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Bolsterless Western knives?

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Dave Martell

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What do you guys think about bolsterless western handles?

I'm sitting here thinking about the purpose of bolsters and realizing that they play more of an aesthetic role than anything. What's your take on bolsterless western handles?
 

so_sleepy

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What do you guys think about bolsterless western handles?

I'm sitting here thinking about the purpose of bolsters and realizing that they play more of an aesthetic role than anything. What's your take on bolsterless western handles?
Haslinger's kitchen knives are all bolsterless as far as I can tell. I think you just have to figure out how you want the front face of the scale to be finished. I.e. squared off or rounded.
 

James

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I personally like the bolster for aesthetics and heck, I think it makes the knife more comfortable to hold. I also find that stuff builds up right next to the handle when there isn't one...
 

Dave Martell

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A friend recently asked me why they're used, here's what I replied.....

Bolsters are (suppose to be) for protecting the edges of the wood scales (from moisture and knocks, etc) as well as balancing the knife. Today, with stabilized woods, bolsters aren't necessary for this purpose of moisture protection but can serve to protect the front edges from chipping. With the thin knives we use bolsters don't help but hurt balance so metal ones aren't the way to go always. I feel their greatest reason for being used is looks alone and maybe they also offer some value of quality perception since many people feel a bolsterless western means "cheap knife".
 

obtuse

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Aesthetics mainly, but I think a knife can look good in either case. I like the looks of Thomas Haslingers handles. I guess the preconception is that bolsterless equals cheap. Bolsters also add a nice contrast to the handle material. If you can figure out a way to make it look good and feel comfortable, I'd be for it.
 

so_sleepy

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Yeah, if you go bolsterless, it would have to be well executed to keep it from looking cheap. Murray Carter does his IP line with and without bolsters. The ones without don't look nearly as nice.
 

tgraypots

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Dave, I don't think they're necessary. I'd like to see what you can come up with sans metal bolster.
 

peterm

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Yeah I'd like to see too. I think Thomas's handles look nice on his page, but I haven't seen one in person.
I haven't done a rehandle yet without bolsters, but it would be a lot easier to cut out that step that's for sure.
 

Pensacola Tiger

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Dave,

Fish made bolsterless look good. Maybe he could be your inspiration?



 

deanb

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I prefer the look and feel of a bolster on western styled knifes and western styled handles. Aesthetics do mean a lot to me. On many Japanese knifes I prefer Wa handles. It's all personal preference, of course, but before I discovered Japanese knives I thought bolsterless meant cheap stamped knives. The presence of a bolster meant forged and therefore higher quality. Now that I know better I still can't get that reaction out of my mind.
 

Salty dog

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Personally speaking I wouldn't use a Hasslinger as a good example. His handles are probably the reason (originally) I don't own one of his knives.

Granted his newer ones aren't as offensive.
 

Dave Martell

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I can see it both ways and I myself am stuck with the quality look and feel to mean something to me. I know that many makers don;t use them anymore and Rick bringing up some of Fish's work as examples does show how there are other options.

BTW, I'm not just asking this question for my work (although I am considering it for a future project) but I'm very interested in this subject and thinking a lot about it recently.
 

kalaeb

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Would Dels hybrid handles be considered bolsterless? His look great with the two tones of wood, even though it is not a traditional western or wa. I think the possibilities are endless and with your attention to detail and meticulous nature anything you crank out would look pretty good.
 

Mattias504

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I have a Carter IPNB. I find it to be awesome. I don't really think bolsters are always necessary.
 

apicius9

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I don't think bolsters are necessary but I also would not buy one without bolster, just like the look better. However, something like the Fish knife above with a differently colored wood in place of a metal bolster would be fine with me.

Stefan
 

l r harner

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i dont think i have ever made a bolstered knife but i have made a few that had the look
 

Dave Martell

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This also got me thinking about wa handles and how I'd never consider buying a wa handle without a ferrule and it's the same thing, it's about a style - a look.
 

NO ChoP!

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I think for wa peeps, blade heavy is the norm, so bolsterless seems to make sense for that transition, but for long time western handled fans, bolster is +++. After using wa's exclusively for some time, westerns seem handle heavy, and less precise to me... Aesthetically, I agree 100% about bolsters and ferrules!
 

goodchef1

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Ima bolster guy myself, never really thought of it being a necessity or not, just preference. And I like that nice clean break/divide between handle and blade. Seen it done with wood on western handles, but to me it just looks wrong. I would like to see maybe an outline or frame with some kind of filler but for me, the metal definitely needs to be there. As far as a balance issue, I've seen holes knocked out of the tang to balance it out anyway, so I don't think thin blades would be a problem with a bolster as far as balance is concerned.
 

Eamon Burke

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I love the look and feel on an integral bolster, but it's mostly just because its what I grew up with. They serve no functional purpose that cannot be served by a well made piece of wood. I can see how they create balance issues, too, and I think the "bolsterless=low quality" thing would fly out the window if someone uninitiated used a carefully ground, masterfully HTed blade on a bolsterless handle. I certainly wouldn't care.
 

tk59

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I like the look of integral bolsters. I don't like the wierd metal bolsters on knives like the UX10. However, I would no problem going bolsterless, as long as the wood could stand up to being dropped into a block repeatedly. People seem to love pulling out my knives and then dropping them back into the block. Drives me nuts. Haslingers are fugly.
 

Dave Martell

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However, I would no problem going bolsterless, as long as the wood could stand up to being dropped into a block repeatedly.

I never thought about this - interesting thing to consider though.
 

JohnnyChance

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I also thought of a contrasting wood as a bolster, like Del or others. A metal or synthetic spacer between the two might help as well.

Would the contrasting wood need a pin, or would a hidden pin be easier on the wood than mokume?
 

l r harner

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the nicest way i have gotten this lok is on andys cleaver i made
the "bolster/linner" was all one piece i milled the micarta and then put the burl in the space
 

Lefty

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Bolsters to me, are more for aesthetics, nowadays. However, I'll agree with a few others on here, and say that Haslinger makes a mean bolsterless handle. It is one of the more comfortable handles I've held, and looks great!
You just need to find that balance of going without, yet making it still look like a top quality knife.
 
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