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What Wood Could this Be?

Aiden CC

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I’m not sure if this the right forum for this question, but I’m not sure where else it would fit. 

I enjoy making kitchen knives based on older examples and have ended up with a small collection of them. There are a few with a quite charming wood for the handle that I would love to try out but I’m not quite sure what it is. 



This is a paring knife from an estate sale of unknown age and provenance because the blade has been sharpened back past any markings. A few years ago Alan pointed out its resemblance to an Old Chicago model, so it may be that. 


This is an old Sabatier 10” butcher knife from the 40s or so. The person I got it from said the handle is pear wood, but I’m fairly doubtful of that, actually having some Swiss pear on hand which lacks the prominent rays in this wood. 

Any thoughts on what this could be? I have some suspicions but some things don’t seem to add up and I don’t want to influence what anyone else sees. It’s a lovely looking wood and I’ve been moving to less figured wood lately, so if I can figure it out I may try to get

ahold of some. 

Thanks for looking!


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The first one looks very like hickory, and if it's an Old Chicago, that would make sense.  As for the Sabatier, Oak rays, but that doesn't look like oak to me.  It might be some sort of fruit wood, or an old rehandle in fruit wood?



"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."


I said that.


If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton


So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.


Grant Sarver

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Thanks for all of the replies! Beech was my only guess too, but I thought they were a little dark for that so I’m glad to have some more input. Some of the lumber yards nearby stock it so I should be able to get a board for cheap. I’ve mostly seen beech on screwdriver handles and spoons, where it seems very bright and a bit sterile. Maybe linseed oil could make it somewhat darker/warmer (if that would be safe for a kitchen knife)?


Coincidentally, I’ve also been looking for Chilean lenga wood, which was originally translated for me as birch, but may be better translated as beech. It was the most common hardwood in the place I learned about South American butcher knives, so I’ve been trying to get ahold of some with no luck yet. Some European/American beech may be a good substitute. 

Edited by Aiden CC
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That first one certainly looks like an "old Hickory" knife - which those old knives are everywhere and were once made in good old Titusville pa. Still some of the best kitchen knives you can get your hands on. I could be mistaken there are some features that they have that set them apart.  They are relatively soft, which most of them I have or seen are worn down quite a good bit, but they do take a nice edge.  Normally stamped, and have a set of depressions along the spine of the knife. The handle fits their design. 



Edited by Daniel W
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