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View Full Version : your taste in handles on Japanese knives - a vote?



Cutty Sharp
07-10-2012, 03:02 PM
I'm curious to find out what preferences people have with handles on their Japanese knives. I don't mean to ask if people prefer Japanese or Western shaped handles. Rather, what style of wood and overall appearance do you like?

Lots of knife knuts seem to have handles re-done if they can. Maybe the knife comes in plain old 'ho' wood with black buffalo ferrule to start ...

http://bernalcutlery.com/shop/images/584/ashi%20slicer%20handle-2.jpg

... but then people get customised handles put on, often with eye-catching burl and other flashy bits ....

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TxetSD7hIkw/TqLQPyFFoVI/AAAAAAAAATU/2RUBub5wN-o/s1600/Handle+close+up.jpg

Well, it's quite cool and I appreciate the work that goes into it. I'd even like to experiment with my own handles in the future. However, I've developed a dislike for these handles, maybe especially because they're Japanese knives. Isn't it too much? Knives are all about cutting and the blade, and don't handles like these draw attention away from the blade? They just seem a bit too ornate and overwrought.

I think lots of people who do this kind of work, including pros, are active on this site and I don't mean to criticise them or to take away from their livelihood. As said, I appreciate the work. My feeling is just that less can be more and simplicity can be very cool. If two identical knives had different handles, one simple/plain and the other busy-burl, I'd definitely go for the first.

As we're talking about J-knives here, it might be worth thinking of things like this description of 'wabi-sabi': 'The primary aesthetic concept at the heart of traditional Japanese culture is the value of harmony in all things. The Japanese world view is nature-based and concerned with the beauty of studied simplicity and harmony with nature. These ideas are still expressed in every aspect of daily life, despite the many changes brought about by the westernization
of Japanese culture. This Japanese aesthetic of the beauty of simplicity and harmony is called wabi-sabi.'

... 'Studied simplicity' - I like that. Anyway, simple or burl? My vote: simple.

heldentenor
07-10-2012, 03:15 PM
I prefer single-tone woods as well on wa handles and burls and such for westerns. That said, I have a soft spot for ebony. I think that I developed a bias toward ho handles by seeing a bunch of poorly finished ones glued on to cheap knives before seeing the quality work that guys like Hide and others can do with ho. I guess whether I would go ho or not depends on the knife.

Cutty Sharp
07-10-2012, 03:19 PM
I prefer single-tone woods as well on wa handles and burls and such for westerns. That said, I have a soft spot for ebony.

'Single-tone woods' is a good way of putting it. Of course ebony is another example, not just ho.

I don't have a knife with ichii, but really like the look/colour of it.

Deckhand
07-10-2012, 04:09 PM
I have been exposed to top bonsai, seen rock gardens in Kyoto, etc. I am not interested in woods dyed 20 colors like a tie dye. However, I appreciate the natural beauty of certain pieces of wood. I have burled redwood and striped koa pieces that are natural and I appreciate their asthetics. I even have a quite large burled redwood coffee table from an artist named Stohan that I met in Monterey. Like this but with a curved glass top specially cut.

http://www.zhibit.org/stohans/sculptured-redwood-accessory-tables

It is very zen to me. I bought it because it was one of a kind.
Same with the wood blocks I have bought for handles, and a few recent pairs of chopsticks.

They used to keep people in a isolated dark room for a week with no stimulus and give them a bowl of rice porridge under the door once a day. At the end of the week they would open the door with a bonsai tree there. It would blow the persons mind. Even with the simplicity there is much complexity and beauty. For me just like an unusual piece of wood created by nature, and never replicated.

tk59
07-10-2012, 04:32 PM
I agree that a lot of things people here rave about are grossly overdone. At one point, I thought even using a piece of burl was over the top. I've since warmed to the idea of using something other than stainless/ebony/horn on handles but I still feel that in many cases, less is more.

apicius9
07-10-2012, 04:51 PM
I am fascnated by the characteristics of different woods and the endless possibilities of combining different woods or even other materials with woods and horn. However, after having worked with dozens of woods and hundreds of combinations in the past, I have more and more learned to appreciate the beauty of a single piece of wood rather than complex combinations. I still think that combined materials can look good, and I would not be working such designs out with customers otherwise, but I also admit that I occasionally have made handles that were clearly not my own taste but followed the ideas of customers. My personal preference is for handles with 3 elements, i.e. ferrule-spacer-handle or ferrule-handle-end piece and medium strong contrasts in colors and patterns. I really like the beauty of burl pieces, but in most cases I find the combination of two burls too much unless one of them is on the subtle side.

