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Handle Materials

Tim Crocker

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I like to use mostly natural handle materials. Nature is hard to beat for beauty. I usually home stabilize wood and horn. I like to use wenge for hawks and hatchets. Snakewood polishes like plastic and is one of my favorites. I just bought a piece of pomele sapele that I thinks is going to look great.


As for horn I really like to use elk. Rams horn looks great on small skinners, but I can always find good elk.


For heavy use knives I like the look of green canvas micarta. I don't care much for the smell of it though.


Please post some of your favorites and photos if you have them.

Crocker Knives

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I like wood. I like bone and antler too. I've done all kinds of hollow metal handles and wrapped sockets which I also really like.



Silver, gold and moonstones.



A matched pair of 500 layer mokume handled daggers.



Silver and osage.



Lamb bone with natural cochineal die.



Integral socket wrapped with rattan and hemp.

Edited by Tai
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For knives meant to be used outdoors, I actually like synthetic materials such as Micarta. I think it gets poo-poo'ed because it's synthetic, but it's actually pretty nice looking (similar to some grade B or C ironwood), and of course very solid. It's a bit heavy though. Carbon fiber is also very interesting looking. I have to admit that a well cured and oiled piece of wood *feels* very nice, but it's less durable.


For display pieces, I like walrus or mastodon ivory, and premium woods. I like stag but only if it is top grade, which is near impossible to find these days. The stag you find most of the time isn't very interesting looking, IMHO. The one exception is stag that has been colored to a rich amber tone (the MOP Company does that for S. R. Johnson), and then shaped into a handle shows rich and beautiful gradients of color.

Edited by Joss
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Tough OLD OLD Woods... sometimes bone... sometimes leather... sometimes artificial stuff (but not as much). Cord wraps...


At the moment, my favorite material is +2500yrs (!) old Swamp Oak...

that stuff is so cool.....




FERRUM - Daniel Gentile

custom knives & forging classes


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I like to make different styles to keep it interesting like the knives you posted Tai. Only you do it better :lol: . That top knife blows me away.


I really like the ivories. Walrus is great, but hard to come by. I found a place on the net where you can buy mastadon straight from Russia at a much reduced price. The only problem is you have to commit to a minimum 250 lbs. If my memory serves me correct it still totals more than $2000.00. I've heard of wood that was dug up and was 2000+ years old but I've never seen any of it. Got any photos Dan?


Yesterday I went to the King Tut display at a Los Angeles museum. There was a dagger there that would make even todays best jeweler/knifemakers stop and appreciate. Fine and intricate gold wire twists and craftmanship that truly amazed me. 3300 year old technology that stands up to todays best. The knife and sheath were of solid gold. I tried to find an image on the net but couldn't. Of course no photo's were allowed.

Crocker Knives

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  • 3 weeks later...

Dan, out of curiosity, what is so cool about the swamp oak?

“All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.” Kahlil Gibran

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them." - Alfred Adler

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WOW! Those are some nice lookin woods. How much did they run you Angrymob?


I personally like to use exotic woods such as cocobolo and I have recently bought some bubinga. I like them because they look really cool and they are almost indestructable... I have to use my belt sander to shape them because hand tools just won't do it :wacko: I also have a good supply of black walnut that someone gave me and some other woods that I haven't yet tried.


I use what is the cheepest most of the time. I was at an instrument factory in Connecticut a couple of years ago and someone gave me a whole bunch of scaps, mostly about 1 1/2" square and about 6 inches long. Lucky me, huh? I haven't managed to land another lot of wood quite like it. Of course, they didn't tell me what type of wood it was, so I didn't find out after about a year and a half of using it. But that is why I prefer natural handle materials, plus, I just like the look and the way it works.


This is a picture of Mongo. I used bubinga and black walnut for the handle. I also used bubinga for the sheath but I don't have a picture of it, sorry. It shows some nice grain.



Edited by Bob Ouellette

Bob O


"When I raise my flashing sword, and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance upon mine enemies, and I will repay those who haze me. Oh, Lord, raise me to Thy right hand and count me among Thy saints."


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Dan, out of curiosity, what is so cool about the swamp oak?




I was wondering the same thing, other than the fact that is 2,000 years old plus.


Without meaning to flame anyone, but I think we also have some sort of responsibility when it comes to hardwoods such as Lignum Vitae, which is pretty endangered in the country I come from, thanks to international demand.


I'm not saying don't use hardwoods and use softwood instead, I'm just saying from first hand experience that not doing anything to prevent certain species from getting extinct is worst than at least trying to not contribute to the decline of said species.


Check the FSC.


I don't know if in the U.S this organization exists, but they do make sure that the wood you get is tagged and not obtained through inescrupulous exploitation of forests. I believe they also have a list of retailers who sell the tagged product.

Edited by Hÿllyn



I started with nothing, funnily enough I still have most of it...


Rósta að, maðr!

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I deleted the post from Angrymob. The images were too big and I am getting tired of going over the same lesson. If you want to post then take the time to learn how to resize and reduce the images to 640x480 and around 50k. There are posts that give directions for this.


You are encouraged to post pictures and there nothing personal towards Angrymob, resize and repost them please. Thanks.

Don Fogg

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As long as I live I can't imagine that I'll like anything better than osage orange, aka bois d'arc (bodark to you Texans). It is incredibly durable, fun to work, and has a nice simplistic beauty. There is the bonus that it grows fast, transplants well, and has a very high ratio of heartwood to work with.



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I like wood the best. I would have to say curly maple is my first choice. I really like the chatoyancy (sp?) of the figured woods. I have also got some teak to work with in the form of an old CD rack. (recycle, recycle, recycle!)


Trying to decide which to use for this dagger (if I ever get around to working on it again) :(




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I love bone handles, regardless of species and treatment, dyed jigged or natural. As far as woods, I tend towards blackwood, or stablised burls, with a bit of local stuff for good measure (oak, hickory, bodock, maple).


I have to agree with Hÿllyn, I've been moving away from some species due to concern over harvesting practices.

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."

view some of my work

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Recycled materials is the way to go if you're concerned about managing our finite resources. New wood never seems as dense and beautiful to me anyway as the re-claimed beams/rafters from old buildings and houses that get torn down, and I like to keep an eye out for old furniture too as a good source of well seasoned wood.

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