Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

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JD Spydo
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Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

Postby JD Spydo » Fri Apr 16, 2021 1:34 pm

I've been going through many of the knives I've gotten in the past 5 years at thrift stores, flea markets and estate sales. I've been really fortunate and have found some really good quality food and outdoor knives and many for 50 cents to a dollar each. The ones I'm not sure about are the ones with wooden handles. I want to put something on them to preserve them better but I haven't done any wood finishing in a while and would like to know what options I might have? I used to work with wood quite a bit many years ago and even really got into it heavily at one time. But I'm sure wood finish products have changed a lot since then. I've got 6 knives ( mostly food knives) that have unfinished wood handles and I want to treat them with something to preserve them better.

I just had a well meaning neighbor suggest using Tung Oil on them. I've heard good things about Tung Oil but have never used it. The last gun stock I ever worked on ( walnut) I used a high speed type of linseed oil and it was Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil. But that's been a few years ago and I'm sure that wood products have changed and advanced a lot since then.

In the past I've used raw linseed oil on ax, hatchet and hammer handles with great results. I've used boiled linseed oil on interior wood finishes as well. Although it takes most linseed oils anywhere from 3 to 5 days for it to dry. So I would love to pick the brains of my Spyder-Brethren for some ideas on what wood finish product I could do to finish these wood knife handles?

skeeg11
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Re: Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

Postby skeeg11 » Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:53 pm

Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil sure does give a purdy finish. There may be more durable finishes available now, tho. I've stayed away from acrylics because scratches are hard to hide or touch up. A lot of wooden plug makers use two part epoxy finishes for durability and sheen.

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jpm2
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Re: Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

Postby jpm2 » Fri Apr 16, 2021 8:31 pm

100% pure tung oil, not to be confused with "tung oil finish" commonly found at hardware stores, which probably has zero tung oil in it.

JD Spydo
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Re: Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

Postby JD Spydo » Sat Apr 17, 2021 6:28 am

jpm2 wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 8:31 pm
100% pure tung oil, not to be confused with "tung oil finish" commonly found at hardware stores, which probably has zero tung oil in it.
Thanks Guys I might just give both of those methods a try,. I've sure got plenty of these wood handled knives to practice on :D What they've done with two part epoxies in the past 10 years or so is just phenomenal. Yeah a clear two part epoxy would be extremely tough>> and finding one that is clear shouldn't be a problem at all. I just did a repair project with that two part Gorilla Glue epoxy and it's unbelievable how strong the repair is. It's far stronger than the conventional Gorilla Glue. It really kind of makes me wonder why so many knife manufacturers don't put any finish on their wood handles :confused:

I wish the makers of PC-7 & PC-11 epoxy made a clear product. I've used those two products from that company with some awesome results. I dare to say you can repair virtually anything with those PC-7 products.

And I'm very grateful that jpm2 has made me aware of the different "Tung Oil" products. I do have a really good ACE Hardware close to me and I'll check out what they have in stock with TUNG Oil products. I'm definitely not going to use any Linseed Oil products because they take way too long to dry and I think most of the Linseed oils show scratches way too easy.

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jpm2
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Re: Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

Postby jpm2 » Sat Apr 17, 2021 7:06 am

JD Spydo wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 6:28 am
jpm2 wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 8:31 pm
100% pure tung oil, not to be confused with "tung oil finish" commonly found at hardware stores, which probably has zero tung oil in it.
And I'm very grateful that jpm2 has made me aware of the different "Tung Oil" products. I do have a really good ACE Hardware close to me and I'll check out what they have in stock with TUNG Oil products. I'm definitely not going to use any Linseed Oil products because they take way too long to dry and I think most of the Linseed oils show scratches way too easy.
I've never been able to find it locally.
Here's what I use.
https://www.realmilkpaint.com/shop/oils ... chinawood/
Your comment on linseed oil makes me think you won't like tung oil, as it takes weeks to fully cure between coats, because it soaks in instead of just building up on the surface.

I use it because it penetrates deep for subsurface protection, and preserves the natural wood texture (doesn't cover it up).

If you want to build up an exterior surface, by all means use the "tung oil finish" products such as minwax and formby's, which are available in hardware stores locally. These products probably have no actual tung oil in them, just varnish, and provide just an exterior finish.
I sort of equate these to putting a plastic surface on your wood.

