1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

  2. Week 25 of the BladeForums.com Year of Giveaways is live! Enter to win a Spyderco Manix 2

    Click here to enter the drawing for your chance to win a Spyderco Manix 2 , Bladeforums.com swag or memberships!
    Be sure to read the rules before entering, and help us decide next week's giveaway by hitting the poll in that thread!

    Entries will close at 11:59PM Saturday, June 22 ; winners will be drawn on Sunday @ 5pm on our Youtube Channel: TheRealBladeForums. Bonus prizes will be given during the livestream!

    Questions? Comments? Post in the discussion thread here

Stag handle practicality ?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Chapp, Jul 27, 2018.

  1. Chapp


    Mar 28, 2018
    I find stag (or elk) handles and scales beautiful, but I would like to know about the other aspects of those kind of handle/scales.

    Are they slippery ? Do they handle well in the hand ? Are they solid enough or do they chip easily ? Are they durable (resistant against frost, water, hot etc...) ?

    Thanks !
    Mikael W likes this.
  2. sXePhenomenal

    sXePhenomenal Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 8, 2018
    Stag is pretty durable and won’t damage that easily. Depends on the kind but barky stag isn’t slippery but smooth stag would be.
    Bad Ninja, Mikael W and PirateSeulb like this.
  3. herisson

    herisson Knuckle dragging and mean minded Neanderthal Platinum Member

    Mar 11, 2013
    The most beautiful handle, especially with a well done stick tang... I love it ! It has never failed on me in use, so there's that.
    Mikael W and Seesteel like this.
  4. justjed


    Oct 23, 2010
    Almost all natural materials are susceptible to changes in heat and humidity, or damage from impact, but stag is generally quite stable. It can be jigged, filed, or sanded, depending of the finish desired and intended use of the knife. And it's been used for thousands, if not HUNDREDS of thousands, of years. If it didn't do the job well, early humans would have found something better. I don't think you have much to worry about, enjoy!
  5. Om28v


    Nov 30, 2017
    [​IMG]image hosting software
    I put these on 8 or 9 years ago. No changes except it gets better...more caramel colored.
    I slosh mineral oil on it about twice a year. I use this knife too. It did a deer nicely, and not too slick, even in blood.
  6. Om28v


    Nov 30, 2017
    [​IMG]tool to take screen snapshot
    I made these to fit my hand. There's a good bit of stag here. The darker pith was very tough and hasn't changed. The small fractures at the perimeter haven't changed one iota, and I watch those.
  7. Chapp


    Mar 28, 2018
    Glad to see full-tang with stag scales, such a beauty for the eyes =D

    For the two who made the scales themselves, did you put some coat (epoxy or something else) on those scales or can we just sand paper them a little and leave them that way ?
    wayneblocker5369 likes this.
  8. Om28v


    Nov 30, 2017
    Sand paper lightly and slowly. Dont get them hot. Stag horn is made of hair. Think mother natures micarta, but not quite as tough.
    Bad Ninja and Mikael W like this.
  9. gdog363

    gdog363 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 8, 2017
    This doesn’t answer the “practicality” question, but I figured I would put it here.

    If you have an older knife with Stag scales and want to put some new life into them, rub them down with mineral oil. Makes them look primos
    Mikael W and kwselke like this.
  10. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Stag is a great natural material for knife handles whether it be a fixed blade or folder. The only down side is that they might be a little slippery with blood, but that would never be a particular problem for me as you just adjust (unless I was in the meat butchering business and cut meat constantly). I wouldn't beat on stag with anything hard (hammer, rock, and so forth).
  11. kamagong


    Jan 13, 2001
    It's a fine material. Tough enough and good looking to boot. It's true that there are synthetics that are stronger, but they're...synthetic. No thanks.

    These guys work theirs much harder than I ever do mine. Doesn't seem to bother them a bit.

  12. Om28v


    Nov 30, 2017
    Just looked it up. 2009, so 9 years and nothing has moved really at all. The top edge looks just like this. Not a knife I would baton with, but it's still good to go. It should easily outlast me.
    allenC, d762nato and Mikael W like this.
  13. mtngunr


    Apr 10, 2005
    Slab scales generally no problem if not pounded by bolsters from a springy tang.

