Well, Don, that first knife is mine, so I can tell you first hand that it is very comfortable. When I first saw it I was also struck by the taper, but to tell you the truth, I have never really noticed it when cutting. Dave was going to do metal (or mokume) bolsters at first but that didn't work out, so on his first knives he went to a micarta bolster instead. I imagine working with that medium versus metal changed how he made the taper (at least in the beginning). But he could answer that better than I.
Originally Posted by Don Nguyen
As for handles. I like wa in general, but it isn't that simple. I like Devin's squashed octagon handles but also like Del's modified full-tang wa handles. With that said, D-shaped are my real favorite. I'm not sure why. I have two and the way that they fit my hand is perfect. Western handles I love but as far as feel while cutting, they are my least favorite. With that said, I have some amazing rehandled knives and I love them no matter what I think about handle style and feel.
It's obviously grip and user dependent; there's no such thing as a best handle. My aesthetic favors beautiful handles in pictures, but not in my kitchen where it prefers more severely conservative styles. I have large hands and an extremely soft grip style; consequently most handles work pretty well for me, but there are a few standouts.
- Sabatier, three-rivet style;
- Sabatier, Nogent style;
- Forschner Rosewood;
- MAC Pro;
- Konosuke, old style with the half-round bottom; and
- Tadatsuna (stock).
On the other hand, some styles are so awkward, they make using the knife difficult and uncomfortable. No matter how accomodating my grip is (or isn't), they're just fit wrong.
- Alton Angle (remember that?);
- Ken Onion;
- Damn near anything "ergo"; and
- Glestain, to name a God awful few.
My preference is for wa handles. Octagonal or D shaped doesn't really matter much although I do prefer octagonal of the two. Western handles are fine enough I guess but with the way I grip the knife wa just works and feels better.
I don't find that handles affect my grip since I pinch on the blade just in front of the bolster. I'm therefore much more interested in how the handle balances the knife and how it reflects the quality of the knife as a whole than I am in a particular shape (never could buy into the "great blade--really cheap handle" knives that people sometimes rave about). My favorite handle to date has been the quilted figured maple handle that Dave put on my Hiromoto 240, but I'm eagerly awaiting a Marko 225mm suji/petty with a macassar ebony handle that I'm sure will blow me away!
Close, Martell rehandle with Ealy Mokume Gane pins, with heirloom Koa from Burlsource. Next is a brushed Wenge from DT,this is a great handle medium. Last is an Ealy 240mm gyuto in O1 with a split wa in redwood eyeburl with a maple burl bolster.