View Full Version : Know your wood source!

Dave Martell
03-02-2012, 04:37 PM
Here's yet another example of what happens when using wood that's been stabilized incorrectly. This came from my ex (and now infamous) CAN wood stabilizer that I was using when I first started.

The wood has severely shrunk and pulled away from the tang at the back end of the handle. This has corby bolts installed, can you imagine what it would look like with just pins? :angry3:


So the point of this post is to know 100% for sure that what wood you're buying is coming from a reliable industry tested source because if not it'll come back to bite you in the ass.

HHH Knives
03-02-2012, 05:48 PM
Dave. That sucks. Really, I feel your pain.. :(

Undoubtedly, all stabilized woods are not created equal. Some company's do it WAY better then others.. And even then its not the end all be all for knife scales. Even when properly done by reliable industry tested company's. Its still wood. Some of these problems are inherent just like rust is inherent to carbon steel. There are to many variable to just assume that the company is bad or didnt do it right.. IMO

Craig Stevens is a Wood Stabilizing Guru, my Mentor for the last 9 years. and my very good friend. His woods are considered the best stabilized woods available by many.. He is well known on this forum. IMO his stabilization is the best. And the woods he offers are among the finest examples of any species I have seen! His stuff is just amazing, not only in there figure and color, but in how well they are stabilized..

Here is what he says about this subject.

" Most people think stabilizing a chuck of wood is a easy thing and that once done it is perfect. I have been at this for allot of years and i can tell you nothing could be farther from the truth. you can stabilize 5 different woods with the same resin and get five "VERY" different results. one will turn out nice, the next the resin will not harden for some reason, the next will smell funny and the resin will not have even penitrated the wood. the resin is very sensitive to differing chemicals. there are really two kinds of wood stabilization, open cell and closed cell. open cell has the wood "coated" on the inside of the cell walls, closed cell, the entire cell is filled with cured resin. Block of stabilized wood can get fracture cracks on the inside from the violent reaction for the polymer shrinking as it cures.

Also, in most cases the first slice off a block tends to bow towards the cut. (i scrap the first slice when i cut a block or use it for scrap projects) fracture cracks can be sealed using west systems epoxy (look it up on the net for a supplyer in your area) i use 105 epoxy with a 205 or 206 hardner. its a thin bodied epoxy that works great for filling all cracks and is way better then superglue.

Remember, woods, even "stabilized" are still wood. only half or even just a 1/4 is polymer, the rest is still wood. the wood can still take in moisture or humidity."

Here is a link to the info, This is a summery from his web post about working with stabilized woods. There are other tips and tricks there that may be of help to you and others working with stabilized woods. http://stores.ebay.com/craigstevensstudio83/About-my-woods-wood-working-tips.html

Stay Sharp!

Dave Martell
03-02-2012, 07:52 PM
Yeah wood is wood and will move and the stabilizing process brings no guarantees but it's just that this one source has provided me with countless re-works where the others have provided me with none. :)

03-02-2012, 08:18 PM
Woah!!! I am not normally a fan of dyed wood....Craig Stevens might convert me! Regardless his undyed stabilized wood was the most amazing I have ever seen. So breathtaking.

03-02-2012, 08:42 PM
Woah!!! I am not normally a fan of dyed wood....Craig Stevens might convert me! Regardless his undyed stabilized wood was the most amazing I have ever seen. So breathtaking.


Some of that stuff is pretty amazing.

HHH Knives
03-02-2012, 08:47 PM
Dave. I hear ya brother, and understand.. It sounds like its a BAD product.. Please share with us who.. so we dont buy from them and have the same issues. or if we already have we can now choose to use it on a knife or use for lighting the forge. :)

If you dont want to thrash them publicly, Please PM me.. :)

Dave Martell
03-02-2012, 09:01 PM
Randy, it was all from Woodstabilizer.com. I had bought a whole bunch from them when I first started on handles and got more than a few done and out the door before problems started to show up. For this one customer alone this is the 2nd handle that's gone screwy from wood from them and I'd venture to say that I'm about 90% on replacement/repair for wood used from this company. :(

I did bring the issue up with them and they refunded a decent portion of about 1/2 of what I bought however the loss isn't just from the cost of the wood, it's the aftermath. I sure hope that I just got a bad batch or something because there's no way this could continue like this without hurting them on some level.

HHH Knives
03-02-2012, 11:42 PM
Dave, 90% :eek2: thats not good!!! I would contact them again and express your issues and problems with them again. in my dealings with them, they seem to be very nice and helpful. Friendly and quick to respond to emails. I hope they will make this right in some fashion or another!

I have used woods from them, And my only complaint so far would be that the wood was very plasticy. Like the resin they use seems to have a lower melt point or something because when sanding or drilling it quickly clog belts and clogs drill bits!! Even cloged my Band saw teeth splitting the blocks! But once I figured out how to work it without over heating (which honestly was a PITA) The stuff finished out nice, polished like glass and so far (knock on wood) I have had none come back..

What kind of wood was it? and did you send them your wood to stabilize or was it stock that you bought from them..

Sry that your having to deal with this kind of problem, I can only imagine what a back step it has been to have to rehandle a knife or many knives. :(

Thanks for the heads up!

03-03-2012, 12:21 AM
Randy, Dave, I have had the same issues with woods twisting, cracking, polymer gumming up belts and bits, some blocks have still been wet in the inside, not cured. A few pieces I must have done the same as you Randy, went slower, tried to keep the heat down, and had good results, nice finishes. Bottom line, it's not worth the time needed to slow down. So I shop elsewhere. They were very nice to deal with, and even pulled strings to find me something unique. Last time I looked them up, I got promises, but no delivery, even after several prompts.

03-03-2012, 01:54 AM
Damn it Randy. you said craig and now all I can think about is getting another block lol.

03-03-2012, 03:41 AM
Dang!! I am still amused when I hear people talking about wanting to stabilize their own wood like they were making homemade "micarta" out of old blues jeans and cheap epoxy. I know that knife makers are a notoriously cheap lot, but stabilizing wood is not a simple process and should be left to COMPETENT professionals. I know from being around the boat world that if you do it right, a piece of mahogany "stabilized" with resin will hold of to 30 years of hard pounding and will outlast any glass based composite. if you get it wrong, that is another story altogether. From what I have seen, properly stabilized exotic wood is so expensive to do right that it probably only makes sense for "decorative" applications like knife handles.

03-09-2012, 02:57 AM
I had one paticular wood supplier where the wood just didnt look or feel aor act atabalized at all except on the outside. Itw as like being coated or something. I got alot more strict on who I trust for wood sources after that.

Don Nguyen
03-09-2012, 11:31 AM
I'm kind of on a budget when I make my knives, so I try to look for inexpensive stabilized wood sources.

Are there things I should look for and be weary when using these less costly supplies?

03-09-2012, 09:15 PM
I would buy from a known source. Otherwise, you don't know what you are going to get!

I agree with ******* about the DIY Micarta type stuff. I see tons of people using Bondo for this and complain about the smell, use the wrong amount of hardener so they have more time to work with it, etc. I read the reviews of the LM105 using the West System Epoxies and I have been working with the MAS Epoxy brand and it's looking sweet. Kinda pricey for the epoxy ($170 for 1 gal resin, 1/2gal hardener), but the end results are worth it! If you're going to do it, do it right! Same goes for the woods. I won't even bother trying to do that myself. Burlsource, WSSI, K&G and Craig and Arizona Ironwood are the ones I order or will order from. You may pay more, but the end results are well worth it and then some.