How to tell between plastic vs horn ferrule?

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Koakuma

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I am having trouble differentiating the plastic and the horn ferrule apart. Could you guys give me some tip to help identify them better? Thank you.
 

Matus

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Well I have not seen a well finished handle with a plastic ferule yet. Plastic ferules often have a 'step' (change in the width/thickness) between the ferule and the rest of the handle. Plus they show no structure whatsoever (but to judge on that one needs very good and detailed photos) - natural horn always has a gentle structure (lines)
 

Keith Sinclair

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The reason I think for the step is because you cannot sand plastic to even it out.
 

kayman67

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You can and actually make it perfect. It's just price point. There is a reason for plastic.
 

Corradobrit1

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I am having trouble differentiating the plastic and the horn ferrule apart. Could you guys give me some tip to help identify them better? Thank you.
It will sound different if tapped with a hard object. The plastic will sound dull. Best way to tell though is a hot needle. The plastic will melt. But I agree with Matus, all the plastic ferrule handles have had exhibited awful F&F.
 

Barmoley

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This is actually interesting, because there are a lot of plastics out there, you could make perfect ferrules with plastics. You could even make it with structure if you really wanted to and with perfect fit and finish. I bet it is cost savings not the material limitation.
 

Koakuma

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When there are kanji sticker 本水牛 on it, does it mean it’s buffalo horn ferrule?
 

Dave Martell

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A plastic ferrule will have a perfect black color throughout whereas a buffalo horn ferrule (even if all black) will have little inconsistent (imperfections) discoloration lines throughout. You sometimes have to look close to see the difference.
 

dafox

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The reason I think for the step is because you cannot sand plastic to even it out.
I think it's because the wood portion of the handles are made one way, optimized for the thicker horn ferule, the plastic ferules are thinner, and when the plastic ferules are applied to the wood they leave the step.
 

McMan

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This is actually interesting, because there are a lot of plastics out there, you could make perfect ferrules with plastics. You could even make it with structure if you really wanted to and with perfect fit and finish. I bet it is cost savings not the material limitation.
My conspiracy theory is that some--not all--of the horn handles are in fact good quality resin.
 

Barmoley

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My conspiracy theory is that some--not all--of the horn handles are in fact good quality resin.
Could be. You could make plastic/composite material to look exactly like horn, most likely not worth it from the economic stand point. Could probably even print it.
 

HRC_64

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Horn should feel like your fingernail, it has a more tactile feel and responds to moisture differntly.
 

Keith Sinclair

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I used a lot of horn when helping Stefan. Rehandled some of my knives too. It smells esp. when drilling.

In the non cheap knives can tell difference between resin and horn.

The blue moon I like to recomm. as a good bang for the buck has a resin collar with chestnut handle. I use it as workhorse home knife don't Notice anymore though prefer horn.
 

Koakuma

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To sums up all the findings, check for F&F and steps between the handle/ferrule, tapping it to hear how it sounds, check for discoloring and horn feels like finger nails and more tactile. All else fails, burn it. Thanks for all the tips. Wish they would put the sticker on all horn ferrules.
 

ian

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I suppose if you can’t tell the difference, though, why do you care? (Unless you’re selling.) I don’t like the stickers personally: don’t toot your own horn, vendors!

I’d also vote to remove or clarify “feels more tactile”, since I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean. Tactile (n): of or connected with the sense of touch.

Maybe feels smoother, or less dense somehow? I don’t know. Can you tell the difference while blindfolded between horn and highly polished wood without trying to scratch (or burn) it or something?

Note: burning things while blindfolded is discouraged.
 

Corradobrit1

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I'm looking at the horn ferrule on the 210 Kato WH I just received. I can see the equivalent of tree annular rings ie growth rings, which even when highly polished are clearly visible. I believe it would be harder to replicate this on plastic/synthetic ferrule material without leaving score marks. There are also flecks of paler horn in the cross section too. Its the 'imperfections' that usually separate natural from manmade.
 

OnionSlicer

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Is there any difference in long-term durability between the two?
 

HRC_64

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Plastic is slippery, horn has grip
Yes...its a feeling 'distinguished by touch' or something 'perceptible by touch' ...

Early 17th century (in the sense ‘perceptible by touch, tangible’): from Latin tactilis, from tangere ‘to touch’.
This subtle feeling of grip is what you are paying for with horn,
just like you pay for the better heat-treatment on the steel,
because it has "better feeling" on the stones, etc

Plasticised (stabilized) wood handles are also very different feeling than natural wood,
IMHO all of those plasticisers similalry offer poor (low) tactile response/feeling.
 

JBsmoove

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One comes from a horned mammal and the other is a byproduct of petroleum.
 
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