It’s little over a month till Christmas and it’s a high time to look for the gifts for your loved ones. Today we’ve prepared you the ultimate present guide to Japanese and Japan-inspired products for every pocket.

  1. Origami Set

    Source: amazon.co.uk

    Origami set, like this Origami Fashion Set contains 100 sheets of brightly coloured origami paper, which makes origami art  simple and fun to make. Book will guide you through the detailed folding. You can create beautifully detailed garments with folded paper. Attached full-colour book shows detailed diagrams on how to properly fold each origami.
    You can get your set here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/NPW-W5264-Origami-Set-Fashion/dp/B002YYEIKS.

  2. Kintsugi Repair Kit

    source: kintsugi.com

    In Japanese, the word Kintsugi means “golden rejoining,” a 15th-century oriental master craft dedicated to the restoration of fine ceramic pottery. The essence of Kintsugi about the power of transforming broken ceramic pottery into beautifully resurrected masterpieces. With Kintsugi kit, you will repair pottery a traditional method using real Urushi lacquers without any artificial materials. The resulting repaired pottery will be both visually appealing and durable as well. With single kit, you can repair dozens of broken potteries (or break them on purpose just to decorate them 😉) You can get the kit here: https://japana.uk/shop/genuine-kintsugi-repair-kit-japanese-urushi-lacquer-japan.

  3. Japanese Kimono

    Embedded from Instagram

    The kimono (着物, きもの) is a traditional Japanese garment. The word “kimono” means a “thing to wear” and in Japan it is always worn for important festivals or formal occasions and has at least 10 types for different occasions. Kimono is associated with politeness and good manners. Its less formal version is called Yukata and is worn by Japanese in warmer days as it’s made out of thinner materials. Traditional kimonos are beautifully crafted with attention to details and
    There are dozens of original kimonos from Japan available on Etsy, Ebay and other shops like Japanese Kimono. Check these for inspiration: http://japanese-kimono.net

  4. Empty Sake Barrel

    This comes as a really original gift and can serve multi purposes! Called komodaru or kazaridaru are a a straw-wrapped sake barrels donated by Sake makers to Shinto shrines to make a decorative display for festivals and ceremonies. They can be used as a storage or simply a nice Japanese touch to your home decoration. You can get one of these here: https://www.sake-import.com/blank-1/empty-sake-barrel-hinomaru-nippon

  5. Kyoto Geisha Doll

    kyoto geisha dolls japanese gift

    Source: Alphabet City

    Something for the little ones! Kyoto Geisha dolls (aka Kyoto dolls) are quite famous. The unique dolls are traditionally made with silk, wood and cloth that is layered in paper mache style. Only the dolls in Kyoto are dressed in Nishijin kimono silk. These dolls are a wonderful, colourful Japanese Geisha statues, with the classic “shimada” hair style, exotic hair pins, and comb. Originally, Geisha statues were carved from wood, fish bone, or ivory, some elaborately painted and inscribed. This reproduction solid resin designs capture much of the same refined, elegant detail, a striking decorative accent for home or office. Remarkably affordable, they’re stunning displayed in pairs; and consider another for the discerning lady on your gift list. You can get these original dolls from Kyoto on Ebay for around $280-$300, straight from Japan. Remember that you may need to pay customs on top of that.

  6. Japanese Kitchen Knives

    Sakai Takayuki Tokojou Sashimi 240mm

    Sakai Takayuki Tokojou Sashimi 240mm. Source: japana.uk

    Japan is the land of long traditions, where hundreds of years of accumulated knowledge and experience are passed down from master to apprentice, from teacher to pupil. From ikebana flower arrangements to martial arts and kabuki theatre, each tradition has its own set of rules, procedures and schools of styles. Japanese chef knives are fashioned by techniques that were originally developed for making katana (samurai swords) over 1200 years ago. They are valued for their extreme sharpness, edge retention and beauty of simplicity.
    Today you can give these practical gifts to your loved ones from many online retailers and specialised shops.

