Bone Knife Scales

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I am thinking about using bone scales on a knife I plan on making. When it is done do I need to apply any kind of finish to seal it like Chambers oil or is just a good waxing enough? :hmm: Inputs appreciated.

Dave
 

lonehunter

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No need to apply anything, just sand all the scratches out and buff. Avoid breathing the dust.
 
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Matter of choice. Leaving bare allows natural aging of the bone from handling. I have never used bone but have done plenty with antler. I have never put wax on my items as I like the appearance with time and handling they acquire.
 

crockett

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As a general rule I would say leave the bone as is without any further finish. Not really needed. I supposed if it is going to be used gutting big game with a lot of blood that the blood MAY discolor the bone- I'm not sure on that. I had one bone handle with a non-stainless steel blade. The blade had a mirror polish and the blood pitted the metal finish but didn't do anything to the bone.
The other issue is how well bone soaks up a varnish and dries. Not like wood.
Finally, in the interest of historical correctness, if you plan on checkering the bone, do some research. To the best of my knowledge the diamond pointed tops seen today is PC but not as common as checking where the grooves were square- as if sawn with a fine saw (Exacto type). Skip line checkering was pretty common and "checkering" that was actually just parallel lines with no cross lines was used. The lines per inch vary. The Buffalo Bill knife in Golden (post 1840) has lines spaced maybe 1/4" apart.
Neumann's Swords & Blades of the American Revolution shows several types of checkering.
PS- on the SAFETY issue. Bone, antler, and mother of pearl dust can be VERY harmful. You need to wear a dust mask. The mother of pearl I believe has silica that gets into your lungs and acts like tiny razor blades and cannot be removed. Bad stuff- wear a dust mask. Some of the exotic woods also produce harmful dust.
 
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Thanks for the replies. I did not know about bone dust being harmful but I always wear a dust mask anyway as I am quite allergic to wood dust and have learned to use one after too many years of not. I'm thinking a coat of Renaissance Wax and that'll do it for the finish. Thanks again guys. :grin:

Dave
 

LRB

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Just MHO, after using it for knife grips for over 20 years, treat it much like leather and oil it occasionally with mineral oil, neats foot, or warm lard to prevent it from drying out. When bone drys out, it shrinks, cracks, and in the extreme can get chalky in places.
 

LRB

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Probably can't stop it completely, but oiling will help a lot. Also, storing in an air conditioned environment is not good, and will accelerate drying. Best to store it in an air tight container if really concerned. If one lives in a very dry region, there is not much that can be done other than to oil it often. Ivory is as bad or worse. With either, in making grips, it is best to let the blanks sit a month or so before using. Especially if you have cut the blanks from a larger piece. I one time left a half dozen knives in an air conditioned store, on consignment, and after a few months found that, believe it or not, even Westinghouse Micarta had shrunk noticeably. I had to re-finish the tang edges to level them down again.
 

crockett

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That Buffalo Bill Bowie at Lookout Mountain I mentioned, the bone has badly shrunk from the tang.
BTW- there is an outfit- Culpepper- that sells real mother of pearl and the price isn't so bad, $12 to $30 for knife scales. I know six shooter grips run $150 plus so I didn't think the scale prices were bad. As I said before DANGEROUS dust with mother of pearl but on a lot of spring back folders- was sort of the high end material. Bone was most common (I think) and then horn and horn was sometimes dyed in chevrons or spots.
 
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