cracked walnut saw handle

I've an old saw (over 50 yrs) that has cracks in the handle running parallel with the grain- as if it became real dry maybe. I was thinking of soaking it in linseed oil- any ideas?
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On Tue, 4 Mar 2008 18:38:31 -0800 (PST), adsum

Howdy,
I would suggest that you not do it...
If you do, it will make other approaches to a repair close to impossible particularly if you might want to glue it in some way.
That said, are the cracks such that with proper clamping they could be brought back together? (Don't worry about methods of clamping it just yet.)
All the best,
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Kenneth

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On Tue, 4 Mar 2008 18:38:31 -0800 (PST), adsum

Hi again,
I will mention something else...
I recently purchased a very fine cooking knife from Japan.
When it arrived, I soon saw that the handle had a small chunk missing, and the missing piece was nowhere in the packing material.
Of course, I first thought that I would just contact the seller, and get another that was undamaged, but then, I came up with another solution:
I went to my shop, found a piece of hardwood of a color similar to the handle of the knife, sanded it to generate a small pile of dust, and then mixed that with some epoxy until I had a paste texture.
I pushed that material into the space, allowed it to cure, and sanded it off.
That was perhaps a month ago and I can no longer find the original damage.
All the best,
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Kenneth

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The cracks are as much as 1/4" in width- so an option is to fill them but good luck matching the wood/grain structure I think. Maybe I'll remove it (it is a working saw) & install a 'working' handle...thanks
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I collect and restore old tools and have had some success repairing cracks in handles by gluing and clamping. A 1/4" crack is pretty major and when you clamp it, more cracks are likely to appear. The trick is to re-moisturize the wood. But you can't just drown it in a bucket of water.
I've used various methods to steam the wood to increase moisture content, rendering the fibers more pliable before clamping. One technique involved boiling a large pot of water on the BBQ with the handle suspended just inside the pot but above the waterline, using a grid I made with coat hangers. I covered the pot with aluminum foil with a small opening to vent the steam. The covering doesn't really elevate the pressure inside the pot but it concentrates the steam from escaping too fast into the atmosphere. You'll need to steam the handle for at least a few hours. A light coating of vaseline on the handle can help to protect whatever original finish still remains on the wood.
After you've cooked it for awhile, set it aside to dry so that excess moisture at the surface of the exposed wood fibers (in the cracked area) can evaporate. Use a good yellow glue (TiteBond) and clamp it up.
Smaller cracks can sometimes be drawn together with a web clamp or an old rubber bicycle tube (or surgical tubing). A crack as big as 1/4" will likely require the pressure of a screw clamp. Trace the handle onto a piece of scrap wood (before you steam it) and cut out the profile in two pieces to use as clamping cauls. The flat areas on the outside edges of the cauls create parallel surfaces for the clamp jaws and the profile on the inside edges of the cauls distribute the clamping pressure uniformly. The cauls also protect the handle from damage by the clamp jaws.
It sounds like a bit of fussing, but it's rewarding if you can successfully restore the old timer. And it's cheap, too.
If you check the pot and find it full of gravy... you boiled it too long! (lol)
Good luck. I hope you try it.
Michael
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Well, if you just want a functional handle, I would consider filling the void with epoxy. I find that it planes/scrapes/sands quite well and the clear "color" blends in for the most part. Use a heat gun, gently, on the wood and the epoxy to reduce the viscosity to get it to flow into the joint.
I recently made a knife handle for a buddy who had old kitchen knife that was falling apart. I had to fill some small voids in the new handle. After filling the voids, I coated the entire handle in epoxy as a "finish". After a 2-day cure and a little wetsanding it was a pretty comfy handle. My goal was create a nice-to-touch surface that would hopefully stand up to the periodic dunking a knife gets in a normal kitchen environment.
I'm not suggesting that this the proper way to build/finish a knife handle. I just tried it and it worked pretty well.

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