Biltsharp's Choice! Materials List
This page is meant to display samples of the types of materials we use for our handles. There is a very wide variety of colors, textures and durability options available. Too many to list here, but hopefully the information provided will give you a better insight for your handle choices. Peruse the archives and if you see something you like, check the description for the materials.
Also know as the hard fibrous material that forms the main substance of the trunk or branches of a tree or shrub, wood comes in many varieties.
I personally break this down to two categories- Hardwoods or stabilized woods. Hardwoods are species that are well suited for handles. Since it is a natural material, it is subject to moisture which can cause damage if not cared for properly. Many types of burls or species of wood are very beautiful, but are not well suited for use as a handle. Stabilizing drastically improves the durability of these types of woods. After going through the process of submerging the wood in resin under vacuum and then using pressure to force it into all the voids and pores, these woods become very hard and very durable. Color may also be added through this process, but it's still wood, so keep that in mind and out of the dishwasher.
Micarta (reinforced laminated phenolic)
Micarta is a brand name, like Kleenex that we use to describe a wide variety of very durable materials made from stacks of fabric or paper that have been laminated under extreme pressure and heat. This material is always a good choice, it provides a durable handle, and looks great too! The layered material offers some great pattern reveal as it is shaped. The color pallet for Micarta is leans towards neutral earth tones, but there are bright and oddball materials out there too. Coarse materials have more pattern, while finer ones have less. Paper Micarta is unique in the fact that it has very little texture and presents itself as a pure color with no visible lines or interruptions.
G10 is very similar to Micarta in the fact that it is a laminate, but Garolite is made from interwoven sheets of glass instead of fabric or paper. This is the most resilient and durable option for a handle material. G10 is extremely hard and totally waterproof but also much heavier than other materials. The color pallet is brighter and more "synthetic" which gives a clean modern look to the handles. The glass layers offer a pattern reveal much like Micarta, and those bright colors come in handy for accents.
Richlite is a paper composite, again very similar to Micarta, but unique enough to have its own section. Made from recycled paper, Richlite offers some great options for diffused color pallets and interrogated patterns in the sheets. This is my preferred material for anything "just black". It is a very strong and lightweight material.
Made from, you guessed it, fibers of carbon; This very light and very strong material can add a lot of ring-a-ding-ding (a technical term) to any project. The pattern can vary depending on the weave and orientation of the layers.
Chatoyant Carbon Fiber
From the secret laboratories of our buddy John Blazy comes one of the most unique and dazzling materials we offer. Chatoyant carbon fiber is a mix of optically reactive accents embedded into disrupted carbon fiber layers. The typographical nature of the fibers create a shimmering and almost transparency effect like that seen in a highly polished tigers eye stone.
Fossilized / Natural Materials
Few materials stand up to the luxuriousness of ivory. With that being said, I also do not think that luxury is worth the destruction that comes along with it. However! if a wooly mammoth was dumb enough to get caught in a tarpit 100,000 years ago, that sumabitch is fair game. I'm also included fossilized mammoth / mastodon tooth in this category. I have not worked with other types like walrus or the fabled narwhal. So if you're interested in that, I am too.
- Vintage Micarta- Westinghouse started making Micarta 1910. The older stock was made from resins that yellow heavily as they are exposed to UV light. We call this the "patina"; the darkened layer penetrates deeper towards the core over time. There are certain colors that are discontinued and highly valued in the collectors community.
- Rare or Extinct Burls- When the fibers of a tree grow in chaotic patterns that form lumps or irregularities instead of straight grain like you would see in lumber, that is called a burl. Some species are very common, others come from forrest so old, they are protected from logging or only exist as antiques. Some species can also be harvested if they have fallen naturally. These burls come from trees that are so old, it would take generations to replace them. a few examples are koa, certain rosewoods, olive wood, amboyna, and bog oak (not a burl but very old) to name a few.
- Meteorites- Yup that's a real option. no fooling.
- Mother Of Pearl - Great for Inlays
- Cursed Mummy Remains- Now this one might be controversial, being human remains and all. So before you go writing an angry email, let me ask you this- Do you know a better way to imbue a dagger with the enchantment of a thousand tormented shadows? Yeah I didn't think so.
Things I will not use
- Number one most important - A tree limb from your yard that holds sentimental value. Nope, Nope, Double nope. Unless you know what you're doing and took a few years to cure the wood properly, this is a bad idea. I know from experience.
- Hybrid resin woods or figured resin blocks. While I think these are fine materials for someone else, they're just not for me personally. There are very few straight resin materials I use, and all of them are reconstructed faux ivories.
- Elephant ivory- Even if you have some and say it's pre-ban, I don't want to use it. There are a lot of great alternatives out there.