JD Spydo
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Re: Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

Postby JD Spydo » Sat Apr 17, 2021 7:23 am

jpm2 wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 7:06 am
JD Spydo wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 6:28 am
jpm2 wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 8:31 pm
100% pure tung oil, not to be confused with "tung oil finish" commonly found at hardware stores, which probably has zero tung oil in it.
And I'm very grateful that jpm2 has made me aware of the different "Tung Oil" products. I do have a really good ACE Hardware close to me and I'll check out what they have in stock with TUNG Oil products. I'm definitely not going to use any Linseed Oil products because they take way too long to dry and I think most of the Linseed oils show scratches way too easy.
I've never been able to find it locally.
Here's what I use.
https://www.realmilkpaint.com/shop/oils ... chinawood/
Your comment on linseed oil makes me think you won't like tung oil, as it takes weeks to fully cure between coats, because it soaks in instead of just building up on the surface.

I use it because it penetrates deep for subsurface protection, and preserves the natural wood texture (doesn't cover it up).

If you want to build up an exterior surface, by all means use the "tung oil finish" products such as minwax and formby's, which are available in hardware stores locally. These products probably have no actual tung oil in them, just varnish, and provide just an exterior finish.
I sort of equate these to putting a plastic surface on your wood.
I have an ACE Hardware and a big Sherwin Williams store both within walking distance of my home and both stores have great selections of those types of products. That local Sherwin Williams has a huge selection of those MinWax products as well as many other similar products. Both stores are good in that neither one of them carry bargain basement junk products at all.

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jpm2
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Re: Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

Postby jpm2 » Sat Apr 17, 2021 10:47 am

JD Spydo wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 7:23 am
jpm2 wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 7:06 am
JD Spydo wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 6:28 am
jpm2 wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 8:31 pm
100% pure tung oil, not to be confused with "tung oil finish" commonly found at hardware stores, which probably has zero tung oil in it.
And I'm very grateful that jpm2 has made me aware of the different "Tung Oil" products. I do have a really good ACE Hardware close to me and I'll check out what they have in stock with TUNG Oil products. I'm definitely not going to use any Linseed Oil products because they take way too long to dry and I think most of the Linseed oils show scratches way too easy.
I've never been able to find it locally.
Here's what I use.
https://www.realmilkpaint.com/shop/oils ... chinawood/
Your comment on linseed oil makes me think you won't like tung oil, as it takes weeks to fully cure between coats, because it soaks in instead of just building up on the surface.

I use it because it penetrates deep for subsurface protection, and preserves the natural wood texture (doesn't cover it up).

If you want to build up an exterior surface, by all means use the "tung oil finish" products such as minwax and formby's, which are available in hardware stores locally. These products probably have no actual tung oil in them, just varnish, and provide just an exterior finish.
I sort of equate these to putting a plastic surface on your wood.
I have an ACE Hardware and a big Sherwin Williams store both within walking distance of my home and both stores have great selections of those types of products. That local Sherwin Williams has a huge selection of those MinWax products as well as many other similar products. Both stores are good in that neither one of them carry bargain basement junk products at all.
I was disappointed our local ACE didn't have pure tung oil, as they are my favorite for generally higher quality products than can be found at other local businesses. Just one example, they are the only place in town that carries PK grills.

In the 90's I took a seasoned red oak plank, sanded it down, and applied 5 or 6 different finishes. Don't remember them all, but pure tung oil, formby's, and minwax were present. After curing, I left the test plank outside for a year. This included rain, temps from below freezing to 100+ in direct sunlight. The only one unaffected was the tung oil. All the others had discolored, grown mold, peeled, faded, etc.
This is the basis of my tung oil recommendations when questions about wood finishes come up, and it's what I've used since that time with full satisfaction.
There's other reasons I use pure tung oil, like described above. I really prefer a natural wood finish instead of a built up plastic layering, which to me takes away the warmth of the wood. I like to feel the grain texture, especially on knife handles.

As they say, your mileage may vary.

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standy99
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Re: Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

Postby standy99 » Sun Apr 18, 2021 10:57 am

All the old butchers knives I have inherited or have I use mineral oil. Also use it on the full size butchers block I have as a island in the kitchen.
Im a vegetarian as technically cows are made of grass and water.

skeeg11
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Re: Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

Postby skeeg11 » Sun Apr 18, 2021 2:23 pm

Just a thought here as I have not tried it, but Boos Block board cream says it's good for wooden culinary utensils. I use it on my expensive end grain butcher blocks. I suspect it's formulated from a blend of food safe mineral oil and beeswax.