  7. Japanese Cook Book

    japanese soul cooking cookbook cousine

    Japanese cuisine is much more than sushi, chicken katsu or teriyaki. Teaching that there is more to Japanese cuisine than just sushi, Japanese Soul Cooking was originally aimed at Americans but is now a much-loved cookbook all around the world. Ono and Salat share the incredible story of how meaty comfort food first came to Japan, as well as the origins of their favorite gyoza, curry and tonkatsu recipes. A step-by-step photo story accompanies each of the 100 recipes, helping to make lesser known dishes such as chahan fried rice and wafu pasta quickly become as much a staple in the Western kitchen as chicken ramen already is. You can get this book on Amazon and many local bookstores: https://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Soul-Cooking-Tonkatsu-Kitchens/dp/1607743523

  8. Japanese Snacks Subscription Boxes

    japanese snacks subscription boxes

    Source: Japanese Crate promotional materials

    Actually, there are few companies offering Japanese treats subscription boxes. Snakku, Bokksu, Japanese Candy Box are just a few to mention. They don’t cost a fortune and the Japanophile on your gift list gets a carefully curated box of authentic Japanese sweets. Each month has its own seasonal theme. A single-month plans starts at £20 and there are some one-off options too.

  9. Japanese Lacquerware

    Source: Yamada Heiando promotional materials

    Source: Yamada Heiando promotional materials漆器 shiki is a Japanese craft with a wide range of fine and decorative arts, as lacquer has been used in urushi-e (also found in kintsugi art), prints, and on a wide variety of objects from Buddha statues to bento boxes for food. From tableware to stationery, Japanese lacquerware adds a touch of class to any home. Although not cheap, it will definitely make a great ever-lasting impression on the receiver of the gift. Some of the best Japanese lacquerware brands are: Yamada Heiando or Wakayama.

     

  10. Dinner with a Geisha

    geisha dinner kyoto tokyo japanese gift christmas authentic experience

    Source: Travel With Nano B.

    Going to Tokyo or Kyoto anytime soon? Splurge on a kaiseki dinner with a trained geisha. These skilled entertainers will serve your drinks at Private Tea, a meal with practiced composure and treat you to a traditional geisha dance with music. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many, and a must for lovers of Japanese culture. Dinner and a performance with an English-speaking geisha starts at little above $300 USD on Voyagin.

  11. Chopsticks
    Sushi japanese chopsticks gifts present

    Source: Pexels

    Simple but such a useful and a pretty gift! Bring the wonders of an authentic Asian dining experience home with chopsticks. You can get the chopsticks in various shapes and sizes in Kyoto and Osaka markets. In case you’re not planning a trip to Japan anytime soon – there is always online shopping :).

  12. Bonsai

    bonsai tree gift japanese miniature tree christmas present

    Source: House Of Bonsai

    Bonsai –盆栽 – actually is not a name of the tree type but a Japanese art form using trees grown in containers. Similar practices exist in other cultures, including the Chinese tradition of penzai or penjing from which the art originated, and the miniature living landscapes of Vietnamese hòn non bộ. The Japanese tradition dates back over a thousand years. You can get any kind of bonsai from Amazon.

  13. Make your own Japanese Kitchen Knife

    We’ve done it last year and we absolutely loved it. Nowadays knife villages and factories open themselves to visitors and let them watch and experience blacksmithing process on their own. For a mare $300 you can create your own santoku or gyuto (chef’s) knife. You don’t need to know anything about blacksmithing prior to taking the workshop, other than that it’s you can hurt yourself if you’re not being careful. Workshops are available in Takefu Knife Village like also in a few Sakai factories.

  14. Sake

    sake gift japanese

    Sake, also spelled saké, also referred to as a Japanese rice wine, is made by fermenting rice that has been polished to remove the bran. There are as many different types of sake as there are sake fans, you can drink it cold or warm. You can get a good sake at about £15-20 and if you like to splash the cash, the sky is the limit. Kanpai!

Ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi (also known as Kintsukuroi) literally translates as “golden joinery.” Fixing prised and valuable porcelain is nothing short of an art form in Japan. The Japanese have been using lacquering techniques for approximately 9,000 years, and this skill and art form is still valued to this day.
In today’s Japana Inspirations series we will try to show you how you can try it for yourself. You will discover that Kintsugi can be both relaxing and rewarding and you don’t necessarily need to break things (although we think that’s the most relaxing part :).

