Best Wood for Knife Handle Any Baldesmith Should Use

best wood for knife handle

Knives are weapons, tools, and cooking utensils. They have been around for centuries, with many different materials used to create the handle. Wood is the most common material for knife handles because it is sturdy, durable, and easy to shape. In addition, it is an organic material, so it will age beautifully over time. Let us discover the best wood for knife handle material.

What Makes Wooden Knife Handles Good?

Are you contemplating making a new knife? You need to pay attention to the handle for the knife's usability and your safety. So, what makes a wooden knife handle material so good? Here are a few reasons wood is the best option.

  1. It is a natural material that you can get easily. When making your custom knives, wood is the best material you can get easily and affordably. There are high chances you can find an unused block of wood lying around that you can customize.
  2. Wood is eco-friendly. When manufacturing knife handles, it is best to use natural materials such as wood that you can later dispose of, knowing they can decompose and benefit the soil or be renewed to make other products. So, using wood is significant to play your part in a greener planet.
  3. Wood is comfortable. Think of the times you will use your knife in different temperatures and on different materials. The best knife handles make gripping easier whether your fingers are cold or palms sweaty, regardless of what you'll be cutting.
  4. Wood is attractive. This handle material has a unique classy, beautiful, and timeless appeal. In addition, you can finish your custom handles with different colors or shapes.
  5. Wood is durable. While the finish sometimes dictates longevity, it is easy to find durable woods that stand the test of time to give you the best service.
  6. There are many kinds of wood to choose from. As one of the best natural resources, you can find woods with different grains and colors for a truly beautiful knife.

What is the best wood for knife handle?

Here are some of the best woods you can use for a knife handle.

1. Walnut: Woodchucks Black Walnut Wood Scales

Black Walnut Wood Knife Scales Knife Handle (Pair), Knifemaking
  • 1 set of BOOKMATCHED Black Walnut knife scales
  • Great as gun grips too
  • Each scale is 3/8" thick, 1.5" wide, and 5" long.....or larger

Walnut is one of the best woods used in most woodwork, from wooden knife handles, furniture, gun grips, and more. Walnut has very attractive markings which will add character to your knife handle. While this hardwood is so commonly used, it is best to make handles on knives you do not frequently use since it can deteriorate much faster than other woods. So, you can get walnut handles for weapon knives, tool knives, ornamental knives, and some hunting knives.

You can buy the book-matched Woodchucks Black Walnut Wood to make your custom knife handles if you are a woodworker. The wood is ready to use as it comes already kiln-dried. Also, since it is sustainably sourced, it is good for the environment as it can decompose or be renewed for other uses.

2. Oak wood: WoodBogOak blank

Oak is an excellent choice if you're looking for wood that will age well. It is strong and durable, so it can withstand the wear and tear of regular use. The grain of oak has a medium to coarse texture, so it's not too rough or too smooth in your hand. Oak is also available in various colors, including red, white, black, pink, golden brown, and yellow. If buying a ready knife, it is common to find it affordable and, in most cases, with crafted artworks since the wood is easy to inscribe. Oak wood knife handles are great for regular-use knives such as kitchen knives.

The WoodBogOak blank is your ideal wood when looking to make your most-premium knife handles. Bog oak usually comes in a dark grey color after many years, if not centuries, submerged in a bog or swamp. The result is discolored hardwood that is easy to process. In addition, the bog oak wood does not require stabilization.

3. Cherry wood: White Woods cherry knife scales

Black Cherry Knife Scales - 3/8"x1.5x5" - 2 Pack
  • Solid Black Cherry Knife Scales
  • Contains a set of two scales, each measuring 3/8"x1.5"x5"
  • Great for Knife Handles, Pistol Grips, and other small woodworking projects

Cherry wood is ideal when you want to make the most beautiful knife handles. The natural wooden material is highly-decorative, has a medium weight, and yet, high hardness and great elasticity to make durable handles on regular use knives. You can use cherry wood on kitchen knives, ornamental knives, hunting knives, and more custom knives. Cherry can be found in many different colors, from tan to deep brown. This type of wood usually has a wavy grain that adds character when finished off nicely with oils or lacquer.

The White Woods cherry knife scales are durable, easy to work with, and easy to decorate. The two scales measure 3/8"x1.5"x5" and are kiln-dried, hence ready to use. While you can use them to make the best knife handles, these scales are great for gun grips and other small woodwork projects.

4. Birch wood: USA Knifemaker Dymalux resin-infused birch wood knife scales

Dymalux- Resin-Infused Birch Laminate Wood Scales-Knife Handle Scales (1/4"x1.5"x5", Walnut)
  • DymaLux is a resin-infused Birch laminate composed of Grade A Birch veneers that are dyed into...
  • An extremely dense, rock hard, water & heat resistant material that finishes beautifully with a...
  • Common uses for DymaLux include pistol and bow grips, knife handles, game calls, and billiard...

Birch wood is a hardwood derived from the deciduous Birch trees. The best birchwood for knife handles is derived from yellow and white birch trees. It comes with a straight grain pattern and a fine texture, giving you the best grip for kitchen knives.

The USA Knifemaker Dymalux resin-infused birch wood knife scales come in two sizes and are dyed to come in stunning colors for your beautiful knives. The birchwood used is heat-resistant and water-resistant, which will make your knives ideal for regular use. Apart from knives, you can also use this stabilized wood to make gun grips, billiards, and more. According to the manufacturer, you will need to use gloves when handling the wood.

