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Birch knife handle. Green or dry?

Discussion in 'DIY and Traditional crafts' started by Fridazadilak, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. Fridazadilak

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    Hi guys and girls,

    I had a go at making my first knife using a Mora 2/0 blank and a curly birch block. I found it a bit small so went about removing the handle from a spare Companion to use.

    I picked up a chunk of silver birch from the woodland in which I work in, would this be any good to use for a handle? I've read various things about working with the wood while green, and others say leave it to dry. I'm impatient and want a project before Christmas, shall I use this or should I just buy a block?
     

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  2. dwardo

    dwardo Maker

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    Green wood tends to move about as moisture leaves it. This means any tight fit now might end up loose later. Any flush fits may end up not so as soon as it dries.

    Where as seasoned wood you know its pretty stable in shape and density so should have less chance of going wrong later on.
     
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  3. crosslandkelly

    crosslandkelly A somewhat settled

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    Let it dry. If you use it green, it's likely to warp and twist.
     
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  4. Fridazadilak

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    Ok, I'll leave it to dry for another project. Thanks guys!
     
  5. Janne

    Janne Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)

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    It can/will crack at the ends. You can dry the chunk in the oven, set on 100 C for a couple of hours, then cut out a piece that looks uncracked.

    This is a quite fast method you should try. If the wood is water looged it will crack more than a dryish piece.
    Spring birch is very water logged, winter birch kind of dryish.
     
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  6. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    PM me your details and I'll post you a piece of seasoned birch.
    The piece I'm using at the moment is slightly oval (40mm x 35mm) if that will do you; just let me know what length handle you want to make and I'll send something a few centimetres longer. It's quite plane though :)
    Cheers,
    Brock
     
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  7. Yeoman13

    Yeoman13 Member

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    I've tried the method Mors Kochanski recommends in Northern Bushcraft whereby you can handle a screwdriver or file by pounding the tang into a birch branch that still has bark on. It will actually tighten up around the tang as it dries. I doubt it could be down with a Mora knife tang though.
    If you cut the block to about the size you want and leave about a cm or two on each end to allow for spitting, it should dry rather quickly in the house, especially if near a radiator. You can "paint" the end grain with white craft paste/carpenters glue and this can help prevent end splitting.
     
  8. Janne

    Janne Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)

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    I use birch that has been cut while fresh in my woodburner. All ends split a bit when drying. I do not think Mors' method will prevent it from cracking. Maybe if the branch is cut wintertime it will work?
     
  9. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)

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    Paint the cut ends with anything waterproof. Peel off the bark, maybe even split the block into rough but useful pieces.
    Woods will dry, outdoors under cover, down to a moisture content of about 12-14%. About 1" per year is what carvers use.
    Unlike many other hardwood species, birch doesn't harden up to much when dried.

    Trying to force the drying time runs a far greater risk of stress and splitting (just where you don't want it to happen.)
    The birch that I use for carving was rough cut 4-6' long x 6" wide x 2" thick. Stacked and stickered outdoors for years.
    I lose about 6-8" each end due to cracks. Some carvings fit in between but most times, I just cut it off as a loss.
     
  10. Sundowner

    Sundowner Forager

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    Just reading this thread and I'm thinking could I use a birch hurl for a handle on a Mora?
     
  11. Janne

    Janne Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)

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    Absolutely! But is not a straight grained piece not stronger?
    Burl wood is very beautiful though...
    What about you carving a drinking cup from your burl?
     
  12. Fridazadilak

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    I very kindly got a piece of seasoned birch sent to me by Broch, so I gave it a go today.

    I couldn't afford a Helle blade this side of Christmas so I butchered a spare Mora and rehandled it with silver birch. Shaped it similar to the Mora so as to fit in my leather sheath, only for the bugger to split on me when the finishing touches were in sight .

    I'll chalk it up to experience!
     

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