Knife Handle Materials
KNIFE HANDLE MATERIALS
Knife handles have been made out of just about every type of material imaginable, ranging from the very weird to exceptionally nice looking and practical. There are many very good man-made and natural
materials available today for knife handles. The purpose of the following list
is to give you some idea of the more common types of knife handle materials that
are used today.
Black Mother of Pearl - Blacklip Mother of Pearl is one of the most exclusive pearls in demand in today's knife market. It comes from small shells found in French Polynesia around Tahiti and its Archipelagos. Just under the exterior bark of the shell is where the real beauty of the Blacklip shell lies. It is very similar to abalone from the standpoint of durability and uses
Carbon Fiber - Carbon Fiber is composed of thin strands of carbon that are tightly woven in a weave pattern and set in resin. Carbon fiber is probably the strongest of all the lightweight synthetic handle materials. The main visual attraction of this material is the characteristic of the carbon strands to reflect light which makes the weave pattern very visible. Carbon fiber is a labor-intensive material which results in a rather expensive knife. It is a very good knife handle material… if you want to spend the money for it.
G-10 - G-10 is a fiberglass based laminate. Layers of fiberglass cloth are soaked in resin, compressed and then baked. The resulting material is very hard, lightweight, and strong. Surface texture is added in the form of checkering or other patterns. It is an ideal material for tactical folders and fixed blade knives because it is durable and lightweight. It is available in a variety of colors.
Leather - Leather handles are seen on some hunting and military knives. Leather handles are typically produced by stacking leather washers, or less commonly, as a sleeve surrounding another handle material. Leather knife handles are attractive to look at but are not as durable as some other materials. Leather works well as spacers to add accents to a knife handle.
Micarta - Micarta is similar in construction to G-10. Layers of either linen cloths, canvas, or paper are soaked in a phoenolic resin. Heat and pressure is applied to the layers which causes a chemical reaction (polymerization) transforming the layers into a high-pressure thermosetting industrial laminated plastic. The end result is a material that is lightweight and strong. It also has an attractive appearance which makes it nicer looking than G-10. Micarta has no surface texture and it is extremely smooth to the touch. It is a material that requires manual labor which translates into a higher priced knife. Micarta is a very popular handle material on user knives due to its extreme toughness and stability. Micarta is impervious to water, can be gripped well when wet and is an excellent insulator. Micarta has come to refer to almost any fibrous material cast in resin. It is available in a variety of colors.
Stag - Stag is another material that is extremely popular. Of all of the deer species, Sambar Stag antler material is the most sought after for knife handles because it is more dense than the others. Most Sambar Stag comes from India and due to the government ban on its export, it is becoming more and more costly and rare. The charm of stag comes from the attractive looks and rough texture of the surface that gives a nice grip for the user. Another intriguing thing about stag knife handles, is that, since it is a natural material, no two knives will be alike. Stag is derived from naturally shed deer antlers. When exposed to open flame, stag takes on that slightly burnt look. Sambar Stag is very durable and it makes excellent knife handle material.
Stainless Steel -
Stainless steel offers durability and of course corrosion resistance when used
for knife handles. It is quite often used in combination with another material
such as plastic or rubber to make it easier to grip. The biggest drawback to
stainless steel knife handles is the weight.
Zytel - Zytel nylon is
thermoplastic material developed by DuPont. Zytel is an excellent material for
work knife handles since it is virtually unbreakable and very abrasive
resistant. It is one of the least expensive of synthetic handle materials to produce, thereby holding down the cost of the knife. It is quite often given a
surface texture to improve gripping when used for knife handles.
Knife Handle Materials