Is Oak Good for Knife Handles? Pros and Cons of Using This Wood

Have you ever wondered why wooden knife handles feel so great on your hands? Also, why do most kitchen utensils have wooden handles? Most kitchen utensils and chopping boards are wood, such as oak. So, is oak good for knife handles as well? This guide will find out.

Quick Answer

Oak wood makes great knife handles! This is because of oak wood’s unique natural properties. You’ll find all kinds of knives with oak handles in many modern kitchens. Cleavers or butcher knives, chef knives, paring knives, filleting knives, carving knives, and boning knife, all with lovely oak wood handles.

Why is Oak Wood Great as Knife Handles?

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Oak has a long list of excellent properties, so it’s the material of choice for making furniture, flooring, decks, cabinets, windows, doors, and other woodworking projects. Woodworkers and hobbyists prefer oak for small wooden projects, and one of these is making knife handles. Here are the great qualities of oak wood, making it the best choice for making handles.

Oak is a Very Stable Type of Wood

You need a stable, balanced knife handle, or you won’t get things done. Oak handles are smooth and feel great on your hands. When properly stained, it won’t slip or slide and thus will work great as knife handles.

The stability of oak wood makes it perfect for large knives like butcher knives and chef knives. If you need small knives to cut intricate pieces, you need a fillet, boning, or carving knife with oak handles. Also, oak is very durable and, when properly sealed, can resist moisture. Kitchen knives with oak handles will surely last a long time.

Oak is Naturally Beautiful

Oak is one of the most beautiful natural hardwoods. Depending on the species, oak wood is naturally light with a straight grain and many lovely patterns. Oak knife handles with these unique patterns will be the star of your kitchen. Place these in an oak knife block, and you’ll be the envy of all your guests!

Complete your oak wood kitchen collection with other kitchen utensils with oak handles. To complete your natural wood collection, you may also add chopping boards, ladles, rolling pins, and other kitchenware.

Oak is a Durable Wood

Oak is very durable as long as you preserve its integrity. Oak contains tannins, natural chemicals in wood that keep insects, fungi, and mold away. Also, oak wood may be used indoors as well as outdoors. It’s very durable when suitably stained, polished, and sealed. Using oak wood as knife handles will guarantee a long life for your kitchen tools.

Oak is Easy to Work With

Oak is one of the best woods for woodworking and various wooden projects. This is solid hardwood that can last for a long time with proper care. You can use fasteners, glue, screws, or nails on oak. You can use different stains, polishes, and sealants on oak.

As knife handles, oak wood may be carved according to the shape of the handle. Shaping by turning, sanding, and using power tools is easy too. As long as you have sharp tools, you can guarantee the best results.

Oak Comes in Various Hues

Oak is not just available in light colors. According to a wood database, there are about ten kinds of oak wood that are available on the market. These are commonly used in most indoor and outdoor projects. Out of the ten, there are two widespread oak types: red and white oak.

Red oak is reddish and is lighter in color. This type of oak is solid and thus has very high water resistance. Meanwhile, white oak is darker, with a moderately smoother grain. Therefore, white oak has the highest water-resistance and is more expensive than other types.

Of the two, most woodworkers and knife makers use red oak. This type is more attractive and resistant and, thus, best for making knife handles. Red oak can hide dents and scratches; however, it can scratch easily. If you’re making knife handles, it would be best to get to know the properties of the type of oak wood you wish to use.

Oak Can Take Finishes and Stains Well

Oak wood can take almost all types of stains and finishes. We recommend natural oils and finishes as you use these utensils on food. It would be best to maintain the appearance and form of your knife handles by lightly sanding and applying a natural finish. These will help protect your knife handles from moisture, scratches, and dents due to constant use.

Background on Oak Wood

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To find out why oak wood is the top material in making knife handles, you must learn its natural properties. Oak wood is a hardwood popular in many countries and regions. Most oak forests are located in the northern hemisphere, but it is in the U.S. where you can find many oak tree species.

Oak is not just for making utensils and knife handles. It is very popular as indoor and outdoor furniture, flooring, home fixtures, wooden projects, and décor. Oak wood is from mature oak trees. You will know if an oak tree is ready to be felled when it has a crop of acorns. Sometimes this can take around 50 years for an oak tree to mature.

Almost all oak trees are felled and harvested as a building material. Mature oak trees can grow up to 45 meters and is very wide. There are currently around 600 species of oak trees worldwide.

Type

Oak is hardwood. This tree is available in deciduous and evergreen varieties. Some oak trees are ornamental and are also found in the north temperate regions and at high altitude locations in the tropics.

Appearance

Natural oak lumber is available in many colors. Oak comes in light beige, red, brown, and other dark colors. In oak trees, the grain color may vary from different trees and different parts of a single tree.

On the surface of oak lumber, you’ll find different designs, from lines and swirls to large chunks. These natural designs are what furniture makers are looking for. You can highlight these designs using a natural finish or stain.

