Handles: What's Your Favorite Wood?

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

tcmx3

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2015
Messages
983
Reaction score
988
Burnt chestnut is an easy recommendation, definitely my favorite.

But Shi.Han's thermory is also pretty amazing.
 

IsoJ

Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
1,130
Reaction score
2,303
Location
Finland
Burnt chestnut is an easy recommendation, definitely my favorite.

But Shi.Han's thermory is also pretty amazing.
Agreed with the Shihan thermory handle, looks and feels great in hand and very grippy.
 

@ftermath

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Messages
589
Reaction score
750
Location
DC
Agreed with Shi.han but I would go one step further and say all his handles are amazing. I’m not sure if they all get the same treatment as thermory but they all seem to have that smoky smell when they first arrive so it’s possible. I’ve tried his thermory, walnut, mora, and sapele and been equally impressed with each. Shehan is known for his blades but he quietly makes some of the best handles on the market IMO.

Maybe I need to ask if he will make a figured maple handle…
 
Last edited:

DitmasPork

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2012
Messages
2,799
Reaction score
3,912
Location
BROOKLYN, NY
Handle design and wood type can make a world of difference. I got a Gesshin Hinoura Ajikataya—the oval handle it came with was very well made, but I personally am not a fan of ovals. I then got Jon to install a burnt chestnut handle, which changed the balance point, and now is more to my liking. Love the knife. Also, dig burnt chestnut aesthetically over ho.

B79D8281-7993-448D-A2C9-CA829783FE84.jpeg

Original oval.

3EA23C09-1F61-428F-948A-6751B206BB53.jpeg

New burnt chestnut installed.
 
Last edited:

Carlo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2020
Messages
172
Reaction score
153
Ho, specifically the ones JNS ships knives with (also got one from Watanabe as an upgrade from the plastic ferrule), …and burnt chestnut. Not a fan of the denser woods. I love the look of chatoyance but I don’t want it in a handle.

I just saw some knives on one of the web sites (can’t remember where, maybe Carbon?) with natural cedar …that would definitely work for me, I wish they were more common or I knew where to find them (and was motivated enough to swap out a bunch of handles).
 

Corradobrit1

Senior Member
Joined
May 2, 2015
Messages
4,572
Reaction score
3,331
Ho, specifically the ones JNS ships knives with (also got one from Watanabe as an upgrade from the plastic ferrule), …and burnt chestnut. Not a fan of the denser woods. I love the look of chatoyance but I don’t want it in a handle.

I just saw some knives on one of the web sites (can’t remember where, maybe Carbon?) with natural cedar …that would definitely work for me, I wish they were more common or I knew where to find them (and was motivated enough to swap out a bunch of handles).
Not had great experience with JNS Ho vs other sources like Morihei. The wood has to be sealed and sanded otherwise the fibers expand and gives it a cheap feel in hand. The porous wood picks up gunk eg swarf, like crazy adding to the budget feel. A step below JNS Ho is TF's.
 

Dendrobatez

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2018
Messages
330
Reaction score
317
Whiskey barrel oak or American cherry are my 2 favorite handle woods right now. Both take a walnut or linseed curing oil very well, rarely need reapplying, dense and grippy. Not a wood but corian is up there for me, as long as it's not taken to a polish it is very grippy.
 

xxxclx

Award-winning geese
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
149
Reaction score
313
Location
Washington
Whiskey barrel oak or American cherry are my 2 favorite handle woods right now. Both take a walnut or linseed curing oil very well, rarely need reapplying, dense and grippy. Not a wood but corian is up there for me, as long as it's not taken to a polish it is very grippy.
Whiskey barrel oak sounds really cool. What knife is that handle for?
 

Sebastian Chrstiansson

Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
90
Reaction score
77
Location
Sweden
Go
What's your favorite wood for knife handles?

Before diving into J-knives, it was either plastic or pakka wood for decades in my kitchen—Wustof, Sabs and Mac—which were fine, no complaints back then.

I've since gotten to appreciate a wider range of handle materials.

Favorite wood is of course purely subjective.

For me, there are two woods that stand out above the rest:
• Koa. Being from Hawaii, I have a special affection for koa, a nostalgia and familiarity with the wood. Koa was always around, wither carved into bowls, ukuleles, benches, floorboards or tables. An old church in Kona, Hawaii, is famed for its interior built from koa. I'd have more koa handles if not for the price of top-shelf quality koa.
• Raquin's burnt oak. There's an understated beauty to those black handles—they feel warm, comfortable, functional, well designed, and confident in the hand. Just the right amount of grippiness when wet; ideal dimensions for my hands.

Honorable mention: burnt chestnut. The majority of my off-the-shelf knives are in burnt chestnut. Love the look, weight and feel over magnolia 24/7.

Handles that are 'meh' to me? Magnolia, despite working alright, they're too common to excite me. Ironwood—never been a fan of the look or feel. They also remind me of a chef I know who slaps ironwood onto all his knives to fancy them up.

View attachment 130831
View attachment 130832
Gotta love a nice handle.
I Almost Rehandle al knifes i got actully.

But gotta say nr 1 Ironwood
Becouse of its weight and natrual feel Becouse its not stabilazed.

nr 2 honduras Rosewood burl
Also Becouse of it natrual feel Also not stabilzed

nr 3 koa
Just Becouse of it looks But its a stabilzed wood so its more of a plastic non life feel.

