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Inlay shrinkage and expansion in knife handles


Was: Sealing a beach stone?

Hi Michele,

Thanks for the tidbit on what to call the “solid block” for knife
handles. I’ve purchased a few that were found listed online under
"scales", but was not quite sure if there was a name other than a
"block", lol. My brain just needs to categorize things into specific

Also, I LOVE California Buckeye; and yes I imagine it does have to
be stabilized well. Even the Buckeye we have here in Ohio is a soft
wood and could fall apart along thinner edges if it’s not treated
before you try to grind and shape it for handles; though I do believe
it is harder than what is found in sunny California. I wonder, do you
do stone inlays in handle material at all?

I have designs for some inlay handles, but I am concerned that there
are some inlays I wish to include that are small pieces that I
cannot really get the gasket material in there. Will this be any kind
of issue later? I know that the woods need to be able to expand and
contract, and when we use multiple materials in scales and handles
it can reduce the strength of said handle. But it is not such an
issue if the blade is meant to be more of a ceremonial than a working

I just wondered if there is enough shrinkage and expansion in treated
and stabilized woods that I may have a problem down the road by
inlaying or including, say, a tube set stone for instance, or an
inlay area of Mammoth Ivory. Any thoughts on this?



Hello teresawe call the solid handle material blocks for hidden or
partial tangs. those that require a set of scales or slabs. if i do a
solid block ill anneal the end and cut threads on it and solder a nut
under the end/butt cap which ill glue up useing 5 min epoxy…the use
of stabilizeing woods and stones sure open up alot of different
material for so many projects loli understand there is two ways they
do it now. the part on inlays im not understand what you mean?on
stablized items the re little if any shrinkage from what ive seen or
heard of, thou i may be wrong. most but not all just collect knives
as they can be quite costly, thou all i know make there knives to be
used thou some are to fancy for that lol. one knife years ago i used
german nickle silver for the guard and butt with elephant ivory and
between the gns i added 1/4" sliver of stablized tourqoise to set
off the ivory and sliver looking gns…it really looked great and many
liked it…many of us bladesmiths-(forge out) and knife maker-(who
just grind away metal) use what we call fiber spacers material in
ither red, black or white. its sort of like moulding lol…as we glue
and or pin our handles theres little room if any to exspand except
the ends and the fiber is hard compress compation of sorts. on
inlaying stones ive not done it yet but trust me i will lol. i might
contact a master smith and renoun maker by the name of jerry fisk in
ark. google him, im sure he could answer any questions as hes done
it all. his work mind blowing. high high $$$ stuff. he was one of my
bladesmith teachers in 1988. he ingraves also…i use to live in san
diego so its where i aw calif buck eye. now that im in n/e tn ive
yet to see any thou with 400+ types of trees around i could easy
overlook it…i used pink ivory wood and used gnsat both end and it
really set it off…i love combining materials. and mediums…such as
blacksmith objects are sort of cold in them self. but add fancy
figured birdeye eye maple or fiddle back maple as well as burl wood
it really gives it warmth and looks neat…most people just do one
thing/medium…i like to use many and in turn it does not get me
cubbyholedif you follow me…being flexable it opens up new avenues
and in turn. momoney. mo money



As a fellow Buckeye, (Ohioan), I can say I doubt it.

On all the knives I’ve put the handles, (scales) on I can say they
don’t move once attached. At least not so’s you can notice it.All the
knives I put together are working knives, out in the field in all
kinds of weather(Northwest Ohio).My son put stabilized curly maple
scales on a stainless camp/hunting knife, we took it camping and cut
bacon, fish,fruit, etc. with no un-due effects.Once wood is
stabilized, the resin in the pores stops the moisture movement imho.
The inlays should be a safe bet also. unless you’re in a rainforest &
the humidity is 100% all the day.

all the best,