Vesconite Bearings, the maker of the polymer bearing material Vesconite Hilube, which is used as an ivory substitute, continues to promote this use among ivory users, including knife makers who are interested in an ivory alternative.
Vesconite Bearings’ own Extrusion Department Head, Marius du Plooy, is an amateur knife maker who recently made a fixed-blade knife with a Vesconite Hilube handle.
He chose the ivory substitute because of its glossiness and its whitish, ivory hue.
“The full tang blade (unsharpened, unexposed part of the blade that extends down the handle) is made from Austrian Bohler N690 knife steel,” explains Du Plooy.
“316 stainless steel is used for the bolsters (thick junction between the knife and the handle) and pins,” he says.
However, what makes the knife unique is that the handle scales are made from Vesconite Hilube with a red liner between the handle scales and the tang.
Du Plooy notes that, during the knife-making process, the blade is the most difficult to make.
The Vesconite Hilube handle is easy to machine, but takes some time to polish since this requires sanding with 1,200 grit water paper followed by buffing with a cotton-cloth buffing wheel and buff soap, he says.
“The finished product is worth the effort,” Du Plooy enthuses.
Vesconite is keen on other knife makers and users of ivory to adopt this synthetic ivory substitute especially as Covid-19 restrictions are easing in many parts of the world and, with this, the likely availability of illegally-sourced elephant ivory.
Road blocks, with police and defence forces policing them, had forced poachers to abandon travel with axes, pangas, stolen hunting rifles and home-made silencers used in poaching.
Similarly, the closure of international borders cut off sales channels, while the closure of game parks limited access by poachers to parks via the gates during the peak of Covid-19 restrictions in Africa.
Vesconite believes that Vesconite Hilube may be one way to reduce demand for ivory.
The material is pleasant, smooth, warm to the touch and hard wearing.
It is also available in a wide range of rods, hollow bar and plate sizes.
Vesconite hopes that its product will assist Africa’s wildlife to make it to 2021 and beyond.