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Thread: What is it with wa handle makers?

  1. #1

    What is it with wa handle makers?

    With so many new wa handle makers coming on the scene there seems to be apparent trends emerging.

    I see a ton of what I like to call "High End Broom Handles". These are handles made of great materials, great construction and execution but lack the subtle nuances that make a custom wa handle more than just a fancy stick to rest your digits on. They're mostly seen too thick, not tapered, or too thin, or tapered too much. Basically these handles are made by a skilled wood worker who has no clue what-so-ever what is expected of a high end kitchen knife. Someone jumped into the deep end before wading the shallows.

    The other trend I see is what I call the "Everything But the Kitchen Sink Handle". These handles can be seen from low to high end in both materials used and skill level of work performed. Sometimes they're shaped better than a "Broom Handle" but the maker fails when he throws in ugly obnoxious materials as spacers, butt caps, ferrules, more spacers, and more spacers, and even more spacers, etc. This maker appears to have poor taste in styling, he has obviously no ability to control himself.

    I'm just sharing my take it for what it's worth.

  2. #2
    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    I think the custom handle market is in some ways similar to field knife makers who start making kitchen knives: some get it, many don't.

  3. #3
    BTW, I'm not specifically speaking about anyone, and not at all referring to any handle makers here at KKF. I surf the web every day looking for kitchen knife stuff and see a lot of different things popping up.

  4. #4
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    People have different tastes, too. Some like lots of different materials/ contrasts, and some don't. As far as geometry goes, I've seen a big variation just between custom kitchen knife makers, so it's no surprise to see the new handle makers having simlar variations. And frankly some handles I've felt were way too thick or way too thin work great for some other users. Over time there will likely be convergence as the makers get feedback, but I suspect some will be known as handle makers for people with big hands, small hands, etc.

    And new handle makers who make handles that really stink will either learn how to improve them quickly, or they will no longer have an audience.

    As someone who has seen countless handles from Stefen, it is understandable you could get frustrated, especially since some may charge just as much or more then he does, yet the handles are not as comfortable or will not last as long.
    __________
    David (WildBoar's Kitchen)

  5. #5
    Senior Member chefcomesback's Avatar
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    Forgive me if my analogy is too vague but I think the handle is like a nice handmade pizza , there can not be more than 4 things on it, not a big fan of too much bling or too much on it


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Das HandleMeister apicius9's Avatar
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    Dave, not sure i to which category the makers fit who make Hello Kitty handles, could you please clarify?

    Other than that, not sure I want to say much, except that the makers have to start somewhere and hopefully develop over time. And that it made me think when I saw handles in a style that I charge $150 for offered in Japan for $400+, and that didn't even include any expensive material...

    Stefan

  7. #7
    Senior Member NO ChoP!'s Avatar
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    I fit into the I know what a great handle looks like, as I've owned a few from the greats, but my skill level isn't to where I can produce the same perfection. I hope to someday get to the point where what I envision initially is equal to the end result. They say practice makes perfect...right now I'm having fun.
    The difference between try and triumph is a little "umph"! NO EXCUSES!!!!!!!
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  8. #8

    ecchef's Avatar
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    That's a tough call when referring to the aesthetic qualities; everybody has their own personal likes & dislikes. Functionality can have somewhat more defined parameters, but even then it comes down to personal preference.
    Pretty sure a wa handle that tapers down from front to back won't have to many admirers. But then again, people used to buy "Earth Shoes".

    I think Dave is commenting from a very pure, 'Golden Ratio' point of view. I can understand and appreciate that. Some people like Vermeer, some Pollock.

    BTW...Stefan, Hello Kitty handle is the ****!!!
    Though I could not caution all I still might warn a few; Don't raise your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools. - Robert Hunter

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Martell View Post
    I see a ton of what I like to call "High End Broom Handles". These are handles made of great materials, great construction and execution but lack the subtle nuances that make a custom wa handle more than just a fancy stick to rest your digits on. They're mostly seen too thick, not tapered, or too thin, or tapered too much. Basically these handles are made by a skilled wood worker who has no clue what-so-ever what is expected of a high end kitchen knife. Someone jumped into the deep end before wading the shallows.
    That's like everything else in life. Nuances — that's what distinguishes amateurs from professionals. In order to see those nuances you'd need to get first hand experience. In order to master those nuances you'd need way more experience. So it's not surprising to see more and more makers trying their skills in WA handles. Demand creates supply. They do "jumping into the deep end before wading the shallows" but that's quite expectable

    As for the people with bad taste… hm… we do exist, sorry

  10. #10
    In some regards I agree but mainly just that I hope hack jobs don't cut into good quality makers business. But I really enjoy the variety that is starting to come to the market. I am one who really doesn't like dark ferules with a plain light wood handles. I don't like anything too crazy but I think a great knife deserves a nice looking handle.

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