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Old 03-22-2018, 02:36 PM
Rasmus Kristens Rasmus Kristens is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Denmark
Posts: 174
Wood scales heat/moisture expansion?

I have made a few full tang knives by now, and a few of them have the same problem.

The scales has expanded and I can see and feel a noticeable rise above the tang. The worst case is with some wood scales from some of my own wood, but i also see the issue with some of my store bought wood.

I expect its temperature or moisture expansion, can this be the case?
How do i avoid this from happening?

I have 2 small kids, so my wife wont let me keep the knifes in the house (we have very sparse storage place), so i keep them in my cold workshop. Could this be the issue?

I hope you some pointers for me, its so sad seing it on knifes i used a lot of time on :-)

Last edited by Rasmus Kristens; 03-22-2018 at 02:39 PM.
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Old 03-22-2018, 05:50 PM
epicfail48 epicfail48 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Springfield Mo
Posts: 95
Avoid it? You can't. Wood, though it may seem dead, is alive. It moves around with changes in temperature and humidity. You can mitigate it by sealing the wood with a finish or even resin stabilizing it, but drastic changes in humidity or temperature will still result in movement, just the nature of the beast.

Best thing you can do is use stabilized wood, it moves the absolute least. If that's not an issue, make sure whatever you're using is plenty dry to start with, apply a decent finish (I like oil finishes for woods, i.e boiled linseed oil), and try to avoid drastic environmental changes
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Old 03-22-2018, 09:08 PM
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mwhuston mwhuston is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Missoula, MT
Posts: 119
You could also use a synthetic material like mycarta. It's pretty reasonably priced.

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Old 03-23-2018, 04:23 AM
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M&J M&J is offline
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: So. Cal
Posts: 519
I can share in the frustration of having the handle shrink, we've all encountered this. Wood is prone to some movement and the stabilized ones are more resilient to this over untreated woods. On a knife that sees wide swings in weather and humidity, it is hard to beat the characteristics of the phenolic resin type composites like G-10 or similar. This would be my suggestion to source that handle material for a knife that has this type of exposure.

One of the nicer natural handles that isn't prone to shrinkage is mother of pearl. Generally not one for hard working knives though.

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Old 03-23-2018, 08:43 AM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Wauconda, WA
Posts: 9,804
Stabilized wood is the solution to your problem but that may not be easy to get in Denmark. The next best thing to try would be a stub tang handle instead of a full tang. With a stub tang the handle is one piece of wood . It may still try to expand or shrink but it will be much less noticeable. A single pin stub tang handle is also the best way to display a beautiful piece of wood since you get to see more of it ....


Your question may already have been answered - try the Search button first!

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Old 03-28-2018, 07:19 AM
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Crex Crex is offline
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Acworth, GA and/or Hanging Dog, NC
Posts: 3,511
Agree with Ray on ultimate solution is the hidden or stick tang so you have full round of the handle material. Not easier or harder than full tang with scales, just diff. Organic materials will move, some more than others. Just something we have to deal with.
I personally do not like synthetics, only one I use is horsemat for working chopper style blades. Not very fond of stabilized not professionally done (lot of hacks out there) and only use in special applications. There are several species of woods that are naturally more stable than others - study up on the better ones and use them.

Carl Rechsteiner, Bladesmith
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