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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This question is mainly for the guys here that make knives, either in a profession or just for hobby, like me.

Do you have a personal preference for the handle material you use?

From my personal experience, I like mesquite, especially from the root ball. It tends to have a burl appearance and differs in color depending on the geographic area which it grew. Also having an unlimited supply of mature trees on my family ranch, has a lot to do with this selection. I have also found mesquite to be very wear resistent and easily machineable.

Coco Bolo and Bocote would run a close second in my favorites. :grin:
 

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I like to mix cocobolo and elk horn with hidden tang knives. If you want a unique effect, Use an 1 1/2 inch hole shooter to cut spacers from the skin on old bowling balls. Break them out by using a phillips screwdriver. Sand them true and epoxy like spacers over the hidden tang. You can get old bowling balls at Goodwill. I have an example on my site... :D

http://www.geocities.com/irondog_54/index.html
 

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I use all kinds of different materials, it depends on the customer/knife design,what's in my head to try. My favorite though is stabilized,spalted woods. Stabilizing lets you use some incredibly fancy burls that would normally be way too weak to normally put on a knife. The acrylics that are injected into the woods(I think that's how its done) prevent shrinking, warping, waterproof the handle and impart a permanant finish that polishes up beautifully. I also like regular woods, three of my four personal knives are handled in walnut, briar root and black mesquite, but lot of my customers don't want it cause they think it'll dent too easily. I also use an awful lot of Micarta. I like it and my customers do cause it's both good looking and tough as nails; stuff's impervious to just about everything.
I do use dymondwood occasionaly, some of the colors are ok, and it polishes well. Used to use Sambar stag when it was available, and have used a fair amount of well dried Whitetail horn, though I think its too weak for a hard use knife. Also like a material called Poly Pearl on certain knives. Use reconstitued stone as spacers fairly often, usually turquoise or malachite, in fact the one blade that I'm building for a customer now has a recon stone spacer and stabilized buckeye burl scales that I got from Frank Jacobs, who posts here. This guy is a hunter, by the way, not a collector. He's also a stockmaker who know's wood and want's something out of the ordinary. The materials I stay away from are those that are either endangered or used strictly for collector knives. That includes ivory, fossil ivories/bone, and most rainforest/tropical woods. I do use some of the woods if i can be certain they come from sustainable sources. Most rosewood, for instance is plantation grown. And so on.
 

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You guys oughta try some Tennessee-grown Huckleberry. It works and looks a LOT like birdseye maple.

My personal favorite is cow bone...on BIG Bowies, of course. :grin:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have made one fillet knife for my dad using persimmon wood for the handle material.

With the black, cream-brown and white mix of this wood and the durability, I am now asking our ranching neighbors if they have any wild persimmon they want to get rid of.

The only problem with this wood is it is very hard to machine. I ruined approximately 1 dozen belts shaping the handle and broke two blades cutting out the initial handle with a scroll saw. What I really need is a small band saw for this, but just have not gotten around to it yet.

And basically, all fruit wood, eventhough not as asthetically appealing as some of the fancier exotics, are more wear resistant and harder woods. Which IMO, is what I am looking for in a working bench made knife.

Keep the sharp edge down!

HBL
 
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