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I posted this in the Case group already.

I have a Case Christmas Tree toothpick with a sabre grind. I love the blade and handles, it was one of the first knives I got when I started collecting a couple years ago and it wasn't mint when I got it. I'm concerned because, from what I'm told, the celluloid scales can start deteriorating (I live in FL where it's humid) and gassing out, which will harm not only the Case knife but anything around it including the steel. If you look at where the handles meet the bolsters, you can see a bit of shrinkage, but also discoloration, especially on the far right photo. SO, what can I or should I do and should I be concerned? I printed out a form to send it back to Case, but I don't know what they'd do to it or what to expect or even to ask. Would they change out the handles for acrylic ones or corelon ones? This is just a bit out of my experience. Any advice would be great.

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First and foremost, keep it away from any other knives.  This gas is corrosive and I have seen it eat a safe full of knives.

Now that I have scared you, let me tell you my celluloids were in a safe in FL for over 20 years and only one ever gassed and when we saw the shrinkage we removed it from the other knives.  It also made me rethink owning them, as much as it pained me, they went the horse trade way.   I just could not sit back and watch my beautiful celluloids eat themselves alive, not to mention the amount invested in about 60 of them.

I would call Case before mailing it.  I have never known them to remove celluloid and replace it.  There are folks that will do it though.  The trick is to make the decision.  To my knowledge there is no way to save the scales.  If you are going to have it rehandled, get it done before the pitting begins or at least get these scales off.

I wish I had better news for you Richard.  Not only have I always loved the look of the cells, Christmas tree was a personal favorite for me :(

Wow. Thanks for the warning and advice! I'll store it someplace safe. I don't think I could trade it for anything knowing it's a disaster waiting to happen. If you don't think Case will do anything about it, can you recommend someone who can? I've never had a knife rehandled before. I love the blade. It does have some pitting and discoloration already, though minor. I'd love to put something more stable on there, maybe blue camel bone or an acrylic, but it may cost more than the knife is worth. I'd hate to just pitch it! Wish I'd known about celluloid early on - live and learn, right? I guess I trusted Case to make a safe product.

Well I would say it is not fair to blame Case.  At the time they were using it so was EVERY major company.  I guess you could blame us, the collectors of the time..but we did love the options!

Contact Muskrat Man http://www.muskratmanknives.com/ .  Due to an illness he had shut down for a little while but I see in Feb of this year he was posting on his site again

You know.....the other option is just do something really cool and custom.  Garett Finney at Finney knives could really make it something special for you http://www.finneyknives.com/

I was checking on another site and they said most of the corrosive celluloid that was prone to gassing was discontinued in the 50's, so it would only affect older knives. BUT there's shrinkage, pitting and discoloration going on with my knife! Does anyone one know what year this Case was made and what type of material the handle is made of - if it's the gassy type or non-gassy type?

Whoa! The Finney knives look great, but mucho dinero! I've got enough stuff I can't pay for without going custom on this! I was hoping that since it's a common pattern Case might have some extra handles they could switch it out with. I think I paid $60 for this a few years ago and don't want to put much more back into it. If I could sell it for $60 I'd probably do it, but I don't think anyone would be willing to take the chance, unless I can find some documentation regarding the age of the knife and when the destructive celluloid was discontinued. I will email muskratman and just see what a basic rehandle would run, though something tells me it ain't cheap.


There is no non gassy celluloid.  By nature it is a flammable material, attributed as responsible for a number of knife factory fires.  As for the age, check here.  I cannot clearly read your tang stamp http://www.wrcase.com/case_college/tang_stamps/

Case used celluloid VERY widely in the Case Classic years 90-94, the two most likely to gas?  Waterfall and Christmas Tree.

Dang! I'm going to start calling you the grim reaper! All this news is making ME gassy!

Thanks for the tang stamp info link - I'll check when I get home...if there's anything left of my knife....

