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I Forge Iron

Drop point hunter with burl

Rich Hale

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The handle is maple burl, dyed and stabilized. African blackwood, nickel and amber spacers along with 416 SS guard.
The blade has been professionally heat and cryo treated. The blade steel is new to me. I will wait for field testing to disclose the steel.
Overall length of the knife is over nine inches.


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I have not commpared it to micarta or other composites...lol Stabilizing done right makes wood excellent for knife handles that would not be usable otherwise. For instance I can use redwood burl. Redwood is soft. you can put a thumbnail dent in it. After beind stabilized i can press a srewdriver tip into it and barely leave a dent. You sand and buff and do not need to apply a top coat. Later on in use if it gets surface scratches you can sand, buff again and it will look smaller and nice again. I have bought a lot of wood and some of it was not stabilized properly. Not worth buying. I have not fouind a home recipe that works for me. There are a lot of folks that say they can do it real well at home.

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I've been playing around w/acraloid-paraloid b 72 mixed in acetone and toluene...not together. The mixture is placed in an old pressure cooker with the scales and kept under a vacuum for 3 days. This is recycled several times per day where the vacuum is released and re-vacuumed. Having never done this before, it's all new to me.
So, that being said, here's what I've come up with:
Paraloid 72 dissolves slowly and takes overnight to make a soluable/usable solution. A thinner viscosicty is better.
It is stable and is used mainly by museums .
It is a resin based solution and penetrates wood fibres.
It is not water based as are most professional stabilizing processes and tinting the mixture is difficult.
Mixing light and dark colored woods in the same solution is inadvisable as the tannins in the dark wood tend to color the solution and color the lighter woods...not always bad depending upon what you want.
It is not "plastic" and will not fill voids. The finished piece is resin impregnated/stabilized. The wood "feel" remains the same.

So, the big question is to send out, or not to send out those scales/blocks.

For me, two things come to mind: Having used professionally stabilized scales, I like the fact that most voids are filled and an even surface can be obtained, even in formerly punky woods.The down side is that they just don't seem to feel "real" to me, and don't seem to buff out like wood. The finish dulls after several washings (thinking chef knives).
Secondly, and probably more important to me, not being a production bladesmith, I really like doing the process myself and being self contained. If I make it, I own it. Wood, as knife handles, without stabilizing, has been around for a lot longer than I have. So, if I can impregnate and stabilize even to a somewhat better degree than had been, but maybe not as good (longevity) as the "professional" people, then that works for me.

I've been reading several knife forums and for the most part, most posters seem to denigrate self stabilizing. I look at it as a challenge, and as fun in being part of the process of bladesmithing.


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Thats a dam nice knife Rich I like the shade of the Mable burl sure makes it look alot more exotic and the grind reminds me alot of a couple old german hunters I have wich are my favorite :)

gearhartironwerks, have you heard of "cactus juice"?

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