We have some kitchen knives whose handles are no fun to hold in your hand. So I thought I’d make my own but wanted to test for the best type of wood to use.
Wood from the Hophornbeam is rated at 1860 in the ‘Janka Hardness Test’, Maple =1450, American Beech =1300 and White Ash =1320. I took samples from our wood pile and cut them down to 3/8”. I varnished [urethaned] one end and left them in the dishwasher for a month. Even though it was taken from the sap wood of a 5” diameter tree, the Hophornbeam was by far the smoothest of the woods; both the finished and unfinished ends were still smooth as silk after the month of washings. The rest got rough in descending order of their hardness. So I went with the hardest north American wood around.
For practice I made a new handle for one of our crappier knives and I’m very happy with it.
I bought rivets from: http://usaknifemaker.com/cutlers-rivets-in-brass-60-to-95-long.html
The Hophornbeam is super tough to work with and when a slice kicked out of the protesting table saw it pretty much wanted to break my shin; still bruised after a week-OUCH. (http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/hardwoods/hophornbeam/ )
The tree is too small to get from a lumber mill so I need a better way to get it down to boards – I’m thinking ‘more tools’.