1. Welcome to the New & Improved BladeForums. New software info here. Please report problems in Tech Support, and read existing threads before posting! - Spark
  2. I've changed the default forum style to Flat Awesome based on feedback. Don't like it? Click here to change how the forums look Feedback on this is welcome here.

Lightest handle material?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by jdm61, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    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.
     
  2. J. Doyle

    J. Doyle Bladesmith/Knifemaker Dealer / Materials Provider

    Feb 17, 2008
    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.
     
  3. kuraki

    kuraki KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 17, 2016
    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. 😎
     
  4. Natlek

    Natlek

    729
    Jun 9, 2015
    Rubberized cork , but most lightest material would be pure cork wrapped in carbon :)

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Cody Hofsommer

    Cody Hofsommer

    881
    Dec 2, 2011
    Stacked birch bark
     
  6. Lapedog

    Lapedog

    Dec 7, 2016
    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.
     
  7. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    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.
     
  8. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    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.
     
  9. kuraki

    kuraki KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 17, 2016
    No reason you couldn't frame or cut pockets in thick carbon.
     
  10. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    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? :eek:;)
     
  11. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Foam material such as foam aluminum !
     
  12. Natlek

    Natlek

    729
    Jun 9, 2015
    Then use light wood for handle , shape it as desired and above you wrapped carbon :) That way you have best from both ..........:D

    [​IMG]
     
  13. kuraki

    kuraki KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 17, 2016
    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.
     
  14. tiguy7

    tiguy7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 25, 2008
    Check out the Lion Steel Ti Dust.
     
  15. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    This is turning into a "confirmation bias" thread as i was already thinking maple or walnut. ;)
     
  16. comet_sharp

    comet_sharp

    116
    Aug 22, 2016
    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. Phixt

    Phixt

    360
    May 28, 2016
    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. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    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.
     
  19. Adam Buttry

    Adam Buttry

    437
    Nov 10, 2010
    I like to use Bubinga when I want a light, strong, and attractive handle material that doesn't require stabilization.
     
  20. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    If I wanted light weight and durability, I would use paracord.
     

Share This Page