Although the way to store knives on magnetic rack should seem like a no-brainer, it may actually create a lot of confusion to many people.
In a wall mounted knife rack, do the knives go blade pointing up or down? It may look like it doesn’t really matter, but does it?  There are only so many ways to do this so it’s not rocket science but this is the best setup our boss Anna has found.

You finally took the plunge and invested in a good knife — or … maybe a few good knives. Either way, you’ve spent good money and your blades deserve a storage place that will keep their edges pristine for as long as possible. If you have small children, you also want to make sure that these sharp as razor knives are out of the reach. Here’s what not to do, and three ways to do it right.

Do no try it at home (or any other place)

Putting your knives in a drawer along with other kitchen tools and cutlery is a really bad idea. Not only is it a fast pass to the emergency room should you grab the knife end of a blade when you are going for the ice cream scoop, but sliding against other metal objects damages a knife, causing it to become dull more quickly or even causing nicks and notches that will eventually need to be repaired. Even the best sharpening service won’t help then.

The best way to store your knives

Although there are a plethora of knife storage options, from high-tech to high-style, at a variety of price points, ultimately the best tools ever invented are magnetic racks and blocks. Not only it allows you to store the knives safely, but it also comes in handy when you don’t have much of drawer space at your disposal. In a small kitchen a wall-mounted magnetic strip takes advantage of underused spots; if you have the luxury of space, a dedicated knife block will keep the knives firm tight.

At the end of the day, though, whichever you choose, storing knives comes down to two things: storing them firm and safe (especially when children are around). The sharp edges should not never touch the storage piece when being inserted or removed, and you should never store a knife so that it is resting on that pointed edge. That’s why solutions with magnets are doing such a great job.

Magnetic knife holders are a great way to keep your knives at the ready and safely out of reach for your little ones. However, they’re also useful for keeping other household items organised and easy to grab. (That is, provided they’re a good amount of metal in them, such as drill bits, scissors or paperclips.) Below, we list other ideas for putting a magnetic knife strip to use in your bathroom, office, workshop, and obviously, kitchen.

In today’s article we’d like to show you a step-by-step guide on the simplest way to fillet a fish using Japanese style knife – Deba. Learn what the best tools for the job are.

What will you need:

Filleting knife – A knife with a flexible blade allows you to move easily between the flesh and bones of the fish – and the sharper the knife the easier the job. Japanese created a special style knife called Deba, which is ideal for that kind of job.

Sakai Takayuki Tokojou Deba 180mm White Steel #2

Sakai Takayuki Tokojou Deba 180mm White Steel #2

Scissors – You’ll need sharp scissors to snip off the fins.

This is the most effective way to fillet round fish such as sae bass, mackerel, trout, sea bream, john dory, cod, pollock, coley, mullet, salmon and sardines. Ask your fishmonger to scale the fish for you.

Got the tools? Ok, let’s start:spacer-647px

Step 1

Put the scaled fish on a chopping board and, using scissors, trim off the fins by the head on each side, and any fins that run along the top and on the underside of the fish.

Step 2

step-2With the tip of the knife, pierce the stomach of the fish using the small hole by the tail as a guide. Run the knife from the tail to the head, cutting open the stomach. Clean out the contents of the stomach and rinse the fish in cold running water.

Step 3

Put the fish back onto the chopping board and make a long cut around the head and just below the gills on both sides. Then, remove the head.

Step 4

Tail towards you, run the knife down the spine to the tail in a gentle slicing – not sawing – action, working the blade between the spine and the flesh. Repeat until the fillet begins to come away – lift the fillet to see where you’re working.

Step 5

When you get to the rib bones, let the knife follow the shape of the fish and slice over the bones. Once you’ve removed the fillet, set it aside.

Step 6

Turn over the fish and repeat with the second fillet, this time starting at the tail and working towards the head. Be careful – the second fillet may be a little trickier to remove. Voilà, you’ve filleted the fish.

Here is the video guide in case you found the above guide difficult. Here, Chef Dai is showing how to fillet a mackerel fish:

Here, filleting Sea Bream

Enjoy the fish!

