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Birch bark handle reconditioning for Russian knives

Discussion in 'ROSarms International' started by kancler, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. kancler

    kancler Moderator Moderator

    Mar 21, 2005

    We are getting a lot of questions about our Birch bark handles. Almost 80% of the show visitors think that this is a “cork” handle :) But it is not!

    Russia and some Scandinavian countries are using birch bark for knife handles and some other things. The main reason – this is a very light, durable,natural and very very pleasant for touch material. Also Birch bark handle will feel warm even during very cold weather and will never crack.

    The main concern is how durable is this material and how it will handle blood (for hunting knives), water and wet conditions for a fishing and camping knives.

    So in this review I will show how to recondition old birch bark handle...
    This is my Favorite small fishing knife FISHER. This knife is about 10 years old and NEVER been deep cleaned or chemically cleaned just for a test purpose :) This knife was used for fishing and some other camping needs a lot and just washed with worm water.


    As you can see on the picture, the handle doesn't have any damages and just looks used and dirty. During the handle manufacturing Rosarms is using special natural bee-wax based solution for stabilization and preservation of the birch bark.

    Let's start... I'm cleaning the handle with regular send paper. For beginning I'm using 400 grid sand paper. But of course if necessary you can start with 100 or 300...


    It took about 30 min to clean it completely and results you can see on the next picture:


    After 400 I usually use 600 and then final polishing with 1500... After that birch bark feels like very soft, velvet-like material. Actually it is very hard to describe that feeling :)


    Next step is important if you used your knife for cleaning fish or game.
    Please wiped cleaned birch bark with Hydrogen Peroxide solution. It will kill all possible organics and will whiten handle a little bit.


    Now our handle is ready for sealing. As I said Birch bark was already stabilized and treated by bee-wax based solution but I would recommend you after our deep cleaning reseal it. So next step wipe it with any available fine mineral oil. For example baby oil.
    But in this review I'm using my favorite very fine “Japanese Sword oil”.


    As you can see our handle got natural “dark yellow” look again and all pours are sealed. Usually I'm applying oil 3 times.
    Next for a final touch I would recommend you to use something like a Renaissance Wax; you can buy it online from many dealers in USA. This is a very fine wax which will preserve you handle for a very long time!


    So now you knife looks like new and ready for a hard work!


    And of course BEFORE and AFTER:


    As you can see this process is very simple. And if you don't have a Renaissance wax it is not a big deal... After oiling handle is completely ready to use!

    I would recommend this deep cleaning every 3-4 years if you use knife a lot. Of course after each use just clean it with warm water and (!) after dealing with meat or fish I would recommend to wipe it with Hydrogen Peroxide.

    Also if you have a Rosarms knife with Birch bark handle I can recondition it for you for free...
    You will have to pay for shipping only. Please feel free to contact me at any time!
    Thank you!

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