Custom Knife Care (Blades&Handles)

May 19


Rhonda Erline

Rhonda Erline

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Custom Knife ... and ... Rhonda ErlineI own and sell custom made knives by Marvin Poole and I’ve learned good knife care is ... to keep them looking and ... at their best.W


Custom Knife Care
(Blades and Handles)

By Rhonda Erline

I own and sell custom made knives by Marvin Poole and I’ve learned good knife care is important to keep them looking and performing at their best.

Whether you are a collector who likes to admire your knives for their sheer design and beauty or a person who uses the knife,Custom Knife Care (Blades&Handles) Articles taking proper care of your knife will ensure it will last many years to come.

Knife Use

Your knife was designed for a specific task and purpose. Do not use the knife blade for something it was not designed for, by doing so, you could damage the tip of blade which is the weakest part and possibly damage the knife edge, beyond repair. Most knife warranties will not cover knife repair due to misuse and abuse.

Knife Care

Regardless of what metal the blade is made from it will rust if not properly cleaned. Stainless steel blades are more rust and stain resistant than other metals and need less care, but are not completely rustproof. The fastest way to corrode a high quality 440-C stainless steel blade is by leaving it exposed to sea water for a long period of time 24-48 hours or longer.

To prevent rust from forming on the blade take time to clean your knife after every use with mild non abrasive soap in lukewarm water. The knife should then be thoroughly rinsed and dried from handle toward blade edge. If you still see stains on the blade, you can spray a small amount of Windex on a clean soft cloth and wipe the blade making sure to completely wipe or rinse it off. Marvin Poole uses Windex on his knives and finds that the ammonia in the Windex is an excellent cleaner, as well as acts as a disinfectant. A good metal polish such as Simichrome or Flitz will also easily remove stains.


The handle is an important part of knife and needs to be taken care of as well.
With years of use, Stag will dry out and crack.

Ram horn has a tendency to dry out and crack in extreme heat. Do not leave it in a hot vehicle. It is best stored at room temperature.

Ivory cannot take extreme temperature changes. If you have the knife stored in room temperature then take it out to use it in extreme cold or hot weather it will dry and crack.
The only care needed for bone handles is to keep it clean.

Marvin Poole, a knife maker, who works with these types of handle materials suggests the following care for the above handle types:

The most important thing is to keep the handles clean and store at room temperature. Apply a small amount of baby oil with a q tip to a Ram horn handle every 3 months, for Ivory handles every 6 months (small amount of baby oil will not hurt scrimshaw on handle) and on Stag handles every 8-12months could help to prolong the stag. Always make sure you wipe off any excess oil.


Most knife makers when making handles from exotic hardwoods (woods from outside the U.S. such as Cocobolo, Ironwood, Bocote, Ebony and Olivewood, etc) will stabilized the wood which strengthens and protects the wood. These types of wood handles need little care other than keeping them clean.

Knife handles that are made from domestic wood ( wood within the U.S. such as Birdseye Maple, Oak, Basswood, Walnut and Maple, etc), usually do not have their own oils and if not stabilized, may need a little extra care to keep them from drying out. There 3 ways I know of to help wood handles of this type.

Apply a light coating of furniture wax and a good hand rubbing which will help protect it from moisture.

Apply a small amount furniture polish with a moisturizer. I use a furniture polish that has a moisturizer and lemon oil. The polish cleans and gives the wood some protection from water and stains.

Linseed Oil can also be use as a preservative on wood handles. Whatever you choose to use always wipe off excess.

Leather stacked handles can be cleaned with a all color saddle soap which gives it some protection against moisture. You may also preserved them with a good quality leather treatment such as mink oil, always wipe off excess oil or soap.

Synthetic handles (man made) such as Micarta, G10 and its variants also require little care other than good cleaning. These type of Knives can be placed in a dishwasher, although extreme care should be taken to make sure the knife blade does not bang against other object as this could damage the cutting edge.


Leather sheaths over a period of time get dirty and the leather can dry out get cracks and splits and need to be cleaned. This is best done with a saddle soap (for all colors) or any good leather soap or mink oil. I find that using Kiwi Outdoor Saddle Soap periodically works real well. It cleans the leather, keeps it supple and helps protect it from moisture. Periodical cleaning of the sheath will ensure that it does not dry out and split. However, do not overdue the leather oil products as this will cause your sheath to lose its molded form. If that happens, your sheath will not securely hold the knife.


Every knife blade with prolong use will need sharpening. More people are hurt from using a dull knife; more pressure on the knife is needed to cut and this extra pressure at times cause the knife to slip. Keep you blade well honed. Probably the most difficult part of honing your blade is maintaining the correct angle. There are many good sharpening systems out there that will help you and make it easy for you to get the correct angel. Lansky sharpening system is easy to use and helps get the correct honing angle. It also does a wonderful job of sharpening. Marvin Poole uses this system to sharpen dull knives.


Always make sure your knife is clean then store it at room temperature. Do not store your knife in a leather sheath, remember the chemicals used in tanning the sheath can cause stains and rust on your blade. It’s easier if you store your knife in the same location as the sheath, that way when you are ready to use it everything is right there and ready to go.

To see Marvin Poole custom made knives visit: Sage Creek at