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Handle Conversion

Fri May 11, 2012 5:22 pm

Anyone offering a service converting a western handle to a japanese handle?
If so, how much?

Re: Handle Conversion

Fri May 11, 2012 9:30 pm

I would be interested in this as well. Not sure if responders would be considered violating the 'no commercial activity' rule. If you are someone who provides this service please PM me. If you know of a provider please post!

Re: Handle Conversion

Fri May 11, 2012 10:26 pm

Caution in doing a conversion like this due to the holes in the tang for the pins. They should probably be filled by welding to make the narrow wa tang stronger.

Re: Handle Conversion

Mon May 14, 2012 4:44 am

Like Pierre stated, the holes in the Western style handles will weaken it. They need to be filled or the tang needs to be left wider to keep the strength of the handle. Thats problem #1. Work around is make the tang wider and the tang slot in the handle material wider if possible. The other work around is to grind the tang narrower and use another material such as Micarta, G10, etc, something fairly strong, to act as a spacer around the tang and basically turn the tang into a Wa shape, but it would almost be full tang with the spacer exposed all around the handle. It would have the look and feel of a Wa handle, but wouldn't be removeable.

The other issue is that most Western knives have a metal bolster. It would need to be removed for a true Wa style handle; grinding would be the most popular method unless it is just peened on and came be popped off. Grinding can make a lot of heat and need to refinish the area. If there is no metal bolster, it is much easier!

Due to the amount of work and issues that will crop up, it is probably best to buy a Wa styled knife and possibly sell the Western handled knife to help finance the purchase. It is easier to convert Wa to Western style though, just w/o a metal bolster.

Re: Handle Conversion

Mon May 14, 2012 12:54 pm

That's the thing there's never a powdered steel knife that comes with a wa handle style, that I like and can afford

Re: Handle Conversion

Mon May 14, 2012 3:16 pm

Not to contradict Pierre as he's probably correct in that the holes "should" be filled, but:

Yes, it can be done.....I've done it several times successfully.

The holes in the tangs of gyuto's are quite small, so it's not a huge concern IMHO. You can leave well more then enough of the tang in place to still have a very strong tang. I've always been cautious and ended up with a tang slightly wider than I wanted, but with a gyuto handle (only style of knife I've done) the extra width of tang can be accomodated with the larger handle size. With a petty or paring or something small, this might be a lot bigger of an issue.

The hard part is dealing with the bolster....if said knife has one. The "easy" one's have an affixed bolster...ala the Misono UX-10 knives or the Hiromoto White Steel gyuto's that surfaced a while back which were actually peened on, hollow bolsters. Those were the easiest to convert. If they're welded on bolster, or gawd forbid integral bolsters, it's a huge PITA. That bolster has to be ground off very carefully (heat build up is your mortal enemy) and then you have options. Completely refinish the sides of the blade so that everything matches, or leave the area where the bolster was with a different finish (you'll never match the finishes perfectly). I find the best approach is to try and match the finish of the blade....it won't be perfect, but it's such a small area that it doesn't stand out too much. Blue painters tape will prevent screwing this up.

The tang will have to be shortened quite a bit to fit within a normal wa handle.

Then it's pretty much a normal handle project.

All that said....good luck finding someone to do it. :) If priced properly, you're talking about a project that should cost in excess of $300 including a new custom handle.

p.s. I'm not advertising for work as I'd never take on another one of these....they're just no good. :) I just figured I have enough experience actually doing them that my input might be valuable.

Re: Handle Conversion

Mon May 14, 2012 8:49 pm

Well said Adam. I agree 100% as I have done a couple, and they don't make me happy. You are correct that is is done easy enough. If the handle is a custom, then you can do darn near anything you want. If you but a replacement wa handle or off the shelf unit, then unless you work the inside of the hole to accommodate the tang in its wider configuration, filling the holes will allow you to maintain strength in a thinner tang. Not sure if the OP is willing to tackle this himself so my advice was to play it safe.

Re: Handle Conversion

Tue May 15, 2012 1:01 am

I'm not gonna bother then, seems to be too much of a hassle with a lot of flaws if not done right. I'll just wait for somebody to manufacture a SRS15 knife with a wa handle or if that just stays a dream i guess i'll just have to get the ZDP-189 from kono =D
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