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Opinion poll

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by BP_, Nov 27, 2017.


More durable handle covers?

  1. Wood

  2. Bone

  1. BP_

    BP_ Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 26, 2015
    Not sure if this has been done before. If it has, please forgive me. I searched but didn’t come up with anything specific, mostly personal opinions on aesthetics.

    GEC knives-

    Wood scales vs Bone scales...

    Which one holds up better for daily use over time? Which one is more durable, sturdy, and less likely to chip/crack/break? Which one is more valuable thus less likely to be used extensively? (Over all, general to all wood vs all bone used by GEC, if there is a huge variation between one type of wood to another or one type of bone to another please specify)

    I understand there are a number of factors I am not considering because I cannot currently think of them (I’m not new here :rolleyes:), but I am asking for general use, in the pocket every day, being used for tasks suitable for a traditional knife. I go from the warehouse to the farm, so the conditions vary significantly (hence my asking about “over all” durability).

    Curious to see the results and responses. Real world experience is certainly appreciated. :thumbsup:
  2. Pàdruig

    Pàdruig Live and Let Die Platinum Member

    Dec 1, 2016
    Hmmmm, this is a really good question and I'd be lying if I said I haven't contemplated this very question before.

    I have developed a pretty strong preference for wood covers in general in the rather short time since I have had an interest rekindled in traditional cutlery, with said preference further leaning towards ebony and other richly hued woods in particular. Though I can't speak to the durability of wood over bone, or vice versa, I do know that I have less qualms putting a wood clad folder in a pocket shared with other items such as a pen, lighter, and/or another knife than I do should it otherwise be covered in bone or horn. Though my sentiments likely are misplaced, it just feels like my bone covered knives are more likely to get dinged up than my woods ones. I know Ebony to be a particularly hard and dense wood, which lends itself to being an ideal knife handle material, same could be said of other woods as well like walnut, osage, and such. But I am certainly no wood expert and will defer to those who have far more experience in noting the differences.

    My biological dad, who collects Case knives, likes wood as well, but prefers bone because he thinks it is a tougher and more durable material in the long run. I think, with proper care, both materials have the potential to last a lifetime or even longer. I've seen 100+ year old knives clad in both materials and they have the appearance of holding up well in some cases, perhaps with the nod going towards the bone examples.

    Perhaps more to the spirit of your question, it likely will depend on what one's daily tasks are. Considering that tasks at a warehouse and a farm would differ widely like you stated, I'd probably go with the material that is going to respond the best to wettest, dirtiest environment. Bone likely won't respond as well as dense wood to impacts that come from being dropped or maybe just being used hard so chipping and cracking might occur more. Whereas wood may not respond as well to fluids and overall grime.

    I say this all with the caveat that I am just speaking to what makes sense in my head. It is quite likely that I am full of that stuff that often gets shoveled around at a farm. :D You could just forego the bone and wood route and go straight to micarta, an almost indestructible material, it just won't look quite as pretty, in my most humble opinion. ;)
  3. Jfowler

    Jfowler Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2016
    I think it's mostly personal preference when it comes to wood or bone covers . Both seem to hold up well under normal use . I would think wood may hold up better if dropped on a hard surface where bone can crack or chip . I like both covers just depends on the particular pattern or knife . Also gec's African Blackwood seems to really hold up nice and doesn't seem to scratch easily at all . It's probably my favorite wood cover . Just my random 2 cents .
    The Fort, traumkommode and neal70 like this.
  4. Emspop


    Oct 12, 2016
    I have to go with wood being more durable atleast in my experience. When I drop a knife it’s most likely from a ladder, bone chips/cracks/shatters wood mostly just dents...also if your dog gets ahold of a brand new ebony covered knife you just give it an EO notch and you are good to go ( guess how I know)
    Edited to add that delrin just smiles and keeps working when you drop it!
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
  5. Burnt Stag

    Burnt Stag Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 3, 2016
    Archeologists dig up lots of bone. Not so much wood.
    Mongo, Atepac, The Fort and 7 others like this.
  6. neal70

    neal70 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2015
    Well, I will say that you can always sand wood, but with bone you get that nice pocket worn look over time.
    Thanks, Neal
  7. BP_

    BP_ Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 26, 2015
    A tie so far. I actually enjoy understanding the reasoning for both sides, I really don’t have an aesthetic preference of one over the other. It is interesting to hear testimony from those who have put some years (and miles) on theirs.
    The Fort likes this.
  8. akaMatt

    akaMatt Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    May 10, 2017
    There are probably cases that could be made for both (as has already been stated). I would think that wood would hold up better to falls, especially onto hard surfaces (think dent versus crack). Both will develop a warm, worn luster over time, but for pocket wear, especially sharing space with other items such as keys, I would probably give the nod to bone.

