Johnny has provided a good description - I don't actually hold a wa handle differently from a yo handle, tho, his explanation makes sense and I don't disagree with it.
I started using yo handles on German knives, and migrated my technique - I use what I call a hybrid pinch grip - I wrap my index finger around the front of the ferrule, and use the shoulder of the ferrule to lock in my grip. I use a variety of grips depending on the cutting task, but this is the most frequent. I don't use a typical pinch grip on the blade as I don't find it as confortable or gives me as much control.
While I love the look of your wa handles w/ the tapered ferrule, my only concern for my own use is how it would affect how I hold the knife. If there's too much taper and not much shoulder, I may find it uncomfortable.
I owned (and sold) a Hattori FH 270 gyuto - has what I considered to be one of the nicest yo handles, but it was on the small side. And the ferrule was taperd too small, and it was too difficult for me to wrap my finger around the ferrule and get a secure grip.
I hope there's something in there that useful for you. Cheers! mpp
Although, the entire hand is wrapped around the handle for both wa and yo, the pointer and thumb supply the pressure for the wa, coincidentallly around the balance point. For a yo, the weight is held in the palm. Since the pointer and thumb are only resting on the bolster, comfort is a factor.
For me a well designed western is bulbous just behind the balance point, for good grip and weight distribution. The balance should just slightly tip to the bolster giving your pointer/ thumb controlled finesse.
And as I'm sure your westerns will have sexy curves like a Shig or Kramer, there'll be plenty to grip, so I say make the bolster as sleek as you can.
You don't REALLY expect us to agree on this, do you? :lol2:
Anyway, in the "worth 1000 words" vein. Using a pinch grip on all of these:
My very favorite western handle (Rader):
This bolster is absolutely, completely, wonderfully comfortable. You can rest your fingers against the curve of the bolster, and there's enough surface to press back against the bolster when you pull. The grip is very, very secure.
Also excellent, but different (Shigefusa):
As narrow as the bolster is, there's not much to give you any push back towards the handle with your pinching fingers. The way this knife floats through anything, you aren't going to get much drag when you pull anyway. I really like this one too, but I find myself reaching for the Rader more and more because it's so dang comfortable.
Not as good (ZK Kramer):
This is a utility knife and more handle heavy, but I don't think I'd like this on a gyuto. If you were pulling, you don't have much of a stop--you just slide up that brass ramp.
Wouldn't want one like this (Tanaka):
Again, not a gyuto, but this one isn't terribly comfy for a pinch grip. Yes, you have a flat surface for a pull cut, but that hard edge doesn't feel too good.
Johnny gave a great description. I'm another one that doesn't vary between grip on a wa and yo. And with a blade-heavy knife, my hands aren't big enough to use the end of the handle for pull cuts and still have the knife feel balanced.
Excellent information, thank you!
i absolutely love the shape of my hattori kd handle:
look at the reflection in the mirror...
the coke bottle shape is perfekt, and i like the bolster too!
Actually, the handle I have in mind will be similar except it will be hidden tang handle and it will be curvier (I think heftier handle is better, as long as it has an appropriate shape). The reason I am taking a hidden-tang route is that natural or stabilized wood will move over time, while metal tang won't, so sooner or later there will be some separation for food particles or bacteria to get in. This applies particularly to natural woods. The movement is particularly evident in the winter months.
There will be no rivets, as the handle will be one piece. I might do a decorative spacer between the guard and the handle.
The bolster, or more appropriate to call it the guard will be in stainless steel, bronze and mokume (the most expensive option, standard on damascus knives) .
I am going to start with scimitar and bread knife prototypes with this type of handle - JohnyChance is going to help to design these, so by right, he will have the first pick.
Hopefully by the end of month, I will get them done.
In the future I will probably go integrals route, but right now I don't have equipment or am allowed do to this kind of work at the place I am. I will start looking for a new place this spring-summer, so this might change.
Just heads up.
Originally Posted by Lucretia
What's the thickness at the bolster on Rader handle? From the picture is looks about 5/8 or even slightly larger.
It's a Coca-Cola shaped handle. The consensus seems to be that a front should be slightly tapered, the middle at full thickness, and the back can have cavities (that make the handle look like a Coca-Cola bottle). Some makers grind the cavities from top to bottom like in the picture above, some only at the bottom like M. Rader does.
I would like to know what is that you guys like about this shape (Coca-Cola) as it tends to work very well for a handle grip, but most folks use a pinch grip.
I spoke to people who handled Zwilling Kramer and even though the handle on that knife is not a Coca-Cola shape, people liked it with a pinch grip, namely because of the thick middle that fits neatly in the palm. Carter Western handles are same thickness throwout and I don't think I have ever heard a complain that those are not comfortable.
I don't want to beat this subject to death, but it would be helpful to understand why things are done in a certain way before attempting designing something. I try to break construction into steps and come up with an efficient way of doing each, so it is something I need to factor in.
I prefer even thckness .. its less hit or miss as far as curve placement matching with thr size of my hand. Also though this may be off topic ... ive found westerns to feel great on 210s and less comfortable the longer the blade.