Saturday, 7 January 2012

Yew Wood Knife Handle Project - Part 1.

I decided that the New year was the time to start a new project. Prior to Christmas I did some research online about making your own knife handles. I have to say there is a wealth of information about this topic on the net and some fantastic work. I chose the blade that I liked and found an online retailer that could supply the blade that I wanted at a reasonable price English-handmade-knives delivery was quick and the blades arrived as described. As it happens a local business to me. I will definitely use this company again.

Polar 95 Full stick tang carbon blade
Ok, so that was the easy bit completed. Next came the choice of wood for the handle. I decided that I wanted a full wood handle. I had some wood in the shed but was unsure what I had, in the end I came up with three choices for a handle Cherry, Blackthorn & Yew.  I had Cherry and Blackthorn already, but I liked the look of Yew and I knew where I could get hold of some timber. When I was doing my research it was mentioned several times that you should use stabilised wood for the knife handles. Unsure what that actually meant I researched again. Bottom line the product you use reduces / replaces the moisture content within the wood to reduce warping / checking of the wood. You can by woods that have been stabilised professionally but checking some of the prices it can be costly. So, after some more reading I decided to have ago at home. The product that I decided to use for the stabilisation of the wood was Pentacryl which I purchased from Turners Retreat the link will take you there. I went out and found my Yew wood that I planned to try and stabilise, this wood was standing dead wood, however, it looked good.

Pentacryl & Yew Wood
The wood when sawn looked really dry and I was tempted to go straight into the project, however, I thought that it would not hurt to stabilise the wood. So I chop sawed two sections of Yew and cut them to size approx 130 x 40 x 30mms gave them a quick run over with the plainer.  A wonderful pattern emerges from the grain.

There are two method's of stabilising the wood according to the directions on the side of the label on the bottle of Pentacryl. One is to brush a coat on or to the wood or immersion. Being an old sceptic I went for the fully immersed method. So I found myself a jar that would accept the wood and take all of the Pentacryl as it happens a 1 litre Kilner jar fits the bill perfectly.

Two pieces of Yew inside a Kilner jar
I love old jars,containers, boxes and unwanted pate dishes they always come in handy for something in the workshop. Anyway, so the next step is to fill the jar and wood with the Pentacryl.

I topped the jar right up after this photo.
I filled the jar as far as I could and just had a bit of Pentacryl left this will come in handy for topping up on the next project. If this works then I will cut two more pieces of different wood and start to build up a small collection of stabilised woods for handles. I plan to leave the wood immersed for 4 days on the directions it states about 24 hours per inch? not sure so go with that and see. As for the drying time again its a bit and hit and miss but it depends on optimum conditions. Might give the wood a month when it comes out not quite made my mind up yet.

Fully immersed Yew
So the project roles on. Once the wood is stabilised I will start work on the handle for the blade. I plan to  update the blog on the project as it progresses. I also hope to make my own leather sheath to go with the knife. This maybe a separate project not quite sure but watch this space.

Thanks for reading Part 2 to follow.


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