Best wood for kitchen knife handles

Sep 25, 1999
I often replace handles on old kitchen knives for cutomers, and was wondering what folks would recommend as a basic, inexpensive wooden handle material that is also durable. In the past I have used maple and myrtle, because I had lots of scraps around. I usually finish them with several coats of Watco Danish Oil, and that seems to work. These are knives that the customer usually just wants a good, not fancy handle on a working knife. Has anyone tried red oak? Didn't some of the older knives have hickory handles? Anyone tried hickory? If so, where did you get it?
What are your experiences or suggestions?
Cocabola is a good kitchen knife handle wood. Its got good staying power and doesn't need any sealers on it. Depending where you are at you can get good deals on it. I live in Oregon, Gilmore Woods is just on the outskirts of Portland and has 1 dollar blocks of it. These are the ones that they have picked threw to make sure they haven't tossed any of the figured ones in the barrel. Most are usually straight grained but great for kitchen knife handles......Ray
Thanks, Ray.
I have a flyer on file from a few years ago from Gilmore, but just have never gone by. I get most of my wood from local woodworkers, gunstockmakers and at shows. I will have to stop by on my next trip to Portland (probably next month), and give them an honest look-over.
I have actually always steered away form cocobolo in the past because of the toxicity issue. I have heard many good things about it though, just trying to not "kill" myself. How do you feel about that aspect of the wood? I am installing a central dust removal system in my new shop, and do always wear a respirator when at the grinder.
i mostly use exotics and stabilized woods for my own knives, oak and black walnut come to mind for tough inexspenxe woods. raymonds suggestion of going thru the scrap bins at that lumber outlet sounds like a good way to get these woods on the cheap. also micarta is the best material when it comes to water.