I hate to bring more bad news, but that is a 1 of 500 Case Classic from 1992 back when Jim Parker owned Case.These were actually contracted to Blue Grass Cutlery, who actually made them.Yes, they did use the old- time celluloid as these were meant to be limited quantity re-creations of old,mainly discontinued patterns. Because Case did not make them, I've heard that they do not do any repair work on them.I have a couple dozen of these, I too, lived in Florida for 25 years, & only lost 2 to gassing,and they were the 2 celluloid colors that were most notorious for gassing (waterfall  and candy stripe). However, a bit of kinda good news ?? The discoloration on your blade can be cleaned up back to original with Flitz metal polish. ( Other good brands of metal polish would probably do the same. I've had a couple over the years get that dark orange-brown cast on the blade, and Flitz reversed it in a minute or 2 back to the original finish.

Ha! You know your stuff! I checked when I got home and it says 1992 on the tang, so bingo! I have Brasso metal polish, but can get Flitz if you think it'll help. It was in it's current state when I got it, so it hasn't gotten worse, or at least much worse, although all the signs of deterioration are there. I'm noticing some discoloration on the backspring now, but it still has great walk and talk. If it's limited edition I'm hesitant to go ripping the scales off. How quickly does the gassing process take? Good to know Case won't touch them...I was going to call them tomorrow.

I contacted muskratman and it's about $60 + materials to rehandle the knife - in wood or bone. I have a luthier friend who has all sorts of cool unusual woods who I already roped into pimping up a Svord peasant knife with different woods and herringbone filigree for me, but that's one screw and it falls open. I've never dealt with pins in a manufactured knife before. Is it difficult to take apart and put back together? If I could take it apart, I'm sure I could trace the pattern and get him to make me some sweet cocobolo, birds eye maple or rosewood handles, or a combination thereof.

If Christmas Tree is one of the more prone celluloid colors, I'm thinking I should be proactive and save the knife regardless of the collectors value. Especially while there's relatively little damage. Any comments? Should I wait until I see signs of it worsening and take a chance of not catching it in time or save what I can and change the handle now?

Richard-Christmas Tree isn't one of the more prone colors, but nothing is a given with celluloid handles. However, I have a Case Classic Christmas Tree 2007 1/2 trapper I've had for over 20 years with no problems.I also have only one Classic that years ago developed some shrinkage in the same spot as yours. It never developed any more after the initial shrinkage. I would be a little leery of Brasso. Flitz is not expensive, available at Ace Hardware or at Amazon online.Safe to use on the blades,bolsters,even the handles. Another good brand is Simichrome metal polish, although I've never tried it personally. Jim Parker posted an update on Case Classic values in May 2001, and listed your knife at $550 although I think that is an overly generous valuation.

I would be proactive it is not going to get any better 

Talk to the guys here http://iknifecollector.com/group/kniferepairrestorationupgradegroup They can help you with the hows and all

LOL, usually I get called the enabler


The Grim Reaper

There's an Ace Hardware 2 minutes down the road from me; I'll snag some Flitz today and see what a difference it makes.

Ha! You two need to get your advise column straight! I just got the equivalent of "You should stay" and "You should leave her ". SO, I can pay $60 to rehandle/ruin a valuable (I won't say $550) limited edition Case knife that no knowledgeable collector would pay more than $10 for because of the history of celluloid gassing, or I can keep it as is, but in a dark room not on display away from anything else never to see the light of day because if I put it with my collection it could go Hannibal Lecter on me and eat everything in sight.

Welcome to iKC!

Thanks for the advice, Grim, on the restoration group. I check them out. I looked on YouTube and the had someone putting a handle on and it didn't seem TOO bad, though I'm sure I need special tools, like thin brass rods to make new pins out of, and a thin metal dowel rod to tap the old ones out. Might be able to get by with a needle-nosed wire cutter to trim with, but I'll ask specifics there.

Thanks for all the conflicting advice!! Seriously, it helps to make a decision based from a point of knowledge rather than jump the gun and regret your choice later because you didn't know some aspect of it. It's not an easy one, but at least I can go forward with all my facts straight. I'll post again when I decide...and maybe post some restoration photos!

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