What woods NEED to be stabilized?

Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
I was thinking about this the other day and other than punky or spalted woods (which some will not use) what wood NEEDS to be stabilized prior to use as a handle. I have made handles from many wood types and not one of them I would consider a must stabilize wood. I am guessing there are some out there but I do not know what they are. Just curious...
 

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
I would only say buckeye burl and some types of redwood NEED to be stabilized (and even then its situational and debatable) out of any common material I can think of.

I didn't include spalted, crosscut and end grain stuff because in my opinion, those aren't suitable handle materials even when stabilized.
 

Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
I normally allow my wood to dry for a year, what process is stabilization?
Stabilizing is a process where matetial (wood) is submerged in a heat cured resin then a vacuum is drawn for a period of time which draws air out of the wood pores. The vacuum is released and the return of normal pressure causes the resin to penetrate deeply into the wood (hopefully). Then it is cured, and hopefully creates a mostly solid block. It looks really good IMO on some woods but it does add weight.
 

Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
I didn't include spalted, crosscut and end grain stuff because in my opinion, those aren't suitable handle materials even when stabilized.
Lol...some of those end grain handles look so pretty...and ALWAYS crack...

I tried cactus juice and had to really play with it to get saturation. I dyed it so I could see if it did the trick. It works okay on softer woods. I think the pros are using a pressure pot at over 3000 psi....hard to match that. Thin scales on a solid tang knife is where it's ideal.
 

Doug Lester

Well-Known Member
Just remember that stabilization is not a magic cure-all. It might, for instance, keep ebony from checking for an extended time but the ebony will eventually check. And there are some woods, like African Blackwood, that if you send it to K&G they'll send it right back to you with a note that it's too oily and too dense to stabilize.

Doug
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
Some folks stabilize Rosewood, but I've never seen a reason to stabilize Rosewood. That stuff is HARD, dense, and will sink in water. Some of the Rosewood burl that's really "burled" might gain strength to be stabilized.

Walnut - what type of walnut? American Black Walnut will work just fine without stabilization, but many folks do stabilize. I've used it both ways. "IF" you do decide to stabilize be sure to use K&G (or other professional) rather than trying Cactus Juice. Curtis (the guy who owns Cactus Juice) says Black Walnut does not work very well with home stabilization, and he's right.
 
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