Knife Handles @ Koi Knives

Knife Handles @ Koi Knives

Posted by Shannon Dolman on

Knife Handles @ Koi Knives

“I love my red handle petty knife :..... I use it every day to chop vegetables or prepare meat or fish. It cuts everything particularly well, and is just so beautiful that I feel proud every time I use it. It perfectly complements the awesome blue handle paring knife”

Thanks Cathrine from Martinique.

This review was written on the Koi Knives website yesterday, 16/09/20 the day before I write this.

“It cuts everything particularly well” When we started our journey into the unknown many moons ago we were making knives that had a superior edge, they cut at the elite level. We knew this but we knew something was missing.

We used various hardwoods we found locally and on the internet, generally light or dark wood tones. Spacers, different coloured ferrules, pins and rivets all added to enhance the look and they looked great but we were after more.

We always talked about using local Australian woods, but didn’t know how to get them done properly. We watched many vids and read many books in the search for the answers we needed to use local wood.

Enter Jorge- a Portuguese migrant in his 60’s who collects different woods/ timbers and casts them with resin. After talking to Jorge for a while we paid him a visit. The guy is a wealth of knowledge and we learnt so much from him. All those little questions in the process he knew the answer too. Well fast forward three months or so we had our first Gyuto with Japanese Damascus steel paired with brown mallee root handle cast with white pearl. It was the most beautiful knife we had ever made. The rest is history, we had finally found the missing link we had been searching for. We knew we were onto something truly extraordinary. 

We had the other half of Catherine’s comment covered- “I love my red handle petty knife :.....…...It perfectly complements the awesome blue handle paring knife”

Our Handles:

We have made many knives from many different wood types paired with different colours for handles, this is a changing space we work in and always evolving. Here are our favourites.

Dwarf Banksia With Sky Blue

The typical banksia pod or hairy banksia pod are quite large. Roughly 250mm with a diameter of 120mm approx. Much too large for knife handles, but the dwarf version under half the size is great for this. The reason this is important to mention is dwarf banksia trees and much less common than normal ones. We have found a tree we fossic for the freshly fallen ones or the ones ready to pick. This tree is situated just behind a service station just off the Southern Expressway 20ish kms South from our work shop.

Koi Knife Handle

Anderson Hill Vine With White Pearl & Shiraz Red

These handles are made from shiraz and chardonnay vines from Anderson Hill’s vineyard, in Lenswood which is situated in the Adelaide Hills. After the devastation of the December 2019 Adelaide Hills bushfires owners Ben & Claire lost around 45% of their vines due to smoke and fire damage. We wanted to create some beauty from the ashes. The vine bulbs that needed to be uprooted were taken away to the shed and cut down to size, cast in resin and crafted into these handles you see here.

Burl Wood for handles

Kiritsuke Knife

Platypus Gum with Ochre/ Saffron Orange

This big old Platypus gum was situated behind the Noarlunga  hospital in South Australia. It was found to be  infested with termites so it was ordered to be removed. When cut into the most amazing discovery had been found, the termites had eaten all the core of the trunk out leaving just the outer layer not far from the outer bark surface. They could not eat outward anymore as the outer, older layers of the tree had become too hard due to the age of the tree. This formed a beautiful burl that can be seen on the handles. We tell people who order a knife from us with this handle to thank mother nature for their knife as it was made by her termites.

Brown Mallee With White Pearl

Mallee root holds a special significance with me, found plentifully in outback South Australia it has gotten a huge amount from not only South Australian but Australian families through long cold winters as firewood. Personally I have filled up hundreds of wheelbarrows from when I was young of this always different and interesting root. When turned down the wood had lots of colour depth with darker browns the deeper into the root you get. Paired with the white pearl it gives an amazing contrast to make the most beautiful handles.

Poplar Burl With Ocean Blue

Poplar tree has a really light almost white tone of wood colour. We pair this with a royal blue similar to that of the deep blue sea. The idea is to visualise the blue sea lapping up onto a white sand beach. The symmetry with this is the Poplar tree is from a private farm in the South Australian coastal town of Victor Harbour.

Peppercorn Tree With Burgundy Red

This peppercorn tree is from a property just outside the Adelaide Hills town of Meadows. This is a darker wood but has loads of character and texture. This is a great pairing to Burgundy red and is one of the most popular we do.

Olive Tree Root

The tree we use for our olive root handles is over 1,500 years old and is a whopper! Situated in a private property in the Mclaren Vale reign It has a trunk and root system like no other. Some blanks have holes where wood worms have moved through many years, maybe hundreds of years ago. This gives quite an interesting look to the handle. 

Other handle materials we have made into knife handles include Corkwood, Bottlebrush Root, Red Mallee, Almond Tree and Blue Gum. These were all beautiful materials and we will most probably use them again in the future. 

We have played with other local woods such as Corkwood, Bottle Brush, Almond Tree, Blue Gum and many others. These are all beautiful materials and I have no doubt we will revisit using them. We also have not and won’t stop playing with new ones. Example being, I go on a bush trip every year with my father and a heap of other mates. We have gone across the Simpson desert a few times. Last trip I bought back some Purple Gidgee, a tree that is only found in the Simpson and we are playing with this material at the moment so watch this space as I think they are going to be a thing of beauty :)


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