Straight Razor Scales

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Not sure if this is the right category to post this in, let me know if there's a better place and I'll move it.  I'm in the process of restoring some old straight razors and in the process of removing the pins from the original scales I broke them.  They were already cracked so it wasn't a big loss, but now I have to make new scales for it.  I'm not sure if any of you have any experience in this, but scale making and handle making are similar so I thought I'd throw it out there.  I went out today to my local lumber yards trying to see what kind of wood I could source locally and the only thing I could come up with was some CA black walnut that the guy at the hardwood specialty store was kind enough to pull out of a scrap pile, plane it out to the thickness that I was looking for (about 1/8-1/4 thick) and handed it to me for free.  I was looking for a nice dark hardwood that would look good on a razor and looking at it in the shop it looked good.  Once I got home and examined it a little more, it looks like it's got a very loose grain to it, and not a nice dense grain like I was looking for, but hey it was free so I'm not going to complain.  My question is, have any of you used this wood for a handle?  Once I shape it out, sand it down (I'll probably take it to between 800-1,000 grit sandpaper) will that close those grains up?  Would 3 or 4 coats of shellac be enough to protect the wood.  Keep in mind this is for a straight razor so it will be exposed to water.  Should I try to nomalize it and seal it up, or just try some other wood.  A little guidance would be great.  Thanks guys!!

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Posted · Report post

Shellac will not be good for water exposure or withstand the heat of handling either.  The pores in walnut are porous enough to need good sealing for the uses that you are planning.  Kwik-Poly, thinned epoxy, several coats of thinned polyurethane, or professional stabilizing would be better seal treatments.  I have also used good quality enamels (clear or tinted) with pretty  good results.  The walnut will remain an open grained wood unless you fill the grain... it does take pretty good detail though and looks nice with some grain textures showing.  I have sometimes filled the grain with black or blue or red fillers and created a nice looking finish.

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Posted · Report post

Try a penetrating epoxy such as restore-it. I use this stuff all the time and it is great for sealing and as a base coat for finishes.

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@Bigfootnampa - I'm not sure who is confused, you or me, but you lost me when you mention something about the heat of handling, not sure what you were talking about there.  The colored fillers is an intriguing idea.  What did you use for the filler?

 

@Fe-Wood - That's a new product to me since I've got limited woodworking experience.  I pretty much know just enough to acomplish the task I have planned.  Where would I get that at?  Local hardware store?  Is it just like a polyurethane that you brush on and the wood soaks it up?  Or would I have to put it in an airtight container and apply suction to pull the air out of the wood to get it to fully penetrate?

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@Bigfootnampa - I'm not sure who is confused, you or me, but you lost me when you mention something about the heat of handling, not sure what you were talking about there.  The colored fillers is an intriguing idea.  What did you use for the filler?

 

@Fe-Wood - That's a new product to me since I've got limited woodworking experience.  I pretty much know just enough to acomplish the task I have planned.  Where would I get that at?  Local hardware store?  Is it just like a polyurethane that you brush on and the wood soaks it up?  Or would I have to put it in an airtight container and apply suction to pull the air out of the wood to get it to fully penetrate?

 

Body heat is enough to make shellac sticky. Not a good quality for a blade handle. However, another option to seal wood is cyanoacrylate or simply, super glue. It can be purchased in bulk and I have even heard of it be used in vacuum stabilizing ops. It also polishes up nicely too.

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As Dodge mentions the heat from your fingers will make the shellac sticky in use.  I have used various fillers.  Powdered chalk is good as the particles will stick in the pores nicely.  I also have powdered pigments and paints, squeegeed on and then sanded back, (after drying) can work too.  Powdered colors for tinting mortars work pretty good.  Powdered charcoal is good for black.  Some guys here have even used powdered cooking spices.  The colors on these may shift when finish is applied... so do test pieces.

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Posted · Report post

this was covered in the referance section of the knife chat series, maybe you missed it?

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Body heat is not high enough to make shellac sticky by itself.  But the oils and other compounds in the skin can react with shellac.  But I wouldn't recommend shellac for a razor handle.  I would use a curing oil (like linseed or tung), knowing that it will need refreshed on occasion.  The oil can also be used to fill the pores (test first it can dramatically change the look).  You can use a modern finish but I'm not a big fan of those.  Unless you get the finish soaked into the wood (not easy), any film finish will flake/wear off in time.  How soon depends on the finish.  Most modern finishes are film finishes.

 

Walnut heartwood is resistant to rot, even without a finish, provided it is allowed to dry and not stay wet/damp for long periods of time, it should last a while.

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