Since the few years I have been collecting kitchen knives I find that its fun to do some maintenance on my knife handles.
I was back on Chowhound recommended to start out with the tried and true, easy option of soaking mineral oil for my knife handles to protect them. This was mainly for my J-knife wa handles, since to that point in time I essentially only had plastic handled kitchen knives. I also added a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil then to compound the protection and make it a bit more lasting and to provide a nice sheen + some grip. It made the handles look great and the re-application was ezpz, though the results not so lasting.
Then a bit later after the Japanese knives I bought some CCK Chinese cleavers and old stock K-Sabatiers. Many of these came with a bit less than refined handles lets say, most of them needed sanding for starters to become nice.
I wanted to try something else for them, so I started looking into curing finishes for more lasting protection. I noticed Tru-oil gun stock finish from kitchenknifeforums as well as pure tung oil which is also called China wood oil. I tried both, the Tru-oil cures much quicker and can produce a quite beautiful finish, but it feels a bit more plasticky compared to the pure tung oil. I have little doubt the Tru-Oil protects better though.
Based on the results I continued applying the pure tung then. I find it gives my handles a beautiful grain pop and a satin sheen that lasts longer and protects better versus mineral oil. I think it should protect better against staining also on lighter colored wood, but the curing time is kind of slow.
Now I am thinking what I should put on some of my new handles. I have some more old stock Sabatiers that I already gave one coat of pure tung, but could add something else on top perhaps still. I also have a small batch of new production olive wood handled K-Sabs that I haven’t touched yet, but I feel I want to put something on them, even if some people seem to say olive wood can do without also. They also need a bit of sanding, though not like the old stock ones.
I noticed (again) on kitchenknifeforums a guy doing his handles with a 50/50 mixture of shellac and pure tung. That, as mixture don’t appear so widely used on the webs, but it seems like a very tempting option to try out for me, but I’m tempted to use the Tru-oil also again, maybe polyurethane even. I also see people using superglue (cyanoacrylate, CA)!
So how do you like finishing yours, maybe you are a pro even?? Tempted to try something else than you have been using so far, or maybe you don’t bother and just let those build that nice used look, patinated with pork belly, sweat and all that?