I consider semi custom vs full custom like this:
A full custom knife is one that a client specifies every detail of the knife to the maker, whereas a semi custom would still be a one-off but not a special order.
I definitely do not intend to put down the work of custom makers. I just prefer a humble aesthetic, and a lot of stuff in threads like this (also in other forums) seems to be focused on flashy handles and so forth.
Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another"
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Relative to the flashy handles concept, I'm told that 50% of knives are sold on looks alone, especially outdoor style knives. I can point to a maker that is doing quite well with his flashy handles although they look poorly designed for real use. And I never hear or see him talking about the steel and all his IG followers talk about is how "sick" his handles look. LOL So certainly the handle is a way to express your style and ability. I prefer to place importance on how well the edge will cut, sharpen, and retain that edge.
Last edited by HSC ///; 06-05-2016 at 07:43 PM.
I see knives all the time that aren't my taste but I deeply appreciate the hard work and thought that goes into making them. From beginner to expert. Finished this one up for somebody today.
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All of my knives are custom, one of a kind creations as even after almost 10 years, I still can't two of the damn things to look alike.
Back to Wa handles... I've read a few threads lately and some have opined that fancy handles show too much focus on handle workmanship when it should be about the blade.
It can be both, right?
The one good point I saw made was that traditional Wa handles can be replaced easily when worn out, and that makes some sense. But I have to wonder how many really fancy knives like Tsourkan or Haburn get used hard on the line? Not that they couldn't be, but if they were mine I'd be babying those and using something less wonderful looking for really hard work.
Just musing and looking for further opinions on the topic if anyone has a mind to comment. ...
Brock, do the handles on traditional wa knives wear out because they wear out from use like other things or because they are an afterthought made from what are admittedly cheap materials and installed in what some of us would consider to be a temporary manner? You see a lot of old French knives with the original olive wood handles. In my case, the 4 wa handled knives that I have made used exotic handles purchased from a custom handle maker for a fair chunk of change, so the blade had to match in order to demand enough money to cover my costs, etc. Those knives all had S grinds, steel like W2 forced from round bar and 115W8 and one was high layer count ladder damascus blade.
Good points J. Hadn't considered the wear on a cheap handle as a factor.
The pre made wa handles are about $5 - if you can get them (made of White Poplar w/ a plastic ferrule)
They get attached the same way as a premium handle, by epoxy
They are lighter, considerably lighter. changed the feel of the knife quite a bit., the lighter handle make the knife very nimble, the heavier wood handles make the knife feel more robust IMO
What makes them easy to to replace is that you can simply saw thru or break apart the wood with a chisel etc.
Any premium wood handle would perhaps never need to be replaced, but they take what - 2-3 hours to make well plus the $20-40 in materials.
Haburn believes almost 100% of his knives are users. Why buy a kitchen for collecting?
Anyway, That's what I know :-)
I haven't made many kitchen knives but I have a thought to make a blended version handle. Basically take the pre-made wa handle and upgrade it with two side of ironwood to change both the overall weight feel and look.
Last edited by HSC ///; 06-11-2016 at 08:04 PM.
While some of us Gaijin may attach all handles with good old 'Murican epoxy, IIRC, the Japanese traditionally fill the tang hole with some kind of sawdust mixture and burn the tang in. I have heard Murray Carter described those standard Wa handles as a deal where you "buy an nice blade and get a handle thrown in for free", the implication being that you kinda get what you pay for. The being said, if WE could get those handles for $5 over here, that would be okay by me. I saw a video that said that the number of shops making them in Japan has dropped precipitously over the last 30 or so years.
Oh I didn't know that about the sawdust mixture. The pre made ones I have look like this. Pre drilled and slotted ready to fill with epoxy. On these u Can also burn in the tang for a solid fit depending on how u cut ur tang etc.
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There is a video somewhere on Youtube showing how they make those. The machinery that they use is very interesting.
Finishing this one up this weekend. AEB-L and maple.
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