Knife Knowledge Basics: Knife Handles

October 01, 2016 1 min read 0 Comments

Generally, there are 2 types of handles. The Japanese style or “Wa” handle where a piece of wood is slid over the tang and glued on or, the Western style with the riveted handle on a full tang. In many cases the full tang is seen as a sign of quality of the knife itself. In our selection all knives are of top quality and the handle choice is one of preference.

Japanese handles are lighter making the overall feel of the knife lighter. They typically bring the balance point forward too. This usually is just above the heel of the blade so if you grip a knife by the blade as most chefs would you are holding it at the balance point. It is possible to remove the handle but this takes some effort. If this type of handle is damaged it is easy to replace. General wood care can be used to maintain the handle by occasionally rubbing it with a bee’s wax and mineral oil combo. Most of the time the oils from your hand while using the knife will take care of this. These feel different at first but many people become accustomed to using them quickly. 

Western style handles and a full tang add to the overall weight of the knife. This can be a sturdier feel and pulls the balance point back towards the handle. Typically, these are shorter in length than a Japanese handle too. If a handle like this is damaged it requires more work to replace it.

Kevin Kent
Kevin Kent

Kevin Kent’s fascination with Japanese knives began while he was working as sous-chef for the legendary chef Fergus Henderson at St. John restaurant in London, England. In 2007, he began selling handcrafted Japanese knives out of a backpack on the back of his bicycle, while working as a chef at River Café in Calgary, Canada. Kent is just as obsessed with Japanese knives as when he first held one, and a few times a year, he travels to Japan to meet with his blacksmith friends, to drink far too much sake, and to learn more about the ancient art of knife-making. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, he refuses to confess how many Japanese knives he owns….but he admits the number is rather high. Follow Kevin on Twitter @knifenerd