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squigly1965 12-04-2018 08:01 PM

Kitchen knife handle
I'm making a large kitchen knife for a friend. trying to decide what to use for the handle material. I was thinking snakewood or koa. if i use these do they need to be stabilized? each scale will be roughly 1/2". worried about the nature of the knife causing issues with cracking or warping.

thanks in advance


Doug Lester 12-05-2018 12:15 AM

Just from what I've read I would take a pass on snakewood. I understand that it can have a problem with checking. If you think that your friend is going to be sticking he knife into the dishwasher I would go with a synthetic material like micarta.


Crex 12-05-2018 07:36 AM

I agree with Doug. Unless he's a very conscientious cook/chef, plan for worse case. Neither of the woods you mentioned will sustain a long soak in the sink or the steamy cookoff in a dishwasher long. On the other hand if he is knowledgeable and careful with his knives the Koa will out last the snakewood for reasons Doug mentioned.

Ray Rogers 12-05-2018 08:30 AM

I agree with the others. But, to answer the question you asked, if you do use wood - any type of wood - it should be stabilized.

And stress the point Doug made about the dish washer. No matter what type of scale you choose, stabilized or synthetic, the glue under the scale will fail in a dishwasher. That will lead to warped scales if the material can warp and/or a space under the scales where rust and bacteria can collect ....

damon 12-05-2018 10:21 AM

ive been using desert ironwood in kitchen knives without any issues. any other similarly dense wood should hold up well enough. but, as has been mentioned, stabilizing will never hurt for kitchen knife use.
ive got some snakewood, and it seems like a dense oily wood, so shouldnt present too much problem if not abused. the checking issue with it is news to me, and ill keep that in mind for future projects.

as for the dish washer issue... knives dont belong in there PEROID! regardless of what the handle is. if its likely to find its way into one anyway then micarta, G10 or something similar should give best chance of survival.

preventative measures i use on slab side knives is glue it to a backer of some sort like G10, corby rivits rather than pins, if using bolsters, dovetail them. Ray can give you details on how he does the hidden tang which is worth trying too.

Ray Rogers 12-05-2018 12:45 PM

FWIW, I'll mention that I also used ironwood on kitchen knife handles and almost never had any problem. The one time I did have a problem it was on a knife for a professional chef in a commercial kitchen. The ironwood developed some kind of thin white mold on it. He would clean it off and oil the handle but the mold came back every time. That kind of possibility is why health inspectors don't like to see wooden handles on commercial kitchen knives. However, the other knives I made for the same chef had stabilized wood handles and no one complained about them. I love ironwood and snakewood but I never used them on kitchen knives again after that ....

M&J 12-05-2018 04:50 PM

Stabilized wood works well in these instances. How much use will they see?

G10 and recently carbon fiber are my mains in these conditions. Along with mechanical fasteners like Corby bolts instead of simple pins.

They get dropped, banged enough and this was a challenging time for the epoxy used to maintain a bond. I began hollowing out the full tang for epoxy wells as well as doing similar to the handle scales. Not wanting a gap for food stuffs and moisture to penetrate. Been pleased using the System West epoxy.

Stick tangs that the handle is screwed down is also good when fitting them up.

squigly1965 12-07-2018 02:39 PM

thank you all for your help.

I decided to go with a stabilized buck eye burl. I'll see if i can get some corby screws as well.
I will be stressing the point of the dishwasher. I trust that he will care for it properly. He's an older gentleman that understands how to take care of his things.

squigly1965 12-08-2018 12:25 PM

So I looked for corbys. Problem is, I drilled hole at 5/16 for the bronze pin stock i was planning on using. And although they make 5/16 corbys. The 5/16 is the head size, with a thinner shaft to pass through the tang. Perhaps I can find a 5/16 brass or stainless cap screw and eyelet. Or is you guys have any ideas.
Thanks in advance


Ray Rogers 12-09-2018 08:28 AM

Plug the tang holes with brass rod, hammer it to make it expand so it will wedge into the hole. Then grind it smooth and re-drill ......

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