Question for the wood chucks

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I have a project going that I'm not sure if I mentioned here yet. If not then I will keep my mouth shut about specifics. It does involve a handle though :D.

The wood I have available to me are plum, filbert, stabilized oak, and I think I can get my hands on some good ironwood. I looked for waterbuffalo horn but I couldn't find any long enough, which makes antler out of the question too since it is hard to find a long, straight piece of antler.

This handle will have to take more stress than the normal knife handle. There will not be much in the way of engraving on the handle (I might even have a covered handle).

I know filbert is too soft for handles, and iron wood might crack too easy (but it sure is purdy). The plum looks to be kind 3 toned. It has some purple mixed in with the lighter wood coloring and large brown splotches. I haven't seen the oak yet but it was spared from the fireplace because it was pretty.

So assuming it will be bare wood what do you recomend from both an aesthetic and practical point of view?
 
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Ironwood will not crack if you have a good solid piece. Of the woods you mentioned, it would be my first choice for beauty and toughness. The oak, if seasoned and not green would be my second choice.
 
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yoippari said:
I have a project going that I'm not sure if I mentioned here yet. If not then I will keep my mouth shut about specifics. It does involve a handle though :D.

The wood I have available to me are stabilized oak,

This handle will have to take more stress than the normal knife handle.


I haven't seen the oak yet but it was spared from the fireplace because it was pretty.

So assuming it will be bare wood what do you recomend from both an aesthetic and practical point of view?
Yoi you you have some conflict going on here. You say the oak is stabilized and yet spared from the fireplace. :confused:
My friend you wouldn't/shouldn't burn stabilized wood.
And you can't do anything with stabilized wood except use it as is. :(

However if it is unstabilized you can do a lot with it. Oak can be stained to any color you like, it can be charred and sanded for a beautiful and unusual finish and either can be woodchucked from there.:D
Oak is an ideal wood as is for a knife handle that's gonna be under a lot of stress!
If it has a ribbon or other desirable grain it can be even more beautiful while retaining its strength. A burled wood wouldn't be a good choice for use in a highly stressed area though.
Many of the old time blacksmithed knives were handled with oak because of its strength and durability and is what I would recommend not knowing anymore than you've told us.:D :rolleyes: :p ;)
 
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I asked him about the oak and will probably get a reply tomorrow. This is as much as I can remember about it. He ("he" being the guy helping me with this project) said he stabilized it because it was too pretty to burn. He said it has been sitting around for about 2 years (I think).

I did a quick search that explained basicly what stabilzed is and what it is for. I guess wood is easier to work after being stabilized. However with it being stabilized it can't be colored. One of the things I wanted to do with this project was color some of the furnature.
 
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yoippari said:
I asked him about the oak and will probably get a reply tomorrow. This is as much as I can remember about it. He ("he" being the guy helping me with this project) said he stabilized it because it was too pretty to burn. He said it has been sitting around for about 2 years (I think).
Okay, that clears things up. Yoi you can buy oak cheap at most any major Home Improvements store that you could do what you wished with. Most also have the Hard Rock Maple that would also be a good choice.
The Maple has a very fine grain to it unlike the oak and would seal really well!:D :cool: :D

Just noticed that you're in Salem Oregon. If I lived up there I would be trying to snag a piece of Myrtle Wood for my handle. Myrtle wood is tough, strong, and extremely beautiful and would be very suitable for what I think you're trying to do!:D
Madrone that also grows up in that part of the country might be good as well but a search on it would be a good idea as I don't know much about it except that it's hard and makes good firewood.
Most anything that makes good firewood makes good knife handles.;)
 
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Yvsa said:
Just noticed that you're in Salem Oregon. If I lived up there I would be trying to snag a piece of Myrtle Wood for my handle. Myrtle wood is tough, strong, and extremely beautiful and would be very suitable for what I think you're trying to do!:D

I agree! I have several myrtle wood pieces that are gorgeous, and the wood is very dense and strong. 20 years ago I bought a burl clock up there which was a solid slab of myrtle wood about 18" X 24" and 2" thick. I'm sure you have seen the type, with gold numerals embedded in the wood and a clock movement added. I paid $50 for it, and just for the piece of wood it was more than worth it, as the grain is beautiful. My wife constantly bugs me to get rid of it, as it no longer matches her ideas of "decor", (which change every 6 months), but I love it and plan on keeping it forever.

Regards,

Norm
 

Kismet

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I think it is Ragnar's site in which applewood is mentioned as a handle material. I have an experimental handle shape on a belt knife I made out of a dead branch of apple. Many incursions by suckers/bugs/gawdknows what over the years make it very attractive to my eyes.

The branch had been dead a few years, so I can't speak to drying time of green wood.

Look up knife-making at RAGWEED FORGE and see what he says.