Stefan

Cutty Sharp
07-10-2012, 05:23 PM
I prefer single-tone woods as well on wa handles and burls and such for westerns.

Yeah, I can kind of agree. Wa handles are much more about the wood. Westerns are much more a steel/wood construction, and fussy wood is more acceptable because there's more more plain steel visible balance things out.


I appreciate the natural beauty of certain pieces of wood. I have burled redwood and striped koa pieces that are natural and I appreciate their asthetics. I even have a quite large burled redwood coffee table from an artist named Stohan that I met in Monterey. Like this but with a curved glass top specially cut. http://www.zhibit.org/stohans/sculptured-redwood-accessory-tables

I get what you're saying. Wood can be so nice. I think I could go with Koa on a handle, but not burled ... But had a look at the table photos. Mmm... yuck. Kind of interesting, but with all due respect - damn ugly tables! In the small photos, the wood tends to look like someone's shrivelled up roast left too long in the oven - to me at least. ... Wood can be beautiful and interesting, but doesn't mean it's always improved by making it into handles or furniture.


I agree that a lot of things people here rave about are grossly overdone. At one point, I thought even using a piece of burl was over the top. I've since warmed to the idea of using something other than stainless/ebony/horn on handles but I still feel that in many cases, less is more.

Agreed!

So... vote now appears to be: Simple 2 - Burls 0 - Kinda depends 2

Cutty Sharp
07-10-2012, 05:26 PM
My personal preference is for handles with 3 elements, i.e. ferrule-spacer-handle or ferrule-handle-end piece and medium strong contrasts in colors and patterns. I really like the beauty of burl pieces, but in most cases I find the combination of two burls too much unless one of them is on the subtle side.

Hi Stefan. Can you show us a photo or two of examples that demo your tastes?

Birnando
07-10-2012, 05:50 PM
I'm definitely more fond of the simpler designs and woods.
Ho wood or similar for me.
Many of the custom made handles I've seen out there are way to noisy, the wood would be better spent on making a coffee-cup to keep at the hunting lodge deep in the forrest or something.

Deckhand
07-10-2012, 05:52 PM
Lol looking at his new work I have to agree tables don't look as good as ones he did 20 years ago. Mine would be over $5000 by todays prices. Hopefully my wife can help me get a picture up of mine in the next week or so. I agree with Apicius I prefer things like burl or koa, spacer, ebony ferrule. I like the three elements.

la2tokyo
07-10-2012, 06:05 PM
I enjoy seeing all the beautiful custom handles that people are making here in the states, but in Japan, unless you are the best chef the world has ever seen, you would be considered foolish if you walked into a restaurant with something flashy and weren't by far the most skilled chef in the restaurant. I purposefully put the plainest handles I can find on my knives to show humbleness when I am working with other people, and this seems customary in most places I've been in Japan. One of the best chefs I ever met had a mirror-finish honyaki with an ebony and silver handle, and he never used it out in front of a customer because he said he wasn't ready to use a tool like that. He had over thirty years of experience. When you meet people like that, who do better work than you do with cheaper tools, it's embarrassing to have more expensive flashy knives. So, for now, although I invested in some serious steel, all the handles are plain magnolia. If I worked in Western restaurants with Western chefs, I might think differently. The culture here is so different that it's not a big deal for people to be different.

shankster
07-10-2012, 06:13 PM
Plain and simple for me.Whatever the knife came with,although I am particular to rosewood wa handles....

