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Wooden Knife Handles
Old 04-30-2014, 07:29 PM   #1
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Wooden Knife Handles

I would periodically sand and put mineral oil on my knife handles, but they would soon get waterlogged and grungy. Here's what they would look like:



Then I sanded and stained with Minwax (since the handles don't actually touch the food). Still not good.

So, against conventional advice, I sanded, Minwaxed, and then painted them with polyurethane. They look good,



and they're fine if my hand is dry. But if the handle or my hand is wet or greasy, they just feel way too slippery.

Any suggestions for an easy way to reverse this mistake?
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Old 04-30-2014, 07:30 PM   #2
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P.S. If you buy a cutting board like the above, it will be two months before you stop trying to pick up the knife image in the board.
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Old 04-30-2014, 07:42 PM   #3
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Sand it down a bit with fine (say, 600 grit) sandpaper? I don't know much about woodworking so someone who does may have a better idea.
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Old 04-30-2014, 08:04 PM   #4
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eat out
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Old 04-30-2014, 08:18 PM   #5
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There are some chemical removers. I think you'll end up having to remove the remains of that process manually. So I'd do exactly what Walt recommended. Watch your fingers!
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Wooden Knife Handles
Old 04-30-2014, 08:23 PM   #6
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Wooden Knife Handles

Lightly sand off the old finish and wipe on tung oil. Don't leave them to soak in dishwater when washing. Just wash the blades, trying to keep the handles dry as possible. Reapply tung oil as needed.
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Old 04-30-2014, 08:32 PM   #7
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Wood handles should be sanded periodically and re-oiled. You shrub in hot water and detergent, dry with a dish cloth and lay on the drain rack to completely dry before placing in knife block or drawer. Waterlogged?? You never soak in water or run through the dishwasher.
I would think when water gets under the polyurethane that it will start to come off. Wood expands when it gets wet.
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Old 05-01-2014, 04:29 AM   #8
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We are fond of the "Kiwi" brand knives that we get for a few bucks from the Asian grocery. Wooden handles, nice blade that holds an edge. We wash them in the DW (the appliance, folks) and the handles are just raw wood. So far no splitting or cracking, and they have enough texture to not slip when they are wet.

We use "high temp wash" so the interior of the DW is pretty hot after a load is done. That may help the knife handles dry quickly. I'd say sand your handles down with a very fine grit sandpaper to give them some texture.
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Old 05-01-2014, 06:48 AM   #9
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How about leaving the polyurethane as is and adding a transparent grip surface for a surfboard? More is less
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Old 05-01-2014, 07:53 AM   #10
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Lightly sand off the old finish and wipe on tung oil. Don't leave them to soak in dishwater when washing. Just wash the blades, trying to keep the handles dry as possible. Reapply tung oil as needed.
+1, although I would first apply some stripping gel, wipe off and then sand.
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Old 05-01-2014, 08:02 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
....they're fine if my hand is dry. But if the handle or my hand is wet or greasy, they just feel way too slippery.

Any suggestions for an easy way to reverse this mistake?
Keep the handle and your hands dry.
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Old 05-01-2014, 08:35 AM   #12
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How about leaving the polyurethane as is and adding a transparent grip surface for a surfboard? More is less
I was thinking of adding some sand to another layer of polyurethane, but I think I'll do the sanding or stripping + tung oil. I had expected water to bead off after the Minwax staining, but it didn't. Will tung oil make it bead?

We always wash them by holding the blade down on the edge of the sink, wiping with a soapy scrubby sponge, and rinsing, so I never figured out how the handles got so wet. But I guess they get wet during use.

I made that magnetic rack (magnets from China for a few bucks) specifically so that I wouldn't have to dry the blades. That has worked well.

