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Cracks on my butterscotch

I'm wanting to restore this handle bust has cracks around the top. I'm afraid that they will become worse if I attempt to remove the knot. What's my best option. Thanks.
Btw I don't know why pics are sideways.


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Oh and the cracks in the first pic are deeper than they look in the pic. Kinda just look like scratches but actually are pretty deep.
Two options (or three), You could leave them as is and call it character, you could stablize them with epoxy or you could ream it out with a dremel sanding drum to take a larger size knot.
That's a nice looking handle, and I hope you're able to save it. I agree with duderubble on your available options. If it were my brush, I'd first remove the existing knot as carefully as possible to avoid stressing those cracks, and once the knot is out decide how to best proceed in stabilizing the cracks, leaving them be or opening up the socket. A caveat: The handle might break no matter how carefully you work in removing the knot, and I would not recommend using steam (or heat) in the process.

There are several mechanical methods to remove old knots, and in this case I'd go slow, drilling several small holes through the knot, starting from the center and working outward. In other words, to minimize stress on the cracks, break up the knot so that the center portion can be removed first. I don't know if what I've attempted to describe in the prior two sentences is at all intelligible, but the point I'm attempting to get across is to be as careful as you can in removing the old knot. With the knot removed, you'll be in a much better position to decide your next steps. Good luck!
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