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Knife handle

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Francix, May 18, 2018.

  1. leather

  2. hardwood

  3. less hard wood

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Francix


    Mar 20, 2018
    Hello people. I would like to know which are the best natural materials (the most durable) (I know that micarta and g10 are more solid) for the handle of a big knife (chopper > 10 inches blade ) . 1) Stacked leather 2) A hard wood like ironwood , 3) A softer one like stabilized elder or maple. For wood it would be a full tang and not with leather. I wonder if the wood will have more tendency to crack. I would like to know what you think is the best option. Thank you.
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  2. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    tough question... leather is more durable in the sense that it won't crack and fail in any spectacular way, but it will degrade over time and use

    a good ironwood is very tough, and will last a very long time
    any stabilized wood is maybe even tougher, since it is usually done with epoxy (confirm this point) which is stronger than wood... but at that point you're touching epoxy and imho losing the real allure of wood (and also no longer using a purely natural material)
    Billy The Blade likes this.
  3. unwisefool

    unwisefool Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 22, 2007
    I'd really go with micarta, terotuff or busse's res-c for a chopper
    tyyreaun and Man with no name like this.
  4. danbot

    danbot Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    I vote for Ironwood.
    sparklygalaxy likes this.
  5. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    Stacked leather treated with SnowSeal will stand up to decades of hard use.
  6. ScooterG

    ScooterG You mean Ireland? Yeah, it’s mine. Platinum Member

    Mar 15, 2016
    Black or brown leather? It matters.
  7. 19-3ben

    19-3ben Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 27, 2015
    Trouble maker.
  8. ridnovir


    Mar 12, 2012
    I would go with Ebony or Ironwood
  9. Dr Heelhook

    Dr Heelhook

    Jul 24, 2007
    Seriously, the black or brown leather thing is gonna be like Bladeforums' version of the "pommel throwing" meme.
  10. ScooterG

    ScooterG You mean Ireland? Yeah, it’s mine. Platinum Member

    Mar 15, 2016
    I voted for the less hard wood (trying not to make trouble here too) as I really like the stabilized Box Elder Burl/Maple type handles.

    As for the leather, just looking out for all of our members :D
    19-3ben likes this.
  11. Francix


    Mar 20, 2018
    Thank you for your answer. I know that micarta, g10 and many others are the best things for durability. They have a good grip, resist water very well etc. But im is trying to identify which of these materials will win.
    I guess when it comes to hitting hard with the blade it's probably the leather that will win. Wood is a great material for small knives. But the use of a big knife is not the same as for a small one, maybe a harder wood will be much more likely to crack, that's why I would like to hear the argumented opinions of manufacturers and users. Thank you to everyone who want to say something serious.
  12. deltablade

    deltablade Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 29, 2006
    I used osage iron on this one, (a modified Western W49 ), which is reputed to be very strong and stable. I like the way the color mellows with time and sunlight. This handle will turn a mellow brown in time.

    Last edited: May 18, 2018
    afishhunter and Francix like this.
  13. Twindog

    Twindog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    Unless you're going to seriously abuse the handle, you can use any of the options that you are thinking of. I'd worry more about the skill of the knife maker than the scale material.

    The only chopper handle that failed on me was the result of the maker drilling holes in the tang too close to the ricasso, allowing a flex that caused the scales to separate from the tang.

    Of your options, I'd go with Grade A desert ironwood. If you're worried about breaking or damaging properly mounted desert ironwood scales on a full-tang knife, you'll want to choose something synthetic. A good knife maker will know how to select and mount scales that will last you a lifetime.

    The leather scales might soak up some of the vibrations from chopping better than harder materials, but your tang will also be weaker.

    In any event, if your scales fail on a full-tang knife, you can easily rehandle it.
    Francix likes this.
  14. Phixt

    Phixt Gold Member Gold Member

    May 28, 2016
    Grip? Water? Hope you have some strong phalanges around that slippery wood.

    Very serious.
  15. Francix


    Mar 20, 2018
    Hello Phixt , so for you if the tang could be strong enougth its better to go with leather and maintain it properly ? Thank you.
  16. Phixt

    Phixt Gold Member Gold Member

    May 28, 2016
    Ironwood/stabilized wood = durability.
    Leather = gripability for xx years.

    I'd honestly go with the previous recs of Terotuf (not pretty and so grippy that dirt n grime can stick to it during use) or Micarta canvas. I realize it goes against the natural material idea, but it's coherent when one looks at the choppers being produced by sought after makers.

    I've read threads where people say elder and maple are susceptible to splitting, but in the same threads others swear by maple for axe handles. I've never split a wooden handle unless I accidentally struck the wood itself.

    That's about all I got. Good luck. :thumbsup:
    Francix likes this.
  17. dirtvictim


    Jun 6, 2017
    I vote stacked leather, way better shock resistance than wood and better long term durability if treated properly.
  18. Gaius Caesar

    Gaius Caesar Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 2, 2018
    what about bone or antler?
  19. Dan of Bazz Clazz

    Dan of Bazz Clazz Gold Member Gold Member

    May 10, 2017
    A little amazed no one has asked "In what application"?
    Don't care what wood you use, on a diver's knife knife they will all go to hell pretty quick. Wet environments would have a similar, if slower affect. What if you are EDC'ing in an industrial environment? Exposure to solvents, acids and other caustic materials can ruin a handle quick. What about lots of sun exposure?
    Then there is the "Bushcraft" crowd and their love of batoning firewood. Clobber the knife on the handle instead of the spine and boom, there goes a chunk of what used to be a nice handle.

    So how about it? Do I get the second "trouble maker" to be awarded in this thread? lol
  20. NJBillK

    NJBillK Custom Leather and Fixed Blade modifications. Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 27, 2014
    The Busse Basic 11 and Basic 13 Bolo are "stick" tangs, and they hold up to abuse just fine... Hell, one guy hit one with his ride on mower and shot it over 20' and it just needed a sharpening and a new handle since the Res-C took some dings in the process. He was going to keep it as it was since they were not that bad (the Res-C), but since the folks at Busse liked the story so much, they wanted to check it out in person.

    If done correctly, a stick tang shouldn't be much weaker than a full tang. If you do manage to damage it, you were likely using it hard enough to damage a full tang.
    unwisefool likes this.

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