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eggwelder

Period stabilized wood?

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after reading a lot about stabilizing handles for knives, especially bone/antler, i have to ask what the ancients used to preserve what they used. by ancients i mean prior to the invention of polys and epoxies. as an example, none of my rifles have stabilized wood and none of them are newer than 60 years, and one of them has been through combat in WW2 . i don't baby them, and they seem ok with a regular application of linseed oil.

 i have soaked wood in hot melted bees wax and turpentine, hot oil, cold oil, and various other concoctions. 

i`m not looking for a super modern finish with the knives i make, and any knives i sell i recommend a regular treatment of boiled linseed oil on the wood handles, and no idea for what you would use on antler( I've not used any antler yet).

 so, any thoughts on the topic?

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Pitch, Tar, Bee's wax, Oils of different types, turpentine has been around for a long time as has most all the other things listed just in the pure forms and there were Alchemist back in the "ancient times" as you say. and the specialest of Woodworking, Blacksmithing, Knifemakers, and other Craftsmen knew their trade Very Very well or they were put to death for any work that was a failure or did not meet the Royal Inspection of an Item. so in essance the Craftsmenship of Products had standards that develpoed and stood the test of Time and ones own Life literaly .

 

I hope this Helps you understand and I did not miss what you were asking .

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Historically I think people were much more comfortable with the idea of maintaining and replacing parts as needed compared to modern folk.  Also some stabilized items are things that need it to keep it from falling apart.  I don't think they would choose to use those in prior times.

 

During the medieval times beeswax was quite expensive and so not likely to be seen on common items.  However linseed oil, lanolin, tar, turpentine and various animal and vegetable derived fats would have been common in various work and living environments.

 

Take care to avoid the fallacy of "we do it this way now; how did they do it then?"  when the real question might be "*DID* they do something like this then?"

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I make all my knife and axe handles from trees. You must let the wood dry completely. I usually cut my wood down to a managable size, but you have to allow for cracking, I put it in the attic of my garage/shed wherever is dry. Leave it there for at least a year.

I have made handles for kitchen knives that spend a good amount of time in the sink (no matter what I tell my wife and mother). No cracks, now I will say some wood lends itself to sink time. Poplar, Hickory, Choke Cherry, and Osage do well on kitchen implements.

I soak the wood in linseed oil, then I let it dry and coat it again. Maybe three times. Every once in a while it will need a refresh. I have never bought handle wood, antler I swap for.

 

 

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Boiling green wood, or submerging it in water for up to a year will remove much of the sap, and incidently the sugars. This greatly improves the stability of dried wood, hot oil (just about the boiling point of water) will penitrate deaply, as will hot wax, laqures and varnishes are also comon, ground amber desalved in turps was an old varnish. As amber is nearly petrified tre reson. 

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Proper materials for the job at hand is also critical. You don't use balsa wood for tool handles, and you don't make model airplanes with lignum vitae.  The issue I have with with stabilized wood is how it feels in my hand, too cold. Same with firearms, I like a nice piece of walnut against my cheek instead of a piece of laminated wood, or plastic. Even though the synthetics are superior in some respects to accuracy, weather, etc they cannot match the beautiful grain patterns Mother Nature put into a piece of 200 year old walnut.

 

Protect for the use anticipated.

Edited by BIGGUNDOCTOR

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As far as I know a deer or an elk just uses his antlers no extra anything on them.

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Other than discoloring from oils in your hands I don't think antler is affected by much. I have seen gold rush era knives that still looked great, they just have a darker patina on the scales.

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His point was that they shed them periodically.   I have noticed that if you use fresh antler it takes a while to season out, I made a camp knife once that had a fresh antler on it and that thing stank for a while; smelled like iron. Eventually it settled down and dryed out.

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Perhaps if deer and elk had better access to linseed oil? Shoulda opted for opposable thumbs........

Edited by Nobody Special

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