Have you every stared at a gorgeous knife and admired the handle for some time? People think you are absolutely nuts for standing there, at a table, surrounded by others and all you want to do is hold this incredible custom knife with a handle that is multi-material micarta with an incredible contrast of colors. No? Not you? Well, that’s ok but I want you to know something. On every custom knife there is a handle picked out specifically for that knife. Most times, the material can be handmade by the knife maker OR purchased from a knife supply store and then combined in a way to make an incredible, one-of-a-kind custom knife. Take Jerry McJilton’s custom knife above for example: That handle is red and green micarta with a white spacer at around 30 degrees. But what exactly is that and why do you need to know? Here are our three to focus on today: Micarta, G-10, and Natural Wood.
Micarta is a very common handle material that is extremely resistant to the elements. The most common micarta handle material is Canvas Micarta on a custom knife. Canvas Micarta can be made by a variety of materials like denim, porous cloth, or most commonly canvas. What attracts knife enthusiasts and customers to this handle material is the variety of colors and the durability of the material itself. Micarta is made by layering pieces of material covered in fiberglass resin and pressing the material together until the resin dries. This leaves an incredibly durable material that we like to call: Micarta. Thanks to it’s texture and material, it feels great in your hand and will last forever with an incredible look and feel.
G-10 handle material is composed of fiberglass layers, soaked in fiberglass resin and laminated together with heat to form a bond of layered fiberglass material. This material may resemble micarta, but there is a giant difference. One is made from primarily layering materials such as canvas, paper and burlap (micarta) and the other is layers of fiberglass (G-10). G-10 is one of the most durable handle materials on the market. G-10 is a great pick for water use and kitchen knives due to it’s natural ability to repel water and hold consistent in wet conditions.
“Natural” wood is a very common handle material! It looks beautiful and you can go cut down a tree and slap that bad boy right on a tang of a custom knife can’t you!? WRONG! Natural wood is a very porous material that will get ruined in, most cases, if not stabilized beforehand. Stabilized natural wood most commonly uses cactus resin and a pressure pot to “stabilize” the wood so that it will not warp and becomes more water resistant than before the stabilization. Natural wood comes in all sorts of styles and categories. Maple, purple heart, walnut, ironwood, padauk, olive, rosewood, etc. The list never ends! Its absolute gorgeous finish makes it a fine use for a custom knife handle. The care and maintenance with this material is more than that of micarta and G-10 if you want it to look pristine. So if you are looking for something to bang around in the woods and want a maintenance free handle, then this is not the material for you. You’ll want to take care of this because it’s not only functional, it’s art.
In conclusion, there are hundreds of handle materials for custom knives on the market. It all depends on the purpose of the knife you have. Each one is different, so chose wisely. If you have any questions, leave a comment down below!