99Limited
07-10-2012, 06:41 PM
... My personal preference is for handles with 3 elements, i.e. ferrule-spacer-handle or ferrule-handle-end piece and medium strong contrasts in colors and patterns. I really like the beauty of burl pieces, but in most cases I find the combination of two burls too much unless one of them is on the subtle side.

Stefan

+1 I just enjoy the beauty of the various burl woods. Ho wood and magnolia wood are just too plain looking.

Sara@JKI
07-10-2012, 07:00 PM
Plain and simple for me.Whatever the knife came with,although I am particular to rosewood wa handles....

I also like a plain and simple one.... I love Kokutan (ebony) wa handles.....

SpikeC
07-10-2012, 09:05 PM
I like what I like. You like what you like. My taste is the best, because it is my taste.

Tristan
07-10-2012, 09:16 PM
If something is not to my taste, I can only appreciate the craft, but I can't say that I love it or find it awesome.

I do like busier handles, because to me customs and rehandles are about decorating and personalising something that you treasure. The ornate work speaks to me of a more indulgent kind of item. I enjoy the effort the aesthetics and the effort.

I will also be the first to admit that some of my favorite handles ae the ones on the high end suisin and masamoto yanis, with the ferrule, silver spacer, wood, spacer, end cap design.

RRLOVER
07-10-2012, 09:20 PM
I enjoy seeing all the beautiful custom handles that people are making here in the states, but in Japan, unless you are the best chef the world has ever seen, you would be considered foolish if you walked into a restaurant with something flashy and weren't by far the most skilled chef in the restaurant. I purposefully put the plainest handles I can find on my knives to show humbleness when I am working with other people, and this seems customary in most places I've been in Japan. One of the best chefs I ever met had a mirror-finish honyaki with an ebony and silver handle, and he never used it out in front of a customer because he said he wasn't ready to use a tool like that. He had over thirty years of experience. When you meet people like that, who do better work than you do with cheaper tools, it's embarrassing to have more expensive flashy knives. So, for now, although I invested in some serious steel, all the handles are plain magnolia. If I worked in Western restaurants with Western chefs, I might think differently. The culture here is so different that it's not a big deal for people to be different.


This is a great post,I love to hear the cultural differences.Thank God my grandparents immigrated to America:D Bring on the FLASH!!
I have no problem bustin out a mirror finished honyaki.

Marko Tsourkan
07-10-2012, 09:21 PM
Simple, clean look. Has to be symmetrical and rightly sized to a knife.

Deckhand
07-10-2012, 09:28 PM
I enjoy seeing all the beautiful custom handles that people are making here in the states, but in Japan, unless you are the best chef the world has ever seen, you would be considered foolish if you walked into a restaurant with something flashy and weren't by far the most skilled chef in the restaurant. I purposefully put the plainest handles I can find on my knives to show humbleness when I am working with other people, and this seems customary in most places I've been in Japan. One of the best chefs I ever met had a mirror-finish honyaki with an ebony and silver handle, and he never used it out in front of a customer because he said he wasn't ready to use a tool like that. He had over thirty years of experience. When you meet people like that, who do better work than you do with cheaper tools, it's embarrassing to have more expensive flashy knives. So, for now, although I invested in some serious steel, all the handles are plain magnolia. If I worked in Western restaurants with Western chefs, I might think differently. The culture here is so different that it's not a big deal for people to be different.


出る釘は打たれる。
Deru kugi wa utareru
Literally: The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

Crothcipt
07-10-2012, 10:13 PM
When I first started in the kitchen I worked for a restaurant that everyone in the back of the house wore polyester hounds tooth pattern pants. If you wore cotton or any other color or pattern pants you were written up. This also showed in the food. Now cooks and chefs wear just about anything for patterns on pants. I look at the handles as the same. That being said I will say that most knives made on the low end are just wood there because it is cheap, and usually in the area. Would I put new shoes on a shige. ? Prob. not.

That being said I wouldn't mind seeing a handle with my fav. colors mixed in with a burl. Being a royal blue and very dark green I can only see that happening with a dyed beryl. So I guess my vote would be it depends. Great thread.

Another thought people customize guns, cars, and anything else under the sun so why not?

Cutty Sharp
07-10-2012, 10:20 PM
Whew! Some interesting comments ...


