African Blackwood

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Okie405, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. Okie405


    Sep 29, 2017
    About to use some African Blackwood on the handles of four kitchen knifes for my wife. 2 larger chef style and 2 smaller pairing. Can I shape it with a rasp and then sand paper and finish it with multiple coats of True Oil or is there a better way?

    It has a waxy feel to it and is hard as all heck. I've never worked with a wood like this. Thank you for your assistance.
  2. Robert Erickson

    Robert Erickson KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 2, 2014
    Yep rough shape it with rasps or on your grinder and then hand sand to fine grit and you'll be good to go. It's naturally oily so shouldn't need any oil finish.
  3. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    Oct 4, 2017
    Most oily woods can just be wax buffed as they have their own natural oil.
    Brock Cutlery likes this.
  4. Okie405


    Sep 29, 2017
    What kind of wax?
  5. Richard338

    Richard338 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 3, 2005
    I love that wood.
    I have a kitchen knife that is ten years old and the handle is unchanged.
  6. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    Oct 4, 2017
    Justin Schmidt likes this.
  7. Salem Straub

    Salem Straub

    Oct 20, 2008
    I often hand sand blackwood up to 1000, wipe it with light oil, and buff lightly. At that point it's quite a nice surface, although wax could add something. Occasionally you'll get a piece with surfacing coarse/open grains here and there, in which case spot sanding with super glue does a good job of filling the surface level. It's not a wood that will take an outright superglue finish well, though IME.
  8. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    I just use Mother's car wax, but I do make sure it is the formula with carnuba in it. After sanding, I buff with pink scratchless first and then do the wax.
    Tyshoots likes this.
  9. MBB

    MBB Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 18, 2014
    I'm a newbie but have a woodworking background and used to do plane restoration (old planes have rosewood handles/infills). African Blackwood is a member of the rosewood family (Dalbergia melanoxylon), so it is potentially an irritant and sensitizer. Having said that, wear gloves/respirator/long sleeves and you should be fine. I prefer to do most of my initial shaping of wood using cutting tools as much as possible, so spokeshaves, small planes, and float-type files. This minimizes dust in the workplace. Eventually you will have to sand, no matter what. For some rosewoods (Brazilian, especially), going to higher grit will muddle the grain, so 220 is used as the highest grit prior to finishing. You can put a top coat on them, but may need to remove oils aggressively first using acetone or other solvents. Hope that helps.

  10. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    Oct 4, 2017
    I am glad someone mentioned that. Rosewoods can be surprisingly dangerous. Some of the stories of people who 'forgot' they respirator for one pass, or didn't put there gloves on that one time.. they pay for it!
  11. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder

    Aug 12, 2005
    Cocobolo is, by all accounts, the most potentially allergenic of the rosewoods, but many other woods can cause such a reaction and the effect is cumulative. A few years back, there was a young man in West Palm Beach, FL who built a very successful business installing teal decks, covering boards, etc on high end fishing boats. The name of his business was The Teak Sheik and he managed to score the contract with Viking Yachts to do the teak work on all of the boats at their completion center in Palm Beach. A couple of year later, the guy wakes up violently allergic to teak sawdust and he had to sell his business. :eek:
    Justin Schmidt likes this.
  12. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    I love blackwood.
    Just hand sand it, higher grits go pretty fast. 2500grit is beautiful, micromeshed to 12.000 and it's amazing!
    Don't need oil or so, it needs love and a bit of time
    I usualy wear my resperator when I handsand wood, regardless of the sort

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