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Leather handles/circular spacers - polishing?


Gary LT

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Okay all,

I have this question to ask if anyone has accomplished a “smooth polished finish” on knives with leather spacers on handles. I mean smooth polished finish and not showing grain porosity.
I haven’t…..and tried. I was told to “burnish” the leather, (but not exactly how :huh:……). So I did, using different attempts, with fine scotchbrite, buffing wheels and compounds, soaking the leather in water or oil or applying wax, progressive hand sanding, etc. I may be using lesser quality leather, (for sure!). 

Other well known makers do this successfully however I thought I’d start here to ask.

Any advise

Gary LT

"I Never Met A Knife I Didn't Like", (Will Rogers)

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scotchbrite, sanding, (most) buffing etc are abrasive, and will open up the grain. Burnishing is not. It means polishing with a hard, smooth, polished surface - usually hardened steel, but bone or antler are fine for leather - to compress the surface and close up the grain. You probably want to coat the surface in beeswax first to load as much of the grain as possible before you start. You'll probably also want to use enough force to generate some heat to harden the surface. A hard felt buffing wheel would probably also work.

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Jake Cleland - Skye Knives

www.knifemaker.co.uk

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."

 

Albert Einstein

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Thanks Jake and Alan. I do have a hard wheel, (not felt), but packed enough to work. A big “duh” came over me when I read beeswax, which I have a small block. This combo might do the trick for this project.

I follow up with a post when I can get back to try it.

Gary LT

Edited by Gary LT

"I Never Met A Knife I Didn't Like", (Will Rogers)

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I use a product I think is Tragacanth gum (?) to coat my sheath edges before burnishing with a chunk of antler. Leaves a nice solid polished edge. I bought the powder that you mix with a little water and apply with a small paint brush or glue brush

 

Edited by Joshua States

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

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Thanks Joshua, yes I’ve known about gum tragacanth, I haven’t tried it, but if you use perhaps I should try.

All, rubbing a prepared leather edge with a tool works and you can see results rather quickly. But a spacer is circular or oblong and grain changes direction. So in using a wheel that’s why I’ve tried everything. Heck, maybe I can also try a stabilizer in a vacuum. Whatever works, I’ll pass it on. Randall, Treeman, Moshee, have all done this successfully!

Gary LT

 

"I Never Met A Knife I Didn't Like", (Will Rogers)

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  • 5 months later...

So here’s an update to polishing leather spacers. On a visit to Florida, I had a chance to visit a well known knifemaker and asked the simple question, “How do you get a smooth polish on leather spacers used on a knife handle?” I explained my lack of success and frustration because of the grain not packing down.
The answer came back……. “just simply polish with red rouge using a light touch”.
I said Huh? You mean……no deep down hidden method, secret xformula, etc? We went into the shop, same wheel I use, (well worn), 3650RPMS, red rouge applied as normal, (Dialux had also been used). Very light touch, just feather it.

So attached are before and after photos at home.

I don’t really like this rouge because of the staining, so I don’t use it. 
But I’ll be damned…..!
 

Gary LT

IMG_1103.jpeg

IMG_1105.jpeg

IMG_1107.jpeg

IMG_1106.jpeg

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"I Never Met A Knife I Didn't Like", (Will Rogers)

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I believe I have read that using a hardwood wheel in buffing motor, lathe or drill press is what is used to polish or burnish the edges of leather.  The wood wheel is shaped and sanded to match the contour of the leather part to be burnished.  Not sure if any compound is used but would guess a wax of some kind and beeswax would be my first choice if I tried it.

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Alan, I used this wheel because it was loaded more so than a new wheel. Could have been even more loaded and used which would have worked faster.

I kept the work turning same direction as wheel and also buffed at angles later to smooth out the raised grain. By very light pressure, the grain eventually goes away. As far as Dialux red rouge, this is the only use I can find for it on knife handles, except maybe something else dark and smooth like buffalo horn or micarta.

well…….this rabbit hole is closed for me!

Gary LT

 

"I Never Met A Knife I Didn't Like", (Will Rogers)

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It is indeed.  But the iron oxide particles are very specifically size-graded to be a uniform mild abrasive, and the grease carrier is formulated to wear at a precise rate.  The fact that it will fill the pores of leather never occurred to me. But I like it. B)

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On 6/12/2023 at 5:37 PM, Gary LT said:

same wheel I use

Sewn wheel or unsewn?

 

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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Sewn at the shop. But on mine the last 2 rows of thread were removed.

Gary LT

"I Never Met A Knife I Didn't Like", (Will Rogers)

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With all the different colors out there for polishing rouge.......

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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