.... although I invested in some serious steel, all the handles are plain magnolia. If I worked in Western restaurants with Western chefs, I might think differently. The culture here is so different that it's not a big deal for people to be different.

Reading this I was kind of imagining how in Japan everyone might go and get plain magnolia handles in order to conform. In a US kitchen, the cooks might all go out and get tatoos and customised burl wood knife handles in order to conform. Nuts.


Simple, clean look. Has to be symmetrical and rightly sized to a knife.

Marco, your knives (pictured) are for me pushing it... A bit much for my taste. On the other hand, they are still someone subdued and so look nice. Yeah, as la2tokyo kind of said though, I wouldn't take one of yours into a restaurant kitchen. Maybe just hide it at home.


出る釘は打たれる。Deru kugi wa utareru - Literally: The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

And how about this? 大声で醜いナイフを持っている彼は、馬鹿のように見えます。 He who has an ugly knife looks like a boob. (Okay, not a saying - just had a go on google translate)

Anyway, from what I can tell the 'simple' camp has the lead in our vote here!: Simple 7 - Burl 4 - Depends 1

The Edge
07-10-2012, 10:29 PM
I love burls of all types, just need to make sure they go together, and compliment the knife at the same time. Being American, I like any of my things to be unique and stand out. This happens a lot easier with burl woods since they are all different. A part of me also feels like I want as much care put into the handle as the knife itself, and maybe I'm wrong for thinking this, but I just don't get that with regular ho wood handles.

chinacats
07-10-2012, 10:33 PM
I think of it like a golf club where hand wrapped leather sort of equates to nice woods handles on my knives, not so much for bling as much as for the experience:scratchhead:

(burl)

Burl Source
07-10-2012, 10:41 PM
I would be willing to bet that if given a choice on a knife being made, the numbers would change quite a bit.
At least with myself.
If I were having a knife made for me and was told I had a choice between a featureless white unfinished wood, or an uncommon beautiful wood that someone took the time to shape and finish nicely, it would be a no-brainer. I have watched videos showing Japanese shops making the standard "D" handles and was a little shocked. The message I got was "Look how fast we can crank these out". Not something I would be proud of.

My take on this question is;
Do you like your knives to be bland and the same as everyone else?
...or would you prefer something a bit nicer that reflects your own personal taste?

But then I am biased.
as Henry Ford said, “People can have the Model T in any color – so long as it’s black.”
Things have changes a bit since then.

tk59
07-10-2012, 11:03 PM
I think when most people vote "simple" they aren't necessarily voting for a stock ho wood handle seen on the cheapest knives. Horn-spacer-ebony is also very simple. Even horn-ebony is very nice sometimes. Horn-something with a nice figure is great, too. I think the odd stuff is the burl-burl-mokume-damascus-(insert busy chunk of something here). Polish isn't busy either. Highly etched damascus is.

SpikeC
07-10-2012, 11:14 PM
We need to return to the Pure Japanese esthetic as exemplified by the Mr. Itoh Turquoise Coral handled gyuto!

Johnny.B.Good
07-10-2012, 11:27 PM
I agree that a lot of things people here rave about are grossly overdone. At one point, I thought even using a piece of burl was over the top. I've since warmed to the idea of using something other than stainless/ebony/horn on handles but I still feel that in many cases, less is more.

+1

I definitely prefer simple handles on my own knives, though I am branching out a bit from my "go to" combination of ebony and black horn. I sort of like the wild candy colors on many Cut Brooklyn knives, but am not sure I would actually want to see it in my own kitchen on a daily basis. I'm not sure I've ever seen a burl on burl combination that I really like. Some of the more daring dyed wood handles from Kramer do it for me (like Matt Rudd's comes to mind), assuming the ferrule is a plain dark color.

Edit: The more I think about it, there are many woods that appeal to me - koa, snakewood, desert ironwood, etc. I guess I just know what I like when I see it.

Deckhand
07-10-2012, 11:34 PM
We need to return to the Pure Japanese esthetic as exemplified by the Mr. Itoh Turquoise Coral handled gyuto!

