Is Oak Good for Knife Handles? With Pros & Cons

Ever wondered why oak is a top choice for knife handles? Dive in, and let’s unravel this woody mystery together!

is Oak Good for Knife Handles

Not all wood materials are created equal. In the realm of hardwood applications, such as knife-making, some woods are better suited for handles than others.

Take oak, for instance; it’s used for a variety of indoor and outdoor wood applications.

When I decided to make a knife handle using oak, I became curious about its suitability.

I consulted knife-making experts and conducted some research. Here’s what I discovered.

So, Is oak suitable for knife handles?

Yes, oak is an excellent choice for knife handles due to its stability, durability, and visual appeal. Its resilience and workability make it a top choice among craftsmen, while its aesthetic allure is favored by enthusiasts. Proper care and maintenance can ensure its longevity and performance.

But that’s just a quick answer.

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    Let’s talk about why Oak is this special when it comes to knife handle making, how does oak makes a good knife handle, and also about the best finish for oak knife handles as well with more detail.

    After all, there is still a lot to learn about Oak knife handles and their pros and cons.

    Let’s dive into it.

    Knife handles made with Oak wood

    Does Oak Make a Good Knife Handle?

    Oak is one of the commonly used materials for knife handles. Oak is stable, stunning looking, durable, and most importantly it is pretty much easy to carve as well.

    Oak is a type of wood that not only satisfies the user because of its great physical properties but also because of its gorgeous look. Oak knife handles can and a new look for your knife collection as well.

    I think you have seen some knives which are available on the market that have beautiful artwork, designs or inscriptions on their handles, it was mostly made of oak wood.

    Who doesn’t want to get the performance and aesthetic look both at once?

    oak wood is durable and fungi resistant material

    Most importantly, at least when it comes to wood, Oak is significantly cheap as well.

    The light brown color of oak is pretty much perfect for making a knife handle, especially for the kitchen and other indoor stuff.

    Because of the above great qualities, oak has become the best option you can go for under knife handles.

    Why oak is the Best Wood for Knife Handles?

    Because of many great qualities, oak wood has become the first choice for most people for making knife handles.

    Given below some pros and cons of oak wood over other wood types which make it useful for making knife handles.

    Pros of Oakwood for Knife handleCons of Oakwood for knife handle
    Visually appealing – Beautiful aesthetic lookThe knife holder should dry because Raw oak has tannins which can cause rusting easily.
    StableStraight gain sometimes not much figure when it comes to knife scale.
    Harder and durable and toughFairly brittle – this is why oak is not recommended for hammer handles.
    Resistance for scratches and dents (Important property for knife handle) 
    Effortless to work with 
    Resilient composition 
    Withstand heavy use with ease 
    Differences between Red oak and White oak in  making knife handles

    Even though have some sort of disadvantages of using oak wood, the advantages you’ll get by using oak for knife handle are pretty much higher than any other wood.

    Red Oak and White Oak for Knife Handles

    There are around 10 types of oak wood available in the market which uses for different indoor and outdoor applications.

    The most common oak wood that we use in our day to day lives are

    1. Red Oak and
    2. White Oak

    When it comes to the qualities, the above two oak wood types different applications including knife handles and scales.

    Best woods for knife handles

    The below table will help you to figure out which type of oak wood is good to go with knife handles.

    FeaturesRed OakWhite Oak
    ColorReddish and lighter in colorDarker in color
    GrainStronger and DramaticModerate smoother grain
    Water resistanceHigh water resistanceHighest water resistance
    CostLess ExpensiveExpensive than red oak

    From the above table, we can see there is no massive difference between red and white oak when it comes to properties rather than their colors.

    Choosing the right oak type for your knife handle is something you have to follow your instincts.

    Because both red and white oak is great options and readily available on market as well.

    benefits of oakwood

    Why Read Oak is good for Knife Handles?

    As I discussed above, oak is the best option for knife handles.

    According to my personal preferences after working with so many woodworking projects over the years, I prefer to use red oak than white oak for making knife handles, especially because of its look and high resistivity.

    When it comes to the grain factor, Red Oak has the ability to hide dents and scratches easily than white oak because of its stronger and dramatic properties.

    This is pretty much useful to know because the knife handle is continuously affected by scratches and dents.

    Best finishes for Oak knife handles

    Best Finish for Oak Knife Handles

    Finishing the oak knife handle is something that depends on your personal preferences.

    If you love to keep the simplicity and aesthetic look of oak wood as I do, boiled linseed oil with polyurethane wipe is the best finish for you.

    First of all, apply a sufficient amount of boiled linseed oil on top of the oak wood surface and keep it until the absorbance is done.

    After that reapply the oil and keep drying. While the oil is drying, it will penetrate to the pores of the wood and make the surface hard.

    finish oakwood knife handles with linseed oil

    Make sure to wipe the places that deposited the oil too much. Keep the project around 6-7 days until the drying is completely done.

    Apply around three coats to make the process complete.

    Apart from linseed oil, you can continue the same procedure with danish or with tru oil as well.

    According to my experience, this method is more effective than brushing with thinned poly method because this can prevent dust problems and brush strokes.

     Apart from using linseed oil, shellac is also a good finisher for the oak knife handle.

    Here applies the oil stain by shellac coat and keep until the stain is sealed. Then blemishes are filled with grain filler paste and finally apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane.

