Cocobolo handled Helle Knife

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Project by Tucker Grose posted 03-17-2019 09:26 PM 1011 views 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

For a while I’ve had an interest in owning a Helle knife from Norway. The triple laminated steel sounded like a good idea to me and I liked the shape of their Harding model.
The cost of a finished knife and sheath put me off ($160) so I decided to buy a blade blank ($40)and make my own handle.
Handle is cocobolo and the sheath is Zebrawood and Padauk.
Since I rarely wear a knife on the belt, but carry it in my daypack, a belt loop wasn’t necessary.
I’ve yet to put a finish on it and normally would use sprayed on epoxy finish for cocobolo due to its oily-ness, but since I still have the wood stove going in the shop I didn’t want to spray flammable stuff.
Does anyone have any experience with bees wax or other wax or oil finish on cocobolo? I’m not concerned about the zebrawood as any finish should adhere to that.

-- Tucker - Hazelton, BC, Canada

8 comments so far

View bushmaster's profile


3938 posts in 3024 days

#1 posted 03-18-2019 03:30 AM

Great looking knife handle. I have not used the piece you gave me so I have not experience. You want a built up finish so it will continue to look good as one’s hands are not always that clean when using he knife. I use the Wipe On Poly for most things. You can experiment with mine if you don’t have any.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View Tucker Grose's profile

Tucker Grose

29 posts in 555 days

#2 posted 03-18-2019 04:05 AM

I’ve used polyurethane on a cocobolo bow handle one time and seemed like the stuff never hardened but remained gummy. I eventually scraped and sanded it off. Other bow makers have commented about similar experiences.
This is why I’m curious about using some kind of wax or oil. If I don’t come up with something else I’ll just wait until I spray the next bow with epoxy and give it a squirt too.

-- Tucker - Hazelton, BC, Canada

View HokieKen's profile


13641 posts in 1880 days

#3 posted 03-18-2019 12:22 PM

I have done Cocobolo a couple of ways. One is to put BLO on it until it just quits absorbing it. For a wood that’s naturally oily, it’s surprising how much it will drink in. Second way is to just sand it up pretty fine, buff it out with a cotton wheel then apply a coat of paste wax. This is the easiest way to maintain the natural color. The third way is Tru-Oil gunstock finish. You have to use very thin coats or it will not cure but it’s a great finish and easy to apply.

Excellent choice in blade and excellent work on the handle and sheath!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View knife's profile


72 posts in 4250 days

#4 posted 03-18-2019 03:01 PM

I have used teak oil for several cocobolo handles with good results. Also CA glue has worked well on knife handles. I used it on other woods, but not specifically cocobolo.

-- Chad -- Buffalo, NY

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4839 days

#5 posted 03-18-2019 03:09 PM

Beautiful knife.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View ralbuck's profile


6526 posts in 3008 days

#6 posted 03-18-2019 04:38 PM

A very nice project.
I have a handgun with cocobolo grips; but, I have no idea what the factory used. Heritage Arms from Florida is the manufacturer of the gun and might tell you what finish was used as a customer service thing.

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Tucker Grose's profile

Tucker Grose

29 posts in 555 days

#7 posted 03-18-2019 05:40 PM

Thanks guys for the ideas of:
•boiled linseed oil
• fine sanding and paste wax
• teak oil
• super glue

I have used super glue in the past for small projects like this. It turned out ok, but not that smooth and more sanding required.
I have some Tru-Oil that I used on an all wood Osage bow. It came out nice with a rustic look. I am concerned about it not curing well on cocobolo.
I did a walnut gun stick one time with BLO and I liked it. I’m leaning towards trying this again or just buffing with paste wax.

-- Tucker - Hazelton, BC, Canada

View Jim55's profile


187 posts in 2808 days

#8 posted 03-20-2019 12:08 PM

Nice knife! I have not gotten to play with the really exotic woods like cocobolo, which is one I really like in particular. Besides the handle, I like the whole knife. That’s a fine job of polishing steel too! I just make do with what I can find locally. Here’s one I made from a piece of oak salvage from the fire box with a piece of bone. The blade was made from an old file. Plain in comparison to yours but I think it’s nice enough. I gave this one to one of my sons.

I also haven’t gotten to sample that Norwegian laminated steel but have heard nothing but good about it. I have gotten some blade blanks of Swedish Mora steel, pretty cheap, I have got 6” blade blanks for $15-$20, I like the carbon steel, and it takes, and holds an amazingly sharp edge! The closest I can compare it to is my Dad’s old hunting knife made from an obscure Pennsylvania steel works back in the day. Regrettably, I lost that knife hunting a crab apple thicket. Spent the rest of the day looking for it but, no luck.
I’ve started making knives from these blade blanks to give to my friends.

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