View Full Version : How do I revive old bone grips?

March 31, 2002, 02:05 PM
Any tips on method or product(s) to use when reviving 60+ yr old bone grips that are not cracked (yet) but looking mighty dry! Thanks in advance!

4V50 Gary
March 31, 2002, 03:03 PM
I'll confirm with those who are more knowledgeable than myself but I would think for cleaning use distilled water (or bottled water that is sodium free) and scrub lightly with a soft bristle tooth brush. A wax coating should probably be applied, but not all waxes are equal and I'll make an effort to find out what's suitable.

Keep out of sunlight (avoid cracking) and maintain in an environment with constant temperature and humidity.

March 31, 2002, 05:58 PM
A friend of mine that is a professional knifemaker soaks his handles in mineral oil before he works them. Try it. It seems to work well for him. He does" Fossil" Ivory the same way. Somehow it soaks in and prevents them from drying out and cracking.

April 2, 2002, 12:48 PM

April 2, 2002, 02:46 PM
Aging is a organic process and you risk diminishing the natural luster of the bone. My Italian friends at the Flea Market rub garlic on their bone handles.

4V50 Gary
April 4, 2002, 01:02 PM
Spoke w/a conservator who recommends dry brushing (old toothbrush) to clean. No preservatives or oils should be applied.

April 6, 2002, 09:45 AM
Wish you guys would make up your minds. My bones await the magic elixor.


April 6, 2002, 04:56 PM
"Spoke w/a conservator who recommends dry brushing (old toothbrush) to clean. No preservatives or oils should be applied."

I can see that for cleaning, but just how is brushing them with a toothbrush suppose to prevent them from drying out and cracking?

The "fossil" ivory that he uses is picked up from the artic by a guy that looks for wooly mammoths that he finds frozen in the ice by using sonar. I may be wrong, but I think its the only ivory you can legally bring into the US and you have to jump through hoops to do it. Its got to have certificates that are transeferred to the owner of the knife just to be legal. These arent cheap knives. They usally cost 3000-5000 thousand a piece. Just the scales alone on these knives cost in the nieghborhood of 500-600 bucks for a set.

He's been having great luck with the mineral oil and just submerses the scales in them until he is ready to use them. He's been doing this for years and have yet to have any come back for cracks.

Is there a scientific reason not to use mineral oil on bone or ivory?

I suppose there is enough difference in bone and ivory but I beleive he does it for both. So far so good. If he's is screwing up, he wants to know how.

Hey CR Sam....try some WD-40 on those old bones of yours. It works wonders for arthritis...

April 6, 2002, 09:09 PM
Just a stab at it...

It seems to me that cracking would occur when the moisture content diminishes to a critical point. The first suggestion, on the face of it, is a good one ...distilled water rinse to clean and replenish moisture content and an inorganic wax to seal in the moisture (like paraffin)

Mineral oil is also inorganic and will not oxidize (organic oils and waxes like carnauba will yellow.) If a professional knife maker recommends that method, that's what I'd use.

Jim V
April 6, 2002, 11:01 PM
Perhaps the folks at www.boonetrading.com or www.eaglegrips.com or www.nutmegsports.com could tell you. Boone has many items made of ivory, bone, and fossil ivory. Eagle Grips did import stag for stocks. Nutmeg has ivory stocks. All the above are organic and need care. I would think one of them would know what to use.

Check Boone's site for information on the importation of ivory, new and fossil.

4V50 Gary
April 6, 2002, 11:39 PM
Dry brushing w/toothbrush won't prevent cracking. Humdity and temperature control will. If the temperature rises or drops too fast, expansion and contraction takes place. Humdity variance can also induce cracking. As I was told, keep it steady.