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Thread: A basic question

  1. #1

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    A basic question

    I was thinking the other day, after looking inside a broken wa handle--why is there a horn ferrule on wa handles?


    I mean, everything else about these knives screams functional beauty--but if the handle is meant to shrink over time, and get nasty, knocked off and replaced a few times in the knife's life, why bother with the horn? Whats the function?


    Can't believe I didn't have a solid answer for this, so I am hoping you will. I really hope it's not "because they are pretty".

  2. #2
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    because they are pretty

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    Isn't the purpose of a ferrule to keep the handle from splitting when the tang is driven into it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pensacola Tiger View Post
    Isn't the purpose of a ferrule to keep the handle from splitting when the tang is driven into it?
    Yup. And before there was plastic and stabilized woods there was....horn.
    "God sends meat and the devil sends cooks." - Thomas Deloney

  5. #5

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    Probably tradition. Like Pensacola Tiger said, to keep the wood from splitting and it may have been the only readily available material they had.

    Of course that would be pure speculation on my part.

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    Cant imagine it is just for installation, there are much cheaper and easier low tech ways around that.

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    The alleles created by mutation may be beneficial

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    Quote Originally Posted by BurkeCutlery View Post
    Cant imagine it is just for installation, there are much cheaper and easier low tech ways around that.
    Old habits die hard. I think Kalaeb, JC and PT are on the right track.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BurkeCutlery View Post
    Cant imagine it is just for installation, there are much cheaper and easier low tech ways around that.
    Eamon, it's not just for installing the handle, it's to keep the handle from splitting during use as well. European knives have metal ferrules, but I'd imagine that Japanese knives have horn ferrules from either tradition, or just because it was available.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BurkeCutlery View Post
    Cant imagine it is just for installation, there are much cheaper and easier low tech ways around that.
    Now, yes, a hundred years ago, maybe not, short of a metal band to keep it from splitting.

  10. #10

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    But isn't that why they used Ho wood? Because it doesn't split?

    I mean, not to be argumentative, just trying to make sense of it. Like the hollow backside doesn't just make it sharper or cut better, but it reduces drag. It seems that extra insurance against splitting in a wood that is chosen to basically never split, and be knocked off and trashed if it does seems a bit unworth dealing with the horn. I mean, a brick of ho wood is cheaper than adding a horn ferrule to a handle, so it's not really resource-effective, whether it is money or goods. And it is a serious hassle with hand tools compared to just making a wood handle.

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