Staining/dying wa handle

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

baggyjorts

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2021
Messages
44
Reaction score
41
Location
Brooklyn
I recently bought a Mazaki KU gyuto from CKC. I love the knife so far, but like many I'm not a huge fan of the aesthetics of the magnolia/walnut handle. I had been looking into buying a new wa handle for it, either ho/magnolia or maybe ebony/rosewood with black horn ferrule, but started wondering about what I might be able to do with the current handle. Any advice for potentially staining the walnut ferrule black? (including whether it's even worth a shot?).

I have literally zero woodworking/staining experience, so have no instincts here. I've seen india ink recommended for staining walnut, I'm also intrigued by the vinegar/steel wood method (which seems to turn walnut quite dark - but not quite sure what that effect would end up looking here). Also read that poly sometimes isn't great for staining certain things as it ends up glossier, but I wouldn't mind the ferrule being a bit glossy - gives a look somewhat similar to a horn ferrule.

Other limitation is that I'm not going to be staining to many other things black, so ideally don't want to be buying gallon buckets, but that's a bit of a secondary concern after figuring out what approach would even make sense.

Thanks!
 

Attachments

tostadas

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
1,060
Reaction score
1,285
Location
California
I was thinking the same thing about dye. I'm looking forward to seeing what others have to say about that.

A totally different path you may want to consider is scorching your handles with a torch
 

zizirex

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2018
Messages
869
Reaction score
696
Location
Vancouver <--> Jakarta
yes, make sure you sand or remove the finishing wax off the handle before staining. if you want small, try to use leather dye.
 

McMan

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2018
Messages
2,134
Reaction score
2,049
There’s a technique that’s essentially fumigation—usually with ammonia and sometimes added metals. "Fuming"--it was popular with furniture makers for a time. There’s a thread here somewhere where someone tried it: Ebonization/chemically changing colors of wood
What I liked was that it was a neat method compared to soaking/staining.


 
Last edited:

baggyjorts

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2021
Messages
44
Reaction score
41
Location
Brooklyn
On the torching front, all I have is a bic multipurpose lighter, I assume that's not gonna cut it 😄
 

M1k3

Stop being so negative, Mike
Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
5,734
Reaction score
7,774
On the torching front, all I have is a bic multipurpose lighter, I assume that's not gonna cut it 😄
No it's not. Unless you have some stain or something lying around, you're going to have to buy something though.
 

baggyjorts

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2021
Messages
44
Reaction score
41
Location
Brooklyn
Staining only the ferrule with a nice clean joint to the magnolia, will be really difficult. I vote 🔥
As for the torching, do you think that might be easier to just do the ferrule? Or you think just torching the whole handle then would probably be the way to go? (Guess I can always try to just torch the ferrule, and if I do a shaky job then it answers my question for me.)

Something like this would do the trick?

Or something a little higher-powered like this?
 

baggyjorts

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2021
Messages
44
Reaction score
41
Location
Brooklyn
There’s a technique that’s essentially fumigation—usually with ammonia and sometimes added metals. "Fuming"--it was popular with furniture makers for a time. There’s a thread here somewhere where someone tried it: Ebonization/chemically changing colors of wood
What I liked was that it was a neat method compared to soaking/staining.


Sounds very interesting, but I think a bit beyond what I'd be comfortable with for my first little modification project
 

tostadas

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
1,060
Reaction score
1,285
Location
California
I used the bernzomatic 8000 with good results. I think the iwatani would be fine as well
 

RDalman

Seniör Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2015
Messages
2,166
Reaction score
3,087
Location
Sweden
I used the bernzomatic 8000 with good results. I think the iwatani would be fine as well
A regular cheap propane torch works. But mixgas or even mapp gets easier/faster. I wouldnt attempt onöy ferrule, but the body and maybe leave the ferrule
 

madmotts

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
196
Reaction score
211
Location
Seattle
I think the iwatani would be fine as well
i’ve dabbled with this a few times a s used the iwatani and it’s fine. Sun-tanning your handle is pretty easy.

couple of observations- torch away from the blade and blade tip down to control the edge of the burn (heat rises). I also taped the ferrule (clearly is flammable) but gives you an extra second to stop. It’s super easy to over-char the handle which will leave an indent if you’re not careful.

while it’s better than ‘ho’ or boring wood, I always seem to replace it.
 

