One Santoku, Two Santoku, Three Santoku…

Today was finishing day – I finished six knives, three of which are Japanese-style santoku kitchen knives.

Three santoku knives. © Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Japanese knives are not my forte. I know a bit about them, but not much. I do not intend to make them in significant numbers. Not only because I am not Japanese, but also because some of them are highly specialized tools optimized for one specific task and most people here in Europe would have no clue whatsoever how to use them or care for them and those who do would probably prefer to buy them from actual Japanese craftsmen. But I had three offcuts that just lent themselves for this type of blade and I am all for making the most with the least amount of waste.

Where I (afaik) differ most significantly from Japanese blades is the round-heeled ricasso. And the knives are glued together with epoxy.

Olive wood handle. © Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

This one has a handle from olive wood, cow bone, and buffalo horn. The handle is asymmetrical – the bone piece is not flat but rounded. Fitting the wood, bone, and horn together was thus a bit of work, but I have managed to fit them together fairly well, albeit not perfectly. The handle has a D profile, with a flat-ish top and rounded belly.

Olive wood is extremely beautiful and I should have probably saved the piece for a worthier blade. But it stinks to the heavens when worked and is somewhat greasy so it tends to clog up abrasives something awful. Due to the greasiness of the wood, I have finished the handle with tung oil, five layers over two weeks. And when I was at it, I used the same finish for the other two as well.

Santos mahogany handle. © Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

This is just a simple two-piece handle, bone bolster, and Santos mahogany wood. This wood works reasonably well and is very dry, the exact opposite of Olive. It does not gum up the tools, but it makes a lot of dust that likes to float around. I think it is a neat knife. The handle has a rounded belly and a faceted back.

Cherry handle. © Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

And last a knife with a handle from my late cherry tree, cow bone, and buffalo horn. The handle is faceted, probably the closest to a true Japanese-style knife.

They are all 160-170 mm long blades, with handles 110-130 mm. I am not planning to make more unless I get suitable offcuts again.,


  1. says

    Japanese-style knives also don’t have plunge-lines, typically, because they’re (traditionally) ground on flat or curved stones that are very large, to get the surfaces flat. Plunge lines would mar the surface of the stone.

  2. says

    @Marcus Ranum, that’s what I have meant with the “round-heeled ricasso”. I could perhaps use better wording, but to be honest, the phrase “plunge line” completely skipped my mind.

  3. lumipuna says

    Ichitoku, nitoku, santoku?

    (sorry, I don’t really know if the “san” part here is supposed to mean “three” in sino-japanese numbers)

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    lumipuna @ 5

    It is, santoku means three virtues or three uses according to the Pfft. Cutting, slicing and chopping.

Leave a Reply