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Thread: Handle finish help

  1. #1

    Question Handle finish help

    Hello folks,
    I'm just finishing my second knife and this time I want to pay an extra attention to the handle. It's european walnut with very nice structure. I want to highlight it a little and mainly, I want it to be as shiny as possible. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find satisfying information on the net. One guy would kill for a linseed oil, another recommended polyurethane polish etc. etc. Note that I'm a beginner so I'd rather appreciate simpler techniques so it's less possible I'll botch it.
    Thanks for every reply.


  2. #2
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Shine and smoothness are factors of prep more than application of surface coverings.

    Here is what I do for Kentucky rifle stocks.

    Sand the wood with good sandpaper using progressively finer grades down to 600-800 grit.

    Now change to steel wool. #000 texture.

    Steel wool the surface then apply water. The water will raise "feathers" of wood from the grain.

    Let it dry, then buff with the steel wool again.

    Do this until the feathers stop appearing.

    These progressive applications and buffing also make the wood very hard and dense in feel.

    Now you can apply whatever varnish, shellac, oil or polish you desire.

    Oils tend to make the wood glow from the inside, poly, varnish or shellac tend to make it shine on the surface.

    I generally apply some natural stains but with walnut it might not be necessary.
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  3. #3

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    Thanks Kyratshooter, that's exactly what I needed to hear.
    I'll try it tommorow and also I'll post some pics when it's done.

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    I hand sand starting at 220 working my way to 800 1000 ish. Once I get to 400 grit I sand with mineral oil. Once done I buff with pink or white buffing compound. I hand rub with linseed oil. But there are lots of ways to skin this cat.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I use linseed oil for the final finish myself. Linseed will take two or three days and the same number of applications. It has to soak in.

    If you are using good wood the oil gives a more rich glow and you do not need a fake top coat any more than you need icing on banana bread.

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    Last edited by kyratshooter; 01-15-2017 at 08:56 PM.
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  6. #6

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    So basically you are saying that linseed oil is just enough? (After sanding etc..). And what about durability? Some people say that after certainly period of time, it .. ?dries of? Or something, and after that you need to reapply the oil. Is that true? And if so, how long it ussualy takes till rethreatment is needed?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Karambit View Post
    So basically you are saying that linseed oil is just enough? (After sanding etc..). And what about durability? Some people say that after certainly period of time, it .. ?dries of? Or something, and after that you need to reapply the oil. Is that true? And if so, how long it ussualy takes till rethreatment is needed?
    Anything you apply on the top of a wooden knife handle will eventually wear off, if the knife gets used. Time depends on amount of use and type of use. Its really up to you or the user to maintain the knife as you or he sees fit, just like the leather sheath or blade, it all requires some degree of maintenance if you want it to look new for ever, some people like the knife to take on a used look its really all personal. You could rub linseed oil on the knife every day I do not think it would hurt anything. If I were wanting a long lasting finish then I would get stabilized wood or have the wood stabilized by someone who is very good at it, IMOP.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Yep, Stabilized wood will last a life time while unstabilized, linseed treated and cared for wood will only last 400-500 years.
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  9. #9

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    Hhh, yeah, I understand.

  10. #10

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    One more question if you aren't fed up with me yet .
    Have any of you ever tried beeswax as a final polish?
    I am afraid of the limseed oil smell, I really don't like it. In comparison, beeswax smells quite good (ehm... This sentence probably looks weird but nevermind...). Also the beeswax would make it quite water resistant I think, or am I wrong?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyratshooter View Post
    Yep, Stabilized wood will last a life time while unstabilized, linseed treated and cared for wood will only last 400-500 years.
    Methuselah wouldn't even wear that out...lol
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karambit View Post
    One more question if you aren't fed up with me yet .
    Have any of you ever tried beeswax as a final polish?
    I am afraid of the limseed oil smell, I really don't like it. In comparison, beeswax smells quite good (ehm... This sentence probably looks weird but nevermind...). Also the beeswax would make it quite water resistant I think, or am I wrong?
    Just do what you want, it you do lot like it re-finish with something else until you find what you do like.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    With very few exceptions, I stabilize any wood that I put on a knife.
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    Now if we could only stabilize women
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I had a good reply to that one but I had to erase it for fear of ugly, fat people wearing pink hats with pointy ears chasing me down a wide street that has no end.

    I dreamed about that the other night!
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  16. #16
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karambit View Post
    One more question if you aren't fed up with me yet .
    Have any of you ever tried beeswax as a final polish?
    I am afraid of the limseed oil smell, I really don't like it. In comparison, beeswax smells quite good (ehm... This sentence probably looks weird but nevermind...). Also the beeswax would make it quite water resistant I think, or am I wrong?
    The linseed oil only smells when you apply it. It soaks into the wood and the smell is gone after a couple of days. After that you can apply any topical finish you want, paste wax, bees wax, Kiwi shoe polish. It does not matter.

    "Stabilization" is the forcing of polymers into the wood pores and requires specialized equipment. It works best on soft porous woods that will soak up the polymer during the vacuum process.

    It makes sense for a guy like Crash who is using all kings of pretty wood that may need added strength, and is making knives constantly. the machinery will pay for itself quickly.

    For a regular guy, making a knife every now and then, it is good to know how to get by without the machinery. And for us guys that only do one now and then we can buy stabilized materials from any of the knife supply businesses.

    And I have knives with handles of bone, horn, antler and wood that are in excellent condition that were made 30 years before anyone ever dreamed of "stabilizing" a knife handle. And working in as many museums as I have I can say from experience that most well cared for knives will last 200 years without worry.

    Anything more then 800 years tends to get a little ratty and shrinks some.
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  17. #17
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrat
    Anything more then 800 years tends to get a little ratty and shrinks some.


    The user or the knife?


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    Yes.......................
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