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Noob handle finishing ?s


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Hey there fellas. I'm new to both this forum (first post) and this hobby (first knife), and I have a question I can't seem to grasp from reading through existing posts. Attached are 3 images of my handles (Black Mesquite).

 

1. One shows the handle right after applying a coat of linseed oil--lustrous, high contrast, deep colors.

2. Then, I have an image from about 20 minutes after the application of the oil--no luster, somewhat muted colors and contrast.

3. Finally, the picture I took 24 hours later--bland coloring and contrast, looks almost freshly sanded.

 

How do I get my material to look like it was freshly oiled--less perhaps the luster? In browsing posts, I've seen mention of both hardwood wax and "hand polished". Can someone please describe the processes and materials involved in either of these finishes? Are there advantages and disadvantages to each? Since this is my first knife, I'm all for spending the time to make it right (or as right as this knife is going to be).

 

Additionally, I've attached an image of my blade - Admiral 1095 CRA (hard to get a good picture of). I've sanded this down to 500 grit then finished with red scotch brite. My issue now, is that after the diamond stone I got some cross grain scratches. Is this common? I thought I was just hitting the secondary bevel, but I guess not. Also, after the water stones, my edge is finely polished and the transition into the primary bevel is sloppy. How do you ensure a sharp, straight line between primary and secondary bevels?

 

I appreciate any and all advice you can send my way. I'm just soaking up all that I can at this point.

 

Thanks

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Linseed oil takes several coats to build up to any sort of lasting sheen. I've never worked with black mesquite, but from your photos, it looks like it is a pretty open grained wood. That means it will take even more coats than some woods.

 

When I use linseed oil on a gun stock, I do the following:

 

1. Using my bare hands, I spread a small amount of finish out as thinly as I can get it.

2. I let it "Dry" for just a few minutes, and wipe it as dry as I can with a paper towel.

3. Wait 24 hours.

4. Repeat until happy.

 

On a 100 year old walnut rifle stock, I won't see any noticeable luster until about the 5th application. Then it really starts to take off. I suspect your mesquite is going to take more coats than that.

 

Fair warning: I've never used linseed oil on a knife handle. It should be the same as a rifle stock, but you know what they say: "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

 

BTW, that is a nice first knife attempt.

Edited by Brian Dougherty
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What Brian said, and once the shine seems semi-permanent and it's fully cured (a couple of weeks minimum) I'll hit it with some car wax for a high shine. Or you could let the oil cure now and top it off with Tru-Oil, it's naturally glossy.

 

As for your second question, the answer is practice. ;) Or a jig.

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you can reduce the number of oil coats needed for a handle by soaking the whole handle in the oil for about an hour to completely saturate it, but you then need to let that first application dry for at least a few days before continuing, and I've only tried it with finishing oils that have hardeners mixed in...

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Many coats and hand rubbing is the secret to the better oil finishes as already posted.

 

Alan is point on the "more you make the better you will get"

 

Attention to detail is what separates a knife from a good knife.

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another thing that can help, is to make your own finishing "varnish" mix equal parts oil (tung, BLO, etc), oil based resin (poly-urathane, spar varnish, etc... preferably gloss), and a thinning agent (turpentine, naptha, mineral spirits, etc). the thinning agent will help with penetration and the resin will help "drying".

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Thanks for the input guys. I wasn't letting it dry between coats. I was assuming 10 minutes would be enough. I'll try hitting it over the next few days with the linseed, then car wax? Hardwood floor wax?

 

Does the addition of wax adversely affect the texture/ergonomics of the handle?

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I don't see that you said so I'm going to respond as though you're using boiled linseed oil instead of raw. Boiled linseed oil takes a day to a week to cure. The first few coats will cure out in a day or two depending on temp and humidity and after about 3 or 4 coats it will start to take longer to cure. Starting around the 4th coat, wait until the odor of the oil is mostly gone before applying the next coat. On a tight-grain wood, a nice low-luster sheen develops between the 10th and 15th coat (my experience), for open-grain it can take upwards of 30 or 40 (I have spent 8 months hand oiling woodwork with raw linseed oil).

Once the oil is cured (wait a week from the last application for boiled, a couple months for raw) most any additional finish can be applied over it. A wiping varnish will build faster if you're in a hurry to use it.

 

ron

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as a side note, a good way to know when your oil is dry is when the rag that you used to either apply it, or wipe it off, goes stiff (as it will only do that when the oil has cured). just leave it to hang dry with plenty of ventilation. raw linseed oil and pure tung oil take forever to dry...

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Another thing to keep in mind, curing oils (tung, linseed etc) release heat as they cure so spontaneous combustion is a possibility so don't just toss rags used to apply these oil, spread them out to dry. (The approved way to dispose of these things is in a sealed, water-filled metal container, of course then you have an oily, watery mess to worry about.)

 

ron

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