Wood Handled Knives:
Below: A nice pair of wood handled knives donated by our good friend in California.
Below: An extremely unusual commando knife! The handle has been replaced (or a bare blade mounted) with a very dense piece of root or possibly bog oak. It does not appear to have been shaped using any tools but attached in its natural, organic shape. (The sheath shown did not come with it.)
Standard Wooden Handled Knives:
The wooden handled F~S are most commonly found in two basic styles. The one style closely imitates a P-3, the other one is a fat oval shape unlike any other F~S handle. The P-3 style are generally painted black and the oval shaped ones are left their natural Beech color and simply varnished. Early in my collecting days these knives were not very popular with myself or other collectors. The prices were much cheaper than the more recognized varieties and so I added a few to our collection. Some people claim they were for use in tropical climates where the metallic handles would be uncomfortable to use. Other say they were made for airborne paratroopers, or pilots, to save weight. I am not convinced that either of these are accurate assumptions.
The blades were, for the most part, thin ones, likely late war. Some experts tried to relegate all of these knives to a post-war period but that has since been proven false. Many of the examples I have seen had nicely finished blades and thick guards. A few of the handles exhibit cracks due to the wood shrinking over the past 70 years. The P3 style also used typical top nuts (right) whereas the oval handled ones used recessed and slotted top nuts (left). This style nut was eventually adopted for use on late model third pattern knives.
None of the wood handled knives in my collection have any inspectors marks which leads me to conclude that they may have been primarily an after-market or private purchase item. Certainly they would have been cheaper, "in the day", than the standard models and may have appealed to men with tighter purse strings. All of this is simply my own opinon and conjecture. The following photo is a close up of a knife made by Geo. Wolstenholm of Sheffield, of the famous IXL brand name. When new it had a lovely peacock blued blade. This was a temper blue, achieved by heating the blade to that color and quenching it.
It was a bugger to get a photo of this etch and in the process the lighting made the bright blue blade look black. This knife also came with an unusual sheath. (See below)
Non-Standard Wood Handled F~S:
In this section I have included a few wood handled knives that are obviously not traditional F~S knives. One of them was converted from a German Youth Dagger, I was told. I am not knowledgeable in this field but it made a terrific little dagger. The handle is a composite of wood and leather washers. It has a neatly made guard and the end of the handle is capped with an enameled swastika medallion.
Here is a close-up of the handle and the blade etching and pommel.
The knife illustrated below, middle, is a French "Avenger." These knives were used throughout two world wars. They are a very well built knife whose blade is very similar in format to a Randall Model 2. The knives are almost always found housed in these metal sheaths, held in place by a spring. The provenance of the top knife is unknown, perhaps handmade but its blade profile is exactly the same as the Australian Commando dagger. (It is also posted under Australian Knives.)
Below: Here is a spray of wood handled fighting knives. It seems that the wood handled knives had no specific sheath issued with them because all of mine came in assorted styles. They seldom have any inspector stamp or broad arrow. This might indicate a large percentage of them were private purchase, commercially available knives.
Below: Fat wood handled knife housed in a home-made sheath of very heavy, stiff leather. It appears to be machine stitched and has a watch band type strap for knife retention. There is no belt loop so I assume it was worn simply thrust into the waist and held in by belt tension. The wide flap would prevent it from falling through the belt and being lost.
Below: A new wood handled knife that joined the collection. It is an original "I" model 3rd pattern from India Stores but the original alloy handle has been professionally replaced with a 3rd pattern wooden one.
Note the heavy forged blade typical of an "I" marked knife. The entire assembly is nice and tight and the top nut has been in place for a long time judging by the patina on it and the end of the tang. Like most wood handled knives the balance and heft is not as good as a brass handled knife.