Suggest a finish for homemade knife handle

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Suggest a finish for homemade knife handle

Postby rimfireOH » Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:04 am

Does the forum's collective wisdom and experience have any suggestions on finishes for homemade knife handles? I've made several over the years in woods ranging from osage orange to teak to ebony to mesquite and birdseye maple. I've used tung oil, teak oil, multiple coats of thinned marine/spar varnish and etc. Yeah, I could google an answer, but I want to hear from you.

The current project nearing completion has a mesquite handle and I'm wondering if you have any suggestions for the finish. I don't want there to be enough surface buildup that dings and scratches are hugely heartbreaking -- this knife is to be a user, not for the display case.

I'm making a forend replacement (walnut) for a .410 shotgun and picked up some gunstock finish (Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil) that I'm tempted to try on this knife project.

(Did we used to have a knife/blade/edge sub-forum here? I thought we did, but couldn't find it . . .)
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Re: Suggest a finish for homemade knife handle

Postby Cruiser » Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:43 am

On gun stocks and knife handles I prefer the no finish method of some type of oil. (Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil) is one, I prefer Boiled Linseed oil myself. there are many others. You never have to worry about chipping.
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Re: Suggest a finish for homemade knife handle

Postby Face » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:32 am

It's been years since I made any, I've used Tung oil. It was state of the art way back when. Some of the newer finishes are probably remarkable.

I heard one that I've never tried, it was rubbing one of the Cyanoacrylate adhesives into the surface. Never tried it, but on something small, it might be great. Or not.

I still have some scales... somewhere of some various woods. I moved on to all synthetics, mainly micarta.
I've used mesquite, if I remember, it really stinks when sanding.
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Re: Suggest a finish for homemade knife handle

Postby rimfireOH » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:54 am

Cruiser wrote:On gun stocks and knife handles I prefer the no finish method of some type of oil. (Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil) is one, I prefer Boiled Linseed oil myself. there are many others. You never have to worry about chipping.

Thanks for the suggestion. According to this article, True-Oil is mostly linseed oil anyway, so I think I'll start with that. And will try to remember to post photos when I'm done.
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Re: Suggest a finish for homemade knife handle

Postby AlanM » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:37 am

I've used Cyanoacrylate on pens that I turned with excellent results.
It soaks into the wood and will polish up to an excellent smooth surface that is nearly indestructible.
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Re: Suggest a finish for homemade knife handle

Postby Mr. Glock » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:25 pm

Boiled Lindseed Oil is great for axe handles, and some 80 grit sandpaper gives a grip to the surface.

I’ve heard Danish Oil is a good choice too but no experience with that one. Want to try it someday.

The negative on Tru-Oil for this application is that it slicks up with multiple applications. Nice for a wood gun stock, not so good for a wet knife handle.
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Re: Suggest a finish for homemade knife handle

Postby WY_Not » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:41 pm

Depends on the knife and its intended purpose. LOTS of knives (high and low end) that have polished micarta or G10 scales. They are great for most cutting chores but not so much for stabby tasks unless there is something to prevent your hand from sliding forward.

Mr. Glock wrote:Boiled Lindseed Oil is great for axe handles, and some 80 grit sandpaper gives a grip to the surface.

I’ve heard Danish Oil is a good choice too but no experience with that one. Want to try it someday.

The negative on Tru-Oil for this application is that it slicks up with multiple applications. Nice for a wood gun stock, not so good for a wet knife handle.
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