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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bois d'arc - makes for beautiful knives.

click to enlarge
One of the key design elements in any knife is the handle.

Not only must it be strong ( and functional) but beautiful as well. A client of mine brought me a stack of Boise de Arc (bow wood) which I value for it's unique yellow - golden prong color contrasting brown rings. The heavy, close-grained yellow-orange wood is very dense and is also prized for tool handles, treenails, fence posts, and other tools requiring a strong dimensionally stable wood that withstands rot.

Straight-grained osage timber (most is knotty and twisted) was prized by Southern Native American tribes for it's excellent use in bows. The trees acquired the name bois d'arc, or "bow-wood", from early French settlers who observed the wood being used for war clubs and bow-making by Native Americans.

Meriwether Lewis was told that the people of the Osage Nation "esteem the wood of this tree for the making of their bows, that they travel many hundred miles in quest of it." Many modern bowyers assert the wood of the Osage orange is superior even to English Yew. In Arkansas, in the early 19th century, a good Boise de Arc bow was worth a horse and a blanket.

I'm currently using it for the wood of choice in a series of handles for some custom "Hog Hunters" I'm working on - but first the wood has to dry out completely. Looking at the rings - it should make for some beautiful knives.


Shawn Rademan said...

Proud to see the work you have done, I am from Cape Town South Africa