Short answer: Even better!
The Sujihiki or Subihiki – as some also call them, is the Japanese version of the slicing Western knives, also used for carving.A carving knife is much thinner than a chef’s knife (particularly at the spine) and sharper edge than Western versions, enabling it to carve thinner, more precise slices. The long blade of the Sujihiki is ideal for thinly carving cooked and raw meats, as well as slicing terrines and patés. The Sujihiki is a double edge slicing knife with a long narrow blade that smoothly slices through meat or vegetables and preserves the integrity of each ingredient’s freshness. The Sujihiki slicer can carve and fabricate large roasts and other meats and fish, and can be used for thinly slicing other ingredients such as cucumbers or smoked salmon.

Some Sushi chefs prefer to use a Sujihiki instead of a Yanagi to slice Sashimi or fillet fish.

Sujihiki’s commonly range from 240mm to 300mm though there are both shorter and longer examples than this range.
In case of Western carving knives, sizes range from 20 cm and 38 cm (8 and 15 inches) and are used to slice thin cuts of meat, including poultry, roasts, hams, and other large cooked meats.

Cooks should choose the length appropriate to their needs based on the product the knife will be used on and the available space in the kitchen. Logically, more length is preferred because it ensures that slices can be completed without resorting to sawing through the protein which can diminish the quality of the final product. While the double bevel sujihiki is ideal for most Western applications, users who intend to use the knife exclusively for raw fish and who desire the most traditional sushi experience should consider whether a yanagiba is for them.

Looking for sujihiki knives? Check our range of Japanese Sujihiki knives.

 

To understand sharpness you must first understand the definition of an edge. An edge is the line of intersection of two surfaces. A highly sharpened edge is one, where the two sides are highly polished to form a very fine edge. Sharpening is the means to that very fine edge.

What is sharp and how to test it?

There are countless ways of testing knives and tools for sharpness. We believe the easiest way to test sharpness is to use the knife on ingredients of daily with easy structure (one, which does not have a bone e.g.). If it does not cut fast and cleanly, it needs sharpening. The knife should be able to cut vegetables with almost no downward pressure. On a fillet or skinning knife, it should be able to cut very quickly without having to saw through the meat.

If you really want to get down to fine-tuned levels of sharpness there are a few more tests you can use. Our favourite is to take a piece of paper and hold it vertically. Although, we admit, we also love to see and do the fruit ninja test 🙂
Ps. If you’ve never played in that game, watch it in action, where a young and talented British blacksmith Alec Steele tests the sword he made:

1. Slicing paper

..but in case you don’t have a sword and pineapples at hand, only your kitchen knife, then if you try to cut it with a dull knife, the paper will crumple beneath the knife. A sharp knife will cut it cleanly when use a slicing motion to cut through the paper. A razor sharp knife can cut the paper cleanly by just pressing down on the edge of paper without any slicing at all.

Another factor effecting edge sharpness is the angle it is sharpened. The lower the angle, the sharper the blade becomes. However, the lower the angle, the weaker the edge becomes. Very low angle blades like a razor blade or a fillet knife will ultimately have a sharper edge than high angle tools such as an axe, but that edge will not last as long and will require more frequent resharpening.

If you can slice paper effortlessly with your knife and it doesn’t catch and tear then your knife is reasonably sharp and ready to work. Now, there are levels of sharpness much greater than being able to slice plain old printer paper, but a knife that can do this trick is sharp. This trick can also be used to see if there are any hidden dull/damaged sections of your edge.

On this video you can see a very dull knife that needs to be properly sharpened. Remember, that dull knife is NOT safe to work with.

2. Slicing magazine or phone book paper

We know, it looks like the same trick as before BUT because of how thin and glossy these types of paper are, the more difficult it is to catch with an edge. A knife that can slice effortlessly through phone book or magazine paper, especially if it is rolled up, is very sharp. Maybe even sharp enough to shave with. (but please, don’t try it at home 🙂 ).

3. Shaving sharp

If you can shave arm hair with your knife you probably don’t need to read further and you can safely just go back to work 🙂 While we recommend caution using this method, it can be very useful. A dull or even moderately sharp knife will just fold over your arm hairs without cutting. A well sharpened knife will cut almost all of the hairs in one pass. A very sharp knife will cut all the hairs in its path. This level of sharpness can only be attained using the finest abrasive materials.

4. Finger nail trick

Stick out your index finger and carefully and gently lay the edge of your knife on your fingernail so the knife is perpendicular to your finger. If your knife bits into your fingernail with absolutely no pressure AND doesn’t slide around, then your knife is still very sharp.

