Micarta Question

Oct 5, 1998
Apart from knife scales the only other place I have seen micarta used is on a few pistol grip slabs.

Where does it come from and what was it originally designed for etc?
"Micarta is a linen or paper fabric with epoxy resin laminate that provides light weight, durability and visual appeal."

<A HREF="">Spyderco's Material List</A>

Micarta is a Westinghouse trade name for their fiber-resin laminates. They come in two flavors: paper-epoxy and cloth-phenolic. I understand that they were originally manufacutured for circuit boards, but they are good industrial strength non-conductive non-rotting materials for a lot of uses. We sharp objects enthusiasts meet the stuff as knife handles.

The two most common paper-based micartas are white (or off-white) and black, which substitute for ivory and buffalo horn, without the heat and humidity reactions that natural materials are subject to. In my limited experience, the paper micartas are harder (at least my grinding belts think so) and slightly less resilient than the cloth micartas.

The most common cloth-based micartas are black linen and green canvas, though other colors are available from various sources, with or without the Micarta trade name. All grinding dust is nasty stuff, but the phenolic in the cloth micartas is an especially good reason for knife makers to wear good respirators.

R.W. Loveless, the guru of the hollow-ground drop point hunter, will tell you that green canvas micarta is the best knife handle material of all, and it's hard to argue with him (both because of the virtues of the material and because of his personality). Besides being fairly good looking and nearly indestructable, your hands have good traction on it even when it's highly polished.

The black linen micarta is, to my mind, the best of the black knife handle materials for a fixed blade knife, where the surface can be contoured to bring out the grain and texture of the material. Very durable and weatherproof and still fairly easy to work on the grinder. Two-tone linen micartas, such as black and burgundy, or black and green, give a striking effect with a contoured surface.

Thanks James

Harvey Wareham

Live Long & Prosper, so you can buy more knives :)