Have fun.
 
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Earlier this year we went to some south (more south than we are :)) oregon beach. They had a myrtle wood store there that had all kinds of nick nacks made from myrtle wood. At the time I really couldn't care less and was just waiting for my family to get bored and leave. Maybe I should take another look at this stuff.

I mentioned iron wood to my grandpa when I got the plum from him. He asked if I ment desert iron wood or purple heart. I think at one point he also asked if I ment desert or osage orange. Is and how close is iron wood (the black stuff) related to these other two woods?

Oh, and it might not be too hard to guess what I am making, but I would like to suprise you guys with a finished product, probably some time in febuary.
 

Daniel Koster

www.kosterknives.com
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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Arizona desert ironwood is very different from osage orange and purpleheart. Ironwood is oily, super-dense, highly figured and $$$. Purpleheart and Osage are usually fairly straight grained like oak/mahogany.

For a heavy-use knife handle that you don't mind getting dirty, I'd go for Osage. It'll be harder to work with hand tools, but can be done. You should also consider Mesquite. Both are naturally stable - (different from stabilized) - that is, they won't shrink, twist, stretch, etc. They are also very easy to finish. Lastly, they are usually cheaper and easier to find.

If you can't get that - I'd use the stabilized oak. Should be pretty dang tough.

Go for it - what the heck, right? You won't be able to stop at just one....so don't worry about making it 100% perfect the first time.
 
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Response from the guy I'm working with:
You should stabilize any wood you use for handles. it preserves, and helps keep it from cracking, or drying out too much. Oak has a lot of tannins in it. They can be a little corrosive. But if it's good and seasoned, (mine is 5-6 years), it should be fine. My ***** has non stabilized oak in the handle, and as you saw, the tang is still the same the day I put it on 13 years ago. I have burled oak. It looks cool. You can lightly dye or stain it different colors, before putting a clear finish on.

Take with a grain of salt, just about anything you hear from the "experts" on the boards. There are probably 1, or 2 guys I would take at face value. You just have to try things yourself. I have a fair amount of oak, and a little maple. Apple would work, if you want a little family history in it. Cut off a nice streight branch, and let it dry, with the bark on, somewhat slowly, so it does not crack.

I understand what he is saying about taking people at face value. I recently had a "discussion" with some one who seemed to know what he was talking about, until he corrected me. I posted one of his "corrections" over at SFI where he said "if you don't believe me ask anyone who [knows anything about swords]". The correction was partially right but he is grossly misinformed overall.

That said, I have seen enough of your guys' work, comments, and knowlege that I do trust what most of you say. However it is always good to check with other sources before actually putting new techniques into practice.
 
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When I ordered my leafblade from Al Massey, we discussed handle material. He recommends European white oak, and claims that it is much tougher than hickory. He said that he uses oak under leather wraps, but I decided to go with Kingwood, for the appearance.
Oak is very strong and water proof. ....used for beer kegs. I don't know about the common red oak. That could be a different story.
 
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Unfortunatly I don't know where to find white oak. Pretty much what I can get is up top with the exception of myrtle wood. I hadn't though of that before this thread.
 
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arty said:
Oak is very strong and water proof. ....used for beer kegs. I don't know about the common red oak. That could be a different story.

White oak is waterproof and rot resistant, and is the traditional wood for the frames, keels etc. in wooden boatbuilding. Red oak is quite a different story - it has a much more open pore structure. If you take a pencil-sized split and put one end in a glass of water, you can blow bubbles. It's still tough, but is a bit inclined to splinter. Because of the open pore structure, Red Oak doesn't do well where it's damp - those pores soak up water and start the piece rotting in wooden boats.

I'd use apple, for a handle in domestic wood. 80 years ago and more, top-end handsaws had apple handles because of the beauty of the wood, fine grain, and the wonderful silky feel in the hand. Fewer blisters too! The "standard" handles were made of beech.

Tom.
 
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Lets put it this way. So far this project has only cost me charcoal. The plum, and oak are free. The iron wood I would have to get from a family member and it might actually cost me something. Myrtle wood would cost me. Apple I have in the back yard but it is still standing (I should have cut it down when the last of the leaves fell off).

I would really like to keep this to what I can easily get (protland is 46 miles north) for little if no money.
 
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yoippari said:
The plum, and oak are free.

I would really like to keep this to what I can easily get (protland is 46 miles north) for little if no money.
Use either the plum or oak then. Any fruit or nut wood will make a good handle.
If there is some heartwood from the plum it might be really pretty.:D
 
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Elaborate on heartwood. Is that the wood from the center of the tree (just like it sounds)?

One corner of the plum appears to have been right next to center. It has purple swirls mixed in with it. There are also brown areas that are much larger and apparent than the purple.

This piece was also spared from the fireplace because it looked nice.
 
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