View Full Version : Natural Amboyna??

01-01-2012, 04:20 PM
This is my first time working with it.Should I give it a good soak in danish oil or just keep it natural.Any suggestions?

01-01-2012, 04:23 PM
I bought a stick a couple of years ago that was 2 x 2 x 20 and void free. I basically treated it like walnut or maple and gave it a nice oil finish. It didn't require the pore filling that walnut does. No complaints from customers so far.

HHH Knives
01-01-2012, 04:51 PM
Mario, Its normally not necessarily to soak it in oil. It can be stabilized , But from my info, Stabilizing most pieces does very little to the weight of the wood, meaning it dont take stabilization well. One thing I do love about it is its smell. I sometimes sand some just to smell it! lol Like jm said, a good hand rubbed oil finish and the stuff glows and does not need much more extra work. :)

Have fun bro..

Marko Tsourkan
01-01-2012, 05:05 PM
I am yet to use this wood, but a coat of tung oil could give it some extra protection. I have made a handle from unstabilized koa, gave it two coats of tung oil and as far as I know, it is sound and well.


Eamon Burke
01-01-2012, 05:29 PM
How do you know which woods need a soak in oil or not? I mean, the ones that usually don't get stabilized, like ironwood, mallee, ebony, etc.

Marko Tsourkan
01-01-2012, 05:47 PM
I normally read up about woods I work, but if I didn't know what wood it is, a first thing I would note is the weight - oily or dense woods (naturally stable) are quite heavy. Second, I would apply a little bit of a deep penetrating oil (linseed or tung oil) and see if wood absorbs any. Naturally stable woods like ironwood, ebony, cocobolo will not absorb oil (or can be effectively stabilized for same reason). Some times you have woods that have good water repellent qualities, but are not heavy. Koa is a good example. I is relatively stable when dry (in Hawaii, some still build paddles out of it) but it is not heavy and will absorb oil.

Finishing oils won't make wood waterproof - for that you have to use poly (forms a film), but it will give wood some water resistance without forming a surface film like poly does.

This might be an incomplete answer, as I only worked a few woods that were selected for their stability. I have not worked amboyna, but have some on hand and will give it a try one day.


01-01-2012, 06:11 PM
Hmmm, amboyna... Heavy burl is a little different, because of the grain going all different directions. I used some in thinner scales on fillet knives and folders. It moved. A LOT! on the fillet knife, the scales split at the pins, and it wasn't a tight fitting hole. The scales on the folder, moved enough that a visible gap between the bolsters and scales showed up, luckly, those pieces were repaired before they went out. Since then, I have only used stabilized stuff. Thicker stuff may not hold the same issues...

Marko Tsourkan
01-01-2012, 06:37 PM
There were a few pieces of Amboyna (for somebody) that I included with my last shipment to K&G a while back and they came back stabilized. I didn't work them so I don't know how well were they stabilized, but I was under impression that ambonyna can be stabilized.

Mark from Burl Source would be a best source to answer this question, as a quick search in Google produced some of his blocks from a year ago.


01-01-2012, 06:52 PM
Of the burls I have seen, amboyna can be one of the denser ones, and when I started with handles, I made a few from unstabilized pieces - and never got complaints. That may be different for the bigger pieces in wa handles compared to scales. But since there are differences in the density between the burls, I now only use it stabilized to be on the safe side. Sometimes it does not seem to take on a lot of weight, but I also have pieces that came back substantially heavier. I also think that stabilizing does not take away anything from the wood, so that's why I would definitely suggest that. Woods like koa or thuya are actually nicer when unstabilized, but it's still safer to treat them just in case the pieces end up in very extreme climate zones.

My 2cts.


01-01-2012, 09:06 PM
The stuff that I used was quite dense and I think it had been drying for quite some time. I got it from a custom cue supply house and some of his wood was cut 30-40 years ago. As for soaking wood in oil, the only time I have heard of a knifemaker doing that is when Bill Moran mentioned in a video he did for the ABS. I used to use boiled linseed oil and soaked maple and walnut pretty throughly. I now use the Brownells London style gunstock finishing kit and just follow the instructions. It is kind of like Tru Oil on steroids and contains all of the oil, polishing compound, filler and wax you need to do a really fine oil finish. I have used stabilized amboyna a coupelof times and it works well. With that said, you had better like the color of the piece the way it is because you can't darken it a shade or so like you can with the the unstabilized stuff and oil.

01-01-2012, 09:17 PM
"I now use the Brownells London style gunstock finishing kit and just follow the instructions."
So as that is now discontinued, what is the replacement?

Burl Source
01-01-2012, 09:21 PM
First I will start with a smart a** answer.
I would never soak wood in any type of oil unless I was making pilings for a boat dock. Or for conditioning a cutting board.
Most oils will not cure properly, bleed and become a dirt magnet if used that way.

Now for an answer that may be of some use.
An oil finish should be applied in light coats that are allowed to dry between coats. Especially when using oil blends such as tung, danish and truoil. These are oil blends that both penetrate the wood and build up a surface coat. If applied too heavily they will not cure properly and can end up gummy.

With natural (unstabilized) amboyna the most critical issue is that it be very dry before using. If you bought amboyna that is waxed like they do for wood turners, it probably is not dry enough. Most of the waxed amboyna I have bought over the years has had a moisture content over 20%. During the drying time amboyna moves a lot. What you want to be using is stuff that is around 8 to 10% moisture content.

My experience with dry amboyna is that it is very durable. As well as easy to work and finishes nicely. I would work with it like I would a piece of natural walnut. It smells really nice when you are sanding it. The smell is a good tool for identifying real amboyna. Once you smell it you won't forget the scent.

I get most of my amboyna stabilized as sort of an insurance policy. Plus it makes it easier to get a really good finish.

01-02-2012, 03:11 AM
And it smells like you are baking something yummy when you grind it which probably means that it is bad for you.:D

01-02-2012, 03:16 AM
Hmmm. That sucks. Jeff's Outfitters also sells a kit for $35 that is supposed to be a copy of what Purdey uses on their stocks. The Brownells kit (African Express) was a little bit simpler and contained larger bottles of the various ingredients. It was pricey when I bought it, around $75 so it may all even out. It was imported from South Africa, IIRC, so that may be why it is no longer available.
Jeff's kit comes with a bag of filler material, the slackem, rubbing and alkanet root oils and is enough for three rifle stocks, so you can imagine how many knife handles that will do. I still have a fair amount of the Brownells stuff because I think it had enough for 5 or 6 stocks (it had 6 bottles in the kit including two bottles of alkanet root which is what you use the most of), but I guess it will buy Jeff's kit when I run out. My experience has been that having all of the ingredients in one kit makes life a LOT easier than running around and trying to find rottenstone, filler, oil, etc.
"I now use the Brownells London style gunstock finishing kit and just follow the instructions."
So as that is now discontinued, what is the replacement?

01-02-2012, 11:25 AM
The instructions on my Watco danish oil says to flood the surface and to allow to penetrate for 30 minutes,that's what I mean by a soak.I will just treat it like walnut and see if I like the results.Thanx for the info.

Burl Source
01-02-2012, 02:44 PM
My bad.
I thought you meant like immerse the piece and leave it to soak.

I use watco danish oil regularly on boxes I make.
1st coat is a liberal one like you mentioned. I let it set a short time (15-30 minutes)
Then I wipe down thoroughly with an old t shirt. Following coats are lighter.
When I am happy with the oil finish I spray with aerosol lacquer before the last coat of oil is completely dry.
Spraying with very light coats I usually apply about 3 coats.

This sounds like a strange way to do it but I get a really good finish on boxes this way.