M1k3

Stop being so negative, Mike
Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
5,734
Reaction score
7,774
Wrap the ferrule in aluminum foil? Not foolproof but better than something more flammable.
 

baggyjorts

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2021
Messages
44
Reaction score
41
Location
Brooklyn
Well in my case I might want to char the ferrule as well since it's wood (walnut), and currently that's the part I dislike more than the magnolia handle aesthetically. Need to think about how it would end up looking though (charred magnolia + current walnut might look better).

One of the linked posts said to wrap in wet paper towels, also seems like decent option
 

tostadas

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
1,060
Reaction score
1,285
Location
California
One of the linked posts said to wrap in wet paper towels, also seems like decent option
Yea thats what I ended up doing. Scrap of old tshirt and some aluminum foil that I used for the previous night's dinner. It worked and was easily done without having to go and buy any extra stuff.
 

Bensbites

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2017
Messages
922
Reaction score
427
Walnut is pretty easy to blacken with a process called ebonization. Place steel wool in vinegar to make iron acetate, then after this sits for a 1-3 days the reaction should be complete. It will be a surface treatment that is easily removed by sanding. I have ebonized stabilized and unstabilized oak. Walnut has even more tannins than oak and gets darker.
I have no clue how magnolia will react to this solution, I suspect not much. The first thing I would do is search for tannins in magnolia and see what the internet says.

let me know if you want more info
 

baggyjorts

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2021
Messages
44
Reaction score
41
Location
Brooklyn
Sorry to have kept you all waiting! In the end, the people had spoken, and torch it I did

Quite pleased with the result! Didn't actually wrap the ferrule at first because I was feeling cavalier, there are a couple spots on the edges of the octagon where a burn mark creeps up a few mm. To get a cleaner line, then wrapped ferrule with damp paper towel. Didn't wrap knife with anything, was careful to go in short bursts to not heat up the handle too much.

Went at it a little with steel wool, then a healthy dose of mineral oil. I like it! Still debating torching the ferrule as well, but satisfied for now.
 

Attachments

tostadas

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
1,060
Reaction score
1,285
Location
California
Sorry to have kept you all waiting! In the end, the people had spoken, and torch it I did

Quite pleased with the result! Didn't actually wrap the ferrule at first because I was feeling cavalier, there are a couple spots on the edges of the octagon where a burn mark creeps up a few mm. To get a cleaner line, then wrapped ferrule with damp paper towel. Didn't wrap knife with anything, was careful to go in short bursts to not heat up the handle too much.

Went at it a little with steel wool, then a healthy dose of mineral oil. I like it! Still debating torching the ferrule as well, but satisfied for now.
Looks like a whole new knife now. I'm digging the colors
 

daddy yo yo

Senior Member
Joined
May 1, 2012
Messages
2,348
Reaction score
1,781
Wow, great job!! First time I like that handle…

For anyone wanting to copy that: you can also try to make the transition a bit softer, creating a spacer-esque look…
 

baggyjorts

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2021
Messages
44
Reaction score
41
Location
Brooklyn
Thanks, all! One other note - I went a bit darker than originally intended, largely due to trying to get it even. With the octagonal handle, the edges went much faster than the faces, so needed to scorch fairly thoroughly to even it out.

Also, I might have been a bit too aggressive with the steel wool (just not super cautious about how I was doing it, wrapped the handle a bit) and managed to round the edges of the octagon a bit. I don't dislike it horribly, still feels good to grip but I might try to "restore" the edges a little bit. I would imagine that sanding using sandpaper backed by something solid/flat and sanding completely flat on the faces of the handle a bit could create a little bit of a cleaner edge.
 
Top