5. Slicing an onion

The skin on an onion is very thin and slippery. If your knife can easy catch and bit into the skin of an onion you’re in good shape.

If you know any unconventional, but safe methods of testing knife sharpness, let us know by sharing your knowledge in the comments below. Thanks!

The eternal problem – how to best store your sharp Japanese knives. If you love your knives, you probably already know the basics: You have to have them sharpened regularly and cleaned after use. You also need to keep them out of the dishwasher. Or don’t leave them in the sink. Or remembering of drying them before storing them.
When it comes to storing your knives, there are few solutions which you may consider. Finding the right home for your knives is more than just a question of kitchen organisation. The right knife storage can help your knives stay sharper longer—and help your kitchen look fancier, too.

Knife Drawer

 

kitchen knife drawer

Source: Ikea

The first problem with drawer trays is finding ones to fit your knives. Deba that’s too thick? Extra long sujihiki or yanagiba? You’re out of luck for those Ikea standards.
The other issue is that space – many people don’t have drawers to spare. What most of us have, however, is plenty of wall space. Some kitchen cooks joke that they would rather have guitars and knives up than paintings.

Other than using an in-drawer knife block storage method, we strongly suggest avoiding this unless you have absolutely no other choice. Free storage of knife blades in a drawer can chip the handle or the blade itself, knives will go dull easily, and you could even break the knives when too much strength is applied when opening/closing the drawers.

If you really want to store your kitchen knives in a drawer, never leave them loose. We repeat: it damages the blades and makes knife accidents very hard to avoid. Using a special knife block made to store your knives in a drawer is critical.

Pros: In-drawer knife storage keeps your knives out of the way and off the counter. You can put extra safety blocks if you have small children at home. In-drawer knives storage are also useful in small kitchens that have enough drawer space.

Cons: If you have children, storing knives in a drawer isn’t safe. However, you could install a lock on your knife drawer, but that means it is a pain to access your knives when you need them. Also, the blades would have to be stored upright, and that vertical position puts stress on the blades, just like a block, meaning you’ll have to store them upside down and blade up to protect the blades. Accident waiting to happen!

Knife Block

knife block

Original knife block made out of wooden chunk

This seems to be the most common form of storage for commercial knife sets, since many knife sets come with their own knife block storage, and many people buy an empty knife block to store knives purchased separately. Countertop kitchen knife holders like these seem ideal. However, knife blocks also have some limitations depending on the block itself. Universal knife blocks can overcome some of those issues.

Pros: You’ll have all your kitchen knives in one place, and storing knives in the block can help keep the edge longer, as well as avoiding accidents between fingers and knives when reaching for them.

Cons: Bad idea for those Japanese knives of different thickness, shapes and sizes. If your knife block doesn’t come with your specific knife set, the pre-sized knife slots are may not fit your knives, especially if you do like we do, and acquire additional preferred knives outside the knife block set. Also, you need to be sure to get a block that stores knives sideways to prevent dulling of the knife blades. If you have to have a vertical storage knife block, store your knives upside down to protect the edges. Unfortunately that does add a safety issue, so sideways storage is best. Or you could find a block that uses plastic storage rods or other material that doesn’t harm the knives resting on them.
Blocks tend to blunt the blades as they normally get dragged over the wood every time. If you are not careful, they are the perfect spot for growing nasties which can help spread food poisoning due to just plain nasty looking gunk that’s near impossible to clean out.

Magnetic Strip / Magnetic Holder

walnut magnetic knife rack strip 12'' 30cm

Some people believe that magnetic strips could possibly cause misalignment on a molecular level – nothing further from the truth! We brought up this conversation with a mechanical engineer once and he assured us that that was impossible.

Good magnetic knife racks (strips) have their magnetic part hidden inside the wood so they are neat, perfectly safe for your knives and still extremely strong. Good magnetic knife strips hold the knives firmly on the rack and pull them close with a nice slapping noise. The clever bit about using wood is that unlike metal magnetic racks it protects the blade from chipping or scratching.

Some people hang their knives up side down, others handles down. It’s whatever feels more comfortable for you.

Pros: Racks are an easy way to organise your knife blades and keep them safely off the counter. They are quickly available as all you have to do is reach up and grab your knife of choice. And, most importantly, they keep your knife blades stable, which avoids damage to the knife or its edge.

