March 31, 2023 3 min read

Stabilized wood for knife handles

Stabilized wood is a popular material for knife handles because it's durable, long-lasting, and has an attractive appearance. The stabilization process involves impregnating the wood with a resin, which fills the pores and makes the wood more stable and resistant to changes in temperature and humidity.

Here's a step-by-step overview of our process for stabilizing wood for knife handles:

  1. Select the wood: Choose a piece of curly birch wood that has an attractive grain pattern and color. The wood should be dry and free of cracks, knots, and other defects.

  2. Cut the wood: Cut the wood to the desired size and shape for the knife handle.

  3. Dry the wood: Dry the wood in a kiln or air dry it until the moisture content is between 6% and 8%. This step is important because any excess moisture can interfere with the stabilization process.

  4. Prepare the stabilizing resin: Mix the resin according to the manufacturer's instructions. The resin is typically a two-part epoxy that's mixed together just before use. 

    The process of stabilized wood handle
  5. Vacuum chamber: Place the wood in a vacuum chamber and remove the air to create a vacuum. This step is important because it allows the resin to penetrate the wood more deeply.

    The process of stabilized wood handle


  6. Impregnate the wood: Once the vacuum is created, pour the stabilizing resin into the chamber. The vacuum will draw the resin into the wood, filling the pores and stabilizing the wood.

    The process of stabilized wood handle
  7. Cure the resin: Once the wood is fully impregnated with the resin, remove it from the vacuum chamber and allow it to cure. Depending on the type of resin and the ambient temperature, curing can take anywhere from several hours to several days.

    The process of stabilized wood handle
  8. Finishing touches: Once the resin has cured, sand the wood to the desired shape and smoothness. The stabilized wood can then be used to make knife handles or other decorative objects.

    NOTE: To ensure that our process of stabilizing wood is not harmful to our environment, we use Cactus Juice Stabilizing Resin, which is a popular stabilizing solution used by woodworkers and is considered safe and environmentally friendly. The manufacturer of this resin states that the product is formulated to be non-toxic, low VOC and compliant with regulations set by regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The resin is also made from a renewable resource, the prickly pear cactus, which is a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based resins.

    We also follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and use appropriate personal protective equipment. Additionally, we dispose all excess solution or waste materials properly, following local regulations and guidelines.

     

Experiment stabilized vs non-stabilized wood

We did an experiment outside the factory in Finland and put two knives in the snow for 3 days. One knife with stabilized wood handle and one with no treated wood handle.

The snow caused the non-stabilized wood handle to absorb moisture, which caused it to swell and ultimately crack. The stabilized wood handle, on the other hand, was able to resist moisture penetration and thus didn't experience any swelling or cracking.

Overall, with our experiment we wanted to highlight the importance of selecting appropriate materials when designing products intended for use in extreme environments.

(See image below to see what happens to the handle that was not stabilized.)

Experiment on Roselli's handmade Finnish knife Carpenter knife full tang


Discover Carpenter knife, fulltang here

 

Stabilized wood knife handles offer a unique combination of beauty and durability. The process of stabilizing wood requires some specialized equipment and materials, but it's a worthwhile investment if you're looking to create high-quality, long-lasting knife handles.


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