Can oil damage micarta?

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Mar 13, 2013
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Just got a new folder today with micarta scales. I've only had micarta on fixed blades before and it was polished/sealed. I immediately took the new knife apart to tinker and to clean and lube it. A while after lubing the pivot, I noticed that the micarta had absorbed some oil and darkened around the pivot bolt. Not being overly familiar with micarta (or with lubing my knife for that matter) I wanted to ask if oil could harm micarta over time by breaking down the resin or anything like that.
 

000Robert

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Good question - I've wondered about that myself. Why were you using so much oil? When it comes to oil, it only takes about 1/5 the oil that most people thinks that it does.
 
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Good question - I've wondered about that myself. Why were you using so much oil? When it comes to oil, it only takes about 1/5 the oil that most people thinks that it does.
I honestly didn't think I used that much. I watch some of Nick Shabazz's videos and often think that he's using too much - so I definitely used less than that. The pivot on my knife uses a sex bolt setup, so I tried to drip the loctite into the female blind hole as is proper, but the droplet was do big that it got on the scale, so I'm sure that's part of it too.
 

Crag the Brewer

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I think it's Better with oil...
I actually found out I like covering the scales with danish oil. (I'm being Serious)

I like using it on wood, and I love the smell.....

I tried it on some Becker micarta, and found I now Prefer it.
It adds a "warmth" to their texture, and it darkens nicely, looks less cheap, less plasticy
 

000Robert

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I honestly didn't think I used that much. I watch some of Nick Shabazz's videos and often think that he's using too much - so I definitely used less than that. The pivot on my knife uses a sex bolt setup, so I tried to drip the loctite into the female blind hole as is proper, but the droplet was do big that it got on the scale, so I'm sure that's part of it too.

Most people use too much oil. I like to take them apart so I would've used my ALG Defense Go-Juice 0000 grease.
 
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certain oils like linseed oil harden in wood, a process called polymerization. I'm not sure though if wood is the catalyst for this slow chemical reaction. so i doht know about micarta and oil hardening.
 

115Italian

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I’ve never had oil ruin micarta. It could create staining depending on the color of the micarta.

Since you think you may have gotten locktite on it too, I would remove the scale and clean it with dish soap and warm water.
 
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There are one heck of a lot of micarta laminates:

Micarta ® Laminates – Various Grades Technical Information

The term Micarta is used generically for a wide bunch of laminates. Micarta is a very old material, however as this article states, their is only one "true Micarta" What is Micarta Material?, because the name is trademarked.The thing is, they are all phenolic resins impregnated with fibers.

Resin is an organic material, so is oil, and "like dissolves like" . As such, it is just better to keep oil, or any solvent, off the surface. The most likely outcome will be a nothing burger, but given so many different micarta's and their resins, you don't know. It is best to keep the surface oil free.
 
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What about solid vaseline?

That's what I use in my carbon steel stuff, and some of the vaseline always goes to the handles. They get darker indeed.
 
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Been using and making knives with micarta for over twenty years, not much of anything seems to phase it really, oil will darken it but it dries out over time.
 
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If the oil used is a pure food-grade mineral oil, which is completely colorless and clear, it should clean up well with a liquid dish soap and warm or hot water. Other lubricating oils might not be completely colorless and might alter the look of clean, white material, rendering it yellowish or green. I realized a long time ago, this is how food-grade mineral oil easily cleans up from my hands, sharpening stones/hones and anything else. The main caveat being, if the oil is blackened by dirt or steel swarf, it'll be difficult sometimes to get that dark & dirty stuff carried in the oil out of porous material, even if the oil itself is largely removed from the material. If any dark, gritty particulate stuff gets embedded in the material, it's very difficult to remove it completely without doing something more extreme, like sanding down to clean material (I'd avoid that, most of the time).

So, with all that being said, the first thing I'd do is wash the knife in warm water with liquid dish soap, using a brush (old toothbrush) to do any scrubbing. Then rinse it all out with hot water, which evaporates quickly, making complete drying easier.

(Edit: I errantly wrote the above thinking about another thread concerning oil staining white bone - but the same could apply to micarta as well, for the most part.)
 
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What about solid vaseline?

That's what I use in my carbon steel stuff, and some of the vaseline always goes to the handles. They get darker indeed.
In my option Vasoline would be some of the worst preservative that you could use on knives.
It can trap moisture underneath.
Break free CLP,, any good gun oil or even WD40 would be better in my opinion but we are all free to use what we want.
 
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In my option Vasoline would be some of the worst preservative that you could use on knives.
It can trap moisture underneath.
Break free CLP,, any good gun oil or even WD40 would be better in my opinion but we are all free to use what we want.

Yes, we are. I never had a problem with solid vaseline yet, but I don't have guns, only blades.
 
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