Cons: Magnetic strips put pressure on the tang of the knife when removed, so if you don’t have a full tang knife, it can stress the knife stability over time. Magnetic racks aren’t safe with children in kitchen unless the magnetic knife strip is mounted high enough that even the knife bottoms are out of your children’s reach. And, as you may have already guessed, you also can’t use them with ceramic knives.

Last notes on proper knife care

Storing your knives in a right way is not enough. As we already mentioned in this article, you have to remember about few things to keep your shiny Japanese beauties in top working order for long.

However, there is one thing we can’t stress enough, and this is – always clean your knives immediately after use and before storing them away.

There are a number of reasons for this, including:

  • Sanitary reasons: The longer you wait to clean your knives after use, the more likely the knives will not be washed properly and food particles can accumulate. Also, with poor storage, the knife blades may not be stored in sanitary conditions, meaning reuse could result in an unsanitary blade. Germs anyone?
  • Preventing damage to the knife blades: If the blades aren’t completely clean and dried properly before storage, the blades can start to deteriorate and dull the edges or even damage the knife construction.
  • Avoiding spotting or metal corrosion: If you work with tomatoes or citrus or other acidic foods, not cleaning, drying and storing your knives immediately and correctly can cause corrosion or deterioration to the metal. Spotting is also pretty common and that is a sign that the blade material is being damaged slowly.
  • Avoiding dulling the blades: Washing your knives in the dishwasher — even if they are dishwasher-safe — is a bad practice. In the dishwasher, your knife blades are exposed to damage from knocking against other items. And detergents are harsh on the blades. Plus the high heat of a dishwasher can also deteriorate the blade edge.

(For more advice check our article about 10 knife care tips learned from master blacksmiths.)

Our winner: Magnetic Knife Strip

walnut magnetic holder

Although you’ve got a lot of options for storing your knives and knife sets safely to avoid damage or deterioration and still maintain knife safety in the kitchen, for us, magnetic knife strip is with no doubt the best way to store and care for our knives. For that reason we import and sell only that. Not only it’s the best (in our humble opinion) way to display your large knife collection (we can see those envy looks of your guests already), it’s also the most ergonomic and safe way to keep sharp objects in your home, especially with children around.

Example:

https://japana.uk/shop/12-magnetic-knife-holder-walnut-magnetic-knife-strip-jpna

While you may already know everything about steel and different blade’s components used in Japanese knives, we thought to also give a quick explanation on how different kitchen knife handles can be, their prons and cons and what price tag they usually carry.
While many people think the most important part of a knife is the blade, that assumption is very misguided. The handle is an equally important aspect of the knife because without it, the knife would lose its functionality. For anyone looking to buy a new knife, whether a chef, a hobbyist cook, or outdoorsman, the handle is a significant feature that should not be overlooked. Here is some information about common styles and types of knife handles.

Wood Handles

Sakai Takayuki 45 Layer Damascus Gyuto 210mm AUS10 with Octagonal Magnolia Handle

Wood had been used as a knife handle since knives came into existence.  A good quality wood handle can be durable and attractive, making wood a relatively inexpensive material for heavy-duty knives. Wood also adds a lot of beauty to a knife, making wood handled knives popular among collectors.

Various different types of woods are used in knife handles, so you have to choose wisely based on how, how often and where you’re going to use the knife. If you are going to use it in wet conditions often, you don’t want your knife handle to be made of soft or fine woods like black walnut; better to use a hardwood or a stabilised wood, where the wood is injected with plastic.

Wood also makes it extremely easy to carve artsy designs and create handles unlike any other types. Some of the common types of wood used for handles are cocobolo, ebony and rosewood (shitan). Of course there is a wide variety of pricing among wooden handles depending on the type and scarcity of the wood used.

Wood does have a number of drawbacks that you should keep in mind when thinking about buying a knife with a wood handle. The biggest factor is its maintenance. Wood is difficult to clean and harder to maintain as it can be damaged easily.

Hardwoods originate from deciduous trees whereas softwoods largely come from coniferous trees.  There are hundreds of so-called exotic hardwoods used in knife making today and each displaying unique characteristics that excite us as knife collectors.
Examples of stabilised woods include are plywoods typically made from birch. Manufacturers inject polymer resin and then compress under high pressure to create a very dense and durable material that still exhibits natural beauty.

