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Discussion in 'Custom & Handmade Knives' started by The Virginian, Apr 11, 2017.

  1. The Virginian

    The Virginian

    Feb 24, 2010
    So, I am seeing knives for sale on the Interwebs with scales which clearly appear to be mammoth ivory described as having "phenolic" scales.

    Is it possible that these scales are really, somehow, some new phenolic material that perfectly resembles mammoth? If so, where does one go to find this material?

    Or is "phenolic" a new euphemism for "mammoth?"

    Is there some reason for this? Is phenolic considered to be more desirable or marketable than mammoth??

    I just don't get it, and I am wondering if there is anyone else here who thinks that this does not make a whole lot of sense.
  2. Boston_Strong


    Jul 7, 2016
    I'm no expert on this subject, but based on my small bit of experience and my own "interwebs" browsing. These scales you're seeing probably are in fact mammoth ivory that is covered/encased or somehow impregnated with phenolic resin. Don't take my word for it, I'm sure that some more experienced makers will chime in

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  3. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Phenolic resin has been with us for about 100 years ! Used in the early days for radio circuit boards . It's still used today and certainly used for knife handles . That's just the resin .Various fibers are used with it . Survive!Knives uses it with cotton canvas , and fiberglass, paper and other materials have also been used. Recent laws about elephant ivory ,even if it's mammoth ivory from mammoths thousands of years dead ,have changed the ivory market .White paper with phenolic is available to give the ivory look.
    Remember that when you work with phenolic it will give off formaldehyde !! It's not good for you so use proper protection when working it !! I did remove the formaldehyde from a Survive!Knife just by hanging it outside in the summer sun for about a month.
  4. The Virginian

    The Virginian

    Feb 24, 2010
    Thanks for the info.
  5. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    There is a composite product out of Europe that supposedly looks very much like ivory, including the "grain." The same company also makes substance that mimics black buffalo horn.
  6. Don Hanson III

    Don Hanson III KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 3, 2002
    Dealers just covering their ass, not the best choice of word for mammoth scales IMO.
  7. TAH

    TAH Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 3, 2001
    Was that necessary? Is there really any risk with finished Phenolic? And how do you know that the sun took care of it and that a month was long enough? Sorry for all the questions.
  8. martinr


    Mar 28, 2008
    It's the same with tortoise, now they call it amber.
  9. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    TAH, " finished Phenolic " ? If it is outgassing formaldehyde it's not finished ! Some of us are very sensitive to chemicals .Formaldehyde is toxic and some of us are very allergic to it .When I could no longer smell the formaldehyde I considered it 'finished ' for me . Even if you don't have an immediate problem it is still toxic !! You don't want it in your system.
    The ever increasing number and amounts of chemicals in our environment have ,in the last 10 years , increased the cancer and allergy rate by 20 % Deal with it now so you won't have to later on.
  10. NeverSummer

    NeverSummer Platinum Member

    Mar 23, 2016
    Way to go, Don. I'm with you
  11. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001
    The selling of 'ivory' in any form has created problems. Sure, it's mammoth ivory, not elephant ivory, but when it's confiscated and held for month(s) under review by some agency with a stoopid agent, we will WISH it was described as 'phenolic'.

    MartinR is right: Tortoise shell is a complete no-no. Amber works.

    The feds may look for keywords. Phenolic isn't on their radar. I'm sure a quick phone conversation would help clarify.

    Yes, it's a sad state we have to use clandestine words to not broadcast actual material. Sigh.
  12. The Virginian

    The Virginian

    Feb 24, 2010
    Thanks for everyone's comments!
  13. TAH

    TAH Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 3, 2001
    mete, I realize breathing in the dust/particles when working with Phenolic is harmful, but didn't know the "finished" product (buffed and polished) would still be a risk. Thinking of all the hundreds of thousands of Buck knives with Phenolic handles and the ones I've been using for over 40 years.
  14. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    I forced the outgassing by leaving it in the summer sun. Normally it would take a very long time. There also is a difference in how the resin is compounded. Thus how much formaldehyde is there .

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