from handling I used Mothers car wax paste. I used the wax just like I would on a car and last I saw the knife was sitting in a garage (the house is still being built and they have all their stuff basicaly stored there) for about 10 months in Arkansas with no rust from what I saw.
With some of your collections however I would be scared to take the risk!
You could use some clear coate safe polishing compound to clean surface rusk off the blades if you are having that issue. A wax might be worth trying?
You could polish off the rust with a rag and WD40. I have done it before! It sucks but works in a pinch.
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Last edited by Esav Benyamin; 12-02-2009 at 01:39 AM.
anyone tried sunshine cloth for their knives?
anyone can recommend an online store for high grade chamois cloth?
I have good faith in two swiss products :
BRUNOX Lubri -Food
BRUNOX LUB & COR
Both products are High Tec long term corrosion inhibitor and lubricant sprays.
I think the products must be for sale in the USA
look at www.brunox.ch
best regards from NL
Last edited by wiros; 02-19-2010 at 08:06 AM.
Just wanted add a tip regarding the shipping of knives.
Bubble Wrap (especially the larger bubble type) not only protects knives against shock but also offers an excellent insulation material against extreme temperature change which can be problematic to handle materials. You never know when a package is going to be left too close to a direct heat source and/or temperatures can drop drastically and very quickly in the cargo hull of large planes flying at high altitudes.
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Where can i find replacement screws for my mcusta knives
Gentlemen I have found this topic very informative and appreciate all the helpful hints found here. If I may make a suggestion to those looking to provide humidity, I am a cigar smoker and a visit to your local tobacconist should provide you with many options in humidification devices that will prove more stable and efficient than an open glass of water. Hope this helps.
i have read this entire thread and found a lot of mention of mineral oil with stag and ivory. Is it safe for me to assume that mineral oil is safe for bone as well and will have the same desired outcome? Thanks
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Mineral oil is the only thing I use on bone, stag or wood handles (don't have any ivory) and I've never had a problem yet, with any of them. Lubes and protects, and it's food safe as well.
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