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Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Hesparus, Nov 23, 2004.

  1. Hesparus


    Oct 31, 2004
    I have a question, and be honest. Do you look down on dymondwood? I have seen a lot of cheap, ugly knives with dymondwood handles and I can't decide if I want to use it or not for fear of being associated with cheap, ugly knives. The fact that it's stabilized intregues me because the instability of wood turns me off, as well as the maintenance required once you've got it.
    What do you think?

    - Chris
  2. blgoode


    Oct 3, 2003
    Not to be too simple but - Dont use it. You will like the better woods once your done. I would use a micarta before the diamond wood. Sometimes what can make a knife IS the material that is used. Use a hardwood. It may move but wood has been used for 100's of years. Just be sure to have a tiny bit of play around the pins(not a tight fit but not too larger either) so the wood has room to moove. Others can give you better advise as well.......just my .02 cents.
  3. indian george

    indian george

    Feb 15, 1999
    I agree with B.
  4. Mark Williams

    Mark Williams Moderator

    Nov 28, 2000
    If stability is a major concern. Use stabilized woods. They are basically wood turned into plastic but they dont shrink for sure. Stink like hell but it works.
  5. JayFisher


    Jul 15, 2003
    Hi, Chris.
    A very old knifemaker once told me that "It's the blade that makes it a knife, but the handle sells it."
    A good point, for sure, but it's not that simple. You might consider your market, that is who you are planning to sell the knife to, what it is going to be used for, and what price range you intend. Stabilized laminates can be attractive and very sturdy, and some clients are very fond of them. Every knife is different.

    I've been making for 24 years, it is my livelyhood, and I can tell you from experience there are no rules but one: every knife that leaves your shop has your name on it, and you had better have a good fit, good finish, nice balance, clean grinds, and stable design. It's more about workmanship than materials in that light.

    I still make knives without handle scales at all, that is, skeletonized, bead blasted military combat models that have seen service in Iraq and Afganistan. These guys can't afford my pricier gemstone handles, but they get the same fine steel, excellent grind, and my name and lifetime guarantee.
    Don't disregard any handle material, it's about craftsmanship first.

    Just my opinion,
  6. Snixon


    Feb 8, 2003
    I like it in the single colours only - I think that the multicolor ones look a little tacky.
    I havn't sold that many knives though
    Stephen Nixon
  7. Bruce Bump

    Bruce Bump KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 1999
    The last one I made with dymondwood scales sold for $25. The last one with ivory sold for $1000. Hmmm.
  8. Mark Williams

    Mark Williams Moderator

    Nov 28, 2000
    OT: How's the healing going Bruce?
  9. peter nap

    peter nap

    Nov 27, 1999
    I used it once and have seen it used on some special purpose knives that look fairly good.
    I have to go along with everyone else and say there are far better choices for a custom knife. I don't especially like Micarta but it is a world better that Dymondwood. If you like the look and feel of wood and want stability, it's hard to go wrong with Desert Ironwood.

    About $0.02 of MHO.
  10. Hesparus


    Oct 31, 2004
    Thanks for all of the advice. I do all of my handles right now with micarta but I'm looking to expand my line. Early on I did a couple handles in cocobolo, which I like a lot, but they were crappy knives to begin with. I'll stay away from dymondwood and go right to real wood. Which ones are your favorites?

    - Chris
  11. Bruce Bump

    Bruce Bump KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 1999
    Ironwood and african blackwood
  12. peter nap

    peter nap

    Nov 27, 1999
    Rosewood, Walnut, figured Maple and any of the various burls!
    As I said before, Ironwood comes close to Dymond wood for toughness.
  13. Gossman Knives

    Gossman Knives Edged Toolmaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 9, 2004
    You ought to look at horn and bone. They are my main handle material choices. Easy to grind and make for a nice looking handle. STINK like hell when grinding, but l like them anyway.
    I forgot to mention, I have a Mike Zima hunter that I'm trying to sell. It has a dymondwood handle. It's a very well made knife, BUT, because it has dymondwood handles I'm having a hard time selling it. IMO, If it had stag, horn or bone, it would be gone.
  14. Matt Shade