Texture

Oak has a tight texture, so it’s resistant to moisture, pests, fungal attacks, and molds.

Density

Oak is a very dense hardwood, so it’s best to make knife handles. The most common variety for knife handles, red oak, has 48.7 pounds per cubic foot density. White oak is another top knife handle material and is denser than red oak, with 56.2 pounds per cubic foot density.

Treatability

Oak is one of the easiest to work with. You can use different stains, finishes, and sealants on oak handles. You can use fasteners, nails, or screws to fasten oak knife handles. If you want to carve or turn knife handles, oak wood is the best wood material. If you’re a beginner woodworker, oak wood is one of the most forgiving wood materials to work on.

What are the Benefits of Using Oak Wood?

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Why use oak wood as kitchen utensil holders, cabinets, kitchen furniture, and other kitchen projects? Let’s see why oak gets the green light from woodworkers, carpenters, and furniture makers.

Oak Has a Natural Aesthetic Appeal

The top reason why many woodworkers prefer oak as knife handles is the wood’s natural aesthetic qualities. Solid oak is best for handles and other kitchen fixtures and accessories. You will love the natural appeal of solid oak kitchen cabinets, chopping boards, and shelves!

Also, solid oak can be finished according to your preference. This wood may be treated to provide the best water protection and preserve the natural appearance of oak grains.

Oak Offers a Quality Feel

Solid oak knife handles will feel heavy and perfect on your hands. There’s that quality feel that you won’t experience when you’re holding knives with plastic handles. Oak is high-quality wood and will retain its shape, form, and natural beauty no matter how often you use your blades.

Oak is One of the Easiest to Repair

Solid oak is easier to repair than other types of wood and other alternatives like plastic, but we guarantee that solid oak handles will never break or fall apart! But if you need to make repairs, in case of scratches, dents, and marks, lightly sand the affected area, add wood filler or putty, and add a coat of finish or stain. Afterward, your knife handle will look just like new! If your knife handle is slipping, you can always use glue or hardware to fix an oak handle.

Oak has Low VOCs

Solid wood knife handles have low VOCs or volatile organic compounds. Oak wood needs no chemicals to preserve it as it comes with natural chemicals called tannins which help maintain the oak grain. Tannin prevents moisture, mold, and mildew growth inside the wood. Tannins are also a natural insect and fungus repellant.

Oak is Resistant to Water Damage

Oak is more resistant to water ingress than other building materials made of wood. Oak wood that’s well-sealed can be used to build outdoor furniture, exterior fixtures, and decks.

Oak is a Sustainable Wood Material

Oak is a sustainable building material. In many areas where oak trees are grown for commercial use, responsible forestry practices are in place.  Most oak species like white oak have a sizeable growing stock, and thus, it’s possible to harvest oak timber regularly without negatively affecting the forest.

What are the Disadvantages of Using Oak Wood?

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Oak wood also has some disadvantages. Remember these as you use oak wood to create lovely knife handles.

Oak Wood Has a High Tannin Content

Oak has a high tannin content making it resistant to pests, burrowing insects, fungal attacks, and moisture damage. However, tannin can stain wood significantly when it’s exposed to water.  It can cause a blue-black stain that’s very difficult to remove. Remember this before you use oak wood as knife handles.

Oak Wood is Very Heavy

Raw oak wood is heavy, and you need to cut it into smaller pieces to handle it well. The best cut for oak wood will always be quarter-sawn cuts. This is the best way to bring out the natural beauty and color of oak wood.

You’ll also feel the heaviness when you hold a handle made of solid oak. The weight can be negligible to some, but this could be too heavy for sensitive users, especially when you’re making knife handles.

Oak Wood May Change Color Without Regular Care

Oak wood needs regular care to ensure the wood stays in great shape. For instance, oak wood furniture needs regular oiling to keep it in the best color and form. If the furniture is frequently used like a desk, table, chair, or chopping block, you must apply natural oil on the surface every month.

Apply natural oil at least every week if the surface is entirely dry because of exposure to sunlight and dry air. Sometimes, the surface of oak wood looks excellent, but the inner part of the wood is very dry.

Oak Wood May Dull Cutting Tools and Bits

The tannins in oak wood can cause tools and bits to dull. Use very sharp tools and bits when working on oak wood to avoid this.

Where to Get Oak Wood for Projects?

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Oak wood is available in most local lumberyards and woodworker shops. If you’re looking for good-quality quarter-sawn oak wood, you may need to pre-order these from a supplier. Meanwhile, flat sawn oak wood is always available from suppliers at a much more affordable price.

Final Words

Oak wood makes excellent knife handles. This wood is durable, stable, harder, and tough, making it great for kitchen knives. Another reason why it’s perfect as knife handles are because of its natural beauty and color. This wood is also easy to work with and easily handle hardware, fasteners, glues, and carving.

When it comes to availability, oak wood is readily available from a local lumberyard or shop. But if you’re looking for high-end quarter-sawn oak wood, you need to order ahead of time from a local supplier.

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