Pros: Lots of variety, attractive, durable, very comfortable to hold
Cons: Porous if not stabilised, rare woods can be pricey

Micarta® Handles

Yu Kurosaki R2 Gyuto 210mm Hammered

Yu Kurosaki R2 Gyuto 210mm Hammered

Micarta is a popular branded example of a phelonic, which refers to different substances made with the organic compound Phenol – a type of resin. This type of resin is a synthetic material that is a composite of linen or paper.

Thin layers of linen cloths are soaked in a phenolic resin, producing a product that is lightweight, strong, and looks more aesthetically attractive than similar materials. It was originally introduced as an electrical insulator and easily one of the best plastics out there for making knife handles.

Unfortunately, Micarta in and of itself has absolutely no surface texture, is very slippery and smooth, and requires quite a bit of hand labour to produce and then carve some sort of texture into the knife. This makes it pricey, which translates to a higher priced knife. Many will tell you that Micarta can be easily scratched but fortunately, this is not the case.  Micarta is very hard and is not easy to scratch at all.  If enough pressure is applied e.g. scratch under attack from sharpened steel, then it may get leave a mark, just like G-10 and carbon fiber, will but in general it holds up very well.

It also comes with many different colours, such as black, white red, tan and other bright hues.

Pros: Tough, light, durable
Cons: Expensive, brittle

Metal Handles

metal knife handle kitchen knife

Metal is a very popular choice for handles because of its durability and strength. There are two common types of metal typically used for knife handles: titanium and stainless steel. The benefit of stainless steel is that it’s resistant to corrosion but is not particularly lightweight. In addition, stainless steel handles can be rather slippery so manufacturers have to incorporate etching or ridges to provide the required friction.  Quite often, you’ll see stainless steel used in combination with plastic or rubber, to improve the grip, but stainless steel handles are typically to be avoided in kitchen or heavy-duty knives, because of the added weight.

Titanium is similarly corrosion-resistant and lightweight, but has a higher threshold to withstand tension. It’s a little heavier than aluminum but still considered a lightweight metal and much stronger. Alas, it’s also more expensive to machine.

Titanium is one of those rare metals that has a warm feel to it, so it doesn’t make you suffer nearly as much in the winter time as something like aluminum. It’s very sturdy and yet springy, which is why you commonly see titanium used as the liner material for a locking liner knife.  Note that both Titanium and Aluminum suffer from being prone to scratches as compared to stainless steel.

Titanium can be given a unique and attractive colour through the anodization process which is particularly common on custom knives and it can be texturised through bead-blasting.

Chefs stay away from these types of handles because if they’re near a flame for too long, they can become scorching hot.

 

Stag Handles

knifehandle deer handle

Stag handles are made out of naturally shed deer antlers, which makes these handles increasingly rarer and costlier. Two of the major advantages of stag is that the rough texture makes a sturdy grip and the shape of the antler gives it natural curves.

Pros: Tough, durable, natural curves
Cons: Lacks elegance, causes pain to the animals

Bone handles

bone handles kitchen knives ancessors

Bone handles have been used since the dawn of man and are still very popular among the knife collector community; in fact, this is the most common material today for classic pocket knives. bone handles kitchen knives ancessors

The bone is derived from naturally deceased animals, and a wide variety of animals at that—including elephant and giraffe. Still, the most common and cost effective bone used today is the abundant cow bone.  Aside from bone, similar materials like antler  (deer, elk, etc.), horns (sheep, cow, buffalo, etc.) and tusks (i.e. elephant, walrus) will often be used. Of course, many collectors like bone handles simply because of tradition.  The bone can be dyed to achieve bright colours, and can be textured to make for an easier grip.

Unfortunately, bone handle is somewhat slippery for heavy-duty usage and it’s porous which affects its stability and makes it susceptible to deformation and cracking. Temperature, light and moisture can all impact the characteristics of a bone handle which makes them unsuitable for many.

Pros: Often inexpensive (cow bones), use of dyes create eye-catching designs, traditional
Cons: Porous, susceptible to cracking, somewhat slippery

And you? What handles do you prefer and why?