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practical characteristics of handle wood

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tk59

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A while back, I acquired a handle made from stabilized (I believe.) koa. At some point, I noticed that there were a lot of little dents in it; impressions from objects it had bumped into. I never dropped it or anything like that yet, it is the only handle I've encountered with that problem. More recently, I had a conversation with a knifemaker about handle materials and he specifically mentioned to make sure that my stabilized material not be dented easily.

My question is this: Aesthetics aside, what woods stabilized or otherwise, will resist this "denting." Of the wood I've seen, it seems like all of the dense, unstabilzed woods are good for this (like ebony, ironwood, cocobolo, etc.). Is koa the only "bad" one or was this particular piece stabilized incorrectly?
 

Dave Martell

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This is a timely thread since I'm currently talking to a guy about this very same thing. I have no answers so I'm interested to hear what other have to say.
 

SpikeC

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When I had the Haslinger passaround I noticed that the koa handle had a texture to it like many small dents. Could this just be a characteristic of koa? I believe it was stabilized.
 

tk59

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The koa handle I have here will dent if you press your fingernail to it a little and the impression is permanent.
 

Delbert Ealy

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Ok I actually went out to my shop and spent 5 minutes trying to put my fingernail into some wood, I tried over a dozen types of wood most of them stabilized, but not all. All of the pieces I tried left no dent at all, not even a mark, and I used enough pressure that my finger is thumping a bit, not sore but I am more aware of that finger than normal. Include in the types of wood are unstabilized honey locust, and african blackwood, stabilized maple, koa, oak, and a bunch of others.
Del
 

apicius9

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That sounds strange, I have never seen anything like that - but I didnt look for it either.

Stefan
 

mr drinky

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Ok, first of all I am in NO WAY qualified to answer this and won't, but something crossed my mind rather recently. I bought a new table and you can see the heartwood and sapwood color variation and I wondered if one was harder than the other (I assume there is a difference but I could be wrong). And if so, if a knife scale is taken from the outer sapwood can that have different characteristics than a scale that is taken primarily from heartwood?

In other words, could someone harvest young Koa with more sapwood, stabilize it, and end up with a softer stabilized wood (prone to denting)?

k.
 

SpikeC

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It depends. I think that once they are stabilized, though, any difference becomes moot.
 

Delbert Ealy

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Ok, first of all I am in NO WAY qualified to answer this and won't, but something crossed my mind rather recently. I bought a new table and you can see the heartwood and sapwood color variation and I wondered if one was harder than the other (I assume there is a difference but I could be wrong). And if so, if a knife scale is taken from the outer sapwood can that have different characteristics than a scale that is taken primarily from heartwood?

In other words, could someone harvest young Koa with more sapwood, stabilize it, and end up with a softer stabilized wood (prone to denting)? k.


I don't think so, one of the woods I tested was redwood, whch easily dents before stabilization, it is soft like cedar or popular, or for those of you that have japanese knives, like ho wood.
Del
 

jmforge

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Are you sure that it is stabilized? You can dent even some of the harder woods like blackwood if you try, but its not easy. The limited types of stabilized wood that I have used have been some pretty tough stuff.
 

HHH Knives

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Im gona say its the chemical mix that was used to "stabilize" the Koa that may actually be the problem. Just my 2 cents here.

I have tried many "stabilized" woods from many sellers and self proclaimed wood stabilizers over the last 7 years. Most were very good or excellent. Yet there have been a couple others. Where the wood was soft and even seemed softer then it should of been unstabilized. Making me think whatever they did when they "stabilized" it was the problem. . It almost seemed to me that the chemicals or the process they used, actually degraded the wood and left it spongy for lack of a better word.

:2cents:
 
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