Hunter Copelin

Not treating a cedar handle

Recommended Posts

Had a friend of mine, whom is much more experienced than myself, warn me about using cedar as a handle. Told me if I didn’t get it treated it would most likely crack or move with the weather. I’ve had the completed knife for a couple months and have used it here or there at work. It’s one of my first completed projects as a new smith and the handle seems to be the best part of it. I actually cut the tree down myself. It had been dead standing for a few years. Oklahoma weather is pretty rough on wood, but this seemed to turn into a pretty decent handle.

I’m wondering if In the future as I progress in this craft if I should steer away from it as a handle material.

just looking for a second opinion. Thanks, you guys are great! I’ve learned so much from here already as a young smith.

 

i spend as much time reading in this site as I can spare, but there are sssooo many threads and posts I’m sure I’ve missed someone explaining the perfect way to use cedar. I apologize in advance if that’s the case and will continue to read! 

62694EA4-1571-4D75-BB9E-BDE6AC2DFBFC.jpeg

8A150BBC-6547-4E13-865E-4CE195A8D237.jpeg

9C3AF97F-ADD3-45F5-8A4C-E8EACF6800A2.jpeg

B63A2484-9552-4A19-8A19-C4DC26BA1318.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not experienced with cedar, (I have seen it on knife and gun handles) but i would say that if you are worried about it cracking (or any other wood) to look into stabilizing it with resin. There are hardeners that require a vacuum to penetrate deep into the wood, and I believe there are hardeners that you can leave the handle in after fitting.

I don't think a simple set up for doing this would be tremendously expensive if you were serious about doing it a lot (look online for diy). Or another option would be to outsource the stabilization. Or buy choice wood pre stabilized....

However if your handle stands the test of time, I wouldn't worry about it unless is particularly soft, spalted, cracked etc..

Type in cedar handle online and see what others are doing/saying about it.

I'm no expert but this would be my thoughts if I had doubts about a handle.

Hope this helps.

 

Nice looking handle BTW, looks good polished up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Hunter, I was born and raised in Oklahoma and have used that wood a little, but note that there are several trees that are called cedar. What you have is actually juniper and i expect it would do fine with proper treatment as was suggested. True cedar like the western red cedar we have here in washington state where I now live, is much softer as is the eastern cedar from Maine. Those I wouldn't use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, MastaStan said:

did you really just quote al;l of that for nothing ???

I figured someone out there had the plan on stabilizing cedar. I won’t lie to myself, I would much rather ruin stuff a few times and learn the skill myself than outsource the work! And if it’s my own knife it wouldn’t matter much anyway, but one day when I’m making millions via blacksmithing I should know. 

 I appreciate the knowledge and the compliment! 

31 minutes ago, 4elements said:

Hi Hunter, I was born and raised in Oklahoma and have used that wood a little, but note that there are several trees that are called cedar. What you have is actually juniper and i expect it would do fine with proper treatment as was suggested. True cedar like the western red cedar we have here in washington state where I now live, is much softer as is the eastern cedar from Maine. Those I wouldn't use.

So... you could tell from the wood grain? Or from where I am? That’s pretty impressive

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The color of the rough unfinished wood and that you cut the tree yourself. I once made a chess set by cutting the red from the white. Nice smell too 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, 4elements said:

The color of the rough unfinished wood and that you cut the tree yourself. I once made a chess set by cutting the red from the white. Nice smell too 

That chess set was a pretty cool idea... and totally doable! 

This is the log I cut from it. I wish I’d of grabbed more, but the rest went to a fire pit. Oh well...

5E2A8DB8-2ECC-43D4-AA5C-17E59A79E487.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those trees are horrible.  Not so bad when large   You can prune them up and they will make serviceable shade trees, but unless kept under control they spread like mad and will outcompete other trees.  They also burn way too easily when small.

When I was a kid they weren’t nearly the problem they are now.  You would see cows on farms.  People commonly did controlled burns every few years.  Now the cows are mostly gone and the land sits idle.  Much of it sold to developers a decade or more ago, the land within the Greater OKC Metro area anyway. With the land idle and controlled burns rarer now, there is nothing to keep them in check.

I don’t make knives, but considered taking a couple of logs from many of those downed by the storms this past Spring and cutting them up on my bandsaw to use as scales for bottle openers and such.  After seeing how yours turned out, I wish I had.  Beautiful wood. I would be interested in learning how yours holds up over time.

I almost forgot to mention the worst part about these “weeds”.  If you have allergies they will make you want to leave the State when they are releasing pollen. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Never met a farmer/rancher in Oklahoma who ever told me no when I asked if I could cut one for a Christmas tree back in the early 1980's

And they won't outcompete later trees--- My land in Cedarville AR has several of them dying off as the rest of the once pasture is slowly going back to forest, mixed hardwoods taking over from the cedars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dad kept them cleared off of our place, but that is where we got all of our Christmas trees as well. We would drive around the section lines until Dad found the one he wanted, then we would climb through the fence and cut down the tree. Sometime after I was grown and gone, Dad began digging them up instead of cutting them down.  When Christmas was over he would plant them in the yard.

There weren’t a lot of mixed hardwoods. In back there was and still is about 40 acres of all but impenetrable blackjack oak. It is very likely just as it was before Oklahoma became a state. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now