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Jim T
09-13-2010, 11:12 AM
I've seen some beautiful knife handles made with mammoth ivory scales. I have a whole bunch of questions.

Are these scales made from the bark of the ivory tusk?
What part of the tusk makes the best scales?
How difficult is it to find a piece of ivory suitable for scales about and inch and a half wide by five inches long and one quarter inch thick?
How difficult is working with ivory?
Should the ivory be professionally stabilized?

I've never worked with mammoth ivory before. I've think I've found a source, but I sure would hate to screw up such an extensive piece of handle material. Comments and advice would be appreciated!

Jim

Steven Janik
09-13-2010, 01:59 PM
Jim,
I use a lot of mammoth and love it and so do my customers.
Most of what you will use will be the bark. The coloration is a result of where the fossil was laying. Moisture content, soil ph and mineral compounds heavily influence the color and pattern. Solid color ivory with grain much like wood is usually fairly inexpensive. Crackle finishes and certain colors such as blue and green are pretty rare and can be pricy.

Although several supplies always have some in stock, my first choice for top quality and larger sizes is Charles Turnage at www.fineturnage.com He has premium colors and sizes and is a pleasure to work with and the stuff ships out of texas.

www.tidemammoth.com is from china and has good selction and reasonable prices also.

You just have the treat the material with care and glue up any cracks or voids in the rear with CA before using. Product from Turnage comes fully sanded at the back and edges and is well worth the price. I don't think I've ever had any stabilized and it polishes well with light rouge. You must use care not to overheat it when drilling or buffing as it will burn.

Look at my Forum at my pictures and you will see it in use.
Hope this helps.
Steve

Mike Carter
09-13-2010, 02:13 PM
The interior of the tusk is cream white ivory very similar to elephant ivory. Only the outer layers are colored from absorbing the minerals in the ground or ice where it was buried.

The colored bark ivory brings the premium prices, especially the blue/green colors.

Any part of the tusk can be used provided it is in good shape. Exposed pieces tend to get dried out and turn an almost chalky texture and is no good. Tusks grow in layers and dried out pieces can tend to separate and flake off.

Nearly all of the knifemaking suppliers carry mammoth ivory along with a few dealers who only deal in ivory. It's pretty easy to find but expensive.

Working it is easy. It cuts and grinds easily but it will make a lot of fine dust and stink up your shop. The main thing to remember is DO NOT get it hot while cutting or grinding or it will develop cracks now or later. Do not dunk it in water to cool it. Just go slow and easy and keep it cool. When drilling, put tape or glue cardboard to the backside to help prevent chipping out around the hole.

Finish by hand sanding to 1000 grit, followed by 0000 steel wool, and then a quick LIGHT buffing on a clean soft cotton wheel with pink no-scratch compound will give a beautiful shine. Again, don't get it hot while buffing. It should only need a quick light buffing.

Soaking it in mineral oil after finishing will help keep it in good shape. A good soaking once or twice a year will help keep it from drying out and preserve it.

Mammoth Ivory can be stabilized.

Doug Lester
09-13-2010, 08:06 PM
Another source is Boone Trading Company at www.boonetrading.com.

Doug Lester

mike miller
09-13-2010, 08:39 PM
1+for glueing up with the ca. If you are doing scales.glue one side to tang and where you are drilling through, double tape the exit area to help keep it from chipping out when the dill bit exits. Do the same when you have the second scale attached. Masking tape is all it takes.

shakie
09-14-2010, 02:52 AM
There is only 2 things I can add to what has been said so far. Stabilized? other than Ca the cracks most of whats out there is 10,000+ yrs old. And you will need a ski mask to get scales that are 1 1/2" X 5" X 1/4"

Denny Eller
09-14-2010, 07:35 AM
Don't forget - there is a difference between Mammoth Ivory and Fossilized Mammoth Ivory.

Jim T
09-14-2010, 04:39 PM
Thanks everyone, for the feedback. Gotta tell ya, you guys are making me nervous. Working with mammoth ivory sounds like a delicate operation.

Steve, thanks for listing the ivory suppliers. I live in Canada so I'd have to check into what kind of hoops I'd have to go through to import it from the U.S.

Mike, thanks for the information with regards on what to consider when selecting good ivory and also how to work it. Good stuff to know.

I'm eager to give mammoth ivory a try despite the fact that it sounds like it'll be more finicky and a lot more expensive than the natural wood handles which I've been experiementing with.

Thanks again, everyone. If anyone else wants to send some advice my way, I'm all ears.

