Custom Knives from Scottish Highlands

Skye Knives, Glendale, Isle of Skye, IV55 8WY.

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Workshop ~ Handle Materials


Woods: I use a wide variety of woods, including Thuya Burl, Macassar Ebony, Wenge, and Olive. Walnut and Sycamore are used to make sheaths as well as handles, as their properties suit the strong glue-joints necessary for lasting strength. The Kwaiken shown here combines Thuya Burl and Ebony for the handle with a Sycamore sheath. Wenge and Ebony are particularly good for handcarving, while Burl wood is naturally almost impossible to carve (I do not currently have a sufficiently good supplier of bog oak, so am not using this material at the moment).
Japanese Kwaiken
Horns and Skins: Some of my knives have horn handles, others use ray-skin wraps over wooden cores. Horn can be useful for carving, and gives a beautiful smooth, almost soft-feeling, finish. Tanned stingray skins are traditionally used for the grips of Japanese swords, adapted here for a new tanto.
Integral Tanto, Rayskin Wrap

Antler: The Isle of Skye (and particularly my part of it) supports large numbers of red deer, whose antlers are therefore a traditional material in Highland knives. I've made matched sets of knives to commemorate hunts, and antler handled sgians can be both attractive and traditional. The crown of the antler, where it grows from the head, makes for unusual handles, and can be scrimshawed with designs. In this image, I've used the crown piece as the handle of a pretty substantial bowie.

Antler Handled Bowie Knife

The base materials are obviously an important part of any knife, and I always use the best quality I can. At the same time, I prefer not to specialise in exotic materials: I'd rather challenge myself to bring out the best in relatively everyday woods and metals, keeping inherently precious things as accents...

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