View Full Version : First wa-rehandles -- a few questions

06-02-2013, 07:35 PM
Hi folks,

I'm new to the board and had a few questions for those of you who do this professionally, or have more than my very little experience woodworking for knives. I've made new handles for two of my knives and while I am happy with the results, I wonder how I might improve the results. The first handle was made with a walnut core between book-matched lacewood, a pre-ban elephant ivory spacer and a Gabon ebony ferrule. I used the spacer because the only info I could find online was a Murray Carter video in which he does the same and cuts the profile of the stick tang. The handle was glued up with 2 ton epoxy. On this piece, I also turned a tenon on the ebony that goes through the ivory and into a mortise in the lacewood/walnut for strength. Initially, I finished it with Danish oil, but the grain has raised over time. So I sanded it down again and refinished it with a different oil that cures harder. Also, I made the saya out of poplar.



The other handle was made with the same construction, but without the tenon. I opted for butt-joints to test it for strength and also changed the glue to Titebond III. The woods are walnut and book-matched cocobolo, boxwood spacer, and tulipwood for the ferrule. This one was finished with the latter oil that I used above. Also, I softened the edges and tapered the profile for comfort after having used the lacewood one for several months. So far, this one is much more comfortable to use.



I'm happy with them, so far. But, I wonder what others use to finish their handles? I am most interested in a glossy finish, not matte. And also, I saw other threads mentioning the use of a dowel to give the whole handle strength. Is this used for the burn-in method? If so, what are the chances of harder wood handles splitting? And is the ferrule always hand filed to size for the tang? Thanks in advance for the help.



06-04-2013, 01:23 PM
I'm surprised that I haven't gotten any suggestions yet? Anyone? Bueller?

06-04-2013, 01:36 PM
The dowel method is used to help stabilize the spacer or ferrule during the glue up so they dont fall apart when shaping/sanding. Some folks finish with several light layers of shellac and buffing, some use a true oil mixture.

Burl Source
06-04-2013, 02:14 PM
I think your handles look great.

...as to your questions about finish.
1st, I am not a handle maker but I do have a little experience finishing wood.
When I have made boxes and sayas here is how I finish then for a fairly glossy finish.

I start with Danish oil.
Apply a liberal coat, let it sit about 30 minutes then wipe down thoroughly.
Repeat if things look uneven.
Then a couple hours later I spray with Deft brand Gloss aerosol lacquer.
Very light coats.
This dries in a matter of minutes.
After 3 or 4 coats I will let it dry and harden overnight.
Then with extrafine 0000 steel wool I rub down all the surfaces.
Blow off any residue from the steel wool.
Then a couple more light coats of the spray lacquer.
I let that dry overnight then apply paste wax for wood like polishing a pair of shoes.
Finally hand buff with a soft cloth.

06-04-2013, 07:12 PM
Theory, thanks for the clarification about the dowel. I wasn't sure if it was made of a softer wood so that the burn in method could be used.

Thanks for the oil method, Mark. So, I'm curious about expectations for the finishes. Do people want impermeable barriers to completely protect the wood, or is it expected that the woods will develop color as they age from hand oils?

Keith Sinclair
06-22-2013, 04:37 PM
Those look great,nice selection of wood