Excellent!:rofl2:

kalaeb
07-10-2012, 11:51 PM
I like my handles to be unique and to fit my personal taste. Burls, and spacers in tasteful combinations work great for me, turquoise and mother of pearl...not so much.

Customfan
07-11-2012, 02:31 AM
I like all kinds... Well finished and long lasting is paramount to last the rigors of whatever I throw at them.

I tend to go toward the more character but sometimes go toward Ironwood, cocobolo, burl, etc. and even sheep horn. Depends on the knife but what I think is good taste.

Not crazy about Coral, mother of pearl, etc.

Randy, Pierre and Rader's handles are just awesome! (Just to name a few).

I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder! :viking:

Cutty Sharp
07-11-2012, 05:05 AM
Another thought people customize guns, cars, and anything else under the sun so why not?

Sure! Nothing wrong with customising knives either - but all depends how you do it. Some handles go too far.


A part of me also feels like I want as much care put into the handle as the knife itself, and maybe I'm wrong for thinking this, but I just don't get that with regular ho wood handles.
I think when most people vote "simple" they aren't necessarily voting for a stock ho wood handle seen on the cheapest knives. H!orn-spacer-ebony is also very simple. Even horn-ebony is very nice sometimes. Horn-something with a nice figure is great, too. I think the odd stuff is the burl-burl-mokume-damascus-(insert busy chunk of something here). Polish isn't busy either. Highly etched damascus is.

Agreed, tk! Simple can be elegant. Sure ho can seem dull, and I kind of thought that at first. But now as I've seen so many burl handles around it's got a bit much and I prefer simple, even if plain old ho.


My take on this question is; Do you like your knives to be bland and the same as everyone else? ...or would you prefer something a bit nicer that reflects your own personal taste?

Busy and over-done doesn't make it nicer, if that's how it turns out to be, and burl doesn't necessarily reflect everyone's taste. Also, if everyone gets knives and then customises with burl, then it all ends up looking the same too.


We need to return to the Pure Japanese esthetic as exemplified by the Mr. Itoh Turquoise Coral handled gyuto!

Hehe... I was wondering when someone would think of that! I used to have my eye on a pretty flashy Tanaka damascus (micarta turquoise handle) and am glad I didn't get it, as somehow even without owning it I got a bit sick of it.

I'll bet, too, that the Japanese 'turquoise coral handle' numbers tend to be made for export not for the Japanese market. You don't see knives like that in Japan, probably because people don't like 'em. (I've been to around 20 different shops there in the past 2-3 months.) Also there must be few makers with that style. Imagine what the Sakai craftsmen might think!

... Right! New tally now. Looks like the burl camp has made up lots of ground: Simple 9 - Burl 8 - Depends 3

Pretty much even-steven, guys. C'mon you simples: vote! Yes, we do appreciate quieter understated elegance, but now is the time to make our voices heard! :razz:

apicius9
07-11-2012, 05:37 AM
Of course, as someone who makes handles occasionally, I find this very interesting. I just had a discussion like this with one of my favorite providers. He pointed out a beautiful piece of wood to me that was extremely rare and highly sought after by instrument makers for its tonal qualities and subtle beauty. I was not sure whether the subtleness in the figure would translate to knife handles, and whether the uniqueness of the wood (old stock Brazilian rosewood) would really be recognized in the presence of all the more spectacular burls and spalted woods. Actually, this discussion here encourages me to use more of these premium quality but 'plainer' woods, we'll see what the outcome will be... I am thinking of some rosewoods, mahoganies, cherry etc. From the orders I get, I don't think there is a clear trend, but it probably leans more toward the fancier pieces as a contrast to the traditional and often simplistic standrd handles. That said, I have a number of knives in my own knife block that still have nice ho handles with white horn ferrules (even some Caster knives...), and I like them so much in their functional simplicity that I have not replaced them with anything.

Stefan

Vertigo
07-11-2012, 08:10 AM
One more vote for burls.

mhenry
07-11-2012, 08:39 AM
Burls!