Jim

Keith Willis
09-14-2010, 06:26 PM
I was given a set of Mammoth scales by a friend,here on the forum.I have the knife ground,and ready
to heattreat.I will be using wrought iron bolsters.This will be my 2nd try with wrought,but my first
ever,try with Mammoth.
I know what you mean,I am anxious to use them,but I don't want to mess them up.
Good luck

God bless,Keith

Mike Carter
09-14-2010, 06:27 PM
Mammoth ivory is pretty easy to work. Mammoth tooth is a different story.

JDeere7296
09-15-2010, 09:21 AM
I've also used www.fineturnage.com, Charles, the owner really does fine work. Everything I've got from him has been great quality. You may run into some problems locating a piece that large. I did a folder knife for my grandfather in mammoth bark ivory and he uses it as his daily carry knife. It is very durable, like others have said, take your time and don't get in a hurry. Use new belts and blades and you shouldn't have any problems. His website has alot of stuff, he also has a ebay store, however most of what he sells there are smaller dimensions, the larger pieces are on his website.

Good Luck!

Kevin Cross
09-22-2010, 04:46 PM
Check with Charles Turnage. I am pretty sure he made a "How to" CD for working with mammoth ivory and mammoth tooth.

blgoode
09-22-2010, 07:53 PM
I have a nice piece and I'm nervous to use it myself!! Good thread. :)

Jim T
09-22-2010, 09:11 PM
Is anyone aware of a "How to" CD about working with mammoth ivory? I've checked Charles Turnage's web site and didn't find anything. Haven't found anything else on anyone else's web site either. But I'm sure there must be something out there.

Jim

SBuzek
09-23-2010, 07:53 AM
Here you go Jim.Mark this site for all instructional videos.
http://www.centercross.com/cciv/Working_With_Fossil_Handle_Materials_with_Charles_ And_Courtney_Turnage.htm

Stan

Jim T
09-23-2010, 10:23 PM
Thanks Stan! I should have thought to have checked with Center Cross! By the way, I also checked out your website. Looks like you do some really nice work! Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction.

Jim

Frank Niro
09-25-2010, 12:59 PM
There isn't any problems bringing any of the mammoth items into Canada. Charle Turnage sells scales of teeth - very difficult to work; bone- very easy to work ; and tusk ivory- requires care to work. I believe his ebay site is Fine Turnage Productions. He is the very best of the best of people and dealers. That large size you said you might want might reqire a loan from the back for the ivory and might be about $90 for the bone. Frank

Jim T
09-26-2010, 08:48 PM
Thanks Frank. Having poked around the recommended web sites and gotten an idea of the cost of mammoth ivory, I would tend to agree with you. I think I'll start a little smaller and let my skill catch up with my ambition before I go out and buy myself a big chunk of ivory! - Jim

Jessica Bybee Walker
10-08-2010, 07:11 PM
How difficult is it to find a piece of ivory suitable for scales about and inch and a half wide by five inches long and one quarter inch thick?

Should the ivory be professionally stabilized?

Jim

Jim,

Finding a pair of scales that large is going to be extremely expensive. When you think about how large the diameter of a tusk would have to be in order to get a pair of scales like that with any color, that should help put it into perspective. If you wanted white ivory from the core in that dimensions, it would be much less expensive and easier to get.

There are a couple things to keep in mind if you want to stabilize ivory. First, how do you know if the ivory is dry enough to be stabilized? Do you know how long its been out of the ground?

Weigh the ivory before stabilizing and after. Be sure to clean off any stabilant residue left on the exterior of the mammoth before weighing. In my experience, ivory does not pick up any weight from stabilizing. No weight means no stabilant!

Save your money! I would be more focused on making sure the ivory is dry before working it.



Don't forget - there is a difference between Mammoth Ivory and Fossilized Mammoth Ivory.

Denny, will you please expound on this?

--------------------------------------
Jessica (Bybee) Walker
jessica@alphaknifesupply.com
http://www.alphaknifesupply.com

Mike Carter
10-08-2010, 10:41 PM
Most of the tusks recovered are 10,000-20,000 years old and have been preserves in ice packs. They are not fossilized, or at the very beginning stages of fossilization. Fossilization takes much longer. Fossils are basically stone for all practical purposes and much harder to work.

shakie
10-08-2010, 11:20 PM
Another place to check out is Miles of Alaska. Even just to look at all his cool stuff.

Jessica Bybee Walker
10-09-2010, 01:34 AM
Most of the tusks recovered are 10,000-20,000 years old and have been preserves in ice packs. They are not fossilized, or at the very beginning stages of fossilization. Fossilization takes much longer. Fossils are basically stone for all practical purposes and much harder to work.

Most of the tusks found are a minimum of 15,000 years old. The majority of the tusks actually come from the ground, not ice. Ice tusks are quite rare. When tusks are preserved in ice, they typically do not pick up color on the outside. You are correct with the term "fossilized". However, it is used as the industry to describe mammoth and walrus ivory. The more correct term would be mineralized.