Knife handles can be broken down into two categories, the traditional “Wa-Handle” or the “Western handle”.

Wa-Handle knives, or traditional Japanese, tend to have an overall lighter feel and blade forward balance. They come in all types of wood with different collars. Generally these knives have a tang that is around 3/4 the length of the handle and is glued in place. Care for these handles is quite simple, if you notice it getting a little dry, just apply some beeswax or mineral oil. So far, in my experience, I have noticed that the oil from ones hands will keep the handle in check. Of course if the knife is for home use it is a different story, as restaurant chefs generally have the knife in their hand for hours at a time. If a wa-handle is damaged it is quite easy to replace, so not to worry.

Western handles are just that, the most common handle type in the “western world”. They are in most cases a bit heftier than traditional handles, with a full tang and rivets. These handles are sometimes made from composite materials like micarta, eco-wood, or pakka-wood. But are also known to be made from mahogany, birch, or other fine wood. Western handles tend to be centre balanced with welded bolsters, making them more for the cook who like a little weight to their knife.