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Last year I posted some pictures of 4 beautiful matching ivory handled Randall knives I had made for my three sons and I. Unfortunately the ivory split, but Randall took them back, repaired them, and returned to me in a matter of weeks.....only a nominal charge to boot. Amazing service for a problem that was not theirs. Before I could give them to the boys, they all split again in different spots. I began to realize I had a problem, and as pretty as these knives were I was giving them to three young men in their 20s for a lifetime of use and this was not going to cut it. About this time a wonderful forum member “cottonfarmer” was telling an amazing story about convicts being used to pull out mesquite tree stumps on their family farm 100 years ago. I sent him a note to see if he’d sell me a chunk, and he did. I asked Gary Randall his advice for regripping and he recommended the young men up at Behring Made Knives In Missoula Montana. I had a 5 minute call with them, and shipped the four knives and the mesquite the next day. I had everything back in 10 days and the work is spectacular. I did not see a way to be pleased with an outcome on this, but two magnificent organizations and a great forum member, gentlemen all, produced a spectacular result for the boys and me.
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.....at first I was taken aback they had made their mark on the butt, but within a minute I was glad they had and it only adds to the uniqueness of this set.
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this is what they looked like originally.....the removal process is destructive to the ivory, but I have all the chunks and pieces if anyone has an idea to repurpose them. Steve
 

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Steve,
I knew the shop would treat you right and I'm sorry they cracked but as I told you, that's the nature of the beast. If you're happy I'm happy but I would have sold the ivory knives and started over. I could have helped. James does a nice job but an original ivory Randall, even cracked, is worth considerably more than a rehandled knife. As we say about guns, it's only original once. I mention that for others and I'm sure your boys will cherish them. As for the Behring mark, he re-handles a bunch of Randall knives and the shop was getting inquiries about having similar handles done by Randall. Gary asked James if he would mark his knives so that the uninitiated could tell and of course James agreed. Here's an example.

 

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I would have to agree with Rick, but they’re not mine so who cares what I think. Glad you’re happy with the outcome.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Rick, I respect your advice and may contact you about a couple projects I’m considering starting. You have done scrimshaw on several of my friends knives. I love your artistry. These knives will hopefully be used and worn for decades to come so I wasn’t considering from a value or collector aspect, although they are certainly unique; other than hoping the boys remember where they got them. I did not want anything “ broken” on them that they did not break themselves and have their own good story to match up to.

Sidebar, I was not really familiar with the legendary status of Randall knives many years ago, and I sure got hooked fast (I now have a ton of them). I was working for ____________ doing _____________. Afterwards, when I said I was all done, they took me to a dinner and gave me an engraved one but told me I had to use it for fun/recreation. No problem, it’s seen the inside of quail, grouse, woodcock, pheasant, many salmon, trout and many elk. I can only show the unengraved side unfortunately. What a special token this is. A gift from three generals, I’m the only guy still alive. Your “client” called our group the four aces. Damn, I need a drink.
 

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Behring does great work. Met them at BLADE last year. A friend and I bought a knife each. Mine resides in a drawer with my Randall and Treeman knives. Your knives look great and I'm sure your sons will be proud of them for a lifetime. BTW, recently SMKW had an ivory handle knife with a split the length of the handle. Looked like you could fit a dime in it. They were dealing but I could not bring myself to even make an offer knowing I would never be happy with it.
 

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The short answer is ivory is a "living" material and reacts to it's environment. When it's warm and humid, ivory expands. Conversely when it's cold and dry, ivory contracts. Randall, or any hidden tang knife, has a steel rod inside and running the length of the ivory handle. When the ivory wants to move it can't. Something got to give and the steel always wins. This is so common the saying is "there are two types of ivory Randall knives, those that are cracked and those that are going to crack.

PS. Stabilization does nothing to mitigate this.
 

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With 8 for 8 could the problem be with the butt cap also causing problems with expansion of the ivory. Over the years I have seen ivory handled Randalls with butt caps with unbelievable separation of the ivory.

This Randall is over 50 years old with very minor cracking. It was stolen once and recovered with a few nicks and dings. In the right side view you can see the major crack at the bottom heal of the grip, which has been there for most of it's life.



 

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Johnny,
Would you show an image of the whole knife and the butt, it looks nice. During this period, nickel silver was an uncommon option. Butt caps may contribute to the problem but mostly due to the heat built up when shaping it. Notice the existing crack is following the grain of the ivory. It may last forever if it's retired in a stable environment and you give it the occasional wipe with baby oil. If/when it cracks that's where it will happen.
 

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Full length shot, and shot of butt. It developed the cracks within the first few years, and has been stable since. Never applied anything to the handle.Forgot to add, but the knife was somewhere around $65.00. Standard knife was $45, ivory $11, nickel silver hilt $4, and name plate $6.
 

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Steve - you've done good and have beautiful working blades for your family now. While the ivory was admittedly gorgeous and a great first idea, the gorgeous new wood will serve its purpose.

With the ivory "pieces" you got back from the originals removed, are they large enough to perhaps be inlaid into the wood?? Each family members initials, done small somewhere into the wood? Or an image, like a family brand.. roman numerals 1-4 starting with you as the oldest #1 and going on down to the youngest?....just shooting out ideas about repurposing it back into the original intent. I can see how the large full handle ivory cracks but, if it's small pieces arranged into initials or a symbol, inlayed into the wood, I think you'd be safe from the ivory having any more issues.
 

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Full length shot, and shot of butt. It developed the cracks within the first few years, and has been stable since. Never applied anything to the handle.Forgot to add, but the knife was somewhere around $65.00. Standard knife was $45, ivory $11, nickel silver hilt $4, and name plate $6.
Johnny, that's a very nice model #4. I was hoping you had a center section of ivory. To put things in perspective, today the name plate option at $75.00 is $10.00 more than your knife costs!
 
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