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Sealing natural wood kitchen knives


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Hi.  First post.  I have to make a set of large kitchen knives.  I normally just use wood that I can harvest on my property and I mostly just use boiled linseed oil for finishing the handles, but this specific order requires me to use Prosopis, which is a type of mesquite tree.  I have used it before and the linseed oil works fine.  However, it has a tight grain and the linseed oil does not really penetrate extremely deep.  I'm afraid that if the kitchen knives get used and then washed, the handles will get dry quickly.  The client is aware that maintenance will be required, but I'm not sure she will be OK with re-oiling the handle every time.  A varnish finish is not acceptable.  Can anybody help with a natural but long lasting finish?

 

Thanks

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Hard carnauba wax will last a while, but best never leave the handle submerged in water, whatever the finish. 

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If it's mostly the darker harder wood I think it will hold up great. I have a mesquite handled kitchen knife I rarely oil that was originally treated with tung oil several years ago it hasn't moved or discolored. I use a butcher block oil/wax combination to maintain. 

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I have a kitchen knife that has African blackwood for a handle.  I sanded out to a fine grit and buffed it.  I use, wash and dry it and I've never had to put anything on it.  It depends on the wood.

 

Doug

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Hi all,

 

I'm relatively new to Bladesmith's Forum and this is only my forth or fifth post, so please forgive me if I'm posting my question in the wrong place.

 

My question is similar to Bill's. I've made a chef knife for my wife and the handle is made of walnut. I've fine sanded it so that it feels very smooth in the hand. 

 

The question is what is the best way to finish and protect the handle from water and the oils/liquids that may get on the handle while using? (Meats, veggies, etc.)

 

A friend who is not a bladesmith suggested using stain and then using a marine varnish on top to seal but that doesn't sound right to me. (But I'm a noobie so what do I know?) LOL!!

 

May I have your thoughts please?

 

Thanks so much for your help and for this awesome learning place!!

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100% tung oil, water-base polyurethane, cyanoacrylate (superglue), all work to some extent, as does wax.  The most important thing is to hand wash only and dry immediately after washing.  Did you raise the grain and re-sand?  If not, do it now.  dampen the handle and hit it with a hair dryer until it's dry.  This will raise the grain that currently burnished down by sanding.  Sand that off. Repeat until it no longer raises any grain.  Then you can put on a finish and it'll stay.  

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With non-stabilized walnut I've had very good luck using multiple thin coats of polyurethane.  I apply it with a paper towel and then wipe it back off (kind of like applying stain).  After it dries completely, follow with a light sanding with your choice of high grit sandpaper (I usually go with 800-1000 grit).  Sand until the it's back down to mostly wood, but you'll still see the polyurethane that has seeped into the pores.  Repeat multiple times , usually anywhere from 6-10 applications depending on the wood, until you see the pores blend in with the rest of the handle after sanding.  Once you have a completely uniform surface after sanding, finish it off with a topcoat of polyurethane and buff it to a shine.   

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Going by memory of using wood handle knifes in my mom's restaurant, I don't remember the wood ever needing any special care. We just wiped down the blades and handles after we used them.   The only handles I saw that could have used some TLC, were the steak knifes that got sent through the dish washing machine, both the temperature and harsh detergent stripped the handles of any oil or finish.

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Thank you all.  I'll experiment with the suggestions and see what works.  Appreciate it.  I've so far tried  car wax and that seems to be pretty resilient.

 

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