Namaxy
07-11-2012, 09:32 AM
This is an interesting discussion to be sure. I love the diversity of opinions, and think each one is valid. However I'm troubled by the the insistence of either camp that the other is somehow wrong, or not being 'honorable' to the craft. Neither is wrong. To me there is nothing more (simply) delicious that a ripe peach of a warm just-picked summer tomato. Yet I've also been lucky enough to dine at some of the worlds most decorated restaurant, where the plates are intense, intricately composed and....equally beautiful. Two approaches to food...and neither is wrong.

Like Stephan, I have some beautiful premium wood handles, and many knives where I haven't changed the original Ho wood. I love them all.

However...I don't want to be a fence sitter...I vote for Burl from the standpoint that there is nothing wrong with it.

DeepCSweede
07-11-2012, 09:48 AM
Personally, I do like Ebony & Horn and burnt chestnut, but Ho and Ichii are just not appealing to me. I much prefer beautiful wood such as koa, redwood, spalted maple and ironwood. Why not honor a beautiful piece of working art with some additional bling.

Marko's Ironwood, silver spacer and horn are simple and elegant and happen to be one of my favorite handles, yet I tend to think of that as less traditional and somewhat blingy. I also really love the use of blue mammoth teeth as a spacer, so I guess my vote goes with the burl and the bling.
'
BURL :viking:

Cutty Sharp
07-11-2012, 01:43 PM
... a beautiful piece of wood to me that was extremely rare ... I was not sure whether the subtleness in the figure would translate to knife handles, and whether the uniqueness of the wood (old stock Brazilian rosewood) would really be recognized in the presence of all the more spectacular burls and spalted woods. Actually, this discussion here encourages me to use more of these premium quality but 'plainer' woods, we'll see what the outcome will be... I am thinking of some rosewoods, mahoganies, cherry etc.

Interesting you worry people might be blinded by flash enough that they'd miss the subtlety of your wood! Probably a lot might, but maybe in time less. With patience and education perhaps. Your 'plainer' ideas sound nice! ...

Maybe people get attracted to styles as a reaction to the plain old hos and what seems boring and commonplace, and so go for contrast. First. I did before. Maybe it's like when some people hit their teens and decide to grow their hair, dress entirely in black, get tatoos, piercings, I dunno, and express themselves and look different (and then attend concerts where everyone looks like them anyway) before later refining their tastes and learning to appreciate the opposite, which is the 'plainer' stuff that they initially decided to go against, while they grow bored of their initial choices.


From the orders I get [for handles], I don't think there is a clear trend, but it probably leans more toward the fancier pieces as a contrast to the traditional and often simplistic standrd handles.

Sounds spot on to me!

I've been in Japan twice in the past 2-3 months. First time I was bored seeing all the hos around. Why can't they get more variety and some of those cool ones all over the net? I thought. While I still would like more variety (shops there often tend to specialise in just 1 or a small number of makers, or carry their own single housebrand) this time I appreciated the 'boringness' of it more and felt I could concentrate more on the knives: blades with handles, not cool handles with attached blades. ;) Anyway, that was kind of my feeling.

Dmn! There's really been an explosion of Burlists popping out of the cracks and this past day has been a rout! Simple 9 - Burl 12 - Depends 3

I'm losing my belief in humanity....

Deckhand
07-11-2012, 02:04 PM
There is no right or wrong. Simply personal preferences and cultural variance.

Cutty Sharp
07-11-2012, 03:58 PM
Okay, I could go for something like this. Simple black ferrule MAX. Non-flash, non-KU, non-damacus, non-mirror finish blade. Then maybe it'd work.

Point is: beautiful wood. But do we need to make a handle out of it?

http://www.burlsource.us/media/2f/a207915138170fe87f2e48_s.jpg

Burl Source
07-11-2012, 04:00 PM
I may have come across harshly before but my feeling is that it all comes down to personal taste.
I prefer fancier figured woods and burl, but I like more conservative combinations.
For my personal likes I steer away from too much bling. But that is what some people want.

