A customer gave us a good question about traditional-type Japanese kitchen knives.

“My name is XXX  – I have previously purchase several great knives from you.
I have  question you may be able to answer for me.
With traditional Japanese knives fitted with a plain Ho wood handle – what sort of finish should be applied to the timber to protect it from staining and to make it waterproof ? Many of the handles on my knives and others I have seen, seem to be unfinished bare timber.”

It seems an issue that many are concerned about inwardly.
The following was our answer, hoping it would be helpful for him.
“Thank you very much for your inquiry.
Regarding Japanese kitchen knives with traditional wooden handles, the weakest point against moisture is the attachment part of the handle and the blade.
Therefore your knife can get more durable and will last longer than as is if you reinforce the part properly. The treat looks small but its effect will be big.

Please refer the instruction for the maintenance of knife handles as followings,
1. To prevent water from penetrating from the attachment part of the handle and the blade, provide the waterproof with an epoxy adhesive (when 2 agents mixed together, adhesive changed like cured plastic when it solidifies).
* If there is a gap between the handle and the Nakago (the inserted root of the blade into the handle), push the adhesive with a toothpick. Place it in a safe place with its tip facing up and place it all day and night to fully cure the adhesive.

2. After confirming that the adhesive is completely cured/dried, scrape off protruded or excess adhesive attached to the root of the blade with a cutter or the like.

3. Warm the handle with a burner or gas range (at the highest possible temperature) to increase the waterproofness of the handle, soak the candle and impregnate the wax (not necessary of beeswax or tung oil, but normal candle wax is ok).
* When warming with a burner, protect around the base (in case it’s made from plastic or the corner), covering with soaked towel so as not to hit the fire directly.
** Repeat three or four times. Perform for the grip end particularly carefully because water is easy to penetrate.

4. Leave it for 2 or 3 days so that the wax will go into the handle thoroughly.

5. Warm up again with a burner and wipe off the wax that will come out.
* Repeat until almost no ooze out.

6. When the handle completely cools, polish the handle so that the surface of the handle and the grip end are sanded with # 600 sandpaper.

7. Sharpen knives.

8. If you tried it and it is OK, it is ready.”
We’re prepared to receive some criticism that it looks all-to-easy way or temporary repair method,
but we dared to show the above because it may be easy for everyone to try without skillful technique.

If you have any question and opinion, please feel free to contact us anytime.

Thank you for reading and best regards!

All the Hocho-Knife staff
“Hocho” represents Made-in-Japan (Sushi / Sashimi) Kitchen Knives,
that is the soul of the cook!