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Jerry-Rig
Woodcarving Tools, Technology & Sharpening

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  #1  
Old 06-23-2005, 01:30 AM
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Default Finishing a knife handle

There are few things as frustrating as applying a high-gloss finish to a walnut knife handle. Walnut is porous and spray finish does not want to fill in the pores.

So to obtain a perfect finish, you must apply the finish, allow to dry 24 hours, sand, and refinish. Each time fewer and fewer pores are visible; after about six coats, most are filled in.

So one last sanding, clean the handle to perfection, clean the nozzle on the spray can, check the spray pattern, apply the finish evenly and carefully, then out of nowhere comes a single piece of lint.

Back to square one; wait 24 hours and try again.
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  #2  
Old 06-23-2005, 08:14 AM
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Default Re: Finishing a knife handle

Rick your way too hard on yourself I am sure that one piece of lint taken off and a little finish applied wouldnt even show. But then its you Rick and as I have said before your attention to detail is what makes you who you are. When you get my tools you will see a huge carving knife in them and you will see the handle on it is not finished at all and it feels funny in my hand. Maybe thats why I like your knifes best because they are finished superbly and feel so good. Hope that the next coat goes on well for you maybe you will have to sit there until it dries
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  #3  
Old 06-23-2005, 09:37 AM
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Post Re: Finishing a knife handle

Hi Rick

On Tuesday night, I finished four red oak tool handles--a skew chisel, a gouge, and two straight chisels--with clear, satin Minwax Poly-Wipe On--a wipe on polyurethane finish. It comes in satin and gloss--pint and quart. It can be used on furniture, interior doors, trim and other woodwork, hand rails, banisters, etc. The cost was $7.99/pt. at the local hardware store--probably cheaper at the home improvement stores.

According to the instructions, using a clean, dry, lint free cloth, you wipe on one coat, and wait 3-4 hours--depending on air temperature, humidity, etc. Sand with 220 grit sandpaper and repeat the process for a second coat. If desired, a third coat can be added. Wait 24 hours for curing. I coated the handles outside on a relatively humid night, and it was dry to touch within a few hours. The odor was minimal--no stronger than the average enamel paint and there was no residual odors on the handles either. The Poly-Wipe went on smooth--no brush marks, nor cloth marks.

For drying, I suspended the tools from a wire coat hanger by clamping a carpenter's spring clip over the business end of the tool with the hanger wire in between the clips arms, and handles hanging down. I hung the coat hanger on a nail in a roof joist in the shed. I had the four tools evenly spaced on the hanger with plenty of room in between each for air circulation.

I wanted to wait 24 hours to allow the handles to be good and dry before sanding, and applying the second and possibly third coat. I haven't done anything since Tuesday because it was raining last night. But looking at the tool handles, you wouldn't think recoating would be necessary.

The handles are slightly darker--more enhancement of the wood color than anything. There is a a slight gloss finish, and I think it will even help the grip on the tool handle. So far, I'm happy with the results, and it was a lot easier than working with brushes, sprays, etc. Clean up was hanging the cloth and a pair of latex gloves up to dry.

I'll post a picture later when I get home from work.

Bob

Last edited by Just Carving; 06-23-2005 at 12:57 PM.
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  #4  
Old 06-23-2005, 11:01 AM
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Default Re: Finishing a knife handle

Colin,
The lint unfortunately landed in the worst possible location.
I did quickly remove it and tried recoating the area (hoping it would self-level)
Not a chance, it looked better, but not good enough.
So, I sanded and recoated the handle this morning and so-far-so-good.
72 hours and the finish will be fully cured and ready to use.

Bob,
I am still experimenting with finishes; I considered the wipe-on poly and might have to try it. Right now I am using Minwax Spar Urethane and really like the finish. It requires more time and elbow grease, but the visual depth is impressive. The grip is excellent also.


I have expermented with epoxy as a finish with mixed results.
But, for anyone who needs to thin epoxy, the best method is to place the unmixed epoxy containers into warm water for about a minute and then mix them.
Be sure to dry off the containers before mixing to keep the water out of the mix.
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Old 06-23-2005, 12:04 PM
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Default Re: Finishing a knife handle

I have been using Deft for years and the finish looks great whether satin or gloss, have also found I can spray krylon poly gloss over the deft, (using deft as a sealer) and that too works fine....don't like waiting hours for something to dry, some bug or something always wants to check it out! Rick I can understand your redoing it for a piece of lint, thats disgusting......now, about about a deal on all your flub ups? LOL
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  #6  
Old 06-23-2005, 12:04 PM
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Default Re: Finishing a knife handle

Rick,

Living in the desert where dust is more than abundant getting a clean smooth finish on any project is a challenge. I have found that using wipe on varnish is one way to go. They usually dry in 4/ 6 hours and do an adequate job of filling porous woods such as Walnut. Also, while I don’t know if the process would work in the case you describe, I usually finish the last coat of finish, of most types, by rubbing it out with a paste wax such as Butchers Wax or Johnson’s Paste Wax using 4/0 steel wool as the applicator. We have a kitchen table made of Walnut and I refinished it several years ago and about once a year we give it the 4/0-wax treatment and it comes back to life and looks good. As Christmas presents for my children I made 6 Chessboards and had to spray them outside. I used about 5 coats of Satin Deft. Every coat had some small dust marks and such and I sanded them out with 600 grit wet or dry paper. The last coat I used the 4/0 wax to rub them out and they all had a perfect sheen looking against the light.
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Old 06-23-2005, 01:24 PM
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Default Re: Finishing a knife handle

Don't know if you can still get this stuff or not, but golf club refinishing used to require that the pores be filled. Golf finsishing suppliers sold a filler specifically designed for that purpose. You wiped it on with a piece of burlap or like material, then wiped it off, let it dry and then went about the refinishing process. It was available in many colors; black, walnut, mahoga ny, rosewood, maple come to mind. You might try
Golfsmith and Golfworks, both have websites.
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Old 06-23-2005, 04:35 PM
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Default Re: Finishing a knife handle

Rick,

Mini wax also makes a sanding sealer, it leaves a high gloss base but seals the pores of the walnut , very well.

Presently most of the walnut I have been doing has been , brass brush , sand sealer , 4/0 steel wool, then the mini wax ,urethane, steel wool and final urethane. To get an exceptional non gloss, after the final urethane coat , I use the steel wool again, to bring up a nice un-glossed finish and really brings out the walnut colors.
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Old 06-23-2005, 08:18 PM
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Default Re: Finishing a knife handle

Those are some great suggestions, except for sending my flub-ups to Hi_Ho.

I looked at the handle this afternoon and it is perfect, this custom detail knife is for a member of this board.
Perhaps they would share their impression of the finish when it is delivered.
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Old 06-23-2005, 09:20 PM
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Default Re: Finishing a knife handle

Rick,
The apple handles you did for me are sure beautiful! They're so fine I never even gave the finish a thought, I was just smitten with the wood and the grip! and the blades! and the cut!
I hope we get to see the set you're talking about!
Wade
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