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Knife Handle Materials

Last Updated: Oct 22, 2016 12:04PM MDT
  • SYNTHETICS:
    • Micarta: is a thermoset composite material that has layers of paper, linen, canvas, or other fibers impregnated with phenolic or epoxy resin. Micarta is an ideal handle material because it is super durable, lightweight, feels good in hand (it’s an insulator so it doesn’t feel cold to the touch) and has a visually pleasing texture. 
    • G10:  a glass-reinforced epoxy laminate that is made of woven fiberglass cloth with an epoxy resin. Like Micarta, it is a strong thermoset plastic that absorbs very little water and is used primarily as an electrical insulator.
    • FRN (Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon) and GRN (Glass Reinforced Nylon) is the same thing and similar to Zytel. It’s a composite of nylon and glass fibers, in parts that optimize strength and other physical characteristics. Strong material, though more flexible than thermoset resins like G-10/Micarta (fyi).
    • Grivory is a similar material to Zytel, made by EMS Chemical  
    • Zytel: DuPont’s registered trademark for its comprehensive range of nylon resins. Since the invention of nylon by DuPont in the 1930s, it has become the most widely used of all engineering polymers. Due to their excellent balance of properties, nylon components produced by injection molding, extrusion or blow molding (DuPont)
    • Kraton: Kraton G is a rubber-like (read elastic) polymer that is soft yet strong and grippy (non-slip). It is a trademarked elastic polymer. Thermoplastic polymer. It is a synthetic replacement for rubber. Offers the same advantages of rubber while being resistant to heat, weathering, and chemicals.
    • Valox:  The Valox family of thermoplastic polyester resins are semi-crystalline materials based on polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and/or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) polymers. Valox resin formulations include many performance-matched grades designed to provide application-specific property profiles. Valox resins combine heat and chemical resistance, as well as outstanding electrical properties with exceptionally good process-ability and surface appearance. (SABIC-IP)
    • Noryl GTX : blends polyamide (PA) and modified polyphenylene ether polymer (PPE) technology. It combines the dimensional stability, low water absorption and heat resistance of PPE polymer with the chemical resistance and flow of PA polymer. The result is an extremely chemically resistant material with the stiffness, impact resistance and heat performance required for on-line painting. The low density of unfilled Noryl GTX resin can provide part-weight savings of up to 25% over glass or mineral filled resins. (SABIC-IP)
    • Carbon Fiber: is a very strong and light fiber-reinforced polymer which contains carbon fibers that provide an unsurpassed strength to weight ratio (Wiki).
  • METALS:
    • Aluminum: generally seen as 6061-T6, an aluminum alloy of magnesium and silicon (major elements). The T6 refers to the tempered grade.  Often referred to as aircraft aluminum.
    • Anodizing: is an electrolytic process that increases the thickness of the oxide layer on the surface of metal parts (aluminum and titanium). Items are anodized for corrosion resistance, wear resistance and for cosmetic enhancement. The most common anodizing electrolyte is sulfuric acid. 
    • Titanium: This is generally used in alloy form of Titanium 6Al4V (6% aluminum, 4% vanadium), under ASTM it is defined as Grade 5 and is the most commonly used alloy. Titanium has an extremely high tensile strong and toughness with a lightweight (high strength-to-weight ratio) 
    • Stainless Steel: a minimum of 12% chromium in steel makes it capable of resisting rust, and while the term denotes it is stainless, it is better understood as rust-resistant.
  • NATURAL MATERIALS:
    • Wood: generally very hard woods are used, like Desert Ironwood, Cocobolo, Rosewood, Ebony etc. Wood gives a knife a particular aesthetic and is often used on higher end knives. Wood isn’t the best material for hard-use knives and requires proper drying and preparation.  High value, great feel. Best kind is heartwood, or the inner core.  
    • Bone:
      • Dyed
      • Oosik
    • Horn:
      • Dark Horn
      • Honey Horn
      • Mammoth Ivory
      • Ivory
      • Stag
  • HYBRIDS:
    • Stabilized Wood
      • Dyed in a  variety of colors
      • The wood is “stabilized” with an acrylic resin that is absorbed into the material
      • Resists water, staining
      • Heavier than the original wood
      • Polishes, cleans up nicely
    • Laminates like Dymondwood, Staminawood and Pakkawood
      • Wood/plastic composite
      • More or less a plywood that is dyed
      • Usually made from birch
      • Weather and moisture resistant
  • Pearl
    • There are several types of pearl
      • Abalone
      • Mother of Pearl (MOP)
      • Black lip
      • Gold lip
    • Price and value is determined by the depth of color and iridescence and being free of inclusions (holes, etc.).
    • Mother of pearl comes from pearl oyster, freshwater pearl mussels and some from Abalone
  • Abalone
    • Common name for a specific group of edible sea snails and marine mollusks. The inner layer of the shell of abalone is very colorful and varies considerably. The Abalone material used is usually quite thin and applied to a composite like a veneer. Abalone shells are a source of mother of pearl (highly iridescent). 

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