Wondering which material of the kitchen knife you should choose? In this article, we bring you the best knife handle material. Complete with their pros and cons. Remember that the knife’s handle plays a significant role in the overall performance of your knife. As there are many kitchen knives on the market, so are their handle materials. We shall look at the commonest ones, which include wood, stainless steel, Titanium, metallic, Aluminium, Micarta, Kraton, G-10, Carbon Fibre, and other.
Knife Handle Parts
Just as the knife has many parts, so does its handle. When we talk about the knife handle, we mean the end of the knife where you mostly hold while using your knife. The handle is divided into four separate parts.
- Starting from the most behind of the handle is the knife’s butt which is designed in different forms. The butt can be round, straight, or angular depending on the manufacturers’ choice.
- Just from the butt is the handle guard. This gives a smooth and better grip, preventing the knife from slipping off your hands.
- The third part of a knife’s handle is the tang, and this one extends inside the handle away from the blade. It is referred to as a full tang if it runs the entire length of the knife handle. Otherwise, it is called a partial tang if it runs just a portion of the handle. The tang gives the knife stability and weight.
- The other part of the knife handle is the rivets, which are outstanding metal pieces on the handle. They can be more visible, some sometimes the designer can opt to hide them. Rivets secure the grip between the tang and the handle material and improve on your hold while using the knife.
Here are the commonly materials
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Among all materials, wood has been in existence for quite a long time. There are many different types of wood that are used in making knife handles. Some are from softwoods and while others are from hardwoods.
Wooden handle materials look attractive, especially when given a grease finishing. In most of the woods used, you will find hardwoods as the commonly used handle woods. They are durable and water-resistant, especially during washing than the softer ones.
The hardwood materials are picked from deciduous trees, while the softer handles are picked from coniferous trees. In case you are to use your knife for activities that require wet hands, or maybe you prefer dishwashing, then hardwood handle material should be your option.
However, some wooden handles are reinforced by injecting polymer resin to the wood, or plastic then, compressed under high pressure to improve the durability and beauty of the handle. The commonly known reinforced wood is the Dymondwood, which is made of phenolic resin impregnated wood veneers. The veneers are then laminated and compressed. I would recommend you go for a hardwood handle even when you are to do lighter jobs in your kitchen. This will ensure that you can stay with your knife for a longer time.
What we like about wooden knife handles
- They are durable especially for hardwood.
- You can find many options to choose from.
- Rarely slippery.
- They are beauty when given a good finishing.
What we did not like about them
- Not all are water-resistant most especially the softwood.
- Not dish washable.
- When not dried well, they can harbour dangerous bacteria.
Titanium features with a silver colour, known for its low density, high strength, and corrosion-resistant. And that is one reason why it is taking over aluminium in the making of knife handles and blade finishing.
When your knife handle is of Titanium material, you most likely have no worries of rust in case you forgot it in the sink. Besides, Titanium knife handles are lightweight and much stronger, giving you no difficulty while cutting through that thicker bone.
During winter, our fingers are wet and so slippery, so you desire to use a handle which will give you a firm grip and even after using it assures you no rust. When making the knife blades, manufactures have used alloys of aluminium since it is corrosion-resistant.
The Ti6Al4V alloy is the widely used material for knife handles as it is the strongest in the titanium alloy family. However, because of all the useful features of Titanium, don’t be surprised that knives’ with Titanium handles may be Pricier than those with other materials.
More so, the material gives a warm feeling, even in the times of winter, which in turn make your chopping and slicing an enjoyable activity. However, we advise that you always remember to take good care of your titanium knife handle as it is highly prone to scratches.
What we like about the Titanium
- Most durable.
- Powerful good for challenging activities.
- Gives a warm grip.
What we did not like about the Titanium
- Quite expensive.
- Highly prone to scratches.
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Aluminium is a silvery-white, softer, and ductile material, which is the most available metal on the universe.
Just like Titanium, aluminium has got a low density and resist corrosion, though Titanium is better. Not all the Alimunium handles will appear silvery-white because aluminium can be anodized to any colour. Therefore,when you get to the market, you can choose any colour you prefer.
For a firm grip from your knife with an aluminium handle, ensure that it is textured for comfortability and long hours use. This is because aluminium is slippery even when your hands are not that wet.
Aluminium handles are favourably seen on the market because of its abundance compared to Titanium.
What we liked about Aluminium
- Very strong and durable.
- Resistant to corrosion.
- Very light.
What we did not like about the Aluminium
- Cold when held in use.
- It is slippery.
- Also, prone to scratches.
#4 Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron and copper and a cheaply manufactured knife handle. Out of the ten knives you find in the knife shop, there is a high probability that 6 of them will have handles made of stainless steel. This is because stainless steel is a more robust metal than the Aluminium and Titanium.
But considering the weight, stainless steel handles are more massive compared to other metals. This probably make it hard to carve around the meat and get through that bone.
