Many people have strict standards when selecting a handle, it is the only component we physically engage with a knife, the only part that touches our skin. Others overlook the handle of a kitchen knife as just a small “part” and do not pay close enough attention. Taihei however, a 3rd generation handle maker, shows a strong commitment to his craft.
When he was a child, Taihei remembers his grandfather crafting knife handles of timber and buffalo horn by hand, these fond memories helped him to decide to carry on the tradition from his father to the next generation, the year was 1992.
As the handle is not considered the main part of a kitchen knife, most manufacturers cut costs by having the ferrule made at a different location, then joining the two parts and shaping the handle by machine. Taihei however, still cuts each part of the handle by hand from solid materials, understanding the differences between each piece of wood and horn. This knowledge and skill make Taihei’s handles more durable than mass-produced models as he is making each piece differently to suit the materials in his hand.
As well as making traditional Ho magnolia wood handles, Taihei also challenges his work with many different timbers from all over the world. Each timber has a different weight, density, fineness and character, all important to consider when crafting each piece. He says, “if people have been using that wood for a long time, there is a reason that you cannot understand it within 10 or 20 years”. Taihei still respects tradition, but challenges with new materials and design, focusing on looks and functionality.