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.
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.
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?
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.