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Favorite Handle Designs

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by James, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. James

    James smarter then your average duck Founding Member Gold Contributor

    Obviously its subjective and very much a YMMV thing, but id still like to know what everyone prefers and why. Whether your in a pro kitchen or at home. If your prefer different handles on different knife types i think its a worthy topic and one I'm interested in
  2. MotoMike

    MotoMike Founding Member

    This is a topic I'd like to see fleshed out. I like the traditional handle shape (Wa?) but notice a lot of Japanese style knives with western style handles with scales and two or three rivets holding them together. I wonder if it is simply preference or is there some reason to go with one over the other. On the face, I would expect a full tang with a micarta or stabilized wood with a couple rivits holding it together to be more durable. but I must admit that for aesthetics I prefer a Japanese style knife with a traditional handle shape. I don't know how the traditional handles are secured on the tang or if the tang is typically full. I did have a cheap Chinese cleaver that the tang went beyond the length of the handle and was then peened over to secure the handle on the tang. I did not know until it broke that the tang was actually welded to the blade. If it had been made from one piece of metal I am sure I'd still have it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2014
  3. Jeffery Hunter

    Jeffery Hunter Founding Member

    I must say I'm a full convert to the wa or traditional Japanese handle. A ll around think they look better IMO and find them very comfortable to use. I'm sure some of the guys around here make a western style just as nice but I have yet to experience it.
  4. Taz575

    Taz575 Founding Member

    Both are plenty strong for use in the kitchen. Western may be a bit more durable because of the full tang and doesn't bend as easily, but is a LOT heavier. I have both, but I went from preferring Western handles to really liking the Wa handles. I have wide hands and short fat fingers, so some Western handles are too short on smaller knives. I also have issues with my hands (carpal tunnel?) where they get tingly/cramp if I use a knife with too small of a handle for too long, I can move my hand around the Wa easier than the Western to alleviate that.
  5. Rick

    Rick aka Pensacola Tiger Founding Member Gold Contributor

    Yes, it's very subjective and driven entirely by personal preference. As far as whether a traditional wa-handle or a riveted Western is better in terms of quality, both are equal at the same level of craftsmanship. The myth that a full-tang Western handle is somehow superior to a half-tang or hidden tang has pretty much been exposed, but still is brought up from time to time, usually by the marketing departments of full-tang Western handled knives.

    My preferences are for wa-handles on the traditional Japanese knives - the deba, usuba and yanagiba - and Western handles on the non-traditional - the gyuto, petty and sujihiki. I'll amend this by saying that I prefer that the ferrules on a wa-handle and the bolsters or leading edge on a Western handle be tapered at the point where the blade is held in a pinch grip as Bob Kramer, Butch Harner, Will Catcheside and Marko Tsourkan do with their handles.
  6. John Fout

    John Fout Founding Member

    I have no preference. When I use a pinch grip, I have two fingers on the grip. I get by as long as the handle isn't too small or too large in diameter. That said I agree with Rick with debas, usuba and yanagiba having Wa's only...
  7. Spaz

    Spaz Founding Member

    I have Ds, Octagonal, and YOs, if they're done right I can use any.
  8. Birnando

    Birnando Founding Member

    I definitely prefer traditional Japanese handles.
    And not to noisy either.
    Burl and too much of different colors/materials is a big nono for me
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
  9. James

    James smarter then your average duck Founding Member Gold Contributor

    YO is a new term to me, what is that one ?, and why the preference, is it aesthetic, or actual comfort and performance on the grip itself ?
  10. Taz575

    Taz575 Founding Member

    Yo is the Japanese term for a Western style handle
  11. MattS

    MattS Founding Member

    I prefer western if done right (Rader). I also think Dan's handles/contours are spot on. Too many makers handles look like a pregnant goat...too much palm swell. I have never found "D" shaped handles comfortable but enjoy a good round bottom wa.
  12. roberto

    roberto Founding Member

    I prefer the Japanese D shape or the octagonal ones because they keep the weight lower than the western handles
  13. gavination

    gavination Founding Member

    I love octagonal wa handles. On everything. But I also probably haven't gotten the chance to experience a truly good western handle from any of our amazing vendors. Maybe I'll manage to pick one up in BST. Until then, I just find octagonal handles to be very comfortable plus I love the look. Oval and d-shaped handles tend to be too small and don't provide enough tactile feel for me. I suppose when I start making my own handles, maybe I'll try some larger d's. Excited to check out Del's western/wa hybrid when it finally comes though!
  14. cclin

    cclin Founding Member

    for kitchen knife I'm much prefer wa handle, its feel more nimble, lite weight & it won't lock your hand when use a pinch grip, you can easy control the knife by other three fingers. wa-handle also cheaper & more easy to remove/exchange.
    for heavy duty knife like hunting, fighting, EDC...etc, I prefer full tang western handle. it feel more hefty & durable. Moreover, Western conture handle also hold secure/lock in hand better!!
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
  15. Spaz

    Spaz Founding Member

    I guess we need to put YO on the abbreviations and terms thread.
  16. Taylor

    Taylor Professional Craftsman Founding Member

    I prefer a wa octagon handle overall. That being said, there are some makers that do a great job with a western handle, and I'd be happy to own any of them. If I have a choice though, I'll go for the octagon, it just doesn't want to twist in my hand, and feels great for control.
  17. Maximus

    Maximus Founding Member

    Gotta give it to western handles. While I use both, a really nice western, like Rader or HHH, gives both an aesthetic that I love and that I enjoy using. But.... I am not a pro so not using for hours on end.
  18. roberto

    roberto Founding Member

    I like Japanese handles but I am not shure if they stay as long as western handles, I have a perfect western handle with 60 years of use
  19. Aphex

    Aphex Founding Member

    I was firmly in the wa camp until i was reminded of how fantastic western handles can be when i bought a 240mm Itinomonn rehandled by twistington.
  20. stevenStefano

    stevenStefano Founding Member

    I've used a few different ones but I still like Westerns the best, they sorta feel more attached to the knife and fit into your hand better, and I prefer the slight extra weight

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