5. Desert ironwood: Texas Knifemakers Supply desert ironwood

Texas Knifemakers Supply Desert Ironwood Knife Handle Scales (Each Pair is Unique) 5" x 1-1/2" x...
  • NOTE: This photo is a representative example that has been sanded to give you an idea what the wood...
  • Highly chatoyant wood featuring wild swirls and grain patterns, varying from very dark black to...
  • Desert Ironwood has a Janka Hardness rating of 2299 lb(f)

The desert ironwood is another wood that can make handles for knives you don't regularly use, especially in cold seasons. Derived from the desert ironwood trees native to the US and Mexico, this hardwood, while strong, does not perform very well in cold temperatures. In addition, there is a small population of trees which means only fallen trees can be used in manufacturing knife handles. The wood is often very hard and tough to process, so it is sometimes best to use stabilized wood for knife handles.

The Texas Knifemakers Supply desert ironwood comes with a Janka hardness rating of 2299 lb(f), and you get a pair of book-matched scales. Each scale measures 5" x 1-1/2" x 3/8", and you will need to use a sealer to close the wood's pores for the best color.

6. Indian rosewood: Global Woods

Dark brown colorings and patterns characterize this Asian species of rosewood. It is a hard and dense wood that makes the best knife handles. However, this durable wood is not easy to work with as it requires careful drying before crafting. Therefore, it is often best to get stabilized wood with the finest texture on the wood surface for knife handles, gun grips, pepper mills, musical instruments, and other types of furniture.

The Global Woods Indian rosewood comes in brown color, and you can choose either of two available size choices. The exotic wood blank is air-dried, and paraffin waxed, hence the stripy figure pattern that will look good on your knife.

7. Olive wood: Texas Knifemakers Supply Olive wood blanks

Olive Wood Knife Handle Scales (Each Pair is Unique) 5" x 1-1/2" x 3/8"
  • NOTE: This photo is a representative example that has been sanded to give you an idea what the wood...
  • Diverse patterns of darker tan against a lighter yellow/golden background, somtimes figured with...
  • Olive has a Janka Hardness rating of 1600 lb(f)

Olive wood for knife handles is aesthetically appealing as it sports a light yellow to light brown color shade. As the wood ages, it can develop darker hues, including black streaks, making it one of the best woods for knife handles. While this moderately-durable wood can last many years with consistent oiling, it is also insect-resistant and easy to work with.

The Texas Knifemakers Supply olive wood has a beautiful curly and wavy grain with a golden yellow background. It has a hardness rating of 1600 lb(f), and you get a pair of two 5" x 1-1/2" x 3/8" knife handle scales.

Best Wood for Knife Handle: Softwoods, Exotic Woods, Stabilized Woods, and Hardwoods

If you are a knife smith looking for wooden knife scales, you need to understand the different woods available and how each can make a good knife handle. Let us discover four main categories of woods you can consider.

  1. Softwoods are a type of lightweight wood that is quite sensitive to moisture and heat. The woods are obtained from coniferous trees, which are evergreen with needles and cones. Softwoods have a more delicate appearance with a straight grain and fine texture. The woods can make wooden handles and furniture where you are not worried about strength and durability. The best softwoods for knife handles are the Douglas fir, pine, and cedarwood.
  2. Exotic woods. The wood here is obtained from trees grown outside of the country. As such, the wood is rare and expensive and comes with unique characteristics. Firstly, the wood has unique colors and patterns, while the trees tend to grow super tall, thus eliminating knots and defects common in some domestic trees such as maple and walnut. Some of the best exotic wood for knife handles include African blackwood, Pink ivory, sandalwood, Ebony wood, and more.
  3. Stabilized wood. In the case of softwoods, stabilization is done where you impregnate the wood with resin to harden it and thus, make it more durable. Before stabilization, the woods are more porous, weak, and have plain patterns that would make basic knife handles.
  4. Hardwoods. These are woods obtained from deciduous trees. These strong trees boast wide leaves and bear flowers, but they lose the leaves during winter and colder seasons. Hardwoods are a popular option for knife handles because they have a more natural look with knots and veins.

Features to Consider While Choosing the Best Wood for Knife Handle

When looking for woods for your knife handle, here are the best characteristics o the various types of woods in the market that you need to look for.

a) Durability

Different woods require different finishes and maintenance routines to prevent breaking, cracking, or rotting. So, as you choose your wood for knife handle, make sure your wood is strong. Hardwoods are usually the best options, but where you can't find the best hardwood, you can look for stabilized softwoods that will require less maintenance and that allow you to use the knife as regularly as you need.

In terms of maintenance, a wooden knife handle may require regular oiling if you notice it drying out with time.

b) Comfortable grip

When choosing the wood, ensure you can easily craft it to provide the necessary grip you need for safety. Wood for knife handles has a soft texture but is not slippery. In addition, it needs to be grippy even when you use it with wet hands. Luckily, wood is a natural resource that guarantees a fine grip in various temperatures as long as it is well treated.

A wood that is easy to work with is also ideal, so you can design the best finger grooves to guarantee good grip in different conditions.

c) Aesthetics

When choosing wood species, consider the natural patterns and colors of the wood so you can make beautiful wooden handles. Different natural woods come with a vast color range from light brown to dark purples and black colors. The patterns can also vary from soft grain lines to black stripes that make the handle look good. It is also wise to get wood that you can easily customize into different shapes so different types of knives.


Choosing the best wood for knife handle is important. There are several options to choose from, each with its properties that will affect your end product. Wooden handles are grippy, durable, and aesthetically appealing. In addition, when sourced sustainably, the natural material is very good for the planet. Our seven kinds of wood for knife handles will not disappoint your craft as they will be easy to work with to design them into any shape or size.

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