The knife handles made of stainless steel are corrosion resistant. However, they get prone to rusting when not well looked after. Even at the look of these handles, they are smooth, making them slippery on use. Manufacturers have incorporated these handles with ridges and etchings or used in combination with plastic or rubber to adjust the grip of the user.
When you own one of these handles, since they are shiny, they require regular care to maintain their cleanliness. Most users tend to shy away from using stainless steel knife handles because it is too heavy and more slippery.
What we liked about stainless steel
- Strong and durable.
- Gives a right balance while in use.
- Highly resistant to rust and corrosion.
What we did not like about the stainless steel
- Heavy, hence cumbersome during use.
- Highly slippery.
#5 Carbon Fibre
Carbon fibre Knife handles are reinforced polymers. It is robust, lightweight but affected by too much stress as it is brittle. Looking on the carbon fibre handles, they appear weave-like, which makes them look friendly and classy.
The knives with carbon fibre handles should not be subjected to too much force when in use as they will break. Because of the classy look of these handles, you will need to have some good dollars to own it, but it is worthy.
What we liked about the Carbon fibre
- Very strong.
- Water-resistant and durable.
- Feature a classy look.
What we did not like about the Carbon fibre
- They are brittle so they can easily break.
- A bit expensive.
Not only used for knife handles, but it is also used for other tools such as BBQ, handgun grips, and so many others.
It is plastic in nature, produced by soaking linen or paper in a phenolic resin, then compressed under high heat. It is because of this process that the micarta is strong enough but light-weighted stable and hard to scratch.
Due to the slipperiness of the micarta, it is tough to texture them. However, the manufacturers have tried to put up a texture so that the user gets a firm grip.
Durability, strength and class is assured with the micarta knife handles.
What we liked about the Micarta
- Very tough and strong.
What we did not like about Micarta
- The knives become pricey with this material.
- Brittle so can easily break.
- Very slippery unless textured.
Kraton is a thermoplastic elastomer which is thermoplastic rubber said to be a synthetic rubbery material.
Usually, the knife handle made of Kraton is flexible, with a firm grip and is water-resistant. Being an artificial rubber, Kraton is heat resistant, even on open flames and harsh conditions.
However, the handles are usually rigid, and they are porous, so once left in the sink of water, they tend to take up water and once not well dried, they can harbour harmful bacteria.
What we liked about the Kraton
- Feature a good, sturdy, firm grip, which is also comfortable when in use.
- Resistant to heat.
What we did not like about the Kraton
- Can become soaked .
- The material fades with more extended use.
#8 G-10 knife handle
G-10 material, also known as fibreglass composite laminate is formed by getting layers of fibreglass, soak them in resin and then bake. The process results in a robust and durable material which gives your knife a forever look and use.
Among all the fiberglass resin laminates, G-10 is the toughest and strongest, though this comes with more brittleness. During production of these knife handles, different colors can be mixed, which gives knives with such handles are more beautiful and attractive look and feel.
For a better and comfortable grip, the G-10 handles are usually textured. They are more like carbon fibres, but they are more durable and less expensive.
What we liked about the G-10
- It has sturdy grip, incredibly when textured.
- They are durable and water-resistant.
- Tough material.
- No rust corrosion.
What we did not like about the G-10
- Brittle on high stress.
Zytel material is a composite of fibreglass and nylon, made by reinforcing fibreglass with nylon.
It is one of the knife handle materials which can bend in any direction when it is being used. Additionally, the material is strong, resistant to abrasion and indestructible.
Unlike other fibreglass materials we have looked at, the Zytel handle and the fibreglass strands are aligned in many directions. The easiness which comes with this kind of material makes it to be a cheap material and good for you especially if you are on a limited budget.
What we liked about the Zytel®
- Strong enough.
- Resistant to bending while being used.
- Very indestructible.
What we did not like about the Zytel®
- Looks, and feels quite?
- Slippery since it is plastic-like.
#10 Bone handle material
Like the wood materials, bone knife handle materials are natural fibres. Bone materials are highly used to give fancy custom designs to many knives. The commonly used bone is the cow’s bone as it is in abundance. Bone material is a cheap, cool traditional material, though slippery.
Most people like the bone knife handle material as they can be dyed to have bright colours, textured to achieve a firm and comfortable grip.
Because the bone material is too slippery, then it becomes tough to use it for heavy-duty activities, and this makes it prone to deformation and cracking. The handles are easily affected by high temperatures and wet conditions.
What we liked about the bone handle material
- It is a traditional material.
- You can make eye-catching designs.
- Less priced.
What we did not like about the bone handle material
- Can easily crack.
- It is porous.
There are a variety of knife handle materials. Each material comes with its pros and cons, which could affect usability and durability. You should choose a knife handle material which is not slippery, gives a firm and comfortable grip. I guess the best knife set you choose will feature the best handle material as all this is put into consideration.