That's very interesting.
Originally Posted by iceman01
Before, I had assumed that, when a given maker's WA knives are priced above the YO knife from the same series, this was because that maker's WA knives had thinner blades and were therefore more costly/difficult to make. And then there are other makers whose YO knives cost more than the WA equivalent (eg Sakai Yusuke) and I assumed that this is because the blades are pretty much identical.
However, my gut instinct tells me that the reason is often a strategic marketing decision that has less to do with cost and more to do with the maker/brand attaching more prestige (and therefore a premium) to their WA models. WA-models also sometimes have their spines and choils eased/rounded and this would certainly add to the cost.
And then there are WA handles and there are WA handles - probably they are not all the same - the octagonal ones made from quality HO-wood with premium buffalo-horn ferrules would cost more than, say, a D-shape made from lesser HO-wood with an inferior buffalo-horn ferrule.
Interesting. I'm a total amateur cook, no training whatsoever, and I'm sure my knife "techniques" (if you can call them that) would cause KCMA to have a conniption fit if he ever saw me chopping an onion. Nonetheless, I've been cooking for 50 years, I enjoy it, and I'm pretty good at it -- for a home cook.
Originally Posted by Messy Jesse
I own quite a few knives, including the Wusthof Classics I've had since before most of you were born, a number of good Japanese knives (mostly Hattori), and a few decent traditional Japanese blades (Deba, Yanagi, Petty, etc., made by Tanaka, Sakai, etc.) with Wa handles, and one Shun Classic Santoku with a Wa handle.
With my limited skills and experience, I find that the traditional Western handle has one advantage over the Wa handle, and that's balance. Yes, the knife weighs more, and I don't use it 8 hours per day, but I find that having the balance right at the point where the handle meets the blade to be an advantage, allowing me to maneuver the blade more easily. Perhaps that's just lack of experience with the traditional Japanese knives.
Also, I've had problems with the Wa handle coming off at least one of my knives, something that can't happen with a Western-style handle. To my eye, it looks as if the blade is simply pounded into the wood handle, clearly less secure that the full-tang, riveted handles of Western knives.
One notable exception is the Shun Classic Santoku -- the handle is very heavy compared to my other Wa-handled blades, perhaps even weighted on the end. As a result, the balance is right at the point where the blade meets the handle. Also, it looks to be made in a way that will prevent it from ever coming off, with metal bolsters at each end.
Of course, the issue of balance may have a lot to do with how and where one grips the blade, so persons trained in the proper use of such knives may have different opinions.
Old dog, new tricks = difficult to master.
One other thing -- the "cool factor," which I do get, is IMHO mostly due to the Wa handle being different from the Western handle familiar to most American cooks.
The wa handle must have thicker blade because the blade-width you can put in is thinner.
It is suited for hand forged knives because you can make a taper very easy thick spine at handle and thin to the tip.
On the other side western handle you can have thicker blade-width and so thinner blade. It is suited for stamped and welded mass production knives which are not so tapered. The rivet position are no problems for mass produced knives. So they can put mass produced western handles on these knives.
If a blacksmith is making hand forged knives rivet position differ by each knife. So western handle must be made custom too. So sometimes western handle is more expensive.
Just my opinion and correct me if wrong.
I think there are many here who makes knives and know better.
I am a home cook and just love the feel of the wa handles. Love the way one can use them. The ease of using varied grips. I can't wait for my next beauty, a custom Hiro Itou that will get a Stefan wa handle on it.
One thing I'm noticing with wa handles is that they give a specic kind of control that's harder to get with western handles. If you use a grip that puts any fingertips on the handle, you get very precise control over rotating the blade ... like if making thin slices and you feel any tendency for the bevel to steer the blade in or out. Your fingertips on the round (or roundish) handle are almost like a safe cracker's fingers on a combination dial ... just the lightest nudge one way or other controlls the rotation of the blade. I find it hard to get this kind of precise feel with a western handle.
Im left handed so the western style or "Yo" handles are my preference. I have had a few lefty wa gyutos grace my knife bar, but usually I have to order the wa. Im just too impulsive for that.
This is a shame because I have yet to find a 0 degree bevel on a western handled knife.
Good responses so far.
If you were getting a 'rare' gyuto made by a master smith in Japan, besides functional aspects, would it make more sense to go wa???
It's likely most here, would.
But ultimately, it's your knife, your preference, your choice. Right?
And there are so many sorts of wa handles.
From round ones with plastic ferrules which are cheap to octagonal ebony ones with silver inlet up to 100000Yen.
The Ivory ones which are more expensive are no more on market and it is forbidden to export it.
So which wa handle do you like?
Maybe I should specify seeing as the quality of Wa handles varies from maker to maker.
Originally Posted by DrNaka
So the knife under question is:
Shigefusa 240mm Kasumi Gyuto - Wa or Western