Bone handles on knives are chipping and flaking

jlc102482February 1, 2013

I have a set of six bone handled fish knives, and the handles on two of the knives are chipping and flaking off pretty badly. No one is handling them - they just sit on my sideboard, and unfortunately it seems like they're just falling apart. Is there anything I can do to prevent further damage from occurring?

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I would suggest treating them with mineral oil. You can purchase small bottles at most drug stores. This is also an excellent treatment for wooden handled steake knives, wooden salad bowls and cutting boards.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 9:21AM
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Bone is a natural material. It contains water which dries up over time causing shrinkage (hence, cracking, peeling, etc.)

Steps to re-hydrate a stag/bone/ivory handle:

1. Prep the knife handle. Wipe down the handle with rubbing alcohol to remove any dirt, oil and surface moisture.

2. Pour the mineral oil into the beaker. Fill the beaker so when the handle is in the beaker, the oil level passes the tang slightly (ie the whole handle is submerged).

3. Immerse the knife into the oil. Do it with the stag handle downwards and the blade sticking out of the container.

4. Leave to stand for 24 hours. This will allow the oil to seep into the pores of the bone and make it hydrated.

5. The handle should have become a little fatter and the gaps and cracks should have become less noticeable.

6. Soak again if needed. If the stag handle has not been fattened to the previous diameter (before shrinkage), soak in the oil for a another day or two.

7. Wipe clean and store. Or, once oil free, buff with wax into the handle to seal in the moisture.

This treatment should improve the condition of the bone handle. It should be done at least once every 3 months.

NOTE: The oil "may" cause some darkening of the handles.

I have 3 stag handled knives and 2 stag handled forks that date to about 1860 from my DH's family. They were brought from Wales by DH's grandmother who had inherited them. I keep them on display otherwise I'd forget their care.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 1:18PM
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I am only the forth generation from Wales as my great grandfather came from Wales. As a matter of common knowledge, when God created the earth, he started in Wales.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 3:30PM
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Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

And that's the extent of my Welsh. We only call DH's remaining Welsh relatives on Christmas and so I learned to say "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year". (grin)


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:52AM
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