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Just put the final sanding on two small skinning knives with black walnut handles, one with brass pins and one with copper, and I am wondering how to seal the handles. My uncle, who works at a blacksmith shop, recommended a combination of linseed oil and melted beeswax. I am worried this might change the color, as it did when I used this combo on red oak. Anyone have any suggestions?

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Birchwood-Casey Tru-oil. Follow the directions carefully. All oil finishes will darken wood a bit, but tru-oil is the only one that truly seals and waterproofs. Plus you can make it anywhere from matte texture to glassy glossy. Or you can go with boiled linseed oil and do a hand-rubbed finish (takes a month to do it properly) and seal it with car wax. That's what I do for my hawk handles.

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I use Watco Danish Oil on all my wood handles. I use the the natural color, it darkens only slightly.

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I've heard great things about truoil. I use watco but I have never been satisfied 100% with the results. But then again, I prefer a semi-gloss to a gloss finish because I feel it brings out the true beauty of the wood better. You could also finish it with super glue...its waterproof and incredibly hard.

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I'm a huge fan of Pilkington Gunstock Finish for Walnut. Depending on how you use it... you can do a hand rubbed oil finish, or build it up to almost a varnish type finish. I've done a lot of black walnut rifle stocks using this product.

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I can recommend NOT trying straight beeswax. I bought a bunch because I was doing quite a few wooden food-safe items (where I mixed it with mineral oil) and thought, "Hey, any wax should work and I love the smell of beeswax!" It soaks in fine, but discolors the material and doesnt give you any luster. I used it on some kitchen knives and it is holding up "pretty" well from a function perspective, but not an aesthetic one. Not to mention I feel that down the road, it might be an issue.

 

I tried using teak oil and had a really bad experience where it gummed up very badly on a handle. Found out at Quad State from Matt Parkinson that you cant really let it sit at all for that reason. Just swab it on, let it sit for a minute, wipe it clean and repeat. Might go back to it on the next blade.

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Walnut is "relatively" soft with a slightly open grain. I highly recommend raising the grain twice before finishing. Do this by sanding to your last grade, then rub with some alcohol and apply some heat from a heat gun or hair drier. The wood will become rough again as the fiber ends pushed into the wood grain spring free. Sand this down gently and repeat.

 

On dense, finer grain woods such as Maple, this can produce a near glass like surface even without sealants. On those dense, fine grain woods.... just a little beeswax used sparingly can be enough to protect the finish.

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I've used an number of different finish's on many wood products, basically anything that has linseed oil in it. which is relatively anything oil based -varnish, tung oil, Danish oil, will darken over time. it's the natural ageing properties of linseed oil. I've used tru-oil, it is simple to apply - works great. wipe on lightly sand repeat until build up is complete.

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Thanks for all the information you guys, in the end I went with tru-oil. Fully satisfied with the results, though I got rather sick of the smell by the time I was done.

 

When I asked my uncle for more info on Beeswax as a handle sealant, he said he set his unfinished knives under a woodburning franklin stove untill they were warm to the touch, but not quite hot. On top of the stove he would have a little tin with his wax/linseed oil mixed at about 30/70%, and already warm. Application would be done with a Q-tip or cotton swab, and then the knives would go back under the stove for an hour or so, to let the wax cook properly. After being allowed to cool to room temp, a light sanding and then, back under the stove for the second or third coat.

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Glad to hear! Try-oil is my favorite, although I might be crazy, but I like the smell of it. :P

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I really like tru-oil on walnut. and I love walnut , one of the most lovley woods.

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I really like tru-oil on walnut. and I love walnut , one of the most lovley woods.

Agreed. I use walnut whenever I can get it, though i limit my materials to whatever I can savange or find. So I mostly end up using red or white oak. The walnut I get mostly comes from disgarded furnature, and old commemerative plaques.

 

Intetresting note: Red oak, when treated with the above mentioned hot beeswax/linseed mix, hardens into something like stone.

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I use 50/50 linseed oil and gum turpentine, I submerge the knife in it then pump a vacuum and tend to leave it overnight, wipe all of it off the next day and let it dry then a coat of wax or two.

 

Richard

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Anyone really interested should check out the second post from the link below. Its from a gunsmith forum, and goes into the why's and how's of modern wood finishing techniques. Its a very high quality summary you won't find covered in many books. Remember, linseed oil and many of the other finishes we use come from the stock finishers. Tru-oil is only one example.

 

Read Second Post Here

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