But i do Rehandle the knife Becouse i am a 270 Guy and Almost al knifes ootb is not balanced in the right spot.

Cherrs
 
Last edited:

JayS20

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
364
Reaction score
577
Location
Germany
For me it's definitely form and taper over handle material. I really like Kamon's handles, fit my hand so well.
But I'm definitely a sucker for nice woods. Be it natural or also dyed and stabilized sometimes. Some nice chatoyance and burls are great.
If you would force me onto one type of wood I would probably go with walnut burl.
I also really like the look of Koa but don't own one yet.
Burned chestnut just feels good and also unremarkable in a good way in hand. Got one on my Gengetsu and on my Vintage Y.Tanaka.
I have some wood blocks laying around and usually send them to the maker when I order a custom one. They need to fit to the style, dami, wrought, more simple mono, carbon or stainless...
Really like Australian woods and the like, e.g. ringed gidgee, tasmanian blackwood, mallee, brigalow...
While Rosewood is alright to good looking, can be annoying with German custom considering CITES. I nearly got a really great looking piece of Honduran Rosewood which is banned but opted out since I couldn't be sure if it would get throught or if they would confiscate it and fine me.

I have seen redwood burl with chatoyance in it. Stunning!
I have a bunch of amboyna burl with chantoyance in the eyes.
I had a block of Vavona/Redwood burl which looked promising. Sent it to Radiona Breg for my knife. It looks brighter than I thought it would but also revealed more chatoyance, big fan.
Dami handle right.jpg Dami handle right 2.jpg Dami handle left 2.jpg

Probably my favourite handle from JJTritz, amboyna, bronze spacer and boxwood, need to take a proper pic of the handle
JJT rechts 2.jpg

Some of my wood blocks with some already work in progress
Wood blocks.jpg
 

Dendrobatez

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2018
Messages
330
Reaction score
317
Cocobolo, ironwood, African blackwood, osage orange, Honduran rosewood, ziricote, olivewood and tamarind are some of my favs over the years.
I really enjoy the feel of tamarind once cured, it likes to split on me though - only reason it's not my favorite.
 

zizirex

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2018
Messages
869
Reaction score
696
Location
Vancouver <--> Jakarta
Desert Ironwood, Cocobolo, Ziritcote, Olive, Gaboon & Makassar Ebony, East Indies Rosewood and Amboyna for the exotic selection.
Walnut, Curly & Spalted Maple, some Oak and Bloodwood for easier to get wood.

Kinda hate Ho wood and Burnt Chesnut, unless it's Octagonal or Heart-shaped, but still too light for my taste. I don't know why people love these handles.
 

M1k3

Stop being so negative, Mike
Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
5,734
Reaction score
7,774
Desert Ironwood, Cocobolo, Ziritcote, Olive, Gaboon & Makassar Ebony, East Indies Rosewood and Amboyna for the exotic selection.
Walnut, Curly & Spalted Maple, some Oak and Bloodwood for easier to get wood.

Kinda hate Ho wood and Burnt Chesnut, unless it's Octagonal or Heart-shaped, but still too light for my taste. I don't know why people love these handles.
Because they're light enough while not being overly light? Chestnut that is.
 

Hz_zzzzzz

Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2019
Messages
903
Reaction score
1,332
Location
CT
Desert Ironwood, Cocobolo, Ziritcote, Olive, Gaboon & Makassar Ebony, East Indies Rosewood and Amboyna for the exotic selection.
Walnut, Curly & Spalted Maple, some Oak and Bloodwood for easier to get wood.

Kinda hate Ho wood and Burnt Chesnut, unless it's Octagonal or Heart-shaped, but still too light for my taste. I don't know why people love these handles.
I like forward balanced knives because it feels like the knife is chopping with its own weight, so I like light handles. The dense wood handles usually screw the balance too much. And ho and chestnut are grippy while dense wood could be slippery especially when they are polished. Being slippery might not be a problem until you have oil/fat or blood from fresh meat on your hand.
 

JoBone

Jobone_craftsman
KKF Sponsor
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2018
Messages
241
Reaction score
370
Location
NC
My wife and daughter tease me because, I spend hour and hours looking at various woods and knife handles. For my personal handle preference, I am non-binary and wood-fluid.

I tend to favor natural oily woods with good figure like rosewoods, walnuts, olive, ironwood and ziricote, combined with a horn.

I also really like highly figured woods like Amboyna, Koa, and rosewood burls.There is something about the look that is amazing and sublime; makes you wonder how did nature produce anything so beautiful.

Exotic woods, strive for CITES certified, reclaimed or old stock woods. I recently visited a dealer that had a stash of Brazilian rosewood that was sitting in his workshop since the 80s. Some exotics coming from Australia and Tasmania (if it’s not domestic for you) are ethically harvested, especially the ones coming from old stumps or rivers. Masur or Karelian birch is well regulated out of Finland, not sure if it’s the same from Russia. Olive wood can be tricky depending on the origins.


Local woods - I recently started visiting local saw mills when I travel. It’s a great way to see all sorts of woods - the obvious ones like hickory, cherry, maple, walnut, but others like pecan, hackberry, beech, holly, cedars, chittum and cypress. It’s also a great way to talk to experts as most of them will know local woods used for knife handles.
 
Top