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Hydrating wood?

Discussion in 'Himalayan Imports' started by Dirtbiker, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. Dirtbiker


    Jul 2, 2010
    I have a couple WWII vintage kukris M43s and while giving them their monthly inspection I noticed more tang exposed than I remember. How should I go about re-hydrating the wood?

    Mineral oil works great on steel and horn but im hesitant to use it on wood because of possible softening. BLO works to seal the surface I'm looking for something more penetrating.

    What to use?
  2. Bawanna

    Bawanna Moderator Moderator

    Dec 19, 2012
    I use the linseed oil myself. It does penetrate and you can thin it if necessary with mineral spirits.

    Submerging the whole handle in a container of it works good however I usually just make several applications by hand and massage it in with my hands.

    I'm working on a KLVUK and I swear I can hear the wood sucking the oil in like a straw. The slurping is quieting down considerably so I think I'm getting someplace.

    I can't say if mineral oil would soften the wood or not. I use it also and haven't detected that as yet but I got nothing solid to back that up with.
  3. Gehazi


    Jun 30, 2013
    linseed oil is wood's best friend!
  4. verpra


    Jul 30, 2013
    How long do you typically keep the handle submerged for?
  5. 300Six


    Aug 29, 2013
    I tried my hand at making decorative large tree cross-sections (for end table tops) years ago. Untended these fresh cut 1 1/2 inch thin sections severely split in mere days but I carefully soaked a bunch in MinWax (I think) teak&tung oil for about a month. Lee Valley Tools was selling PEG polyethylene glycol? wood preservative for that same purpose (expensive!) at the time. 30 years later I can safely say my experiment worked; the oil displaced the sap/moisture in the wood and kept it from shrinking and gave me a nice surface and colour to shine and finish. Now I did have the presence of mind to leave one of the wood surfaces exposed to the air so that moisture inherent to the wood could evaporate on it's own and at the same time assist to draw the oils into the wood to replace them.

    I've been routinely oiling the ends of my axes and sledges for quite some time now (wood shrinks in the winter due to low humidity) and I rarely have loose head problems anymore because of that, too.
  6. Bawanna

    Bawanna Moderator Moderator

    Dec 19, 2012
    The couple I did went 24 hours. I would think over night would be enough if you didn't have to go to work the following morning.

    I just raised the knife and let it hang above the jar and let the excess run off. This didn't take long.

    We're dealing with something slightly different that 300Six mentions but same rules apply. Wood will crack if it drys too quickly or due to temp/humidity changes. Our handles are dry, they were oiled but they dry out. We're replacing and nourishing the wood, maintaining what 300Six introduced from the start.
    Excellent idea on oiling axe and sledge hammer handles. We used to keep them in a bucket of water to keep them swelled up. The oiling is a much better and longer lasting idea.

    Most places that deal with hard wood wax the end grain to prevent cracking. Sealing it up basically. Oil does the same thing.
  7. C.S. Graves

    C.S. Graves

    Jun 13, 2006
    I'll cast the vote for linseed oil as well... boiled linseed oil in particular. Failing that, you can make "wood butter" by double boiling a little beeswax into mineral oil. It's a little more durable than mineral oil by itself.
  8. Don Rac

    Don Rac

    Oct 3, 2001
    Linseed is good, I also use coconut oil and it's also fantastic. FWIW, with no politics involved, former President Carter polished the desk in the oval office with peanut oil on a regular basis.
  9. davidf99

    davidf99 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    I recall reading somewhere that Carter was an accomplished woodworker. Just looked it up and found this, among many other search results: "Jimmy Carter was first featured in Fine Woodworking in 1984 (#46) and over the years has continued to show up in the Readers Gallery and as a featured author. Mr. Carter currently keeps busy building furniture and homes for Habitat for Humanity ...."

    So if he used peanut oil, it's certainly worth a try. Didn't Carter come from a peanut-producing state?
  10. Don Rac

    Don Rac

    Oct 3, 2001
    Georgia, his family has a peanut business. The desk still looks good no matter who's been behind it since then fwiw.
  11. Bawanna

    Bawanna Moderator Moderator

    Dec 19, 2012
    Probably have to touch it up a bit with our current poser in chief putting his feet on it. Total disrespect.
  12. kronckew

    kronckew Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 17, 2003
    boiled linseed oil for my shiny wood thingies. hand rub it in once a day for a week, once a week for a month, then once a month for a year, now once a year. ballistol for the HC steel. it's also good for wood if you don't mind it being not as shiny as the linseed oil, also quicker. smells better too (if you like anise/licorice).

    had a butcher for a client once, at the end of the day, the front & back rooms were cleaned top to bottom, (stainless steel work surfaces), then all was scrubbed/mopped with bleach solution, the thick wood chopping block was bleached, planed down - a paper thin layer was shaved off with a razor sharp carpenter's plane. then it was rubbed down with mineral oil. i figured that in a hundred years or so, the block would be too thin to use and would then be sold to an antique dealer for resale to an admiring cottage owner for more than the butcher paid for it.
  13. Jens Schuetz

    Jens Schuetz

    Jun 24, 2013
    Using linseed oil. The unboiled version contains no added chemicals but dries slower.
    Had an Chiruwa AK handle submerged in it for 2 weeks and almost reduced its shrunken wood back to normal. Now there's no need to file away "excess" metal :)
    Good stuff and smells nice too.
    The bottom of the jar had brown sediments at the end. Could be that the oil removed brown paint in which the wood was soaked at HI? No idea. The wood still looks nice brown and shiny. Rubbing in by hand is good but if you need to get into little gaps between handle and guard or chiruwa tang then submerging it will work better.
  14. blue lander

    blue lander

    Aug 16, 2011
    I once bought a surplus wwII swiss or swedish axe with a loose head. After some research I dunked the head in car antifreeze overnight. The wood swelled up and the head fit tightly. It's still tight a year later after some moderately heavy use, but I probably should get a new handle and rehang it eventually. I don't know if there are any toxicity issues or if this would work for your kukri, though

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