    From experience not related to knives, I know that wood is more prone to movement through temperature, humidity, and dimensional changes than bone, some species of wood very much so. Certain hardwoods (i.e. ebony) are very stable and so minimize the degree of movement. Wood that has been stabilized will also minimize any movement.

    I would like to someday own an ebony handled knife, but all I can currently vouch for are bone and delrin.
    Emspop likes this.
  9. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    It would depend on the type of knife. A gents pocket knife with bone scales would be fine. Bone scales on a large bowie, chopper or machete, or anything else that involves shock or impact would fail very quickly.

  10. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    All things being equal wood is going to be more durable.

    Bone will always look better and it's my pick on a knife like a GEC.
  11. BP_

    BP_ Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 26, 2015
    Well I certainly appreciate all the responses. I do not have much experience with bone, but it sure is pretty.

    The argument that bone has been around forever, and is unearthed regularly in different applications still sticks. What do they (the company/ies) do to the bone during their process that makes them more brittle (if anything)? Or is it that “historical” (read: really, really old) bones from the ground or other places are simply being extracted after essentially years of “preservation?” (Implying that being the reason they’ve held up)
  12. dammyippon

    dammyippon Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2015
    I agree 100% never had wood chip or crack.
  13. redsparrow

    redsparrow Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 3, 2014
    Having dropped nearly every hand tool that I've used (including knives) my experience says, wood outlast bone on a user knife (for me). Bone handled knives that I dropped onto a hard surface have cracked. Wooden knives subjected to similar falls have been scratched and/or dented but never broken. I suspect that bone may be more a durable material than wood except in impacts.
    Ever notice that bone handled hand tools are quite rare while wooden handled tools are quite common?
    Just my two cents, hope this helps. :)
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
  14. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    Don't know, wood can get wet...ect and bone can crack so neither is perfect long term.
    traumkommode likes this.
  15. Signalprick

    Signalprick Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 3, 2009
    I would say wood but I prefer bone at this point in my life. When in doubt.....go Ti. :p
  16. lambertiana

    lambertiana Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    Based on the large number of antique knives in my collection, wood has stood up better than bone overall. Bone will chip and crack. Wood has better toughness, and bone has better abrasion resistance. To address the argument that bone is found buried after a long time and wood is not (at least not as frequently), that durability is regarding the resistance to rot in wet burial conditions. I don't think your pocket has those conditions. If it does, you are probably dead and buried, too.
    Cambertree, Bugdoc and Pàdruig like this.
  17. Lapedog


    Dec 7, 2016
    Most woods used in these knife handles are stabilized. Çf

    If I had to pick untreated wood vs untreated (but clean lol) bone I would probably pick bone.
  18. Stropping Young Lad

    Stropping Young Lad Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Wood varies so much from species to species. If we’re talking about cocobolo, osage or ironwood, the vote has to go wood.

    That said, I generally prefer bone on GEC’s.
    Cambertree likes this.
  19. Stropping Young Lad

    Stropping Young Lad Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    I would say the common woods are natural on GEC’s. Ebony, Blackwood, Osage, Cocobolo and Ironwood, none of them are stabilized.
    Cambertree likes this.
  20. Sacto

    Sacto Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 27, 2017
    As others have said, I think each material has its pluses and minuses. What I do know is that I have a bone handled case stockman that I carried all the time for years and it is the only knife I have broken. I dropped it on the concrete floor of the shop at work a couple times. One time a piece of bone broke out of the handle and another time the bone cracked from one edge to the other. I kept on using the knife, but it wasn’t as pretty. Something to consider if you’re working in a warehouse. I don’t have much experience with heavy use on a wood handled knife, but I have to think wood would have survived those drops a bit bettter.

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