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A question about using ebony on a folder.

Galloglas Jul 23, 2007

  1. Galloglas

    Galloglas knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

    I spent the day processing some antique wrought iron into stock for bolsters and scales and I'm hoping to use it in conjunction with some ebony in folder construction. I'm getting some one-on-one instruction from a classy folder maker and wanted to bring some materials with me to make my first folders out of.


    The ebony wood that I have is in a block about 2"X2"X10" and sealed on the ends with wax...beautiful stuff. Jet black with some very thin dark brown stripes. My question is unstabilized ebony OK to use for scales? Or am I gonna have problems unless I use stabilized wood?

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer experienced advice!

  2. Bill Buxton

    Bill Buxton knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

    This is just my experience with Ebony, I won't use it, its to unstable and it doesn't stabilize good according some of the professional stabilizing companies I've talked to. African blackwood is much more stabile and looks pretty close to ebony. I use quite a bit of it. I'm sure others have had better success with ebony then me, but its not worth the hassel to know somethings going to move and shrink when you put it on.

    WSSI has several good stabilized woods that work very well, you might check out their web site.

    Good luck

  3. Steierknives

    Steierknives knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman


    It seems to be alright for me, but I must say I'm not sure if it will move or not.
    No returns yet. I like it because it seems to have its own oil content, so you don't need to put a coat of tung oil or the like on it. Just a buffer brings out a fair shine. No need to worry about rouge getting in the grain of the wood because it is black anyway. Hope this helps.
  4. Mike Stewart

    Mike Stewart Knife Moderator/Bark River Knife & Tool

    I stock and use Black Ebony, African Blackwood and Gabon -Brown-Ebony.

    I use all of them and I have never had any problems with them.

    They are dense and very oily.

    They cannot be Stabilized because of their dense structure.

    I have never had one returned for anything and I agree that they don't need sealing or anything other than a good buff of beeswax.

  5. shakie

    shakie knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

    I use ebony all the time, with out a problem. Its hard as a rock, takes polishing great. beautiful stuff IMO . Now I gotta go knock on wood (ebony) Also I buy my ebony cut and dried into scale size, not in blocks. If you want a couple pieces let me know...
  6. Galloglas

    Galloglas knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

    Yowsa, I really appreciate the input youz guys! :jdevil: I have been making "stuff" for like 15+ years but most of it has been fixed blade knives and Japanese style swords. The handles on the swords are made of wood hand inletted to accept the tang of the blade and over wrapped so I'm *rEaL* familiar with the wood/stability issues and fit and finish.

    I'm also really familiar with the simple fact that what often works perfectly for one maker and seems stupid proof simply will not work in the hands of another maker. It would not surprise me that a material one maker shuns would be fine for someone else..it's one of the things I love about handmade/custom/one-off stuff. The customer gets the experience and choices of the individual maker and the materials he can make go for him.

    Part of the reason I want to use the wood I have on hand is to cut the cost of making my first folders. I really don't want to go out and buy specific materials until I have the experience to buy what I need/want. I just thought the ebony might go nicely with the wrought and the aluminum bronze I have selected for bolsters. My teacher has materials and I'm sure he'll have the first choice of what we use for the first knife.

    I'm excited!

    Thanks for the input.

  7. IWantThatKnife

    IWantThatKnife I want that knife Knife Maker or Craftsman

    About 5 years ago

    I made a knife handle with a block of ebony...when I lived in Ohio. I have been in Michigan since early 2004; still finding ebony dust on stuff that was in boxes in the garage in Ohio...closed boxes. Ebony dust - very fine; wear a mask; some people are very allergic to the dust - others are not. As Mike Stewart says it doesn't need to be stabilized; many old (like late 1800s early 1900s) factory folders were made with ebony wood handles - and they are still around...buff the wood and it is near new like!

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