    Oakwood knife handle

    Like I mentioned above, finishing is totally up to you which makes your final output as you wish.

    As summary, use the following oils to finish oak knife handles.

    Best Alternative Wood for Knife Handles

    In a case where, the oak wood isn’t available or, you don’t like to use oak because of its rust issue, I highly suggest you use one from the following wood, which has great qualities that are also pretty much useful in making of knife handle for different applications.

    Wood TypesQualities useful to make a Knife handle
    RosewoodCost-effective like oak. Golden brown to deep purple color add a luxurious look. Has sturdy composition. Resistance to contaminants.
    Ebony woodStrong, Durable, Tough Almost black in color can add nice appeal to the knife handle. Resistance to termites.
    CocoboloTough Resilience for wet and dry conditions Available in orange, yellow, red, purple, brown, black colors
    BocoteComfortable to handle Yellowish dark brown look Durable Beautiful appearance
    Olive woodLight yellow color Moderately durable Not very expensive

    Above wood also do a great job for knife handling, but my opinion is to always go for the best Oakwood for knife handles.

    How to maintain Oak wood knife handles

    How to Maintain Oak Wood Knife Handles

    If your knife handle is made out of oak wood. Follow the following guidelines for a last long wood knife handle.

    1. Don’t put the knife to the dishwasher

    Even the oak wood has great water resistance, putting the knife to the dishwasher can do a lot of harm because of moisture. The handle will tend to rust easily and damage the surface.

    2. Apply oil on top of the oakwood handle

    To maintain the finish continuously, make sure to apply linseed oil, tru oil, or tung oil once a year on the oakwood surface. This will cover up the pores and keep the knife healthy.

    3. Wash and dry after use

    We use the knife to cut various things in our day-to-day life. Within those materials, there can be some chemicals that can be harmful to the oakwood handle.

    So, I highly advise you to each and dry the whole knife with clean water after each usage.

    red oak hide dents better than white oak

    By following the above steps, you can increase the lifetime of your knife handle more than enough.

    Now you know how good Oak is to use for knife handles and what benefits you’ll gain..

    Is Oak Good for Sword Handles?

    Yes, Oak is good for sword handles since it is hard and durable. It is stable and easy to work with.

    But Oak has a lot of tannins. Plus, it produces acids that can form rust on the tang. Therefore sand and finish oak sword handle after making for long-term use with no discoloration.

    What wood is best for knife handles?

    Oak, Walnut, Poplar, Rosewood, Ebony, and Bocote are the best woods for knife handles. Generally, all the hardwoods with strength are good for knife handles.

    Each wood has unique characteristic features that are useful when making knife handles. But the most important ones are wood strength, density, and hardness.

    Does oak get harder with age?

    No, Oak does not get harder with age, it gets weaker with age due to the reduction of bonding strength between wood fibers as the wood ages.

    But oakwood joists may improve its strength upon aging. Plus, you can make oakwood harder by combining oakwood with harder wood when making woodworking projects with it.

    Oakwood sword

    What are the disadvantages of oak?

    Disadvantages of oak wood are,

    • High tannin content – can affect due to weather elements
    • Heaviness – difficult to handle the wood and working with tools is hard
    • Expensive wood – due to high hardness and durability
    • Darkens over time

    Is a wood handle good for a knife?

    Yes, wood handles are the best materials for knife handles. Wood handles are hard, durable, strong, easy to use, and more attractive than metal or aluminum handles.

    So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.


    How do Red Oak and White Oak differ as materials for knife handles?

    While both are popular choices, Red Oak is redder and boasts a dramatic grain pattern, while White Oak has a smoother grain and darker hue. The choice between them often boils down to individual aesthetic preferences.

    Why might someone prefer Red Oak over White Oak for knife handles?

    Red Oak’s pronounced grain pattern effectively hides dents and scratches that come with regular use, maintaining both its functionality and aesthetic appeal over time.

    What finishes are recommended for oak knife handles?

    For a natural appearance, linseed oil combined with a polyurethane wipe is ideal, but Danish oil, Tru oil, and Tung oil are also viable alternatives.

    Are wooden handles, including oak, superior to metal or aluminum ones?

    Wooden handles offer a unique aesthetic appeal and warmth to touch, making them a favorite among knife enthusiasts, though the choice between wood and metal often depends on personal preferences and intended use.

    Does oak become harder as it ages?

    Contrary to popular belief, Oak doesn’t get harder over time; its strength might even decrease due to the weakening of wood fiber bonds.

    Did I cover Everything you wanted to know about: Is Oak Good for Knife Handles?

    In this article, I have deeply discussed, Is oak good for knife handles, how it’s the best option. How oak wood differs from other wood types makes it more friendly to use for a knife handle.

    Oak is perfect for knife handles. it is so much easy to carve. The stability, durability is also higher than most wood. Its beautiful aesthetic look makes it a very common choice when it comes to knife handles making.

    What difference between red oak and white oak and which one is more suitable for the task, and what are the alternative wood types we can use for knife handling apart from oak.

    Remember, whatever the wood you use to make knife handles, always make sure to clean and maintain it properly to get the best results that you wish.

    Hope this article gave you proper knowledge about how oak wood can be helpful when making knife handles with its great qualities.

    Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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