Custom Knife Care (Blades and Handles)
By Rhonda Erline
I own and sell custom made knives by Marvin Poole and Iíve learned good knife care is important to keep them looking and performing at their best.
Whether you are a collector who likes to admire your knives for their sheer design and beauty or a person who uses knife, taking proper care of your knife will ensure it will last many years to come.
Your knife was designed for a specific task and purpose. Do not use knife blade for something it was not designed for, by doing so, you could damage tip of blade which is weakest part and possibly damage knife edge, beyond repair. Most knife warranties will not cover knife repair due to misuse and abuse.
Regardless of what metal blade is made from it will rust if not properly cleaned. Stainless steel blades are more rust and stain resistant than other metals and need less care, but are not completely rustproof. The fastest way to corrode a high quality 440-C stainless steel blade is by leaving it exposed to sea water for a long period of time 24-48 hours or longer.
To prevent rust from forming on blade take time to clean your knife after every use with mild non abrasive soap in lukewarm water. The knife should then be thoroughly rinsed and dried from handle toward blade edge. If you still see stains on blade, you can spray a small amount of Windex on a clean soft cloth and wipe blade making sure to completely wipe or rinse it off. Marvin Poole uses Windex on his knives and finds that ammonia in Windex is an excellent cleaner, as well as acts as a disinfectant. A good metal polish such as Simichrome or Flitz will also easily remove stains.
The handle is an important part of knife and needs to be taken care of as well. With years of use, Stag will dry out and crack.
Ram horn has a tendency to dry out and crack in extreme heat. Do not leave it in a hot vehicle. It is best stored at room temperature.
Ivory cannot take extreme temperature changes. If you have knife stored in room temperature then take it out to use it in extreme cold or hot weather it will dry and crack. The only care needed for bone handles is to keep it clean.
Marvin Poole, a knife maker, who works with these types of handle materials suggests following care for above handle types:
The most important thing is to keep handles clean and store at room temperature. Apply a small amount of baby oil with a q tip to a Ram horn handle every 3 months, for Ivory handles every 6 months (small amount of baby oil will not hurt scrimshaw on handle) and on Stag handles every 8-12months could help to prolong stag. Always make sure you wipe off any excess oil.
Most knife makers when making handles from exotic hardwoods (woods from outside U.S. such as Cocobolo, Ironwood, Bocote, Ebony and Olivewood, etc) will stabilized wood which strengthens and protects wood. These types of wood handles need little care other than keeping them clean.