JD Spydo
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Re: Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

Postby JD Spydo » Mon Apr 19, 2021 9:17 am

jpm2 wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 10:47 am
JD Spydo wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 7:23 am
jpm2 wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 7:06 am
JD Spydo wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 6:28 am

And I'm very grateful that jpm2 has made me aware of the different "Tung Oil" products. I do have a really good ACE Hardware close to me and I'll check out what they have in stock with TUNG Oil products. I'm definitely not going to use any Linseed Oil products because they take way too long to dry and I think most of the Linseed oils show scratches way too easy.
I've never been able to find it locally.
Here's what I use.
https://www.realmilkpaint.com/shop/oils ... chinawood/
Your comment on linseed oil makes me think you won't like tung oil, as it takes weeks to fully cure between coats, because it soaks in instead of just building up on the surface.

I use it because it penetrates deep for subsurface protection, and preserves the natural wood texture (doesn't cover it up).

If you want to build up an exterior surface, by all means use the "tung oil finish" products such as minwax and formby's, which are available in hardware stores locally. These products probably have no actual tung oil in them, just varnish, and provide just an exterior finish.
I sort of equate these to putting a plastic surface on your wood.
I have an ACE Hardware and a big Sherwin Williams store both within walking distance of my home and both stores have great selections of those types of products. That local Sherwin Williams has a huge selection of those MinWax products as well as many other similar products. Both stores are good in that neither one of them carry bargain basement junk products at all.
I was disappointed our local ACE didn't have pure tung oil, as they are my favorite for generally higher quality products than can be found at other local businesses. Just one example, they are the only place in town that carries PK grills.

In the 90's I took a seasoned red oak plank, sanded it down, and applied 5 or 6 different finishes. Don't remember them all, but pure tung oil, formby's, and minwax were present. After curing, I left the test plank outside for a year. This included rain, temps from below freezing to 100+ in direct sunlight. The only one unaffected was the tung oil. All the others had discolored, grown mold, peeled, faded, etc.
This is the basis of my tung oil recommendations when questions about wood finishes come up, and it's what I've used since that time with full satisfaction.
There's other reasons I use pure tung oil, like described above. I really prefer a natural wood finish instead of a built up plastic layering, which to me takes away the warmth of the wood. I like to feel the grain texture, especially on knife handles.

As they say, your mileage may vary.
That's incredibly interesting that you went through all that trouble to test that many different wood maintenance products. I guess with all that's been said I'm going to do at least 3 of my plain wood handles with the Tung Oil and not the Tung Oil finish>> I will be using the pure Tung Oil that penetrates. There is something about the aspect of deep penetration that really appeals to me.

It's kind of strange in a way that so many knife producers ( custom & commercial) that no longer use wood handles. Because it seems to me that the proper finish on any wood handle would be the key to a long life and a great performing tool.

Like I alluded to earlier in the thread when I played with firearms a lot in my younger days I used that Birchwood Casey Tru Oil and I also used two other "high speed linseed oils">> if I remember correctly one of them even had the name "Lin-Speed Oil">> but we're talking all the way to the late 70s/early 80s so I might not be 100% correct on that one. It would be cool to do a similar test as yours with some of those high speed stock finishes. Thanks for the results of that test :)

JD Spydo
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Re: Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

Postby JD Spydo » Mon Apr 19, 2021 12:22 pm

Hey guys I just came across a new product that I had never heard of before. I seen an ad on it on a woodworking site. The product is called "Odie's" super penetrating oil. The price of the stuff is way up in the stratosphere>> that doesn't bother me however if the product is really good as they brag that it is. The company carries close to a dozen superior wood maintenance products. I had never seen it in any store and I've never heard of it until today and I was wondering if any of you guys know about it??

And I discovered that they are still making "Lin Speed Oil" that I mentioned earlier in the thread and I did get that product name correct. Let me know if any of you guys have heard of or used any of these "Odie's" products?

JD Spydo
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Re: Wood Knife Handle Maintenance?

Postby JD Spydo » Tue Apr 27, 2021 1:55 pm

I've heard off of another Forum I checked with that TUNG oil is far superior to linseed oil. But they told me not to be fooled by products that are labeled "Tung Oil Finish" or any other name with Tung Oil used in it. They told me that just plain Tung Oil is the best idea.

With all the popularity of gun stock finishing in the past few years you would think that there would be products out of that line that might work well.

Now one of you mentioned Minwax products and I've heard that their polyurethane is second to none. But I would still want to do some type of treatment on the wood before finishing it with polyurethane. I've also heard that there are two part epoxy type finishes that could work well too.


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