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Restoring an old Butcher Knife.

I wasn't sure where to post it, so I put it in the mess hall, and am sharing a link here because i think there might be a lot of carryover. Moderators please remove if you feel inclined. I just wanted to get some advice on a butcher knife i plan on restoring, and thought there may be some gentlemen here who can give some advice :) Thank you much.

Restoring an old Butcher Knife.
that's what i was thinking, my sister has restored several wooden items from black walnut to olive wood. She says mineral oil is easy, food safe, and looking at the items they look incredible :)
Tung oil. Four coats and you have a durable satin finish that's waterproof. I believe it is approved by the FDA for contact with food.

CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21

1st coat: Dilute pure tung oil with 50% turpentine or citrus oil thinner. Wipe it on with a clean cloth. After ten minutes wipe off any excess. After an hour or so, rub with a clean cloth.

2nd coat: Wait for a few days until the finish is dry and hard. Dilute pure tung oil with 25% turpentine. Follow above instructions.

3rd coat: Wait for a few days or a week until finish is hard and dry. Pure tung oil, not diluted. Follow above instructions.

4th coat: Same as third.

When you rub the piece rub it vigorously so that you generate some heat. Excess oil will sort of pool on the surface. Make sure to rub that off or it will get sticky.

The oil will naturally "dry" or polymerize. It will leave you with a beautiful satin finish. If the wood has an attractive grain, you will not be able to improve on a tung oil finish.

You don't have to dilute the tung oil with turpentine. If you do however, it will more easily penetrate deep into the wood. What happens is that the turpentine penetrates the wood taking the oil with it. The turpentine then evaporates leaving the oil behind deeply embedded in the wood. The oil then polymerizes sealing the wood.

It will dry clear but very very very slightly on the "red" side of the spectrum while linseed oil will be ever so slightly on the "yellow" end of the spectrum.

I've no idea why tung oil isn't the go-to choice for sealing restoring wood scales that have an attractive grain.
This project looks like it's going to get back on track, and i'm thinking that i'll use some curly birdseye maple for its scales. The process that I intend on following will be to
1) Cut wood to desired dimensions and approx shape.
2) Ensure all rust is removed and Scales will fit comfortably in hand. Adjust if necessary.
3) Ensure blade is in condition desired and second bevel is clean, finished except sharpening.
4) Epoxy scales, Pin with brass.
5) finish Scales properly, and finish with tung oil.
6) sharpen blade and slaughter water melons.

This is the approximate plan that i have in mind, and I chose maple to help balance the heft of the oversized blade, and because I feel the tung oil will do a great job highlighting grain pattern. It also makes the wood waterproof, and can be a easily refinished in a way that leaves no evidence.

let me know if i'm mistaken, or if anyone has suggestions.


Moderator Emeritus
Dont worry too much about the pitting, unless it bothers you cosmetically. Start with about a 240 grit wet dry sand paper and have at it. Then go to a 600 to remove those scratches, then if you are fussy, a 1000 grit. force a patina with vinegar to reduce future rusting, then hone.

The thing is, you use a butchers cleaver on RAW meat. Even if there is a tiny bit of bacteria in the pits, which is unlikely if you was it properly after use, the meat you are chopping will be cooked later, and that will kill it. You don't go licking raw chicken, but cooked chicken is fine. Same deal. Don't use bleach on carbon steel, it will kill it.

Use the slow cure epoxy on the handle along with pins. The five minute cure stuff is not as strong, and there is a lot of stress on a cleaver handle.