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Nicholas Woodcarving
Woodcarving Tools, Technology & Sharpening

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Old 05-24-2010, 09:30 PM
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Default What do you use to finish knife handles?

Hi there. Me again. I was looking at carving knives again and I have noticed that many of the knives have glossy handles. For all of the knife makers out there, what do you use to finish your knife handles? I have been using boiled linseed oil, danish oil, and mineral oil but I like glossy handles. My other question is, if you apply lacquer or whatever to the handle, will the handle be too smooth to provide a good grip?

Thank you.

John
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Old 05-24-2010, 11:41 PM
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Default Re: What do you use to finish knife handles?

John, I like True Oil gunstock finish. With two coats it is very glossy, and doesn't seem to feel too slick to handle. You can also just buff the wood to a pretty high gloss if you are using a hardwood.

Tom
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Old 05-25-2010, 09:51 AM
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Default Re: What do you use to finish knife handles?

I have used Tung oil then a rubbed on poly (sold at HD) with good results. I have a Rick Ferry razor knife, I think he uses a spar varnish.

Dave
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Old 05-25-2010, 12:03 PM
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Default Re: What do you use to finish knife handles?

I have used spar varnish but it colors the wood. For a high gloss finish I use oil-based clear gloss Varathane by Flecto. For a perfect finish, I dip the handle 3 to 5 times depending on the species of wood used. Water-based works but I don't find it as crystal like as the oil-based.
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Old 05-25-2010, 09:07 PM
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Default Re: What do you use to finish knife handles?

I have used three different materials for wooden knife handles:

Shellac dries quickly, sands easily, and builds to a gloss finish in 2-3 coats. In low humidity you can get three coat on in less than 2 days. Orange shellac will add amber to your wood, white shellac adds less color

Tung oil will eventually build to a gloss finish, the dry time will be a week, especailly for the last coat. It can also be hard to ge an even coat, as different parts of your handle will absorb different amounts of oil. Advantage here is it penetrates well and can be easily repaired.

I recently tried Minwax Wood Hardener to finish a little carving, its a mix of ketones and acetone and some un-named acrylic. It penetrates really well, actually can be used as a stabilizer on punky or porous woods. I had to soak my carving three times over three days, about an hour each soak before it started to build up a gloss. I did not buff or sand the carving afterward, it may have picked up a gloss quicker if i had buffed it. I will experiment with it more, it shows promise.

BfloBif
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Last edited by Buffalo Bif; 05-25-2010 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 05-25-2010, 09:17 PM
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Default Re: What do you use to finish knife handles?

Forgot to provide my opinion about grip and knife handles. I find I don't grip the knife very hard or apply much pressure to the handle when the knife is sharp- I use the handle mostly for steering, force I apply with the other hand (thumb mostly) to the back of the blade. As long as the handle is dry, I don't think slipping will ever be an issue...
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