Kirinite is a really interesting new handle material that has emerged in the past ten years or so, and made a big splash in the world of knife handles and gun grips. It’s made from “a toughened acrylic with very thin colored strands of poly paper swirled through the mix.” And the results are things like this:
Kirinite is a very, very interesting synthetic material. Let’s look at the different aspects of it.
Number one, kirinite is pretty durable. It’s at least as durable as a good hardwood, and probably a little lighter than a pair of hard ironwood scales. On top of that, it won’t shrink or warp like wood will do over time and with changes in humidity.
As far as looks go, kirinite comes in a lot of different color combinations with a lot of interesting possibilities. They all have the characteristic swirls of poly paper running through them in ripples and waves, but changes in color of the different ripples and the background color can have a great affect, ranging from the coffee colored brown on one knife to the almost translucent orange of this synthetic tortoishell handle – also made with kirinite.
Another plus in the aesthetic side of things, as far as kirinite goes, is that it takes a fantastic polish without becoming slick and hard to grip. To get that smooth of a finish on a wood handle you have to put some type of finish on it to fill the grains, which is a lot of hassle. With kirinite, just sand it down, buff it up – instant shine.
Kirinite is something you definitely don’t want to breath, but there are also some woods that are extremely toxic to breathe, and I wear a respirator when I’m sanding on any handle material at all times. The real issue I have with kirinite is not how well is buffs or sands, it’s the fact that it’s very soft. And some types are softer than other. The brown kirinite was quite hard and resistant to scratches, but the tortoishell scratched quite easily. And kirinite should not be heated above two hundred degrees, which is the melting point of this material. So in a survival type situation, you couldn’t boil a knife with a kirinite handle to sterilize it, for instance.
I’m going to be making more knives with kirinite knife handles in the future, and I’ll be interested to see what kinds of patterns spring up and the different qualities and melting points of the material as the market for this stuff grows. It makes beautiful gun grips and knife handles, and it’s easy to work with. Keep an eye out for it! It will be an interesting material to experiment with.
Let’s all stay sharp.