This thread brings back to memory a knife show in Portland several years back.
Our tables were next to a Japanese knife manufacturer. The father who did not speak English kept looking at the different types of wood I had.
The children who spoke English mentioned that their father said he had never seen wood like this before.
I told them to tell their father he could pick out a piece to have as a gift.
When they told him he shook his head no and they talked back and forth for a few minutes.
They came back to me and said that their father said thank you but he could not accept the gift.
I told them that I enjoyed seeing people getting wood that they really like and hoped he would accept my gift.
After they talked a bit more the father came over and shyly said thank you in english.
He took a bit of time looking through all the wood and finally picked out a piece of Buckeye Burl. Probably the boldest/least conservative piece on the tables.

During the coming days the children kept bringing over other Japanese people who ended up purchasing a number of blocks of burl.
The most popular with them were Buckeye Burl, Redwood Burl and white Maple Burl.

The last day of the show we purchased a knife for our son inlaw. They insisted we only pay half price.
The mother and father did not speak english, but were very enjoyable neighbors throughout the show.

El Pescador
07-11-2012, 04:08 PM
Burls!

I've got a Carter Suji you rehandled out of horn, Buckeye and Desert Ironwood for the ferrule. this is a "+1" for me too

Sarge
07-11-2012, 04:10 PM
I'm all for the simple but well crafted peices. I enjoy the look of the Burls but as someone else I think said it just ends up looking too busy to me sometimes. A nice magnolia, or iichi, ebony and horn ferrule. I'll take that crafted at a high level over multiple burls used in one handle.

Dream Burls
07-11-2012, 05:08 PM
"As we're talking about J-knives here, it might be worth thinking of things like this description of 'wabi-sabi': 'The primary aesthetic concept at the heart of traditional Japanese culture is the value of harmony in all things. The Japanese world view is nature-based and concerned with the beauty of studied simplicity and harmony with nature. "

Harmony does not only exist in simplicity. Multiple complex forms can be in harmony with each other. Color, scale, pattern, texture, etc. can be variable, but in the hands of a craftsman harmony can be achieved even with diverse elements. Whether the harmony of the creation is perceived by the user is a matter of taste and that depends on the individual. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Having said all that, I vote for burl.

Hattorichop
07-11-2012, 05:58 PM
Count me in on the burl vote.

Cutty Sharp
07-11-2012, 06:02 PM
This thread brings back to memory a knife show in Portland several years back. Our tables were next to a Japanese knife manufacturer ... He took a bit of time looking through all the wood and finally picked out a piece of Buckeye Burl. Probably the boldest/least conservative piece on the tables....During the coming days the children kept bringing over other Japanese people who ended up purchasing a number of blocks of burl. The most popular with them were Buckeye Burl, Redwood Burl and white Maple Burl. ...

Hehe... Nice story there. Of course the wood must have been beautiful and I'm not suprised the Japanese were attracted to it. Natural stuff, so of course they'd love it. However, doesn't mean they brought it home and made handles out of it! :thumbsup:

Current tally - Elegant Simplistics 10 - Brash Burlists 14 - 'It depends' types 3 ... Jeez! :pullhair:

SameGuy
07-11-2012, 10:17 PM
My burgeoning collection is tiny compared to almost everyone else's here, but I think it's safe to say that I like both simple, utilitarian handles as well as the well-finished works of art I've seen in pictures here. My first was a simple D ho, the next was an oval in... WTH was it? Rose? Cherry? But I've fallen in love with the black horn/ebony octagonal that Leigh (?) put on the yanagiba I picked up from Messy Jesse. I can't wait to see what Mike comes up with using the black palm blocks!

Justin0505
07-11-2012, 10:18 PM
Vote : IT DEPENDS
..... On the knife, and the user.

I think that the assumption that a "fancy" handle cant be a harmonious or balanced one is wrong.

The more elements you have in a design, the more difficult it is to balance, but that doesnt mean that its impossible; just that it takes skill...

AddictforLife
07-13-2012, 01:59 AM
My vote: It depend.

While the I like my simple ho wood or ebony wood, sometime people make a extremely pretty handle that you yearn to have like this one. http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=4825&d=1329924490

As long as the color and texture on the handle is not too busy, I am ok with it.