It's great to be retired and have the time to overthink this stuff.
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Old 05-01-2014, 09:24 AM   #13
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I'm pretty sure that water will bead on a tung oil finish. I sometimes use Watco Danish Oil - a tung oil/varnish blend and water beads on it. I've seen some recommendations for Danish oil on knife handles. Also recommendations for beeswax. Just made this ice cream scoop with a maple handle - only finish is a beeswax/carnauba wax blend that should last a long time
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Old 05-01-2014, 09:38 AM   #14
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I was thinking of adding some sand to another layer of polyurethane, but I think I'll do the sanding or stripping + tung oil. I had expected water to bead off after the Minwax staining, but it didn't. Will tung oil make it bead?
Agree with others that's the way to go. Tung oil is easy to apply but does require multiple coats, should rub down with 0000 steel wool in between coats. Water should bead on it, if not add additional coats of tung oil. Don't soak the knifes in water and reapply tung oil annually.
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Old 05-01-2014, 04:22 PM   #15
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If you use tung oil make sure it's food grade.
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Similar question aboiut my wooden salad bowl
Old 05-01-2014, 04:52 PM   #16
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Similar question aboiut my wooden salad bowl

Not about Al's knives, but a similar question. I have an attractive salad bowl. It think it is some kind of tropical wood, colored like mahogany. It's big, and some evenings I make my diner from a whole bag or Trader Joe Herb salad, and some meat or fish. Someone who was moving out of my building about a year ago gave it to me. It is not just an oil finish, there is some kind of varnish or other finish that gives it a surface coating. This has started to wear and flake off, and I would like to get it completely off and re-finish with some kind of food safe oil.(My dinner is going in this bowl.)

It is pretty big, and curved so that I would have to sand without a sanding block. Can I use some stripper that won't wreck the bowl for food preparation, and then sand and use a food grade oil? Or must I stick to only sanding for safety?

Thanks for any answers.

Ha
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Old 05-01-2014, 04:54 PM   #17
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Not sure but stripper does NOT sound like a good idea to me. Nasty stuff in that liquid.
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Old 05-01-2014, 05:07 PM   #18
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If you use tung oil make sure it's food grade.
Good call. IIRC, some tung oils include heavy metals as part of the drying component.

Offhand, I would think non-drying oils would be best. As others have said, the knives should not get so very wet, and an occasional mineral oil wipe should keep them in shape. I would think any drying oil would eventually peel.

A quick google seemed to bring up 'mineral oil' in almost every link.

Then I recall that T-Al is in a very humid environment. Maybe extra steps are required to get those handles truly dry after use?

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Old 05-01-2014, 05:09 PM   #19
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Not about Al's knives, but a similar question. I have an attractive salad bowl. It think it is some kind of tropical wood, colored like mahogany. It's big, and some evenings I make my diner from a whole bag or Trader Joe Herb salad, and some meat or fish. Someone who was moving out of my building about a year ago gave it to me. It is not just an oil finish, there is some kind of varnish or other finish that gives it a surface coating. This has started to wear and flake off, and I would like to get it completely off and re-finish with some kind of food safe oil.(My dinner is going in this bowl.)

It is pretty big, and curved so that I would have to sand without a sanding block. Can I use some stripper that won't wreck the bowl for food preparation, and then sand and use a food grade oil? Or must I stick to only sanding for safety?

Thanks for any answers.

Ha
Ha - I wouldn't trust a stripper to be food safe. Best just to sand it. And then apply a salad bowl finish like this:

Buy General Finishes Salad Bowl Finish, Pint at Woodcraft.com
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Old 05-01-2014, 05:22 PM   #20
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Good call. IIRC, some tung oils include heavy metals as part of the drying component.

Offhand, I would think non-drying oils would be best. As others have said, the knives should not get so very wet, and an occasional mineral oil wipe should keep them in shape. I would think any drying oil would eventually peel.

A quick google seemed to bring up 'mineral oil' in almost every link.

Then I recall that T-Al is in a very humid environment. Maybe extra steps are required to get those handles truly dry after use?

-ERD50
Good point - From what I read, pure tung oil is food safe. If it is mixed with other ingredients, it may or may not be food safe. Pure mineral oil is food safe, as is this salad bowl finish
Buy General Finishes Salad Bowl Finish, Pint at Woodcraft.com
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