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What are pocket knife handles made of?

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pocket knife, pocket knife handle, handle types, types of handle, Pocket knife handles are usually made of metal, plastic or wood. This page looks at these materials in a little more detail to help you decide which handle might be best for you.

Metal handles

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Carbon steel

The type of metal most commonly used in hand tools like pocket knives is carbon steel – a type of steel alloy which contains a percentage of carbon.

pocket knife, pocket knife handle, handle types, types of handle, In carbon steels, the main alloying element is carbon. An ‘alloy’ refers to a metal created by mixing elements; ‘alloying’. Carbon steel is harder and stronger than most steels which don’t contain carbon.
pocket knife, pocket knife handle, handle types, types of handle, A carbon steel handle usually indicates that a tool is designed to last, but don’t assume a steel handle is better than the rest – steel rusts and corrodes when exposed to the elements, so a pocket knife with a steel handle will require more care and better storage.
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Aluminium

Most metal pocket knife handles are manufactured from aluminium, which is cheaper, lighter, and has a greater resistance to rust and corrosion than steel.

aluminium, sheet metal, metal, alu metal, aluminium tools, When introduced to the atmosphere, aluminium’s reaction to oxygen creates a thin layer across the entire surface of the metal, known as aluminium oxide. This layer acts as a protective coating, providing resistance to rust and most other forms of corrosion.
aluminium, sheet metal, metal, alu metal, aluminium tools, Many users prefer aluminium-based tools because of their lightness – the lighter the tool, the lower the likelihood that you will experience aches and pains after use!
aluminium, sheet metal, metal, alu metal, aluminium tools, It is worth noting, however, that aluminium handles are more likely to dent, scratch, or even bend, than steel handles.

Plastic

plastic handle, plastic tool handle, pocket knife, pocket knife handle, The most popular type of pocket knife handle is plastic. While the exact type of plastic used is not specified, most plastic tool handles are made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene).
plastic handle, plastic tool handle, pocket knife, pocket knife handle, Some handles will also feature soft or comfort grip sections, designed to make the knife handle more comfortable in the hand. These are usually made of thermoplastic rubber.
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ABS

ABS is a very common type of thermoplastic, used in a range of tool handles and other applications. Though lighter than most metals, it is more resistant to bending and scratching.

lego, lego bricks, abs plastic, lego pieces, In fact, ABS is the plastic that Lego bricks are made of!
tool handles, handles, tools, plastic handles, plastic tool handles, This type of plastic is durable and easily moulded to a desired shape during production, making it the ideal choice for moulded tool handles.
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Thermoplastic rubber

Where incorporated, the soft, rubber grip which the user holds is manufactured from thermoplastic rubber (also called ‘thermoplastic elastomer’).

thermoplastics, rubber, elastic, grip, This type of rubberised grip is extremely popular for use on tool handles due to its elastic qualities, which mean that it can be comfortably squeezed and squashed in the hand, and return immediately to its original shape once released.
squeezing tool handles, squeezing handles, tool handles, swaging tool, This makes it possible for a user to squeeze the handle of a tool hard, without the handle digging painfully into the hand, and without any lasting effect on the shape of the handle.

Wood

squeezing tool handles, squeezing handles, tool handles, swaging tool, Where a pocket knife incorporates a wooden handle, this is usually for aesthetic purposes; pocket knives with wooden handles are considered more attractive and traditional.
squeezing tool handles, squeezing handles, tool handles, swaging tool, Moreover, wooden handles are cheaper and easier to engrave with attractive designs and logos, and may be stained with a range of varnished finishes.
squeezing tool handles, squeezing handles, tool handles, swaging tool, Because even varnished and treated wood decays and wears over time, wooden pocket knife handles are the least durable.

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