We are getting a lot of questions about our Birch bark handles. Almost 80% of the show visitors think that this is a “cork” handle :) But it is not!
Russia and some Scandinavian countries are using birch bark for a lot of different things: knife handles, boxes, furniture, etc. Birch bark is a very light, durable, natural and very easy to work with material. Also Birch bark handle will feel warm even during very cold weather and will never crack.
All questions we are getting about this material can be divided in two groups: how durable this material is and how will it handle the blood (for hunting knives), water and wet conditions for a fishing and camping knives..
This is my Favorite small fishing knife FISHER. This knife is about 10 years old and NEVER been deep cleaned or chemically cleaned just for a test purpose :)
This knife was used a lot for fishing and some other camping needs and just was washed with a worm water.
As you can see on the picture, the handle doesn't have any damages and just looks used and dirty. During the handle manufacturing Rosarms is using special natural bee-wax based solution for stabilization and preservation of the birch bark.
First step - I'm cleaning the handle with regular sandpaper: 400 grid but of course if necessary you can start with 100 or 300...
It took about 30 min to clean the handle completely and result you can see here:
After 400 I used 600 and then final polishing with 1500...
As result - birch bark feels like very soft, velvet-like material.
Next step is important if you used your knife for cleaning fish or game.
Please wiped cleaned birch bark with Hydrogen Peroxide solution. It will kill all possible organics and will whiten handle a little bit.
Now our handle is ready for sealing. As I said Birch bark was already stabilized and treated by bee-wax based solution but I would recommend to re-seal it after our deep cleaning.
Next step wipe it with any available fine mineral oil. For example "baby oil".
In this case I'm using my favorite very fine “Japanese Sword oil”.
As you can see our handle got natural “dark yellow” look again and all pours are sealed. Usually I apply oil 3 times.
Next for a final touch I would recommend you to use something like a Renaissance Wax; you can buy it online from many dealers in USA. This is a very fine wax which will preserve you handle for a very long time!
Now the Knife is ready again for any tough task you have of it :-)