In Sakai city, there are craftsmen who specialize only in the knife handle making. A good knife should not cause fatigue after prolonged use; this owes to the handle (柄 e) that introduces good balance to the knife.
The Japanese knife handles are usually made of materials like Japanese cypress (檜 or 桧 hinoki), Ebony (黒檀 kokutan) or Japanese yew (櫟 ichi-i). Sakai handle-making craftsmen mostly uses hinoki . Hinoki is light-weight, does not crack easily or rot in water; it also is non-slip when held in hand. These characteristics make hinoki the best fitted material for knife handles.
Placed at one end of the handle, there is either 角巻 Kakumaki, made of buffalo horns, or 口金 Kuchigane, made of metals like copper and brass. In cheaper models, plastic is also used as kakumaki.
The picture below shows the different shapes of the Japanese knife handles:
From left to right:
- Han-maru 半丸: When holding the knife, the bottom part of the handle is rounded, but upper part has straight corners.
- Hakkaku 八角: the handle is octagonal is shape
- Maru-shinogi 丸しのぎ: The handle are all rounded except for one straight corner along the handle
The right-most 2 handles are Han-maru with paint finishing
- 包丁と砥石大全: 包丁と砥石の種類、研ぎの実践を網羅した決定版! 誠文堂新光社 (2014/8/19)