View Full Version : Horn or Wood for handle?

06-10-2013, 04:45 AM
About due up for a custom project for 2 knives, hav the option of Sheep Horn or Burled Wood for the handle or combination of both. What wou you choose? looking for opinions of each material. Used to using micarta, corian or ho and ebony wood on my rotation knives. Will nice wood be slippery? Only have ebony and sandlewood on my yanagis and grip is not an issue since it is such a specific task knife. Was told sheep gets tackier when wet than wood but was contemplating wood for the other because wanted each knife to have its own character. If u have experience with either material pls chime in.

06-10-2013, 05:24 AM
Both wood and horn have their problems and benefits.

Reasons I love sheep horn: getting tacky when wet is a huge benefit. Also, I love the look of sheep horn - when polished to a luster, it gets a beautiful translucent effect that captivates me every time. Plus, it is hard to find a more durable material. My one complaint against sheep horn is that if it wasn't aged correctly or was over heated when it was made, it can warp like no tomorrow.

I love woods too, though ... it is pretty hard to get more dramatic than a nice burl or curly koa. I find woods really inspiring. Certain woods can be a bit easily cracked. Ebony is one of these. Regular oiling with camellia oil seems to help solve this. Certain woods really seem to benefit from stabilizing on a chef's knife (burls and softer woods). Other woods, such as ebony, cocobolo, ironwood don't benefit from stabilizing at all. So long as the handle is shaped well, I don't find woods get excessively slippery.

Which burls were you thinking of using?


06-10-2013, 05:46 AM
HI Daniel

Not sure about the woods. My order is a few months out so will depend on what is available fro the maker at the time. Starting to think about the specs of the knives sooner rather than later so that when the tie comes i have a definitive idea of what i would like used on the knives. Possibly only wood i would not want if i go wood with one is curly koa as i have a knife already with curly koa, A shigefusa Western kitaeji gyuto you had rehandled for me a few years back havent used it much and probably will be more of a backup or home knife for me as opposed to using in my restaurant mainly due to the reactivity. I like patina on some knives but i love the kitaeji on this gyuto too much to let a patina or rust build up and in a pro environment i ussually dont have time to really take care of the knife properly. Im located in a very humid location right now, tropics type of weather with high humidity. Stuff can develop rust even with camelia oil in storage if its left alone for 2 long. I found the density of the koa is great hasnt shrunk or swelled up at all. If i go with wood would love something with similar burls and effect. I was contemplating sending my older hattori KD to you for rehandling. Whats your current wait time for rehandles? The shigefusa you did with the hand contouring of the scales was light years better than the stock shige handle. Can u also replace bolsters? what options for that? Maybe you can pm me the response on the services so we can keep this thread based on the initial post about handle material. Thanks

06-10-2013, 07:25 AM
I really like Daniel's answer. He knows his stuff, and has the ability to communicate it to everyone very effectively.

In my opinion, sheep horn looks great, when used properly, as in, on a western, as scales. When left "raw", I'm not a fan, and that goes for any horn on a kitchen knife. As for woods, I'm a sucker for ironwood, cocobolo, zebrawood and koa. Zebrawood is more porous than the others, but I love the look and feel of it when it's oiled and waxed.

If I were in your position, I'd get one horn and the other a highly figured koa or ironwood with a nice piece of sapwood running through it.

Burl Source
06-12-2013, 10:51 PM
All of my kitchen knives have stabilized wood handles. (imagine that)
Slippery-ness has never been an issue, and....I keep my handles waxed.

If you use stabilized wood make sure it was stabilized by K&G or WSSI since not all stabilized wood is the same.
Don't be tempted by the do it yourselfers on ebay with the exception of Craig Stevens. He seems to do a good job.