    Matt Shade

    Nov 24, 1999
    I agree with everyone else. My favorite "real" woods are Cocobolo and Rosewood. I just got peice of fiddleback maple thats supposed to be for a gunstock but since I've got 4 bd ft it will probably make some knife handles too if I can find a stain I like :D

    Just to expand on the Diamond wood a little more, its got 2 problems.
    1st and foremost, Frost Cutlery(and similar companies but Frost comes to mind first). The amount of cheap crap they put diamond wood on just ruins it. Everyone associates it with being cheap, I bet they could turn everyone off of micarta if they tried. You put a poor finish on a material thats not all that great to start with and you end up with crap.
    2nd, its made with some generic hardwood that looks like crap no matter what color you dye it. It just has a bland, boring grain that makes it look like plywood. It doesn't have colors as true as Micarta so the cheap wood look just won't go away.

    Now I have seen some very nice knives made with diamondwood. I'm not knocking those makers at all, I just think its a shame they use their time and skills on a substandard material. There are too many better options out there.
  15. D.A. Guertin

    D.A. Guertin

    Oct 29, 2001
    I had a similar problem about ten years ago, when I started getting serious about knife making. I'm in Texas, and we stay above 90% humidity for the vast majority of the year. Doing anything with bare wood is hell, plain and simple. I try to work with the wood and the steel when I'm designing a knife, so when I disocvered that I could use real wood, with all it's inherent potential, and cirumvent the problem of living in Texas, I went gangbusters. I still keep a few pair of scales around in plain wood, but the vast majority is stabilised by WSSI. Now I just have to figure out what to do with this pair of Dragon scales I've got...

  16. Will52100

    Will52100 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 4, 2001
    Me personaly I don't see anything wrong with Dymonde wood, the single colors can be quite atractive. That said I've never sold a knife with dymond wood on it. Seems the cheap imports with Paka wood have ruined that.

    The only way I would use dymond wood now is if some one paid up front for the knife and it was to match one of those multi color rifles. Or else I was making a knife for myself to use and abuse.

    Iron wood is realy hard to beat in the natural woods, it's tough on belts, but is very dense and oily and very stable. A clasic is rose wood and then theres curly maple which requires sealing or stabilizing. For just a little more than Dymonde wood you can get stabilized wood and it sells a lot better.
  17. oljoe


    Jul 29, 2004
    It appears that everyone associates diamond wood with cheap knives. I don’t think I would want to spend several hours working on a knife that is associated with a poor quality product.
    I like real wood and if you search around a little there is some beautiful stuff out there, maybe in your back yard.

    Just my opinion

    Joe Foster
  18. Dave Kelly

    Dave Kelly

    Dec 17, 2003
    Here's a knife I made for my wife about a year ago using solid color dymondwood and it's held up nicely under a lot of purse abuse


    I gave her many choices of handle material including stabilized wood and she chose the dymondwood, Dave
  19. AwP


    Apr 13, 2004
    There are a few decient looking dymondwoods, but most look gaudy. If you find one of the more tasteful ones I don't think there's anything wrong with it even though some peoplel will still cringe.

    This one is black/silver dymondwood and it'll most likely be going to Iraq some time after new years.
  20. ddavelarsen


    Dec 7, 2000
    Early on I made a few knives with Pakkawood, same concept as Dymondwood. I used it because of the available colors. Way back then it didn't have as bad a rep as it does now (or I didn't know it) and I had no trouble giving those knives away. ;) If I needed color these days I'd use G10 or some other synthetic.

    There's another Iowa maker who doesn't know any better either, uses Diamondwood - the cheesy gaudy kind - on his line of fishing and kitchen knives. They're butt ugly and his standards, aside from finish, are pretty lame. But he sells a hell of a lot of knives at gun shows. People that use them like them because they're impervious to their bad habits. And they're cheap. Enough said.

    Staying away from the stuff for custom knives is a good idea, unless there is a functional reason for doing it, like you need a bright color and a material that won't degrade in a tacklebox and you need to use something very inexpensive. I think the solid colors are reasonably presentable and offer a certain functionality that has its place. But I still like Micarta for this purpose, and I'm sticking to it.

    As others have said bone, horn and stabilized wood are good choices, and Micarta and G10 are good for those cases where the environment is unfriendly.

    AwP, that knife of yours has a serious presence! I think any sane person would back way off if that was pointed at him... :D

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