Taz575
07-13-2012, 05:13 AM
I like a simple ferrule, like Buffalo Horn or Micarta, a single spacer layer (maybe) then a nice burled wood or one of my laminates for the main part of the handle for a Wa style handle. For a Western handle, burled wood or camo laminate with maybe 1 spacer layer. If there is no metal bolster, I just do a 1 piece western style handle. I usually go with 2 small 1/8" diameter Mosaic pins, or solid stainless or copper. I tried the bigger mosaic pins and they look nice, but sometimes take away from the piece of wood. I like looking at the figure in the wood, but having 2 crazy burls I think would be overdoing it.

The environment for the knife would also change my choices. Fillet or fishing knives, I want something durable with good grip when it's wet/slimy and cosmetics mean less. Kitchen knife, I want something that will make the knife stand out, but not be too gaudy.

I like the handle AddictforLife posted. Nice horn, single spacer, nice piece of figured wood. Simple, clean, tasteful!

AddictforLife
07-14-2012, 01:59 AM
It's marko, love most of the handle he put out. Might get a custom from in the future when I stop being a cheap bum?

Johnny.B.Good
07-14-2012, 02:19 AM
It's marko, love most of the handle he put out.

I have never seen a handle by Marko that I wouldn't be happy to own.


Might get a custom from in the future when I stop being a cheap bum?

I don't think the line will ever be shorter nor the cost lower than it is right now!

Salty dog
07-15-2012, 09:24 AM
For an "exhibition" grade knife fancy is fine.

But for my "working" knives I prefer "D" ho wood handles. Not only for practicality but mostly for function.

Marko Tsourkan
07-15-2012, 09:48 AM
For an "exhibition" grade knife fancy is fine.

But for my "working" knives I prefer "D" ho wood handles. Not only for practicality but mostly for function.

I too like D better than octagonal, though I like them in hardwoods.

M

mc2442
07-15-2012, 10:47 AM
This thread seems to have morphed a bit, but it is a difference between plain handles and burl, I definitely vote burl.

That being said, I am a little confused on the camps here. Personally I prefer a solid burl look, something with character and depth. I have seen a lot of things that might fall in the simple category that I don't like at all, two tones that (to me) clash horribly. Normally it is the non-burl woods that are combined to apparently clash, but I do not find it pleasing to the eye. I am failing at recalling a burl on burl combination, but I agree that would probably be busy.

With the 3 combinations, I normally prefer a simple, cleaner look. A nice wood (probably burl), silver spacer or the like, and a black or simple ferrule that fits the wood.

99Limited
07-15-2012, 11:14 AM
... I am failing at recalling a burl on burl combination, but I agree that would probably be busy.

You should thumb through Mike Henry's Handles thread down in the "Show Your Work" subforum. Mike has put together some pretty nice burl on burl combinations. Now I do admit you'll also find some that probably will not be your cup of tea.

Salty dog
07-15-2012, 09:19 PM
I too like D better than octagonal, though I like them in hardwoods.

M


Depending on the blade.

I am becoming a member of the "feel as little handle" club. Mostly because of the work I'm currently doing.

Exotic handles are cool, no doubt but you won't find them in my kitchen.

But there are a couple in the closet.

Marko Tsourkan
07-15-2012, 09:27 PM
Depending on the blade.

I am becoming a member of the "feel as little handle" club. Mostly because of the work I'm currently doing.

Exotic handles are cool, no doubt but you won't find them in my kitchen.

But there are a couple in the closet.

I was thinking along of cocobolo or ebony. The weigh difference between ho and these hardwood wold be in the area of 50 gram, changing the total weight from 170g to about 220g. The balance would still be forward.

M

Vertigo
07-15-2012, 11:06 PM
I was thinking along of cocobolo or ebony. The weigh difference between ho and these hardwood wold be in the area of 50 gram, changing the total weight from 170g to about 220g. The balance would still be forward.

M
Cocobolo is and will remain for some time my favorite wood for handles and saya. I'm always disheartened at the trash talk it receives, but if ever I come upon the money to enjoy a Marko made knife and saya, cocobolo will undoubtedly be an element.