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  #1  
Old 04-11-2017, 04:27 PM
lppd4 lppd4 is offline
 
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Scales shrunk

I put some nicely figured oak onto a full tang blank that I'm making for a friend. Cut the wood close then sand it smooth all the way around. Come back in a couple of days and now the scales aren't big enough to fit the blank. Its like they shrunk. what did I do wrong never had a problem like this before although I have very limited experience. Got to start over
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Old 04-11-2017, 04:46 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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I don't know a lot about wood finishing but sounds like maybe the wood wasn't properly dried. Since I don't know much about wood finishing I always use professionally stabilized wood. I had some highly figured oak once and I sent that out to have it stabilized. Professionally stabilized wood requires nothing more than sanding and buffing to finish and it doesn't shrink, doesn't swell, doesn't absorb...in other words it's stable ....


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Old 04-11-2017, 08:10 PM
WNC Goater WNC Goater is offline
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I'd say Ray is right. The wood wasn't dry. Or otherwise had a high moisture content. Stabilized wood won't do that. Even the companies that stabilize wood won't do the stabilizing on wood that isn't totally dry.

If you don't use stabilized wood, make sure it is something that is thoroughly dried, as in years ,or kiln dried. And either way stored indoors in a dry environment. Damp basements don't count.

And then finish it with a good penetrating oil.


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Old 04-12-2017, 09:33 PM
Bob Hatfield Bob Hatfield is offline
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You should never use any wood, that is not stabilized, that is over 6-8 % in moisture content. I also believe that using a commercial company to stabilize your wood is the best route to prevent problems down the line. The company I use to stabilize my wood requires the wood to have 10 % or less in moisture content.


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Old 04-12-2017, 11:13 PM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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Bob, I'll have to disagree with you on your pronouncement that one should never use wood that is not stabilized. There are wonderful handle woods out there that simply cannot be stabilized due to there density and oil content. There are others, like Osage Orange, Desert Ironwood, and Mesquite that will do just fine without being stabilized. I don't know where people got onto this stabilization kick when wood has been used to make handles for knives for millennia.

As far as moisture content, I'll have to agree with you there.

Doug


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Old 04-13-2017, 12:46 AM
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TexasJack TexasJack is offline
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I think Doug brought out some good points. The handles in question are oak, and it's not particularly oily wood, so it's not surprising that it could shrink.

Woodworkers got into stabilization for turning pieces on a lathe that had beautiful but very weak spots in the wood. (A friend of mine jokes about "spalted wood", saying that he has some pieces of rust pitted iron that he refers to as "spalted".) Stabilization - which really amounts to pulling a vacuum to suck the air bubbles out of wood and letting an acrylic resin (superglue) and solvent mix soak in and harden - allows soft woods and wood with flaws to be used for a lot of different things, including knife handles. But how much stabilizer goes into something like cocobolo is really questionable - as is the necessity for that.

Likewise, the surface coating on handles "stabilizes" the wood to a certain degree, making it difficult for the wood to change water content.


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Old 04-13-2017, 01:11 AM
Bob Hatfield Bob Hatfield is offline
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Doug, I was not clear in my statement. I did not mean you should never use wood that has not been stabilized as I do know there is certain woods that is very difficult to stabilized such as desert ironwood, coca bolo that are a great wood for knife scales in their natural state.
what I meant if you use wood that is not stabilized, it should have a moisture content of 6% or less to prevent shrinkage as the wood dries out on the knife.


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Old 04-13-2017, 08:26 AM
WNC Goater WNC Goater is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Lester View Post
Bob, I'll have to disagree with you on your pronouncement that one should never use wood that is not stabilized. There are wonderful handle woods out there that simply cannot be stabilized due to there density and oil content. There are others, like Osage Orange, Desert Ironwood, and Mesquite that will do just fine without being stabilized. I don't know where people got onto this stabilization kick when wood has been used to make handles for knives for millennia.

As far as moisture content, I'll have to agree with you there.

Doug
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hatfield View Post
Doug, I was not clear in my statement. I did not mean you should never use wood that has not been stabilized as I do know there is certain woods that is very difficult to stabilized such as desert ironwood, coca bolo that are a great wood for knife scales in their natural state.
what I meant if you use wood that is not stabilized, it should have a moisture content of 6% or less to prevent shrinkage as the wood dries out on the knife.

^^That^^^

Knife handles, axe handles, shovel handles... all manner of wood handled tools have been used for hundreds of years without professional modern-day stabilization processes with no problem. But the wood does indeed need to be DRY or it will shrink, crack, curl, bend, etc. That is a natural process of drying, so it needs to be dried BEFORE using in pretty much any application from tools to cutting boards to furniture.

As Bob says further up ^, the wood has to be dry even before it can be stabilized.

Having said that, if you're not sure, don't know, or don't want to worry about it, as Ray suggests use stabilized wood.


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Old 04-13-2017, 10:03 PM
Golfer Golfer is offline
 
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The densest woods not only do not need to be stabilized, they can not be stabilized. On the other hand, oak is not a dense wood. If it shrunk it was not dry. Unstabilized oak will swell and shrink with the humidity. Ironwood, rosewood, cocobolo, osage orange are examples. Actually 6% is not dry enough and will continue to shrink in very low humidity situations or it will swell when the humidity is higher. One must know his woods to know which need to be stabilized or not.
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Old 04-18-2017, 07:37 PM
C L Wilkins C L Wilkins is offline
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Its been quite some time since I have been on here.

Home remedies...

A porous wood like oak or curly maple needs to be well dried. It takes a bit of time but if you have a box with a small muffin fan in it, it speeds things up quite a bit.

You can use Minwax Wood Hardener to "fix" the wood. You can use it while you are finishing the handle. This will take a lot of coats and doesn't get down much past the surface of the wood.

Way back around 20 years or so, some folks were using a super glue finish but not only is it a pain in the butt it looks like plastic when you are done. Looks kinda like the stock on an old Remington Nylon 66.

Texas Knifemaker's has a product called Cactus Juice but I haven't used it.

As mentioned, some woods are too dense to be stabilized. Such woods as desert ironwood, cocobolo, ebony, etc. Well you are just wasting your time. A couple of other woods come to mind. Lignum vitae and guayacan. They are just too waxy to be stabilized.

Craig


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Last edited by C L Wilkins; 04-18-2017 at 07:46 PM.
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