The woods I use are chosen to highlight the beauty of nature. I choose natural colours and grain structures that are highlighted in the small area that is a knife handle. I use both stabilised wood that is vacuum impregnated with methacrylate resin (I do this operation myself) or open pored wood that I treat with gun stock oil. Both give a hard wearing natural finish with the stabilised wood needing no maintenance and the open pored needing an occasional oiling and polishing to maintain it's good looks and stability.
Antler and horn
Antler for knife scales is becoming harder to find these days, I do have a small stock and am always on the lookout for suitable pieces. It is without a doubt very good looking and gets better looking as it gets older. Along with Buffalo horn I tend to use it mainly for bolsters these days. Be aware that not all antler is suitable for the task as it needs to be thick walled and comes mainly from foreign species of deer. So I couldn't use the antler from UK species.
Micarta (Tufnol) and G10
These materials are hard wearing and waterproof materials utilising layers of material such as paper, linen, canvas or fibre glass encapsulated in a coloured thermosetting resin. Although they don't have the individuality or unique appeal of natural materials, they have their place in the need for low maintenance handles. It is possible to get some good effects when shaping handles across the filler layers.
A gasket layer employed between the blade steel and the handle scales. Although it acts just as a gasket should soaking up any movement in the steel and handle due to environmental and humidity changes it is more often employed just for it's looks giving a definitive outline to natural beauty.
O1 Tool steel
Often refered to as guage plate or ground flat stock (GFS) this is the closest you can get to traditional high carbon tool steel. The 1% carbon gives it excellent edge holding capabilities and it is easy to sharpen. It is in no way stainless and should be cleaned after use and kept oiled. However over time it builds up a dark grey patina that adds to it's corrosion resistance. Normally hardened to 59hrc.
A stainless tool steel developed at the DAMASTEEL AB firm in Sweden. It is a powder metallurgy version of ATS-34 that was the steel championed by one of the grandfathers of modern custom knife making Bob W Loveless (Hence RWL). It's performance is exemplary, especially in the 27 degree scandi grind that I employ. It is very tough and will hold an edge for a long time. Normally hardened to 62hrc for best performance.
Another excellent product from DAMASTEEL AB.Using modern technology to acheive the patterned damascus blade steel using the same solid state welding procedure called “Hot Isostatic Pressing” but using layers of RWL-34 with alternate layers of PMC-27 (a powder metallurgy version of 12c27) that produces a billet which can be manipulated to produce various patterns. Unlike black-smithed Damascus that can be prone to flaws,quality can be guaranteed. Damasteel is expensive and time consuming to work with several stages required to achieve those stunning looks of the end product. But worth it not only for it's looks but truly outstanding performance.