Should use boiling

Wild Willie

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I've been using blo and beeswax for a couple of years, I also use mineral oil and beeswax. If appearance matters I think linseed oil winds up having a better luster, but as has been noted don't let any rags pile up. I have also just rubbed used motor oil and grease on wooden handled knives that get used in the shop frequently... Definitely do yourself a favor and get a bit of beeswax though, I just scrape some off the block and heat it with a lighter then rub it into the handle after applying whatever oil I might have out at the time.
 

FortyTwoBlades

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It's correct that the handle isn't made from stabilized wood, but most wooden handles aren't. Finish as you see fit (or not, as it's not strictly necessary). Different oils, waxes, and so on give different advantages and disadvantages. But I wouldn't soak the handle in BLO--just apply a coat and wipe off the excess, then continue to do so any time it looks "thirsty". It's a drying oil so if you oversaturate it and leave excess on the surface it'll turn into a tacky mess as the oil polymerizes.
 
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Get or DIY-make a piece of micarta and replace the wood handles with this material. If you can drill out the pins you can even use the original ones for tracing the new ones (otherwise just take them off and trace using the tang). Cut oversize (sans the ricasso area, which needs to be finished beforehand as it will not be accesible for sanding once attached to the knife), epoxy glue them together with the required pins (do not squeeze too much as a glue starved joint is weak), sand to fit and to the desired grit and... done forever.:p:p

Regarding conditioning of the original wood handles, well, everything you need to know has been stated already. I don't own any wood handled knives so I don't have any hands on experience.

Mikel
 
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If I use anything on wood handles I use auto Wax or floor wax, no drying time really other than 3-5 min and then I buff in another coat. Also no chance of blowing the place up or starting a fire with BLO rags. :) Also the wax doesn’t reek like BLO or Tung-oil..,
 

herisson

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I have also just rubbed used motor oil and grease on wooden handled knives that get used in the shop frequently.
You definitely shouldn't use used motor oil : it's a toxic waste laden with carcinogenics. Mechanical grease or new motor oil should be avoided, too. They contain a lot of additives which are not skin friendly, at all. I have handled that kind of crap daily for 30 years, I can testify I should have worn gloves. For unstabilized wood, I use camelia oil and seal off with furniture wax. Works nice. And the wax comes in different natural colours (walnut, oak,...). So, you can adjust your knife's looks to your liking.
 

Wild Willie

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You definitely shouldn't use used motor oil : it's a toxic waste laden with carcinogenics. Mechanical grease or new motor oil should be avoided, too. They contain a lot of additives which are not skin friendly, at all. I have handled that kind of crap daily for 30 years, I can testify I should have worn gloves. For unstabilized wood, I use camelia oil and seal off with furniture wax. Works nice. And the wax comes in different natural colours (walnut, oak,...). So, you can adjust your knife's looks to your liking.

I should have specified that it isn't a knife that gets any use for food, I've always just figured that if it it winds up on the handle I'd just rub it in.
 

herisson

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Sure, my tool handles were all totally waterproofed due to all the oils and greases they had seen. An accidental drop here and there is no biggie but I wouldn't recommend doing it on purpose for a personal item, used with bare hands, like a pocket knife.
 
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Just as a counter thought, my parents had the same set of kitchen knives for over 40 years. None of the handles received any care at all and were run through the dishwasher. I doubt any of them were ever cleaned by hand. All of the handles were intact and functioned fine. They greyed and shrank a little so they weren’t going to win any beauty contests but they still cut stuff. I personally do the same with my kitchen knives. [shrug] On my “hobby knives” I use mineral oil. I’m pretty sure the wood handles would function ‘til the day I died with no care at all. I just prefer them purty. ;)
 

milesofalaska

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I use a lot of Sno-Seal. It ‘s beeswax. It’s easy to find around here, because Minnesota. Apply it warm, or use a propane torch to melt it into the grain. While I have the torch out, I might do a little shou sugi ban if I want to darken the wood. If the handle ever starts to look dry, reapply.
I'm in Alaska, swear by sno-seal as well. Use it on the leather sheaths and wood. As you say, the applied heat helps a lot.
 
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My #1 wood finish for tools is still pure tung oil, not to be confused with "tung oil finish" that you see in most stores.
Those "tung oil finish" treatments are mostly just varnishes poly with little or no tung oil.
 
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