Five knife order with African wood

Discussion in 'Knife Dogs Main Forum' started by SRT, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. SRT

    SRT Active Member

    I am making five knives for some gentlemen taking a long awaited trip to Africa. The customer wants Damascus Steel (i use Alabama Damascus)--all five knives similar and with handles made from a wood from Africa. The knives are to be functional but mostly a Momento from their trip. We have decided to go with Zebrawood. I have used Zebrawood on one knife recently. It came from one of my Knifemaker's supply companies stabilized and dyed( the color did not stand out much but the end result was VERY Nice and Natural . This rep is watching for arrival of more Zebrawood. Does anyone have any advice for any OTHER Zebrawood sources? Does it NEED to be stabilized and does that make it prettier/ more durable? I have some time( couple Months) before they are due but the blades are almost complete and I really want to get them done and make them very nice.

    Any help appreciated , Kurt SRT
  2. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    Personally, I'm not a big fan of Zebra wood. As far as African woods go, it's one of the softer, more open grained ones. It's also very susceptible to oxidation, which means over time, with exposure to light, it "fades", and sometimes changes colors/hues... with some pieces looking very "washed out" in a fairly short time frame. It can be stabilized, but most don't consider a good candidate for it.

    Were it me, my choice would be African Blackwood. While there is very little pattern/figure to it, it's very stable, fairly easy to work, and isn't affected by UV. In other words it will look just like the day you finished it for many years to come.
  3. Rudy Joly

    Rudy Joly Well-Known Member

    Look this place over, there's many African woods.
    There's no substitute for looking the pieces over personally but the Mopani and Tamboti turned out to be a good gamble. Many African woods don't require stabilizing or can't be stabilized because of thier oily nature.

  4. Dennis Morland

    Dennis Morland KNIFE MAKER

  5. Smallshop

    Smallshop KNIFE MAKER

    DeMo...thanks for the links.
  6. SRT

    SRT Active Member

    Well I'm not sure what to do .The buyer does not like the idea( esthetic) of African Blackwood with the Damascus blades. I have already ordered some unstabilized Zebrawood from 2 sources and was gonna check with K&G about stabilizing. NOTE: I recently made a knife using some stabilized and dyed Zebrawood from Texas Knifemakers . It wasn't that colorful when finished down BUT it really looked great (for now),actually more natural in color and finished very well. I don't know about longevity and uv but Ed's comment has me thinking twice about what to use. Has anybody had good a good experience with Zebrawood or should I try something else. I have used Bubinga once and it turned out nice. There are so many woods that I have more experience with but this project has me stumped.
  7. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    The choices can be daunting, and it makes things even harder when you haven't used a particular wood, and don't know it's characteristics... both fresh, and over time. If the client(s) balked at Blackwood, I don't think Bubinga is a bad second choice, but it also suffers the oxidizing issue over time. Some more so than others. I've had some pieces of that literally turned a "poop" brown color in a matter of weeks, while others have held that "strawberry" color for years.

    Personally, I gave up on buying wood via mail order years ago.... unless I can hold it in my hand, and look at in person, I don't buy it.... I've been burned far too many times.... See a pic online, order, and then I get a piece of wood that looks nothing like the pic..... GRRRR! Something to be keenly aware of when looking at woods online..... some knuckleheads will wet the wood with water for pics...this drives me nuts. It makes for a great pic, which means you're likely going to be disappointed when it arrives, but more so, wetting the wood for pics means that wood often arrives damp, and must be allowed to dry for months prior to use, or worse, it arrives with checks or cracks because of being wet, then drying.
  8. ACLakey

    ACLakey Well-Known Member

    Check out Cook Woods. They are local for me cut ship globally. They always have Zebra wood and other African woods in stock.
  9. Burl Source

    Burl Source Forum Owner & Moderator

    How about Bubinga? Looks good and easy to shape and finish.
    Not much difference when stabilized other than turning darker and slight weight gain.
  10. med89

    med89 Member

    Great article !

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