    Internal reduced tangs will crack front of a drilled handle if used roughly, with as above tang flex, while a ferrule up front can mitigate such damage. Cross pins through smaller hidden tangs, to uselessly reinforce epoxy, often induce cracks at pin holes, as most pins are snug and so stag stays preloaded/stressed and vibration causes even more load trying to split the stag from inside wedging.

    Direct hard blows by hard surfaces/objects can chip or break stag, especially vulnerable being handles with exposed stag butts.

    If maintained via regular application of food grade mineral oil, to prevent drying/shrinking/cracking, can last for a thousand years or ten times that, very durable and weather resistant for not abusive uses or bone stupid accidents. My most treasured and used knives feature bone or stag handles on quite a few, a wonderfully practical natural material.
    Mikael W likes this.
  14. Scott Hanson

    Scott Hanson KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 6, 2014
    I build primarily Scagel style knives with the vast majority being crown stag from many different species of stag or deer. I use compressed leather and just about any type of spacer material I can find from mammoth ivory to musk ox boss. The crowns length ranges roughly from 1/4 to 2/3 the length of the handle. The stag is very tough and provides a good secure grip, I think it would be possible to chip a crown stag handle if you dropped it on a very hard surface like concrete, but it wouldn't crack. I've made countless knives over the years with hidden tang Scagel style handles with crown stag, I use epoxy and pin each and every handle and have yet to see one crack. Mineral oil, as mentioned previously, a couple times per year is a great treatment for stag handles. From my experience scales and crowns seem to be tougher than rounds, and I don't know why. I have limited experience working with different types of bone like cow and camel bone and stag seems to be a bit softer but substantially tougher for some reason as well. I have cracked bone accidentally by dropping it on the floor but never a piece of stag.
    Mikael W likes this.
  15. Getting older

    Getting older

    Jan 3, 2016
    Beautiful just beautiful
    fielder likes this.
  16. Dr Heelhook

    Dr Heelhook Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 24, 2007
    Whenever you use natural and living materials, you’re going to get a unique item one way or another. A stag handle is a very good example of that, especially if it’s a hidden tang, one piece handle, where the maker has made the effort of finding a specific piece that fits the hand just right. That’s perhaps the main attraction in my opinion.
    wayneblocker5369 and Mikael W like this.
  17. tltt


    May 1, 2008
    In my experience, stag is the most durable of the natural materials. It will tack up in wet weather, that plus the natural cragilyness make it very good in that regard. It can dry out, but as mentioned, a mineral oil treatment helps it regain its liveliness.

    If you look at antique knives too, stag handled models usually are in the best shape in terms of handle wear, so that is another point to it standing up to the test of time.
    CVamberbonehead, DavidZ and Mikael W like this.
  18. Kreyzhorse

    Kreyzhorse Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 15, 2013
    Stag is great.... i did have a piece chip off a Case knife. I dropped the thing though, otherwise, they seem durable enough.
  19. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Like Scott I have made countless knives using this material. I'm a full tang guy though. It is very durable and practical. I've only seen one chip and it was dropped on to a tile floor from a height. My own personal edc is elk and one of my roundknives that I use constantly in the shop.




    One of my roundknives.



    Set of steak knives I made the wife for our anniversary last year.


    My edc in the shop.

  20. herisson

    herisson Knuckle dragging and mean minded Neanderthal Platinum Member

    Mar 11, 2013
    Speechless... but, but... You make gorgeous knives ! To add something useful to the thread, I might state that my personal experience is that stag ages very well, as good as ebony, bocote, cocobolo and better than horn and bone. The care you apply to your knives is of course paramount (give it some camelia oil from time to time...). I have a figured stag scaled knife which is probably a 100 years old. It feels (and behaves) like a new knife. I bought it as is. I am not to be credited for the pristine state. I work on keeping it 100% though (camelia oil, love and all the rest...)
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2018
    Bad Ninja and Horsewright like this.

Share This Page