Bone handles: tell me about the advantages, disadvantages, and care...

Apr 7, 2006
As I get more bone handled knives I figured I should learn a bit more about the material. Are there any specific advantages to bone (aside from looks) that makes it a better handle scale material than say wood or micarta?

What are the risks of bone handles? I've heard of it cracking: can it be expected to last decades with proper care or does bone tend to crack with age? I've heard of bone shrinking: can this be prevented?

Lastly, what is the best way to clean and care for bone? Can I safely use soapy water to clean it and is there any risk if I get oil on it?
Jan 31, 2012
Not much risk involved IMO. Bone is usually very durable, oil will not hurt most bones other than to possibly darken it. Obviously some woods and Micarta is more durable depending solely on how hard you use it. With any handle there is always the possibility of cracking it by dropping it on a harder surface.


Semper Fi
Feb 10, 2014
Love bone handles. No two are exactly alike. Keep in mind there are a lot of types of bone from cow to camel to various stags to mammoth.

Mar 9, 2013
Bone is quite durable, and can last for hundreds of years with minimal care. One great thing about bone is that it gets tacky when wet, so you do not compromise your grip.

Will Power

Gold Member
Jan 18, 2007
Bone that's been properly hafted onto the knife in the first place is durable, just watch out there are no pin-cracks or stress fractures around the centre-pins in particular - they will soon develop. I live in a dry hot place indoors in winter due to very cold arctic winters, this can act against bone promoting shrink. So I use a room humidifier. Bone that gets enough humidity around 25% plus wil regain its former shape.

It's tough against washing or oils provided you dry it. Obviously, it will not fare well if you drop the knife and this regrettably will happen, Stag seems more elastic in such horrible situations. It ages very nicely too.

Disadvantages? Well only from an economic or point of view of space! It has so many options, colours, jigging style or smooth that you'll amass a lot of them such is the lure of bone.
Nov 3, 2013
I like bone covers. It will chip if you drop it on a hard surface. micarta and stag are more durable. wood for my uses seems to be the least durable