Knife Grading Explained

This short guide outlines the difference between the various grades of wood I offer in my tools.
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Snakewood

Snakewood is often sourced from South America and is probably one of the most stunning woods out there. However it comes at a price. Not only is it incredibly difficult to source, but much of the log is unusable due to large voids and splits that are commonly found throughout the material. As a result, yield is often very low from this already rare and expensive material.

Premium

Depending on the quality of the log I source my blanks from, only 0-5% will qualify for ‘Premium Grade. Handles of this grade must include heavy, tight and uniform figure over the entire handle with high contrast between the lights and darks. It must also be completely free of defects

A-Grade

A-Grade Snakewood handles must be figured over the entire handle, or have heavy figure akin to Premium Snakewood on one face (ideally the face with the thumb hold and grub screw.) This grade frequently includes handles that were almost Premium Grade but didn't quite meet the mark.

B-Grade

B-Grade Snakewood handles include small amounts of figure, but not enough to match the criteria of A-Grade Snakewood. Again, this grade frequently includes handles that were almost A-Grade but were downgraded for the avoidance of doubt. Handles that are unfigured are sold as B-Stock.

Masur Birch

Masur Birch is not a species of Birch, but is actually a pattern that is occasionally found within Birch. You can find out more about this incredible material here. Unfortunately for me, when this material is turned down to such thin sections, short grain and instability can begin to cause issues. To combat this, all of my Masur Birch handles are impregnated and stabilised with resin (sometimes coloured resin) which minimises movement and helps add structure to the handles. It also seems to increase the depth in the figure too!

Premium

Premium grade Masur Birch must include heavy figure on all faces made up of clusters of brown swirls and curliness from the wild grain patterning.

A-Grade

A-Grade Masur Birch must include heavy figuring on most of the faces, and will include both/either clusters of brown swirls and wild grain patterning.

B-Grade

B-Grade Masur Birch includes anything that didn't match the criteria of A-Grade. Unfigured Masur Birch is sold as ‘Birch' in the general stock list.

Curly Woods

Highly figured woods such as Curly Maple vary from board to board, or even across individual boards themselves. So as a result, I grade them based on their quality. If however I come across a wood that is not commonly figured, such as African Blackwood, this will be sold in the Specials section for it's rarity.

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Premium

Premium grade curly woods must include heavy and uniform figure on all faces of the knife with high depth and contrast in the rippling. I often source this stock from suppliers of luthier grade materials, which as far as figure goes is pretty hard to top!

A-Grade

A-Grade curly woods include heavy figuring on all faces, but lack either the depth, uniformity or contrast of premium grade handles. Handles of this grade may also include light discolouration from time to time, but nothing too serious.

B-Grade

B-Grade curly handles include small amounts of figure, but not enough to match the criteria of A-Grade. These handles often have light and/or uneven figure throughout, but are still figured enough to be classed as ‘curly'.

Specials

If a handle stands out as unusual or rare, I will class it as a ‘Special' and place a small surcharge on the price. Below you'll find some of the common characteristics found in these handles.

Figured

There are some woods out there that are commonly figured such as Curly Maple for example. However the majority do not. Therefore if I come across a wood that is not commonly figured, it will be classed as a special.

Sappy

When I cut blanks from a solid board, some of them are cut directly along the sapwood creating this stunning constrast between the light and dark wood. If I deem it ‘cool' enough, it will be classed as a special.

Other Random Words

If a knife just happens to look really cool because of a certain colour or grain pattern that naturally occurs but I don't have the specific vernacular to describe it, I'll just make up some words that I feel best describes it as unique from the rest.

B-Stock

Occasionally I screw up, or a piece of wood is not all it seems to be. But instead of discarding it, I sell it as B-Stock to prevent wastage and to make the hit on peoples wallets slightly less severe. The majorty of these defects are very minor cosmetic flaws and are nothing to worry about. I just can't bring myself to sell them full price. Below are common defects you may find in the B-Stock section.

Damaged Handle

Sometimes I'll get a catch, or a defect will present itself when turning the handle and is something I cannot remove with sandpaper.

Damaged Ferrule

Small dents or defects that may appear on the ferrule for varying reasons. Often caused by my clumsiness when handling the knives.

Short Handle

Sometimes I shorten a handle by 10mm or so to cut out a defect. This doesn't affect the knife at all, other than how it fits in the foam within the box.

Tight Slot

Due to minor misalignments, the blade can sometimes be tighter than I'd hoped. But are still perfectly usable and have been tested before dispatch.

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