SANTOKU™️ This site uses cookies to provide an optimized shopping experience. By using this site, you agree to the use of cookies within our cookie policy.

What Is Pakkawood? Why Japanese Knives Use It

 

Anyone researching Japanese knives is likely to come across terms that they unfamiliar with like a double and single bevel, Granton edge, whetstone, and some of the knife names alone can be difficult to remember (Santoku, Gyuto, Deba, Yanagiba, Nakiri, and Usuba to name just a few).

Another term that you are likely to come across either when researching or buying a Japanese knife is pakkawood.

Pakkawood is a wood and resin composite that is engineered primarily for durability and resilience to hard-wearing use. Pakkawood is highly resistant to both heat and moisture making it an ideal material for kitchen utensils, primarily in the form of a knife handle and it is often the material of choice for Japanese knife handles.

As pakkawood is a human-manufactured material, there is not as much information available on this material as there is on natural woods, and in this article, we cover everything you need to know about pakkawood and why it’s such a commonly used material in Japanese knives.

Table of contents

What Is Pakkawood?

As mentioned earlier, pakkawood is not a naturally occurring wood and is a composite material that is engineered from wood and resin to create a new material with special characteristics, properties and purposes.

According to the Oxford dictionary, Pakkawood is a hard wooden laminate that is resistant to heat making it ideal for use in military equipment, kitchen utensils, and most commonly, kitchen knives.

While pakkawood is not a naturally occurring material, the manufacturing process is designed to create a natural wood effect that you’ll see on a lot of knife handles whilst eliminating a lot of the disadvantages that come with using natural wood.

Natural wood is prone to splitting, chipping, warping and often requires time-consuming maintenance in order to enhance the longevity of the wood. As pakkawood is a pressure-treated, composite material it’s largely resistant to heat, water, warping, and other common disadvantages that you would find with natural hardwoods.

To create such a resilient and long-lasting material, pakkawood needs to go through a specific manufacturing process to minimize the downsides of a natural hardwood whilst also gaining the benefits of a composite material.

How Is Pakkawood Made?

 

Pakkawood is a man-made material that is manufactured for a very specific purpose, to be resilient and resistant to hard-wearing use. Natural woods alone are prone to splitting, chipping, rotting, and being quite difficult to maintain in general and the manufacturing of pakkawood is optimized to reduce or even prevent these issues entirely.

Pakkawood, whilst not being a natural wood itself, does still use wood in its manufacturing process. Pakkawood is made from a base material of hardwood veneers like plywood and is then infused with a plastic resin to create a wood/resin composite material.

The initial plywood is vacuumed to remove all moisture from the wood and then glued together with a phenolic thermoset resin under high pressure. After this process, the ‘wood’ can then be dyed to replicate a wide variety of colors or designs.

Why Do Japanese Knives Use Pakkawood?

Japanese knives are manufactured for heavy-duty, repeated use and therefore need to be durable and long-lasting (especially to justify the initial investment as some Japanese knives can carry a substantial price tag!).

The reason Japanese knives use pakkawood is that this material is hard-wearing and resilient meaning that it’s designed to last just as long as the blade itself.

Pakkawood is an innovative improvement in knife handle material as traditionally, a wooden handle was used with Japanese knives and these handles were therefore prone to splitting, chipping, and rotting.

Appearance

One of the key preferences for Japanese knives using pakkawood for knife handles is for the ability to manipulate the design to create a variety of coloured handles.

Pakkawood has the versatility to mimic a range of natural wood colors (or finishes) including oak and chestnut as the original plywood used gives the wooden grain effect, or the handles can be dyed to create any color that the manufacturer desires.

A useful feature when utilizing pakkawood is that during the manufacturing process, the material goes through extensive polishing and sanding when binding the wood and resin giving the final product a gloss finish.

This finish is scratch-resistant and eliminates the need to add additional products to achieve a gloss finish.

How to Care for a Pakkawood Handle

 

Most high-quality Japanese knives require careful cleaning and maintenance methods in order to maintain the knife's quality and longevity. As is common practice with Japanese knives, the pakkawood handle is also a high-quality material and requires the same level of care and maintenance as the blade.

The key to properly caring for a pakkawood handle is the exact same as that needed for the blade and it’s to wash and dry the knife by hand after use.

While pakkawood is largely waterproof as a result of the wood/resin combination, it should still be maintained the same way as you would a hardwood handle. Long duration exposure to water in the form of soaking the knife or placing it in a dishwasher is likely to cause damage to the wood and should therefore be avoided completely.

Final Thoughts

Pakkawood is a very unique material that is extremely well suited for a range of applications that need a more resilient material whilst still maintaining many characteristics of natural wood.

Through its pressure-treated process combining plywood and a phenolic resin, pakkawood is an ideal material for Japanese knives that is resilient to heat and moisture whilst also being a long-lasting product.

Correct maintenance is still required, however, the resilient properties and endless potential for colourful designs mean that pakkawood is one of the best materials for a Japanese knife handle and will continue to be a primary option for a number of years to come.

FAQs

Q: What is a pakkawood handle?

A: Pakkawood, also sold as Staminawood, Colorwood, Dymondwood and compreg, is an engineered wood/plastic composite material commonly used in knife handles and other objects that see rough wear. It can closely resemble conventional wood, or come in a range of bright colors.

Q: Are wood knife handles sanitary?

A: Yes but pakkawood has an added bonus of being a good insulator so the knife stays cooler for longer periods of time.

It also has the environmental advantage that it can be used with renewable raw materials instead of relying on scarce old growth lumber.

Furthermore, pakkawood is processed at low temperatures while eliminating toxic gas emissions during production so use doesn’t pose environmental risk unlike wood.

Q: How do you polish pakkawood?

A: Pakkawood is similar to other woods, such as maple or cherry. There's no special way to polish it--just give it some gentle scrubbing with a soft bristled brush and finish by applying one thin coating of your desired wax product (waxes that contain carnauba are best). Polish according to manufactures instructions. You'll barely even apply any pressure when polishing pakkawood because its so hard and you don't want to remove any natural color from the wood surface in order to get shining results.

Q: Do you need to oil pakkawood?

A: Use tung oil or mineral oil, the same ones you use for any other wooden piece, and buff with a soft cloth. Tru-oil is another thing you can use. In cases where oiling the pakkawood isn't enough to get the shiny type finish you're used to, try to use sandpaper. Start with about 120 grit.

 

 





Aiko (あいこ, アイコ) Damascus Steel Knife with coloured Blue resin handle
Aiko (あいこ, アイコ) Damascus Steel Knife with coloured Blue resin handle
Regular price
£399.99
Sale price
£299.99
Unit price
per 
Riku (リク) Damascus VG10 Knife
Riku (リク) Damascus VG10 Knife
Regular price
£349.99
Sale price
£199.99
Unit price
per 
Ichika (いちか) Damascus Steel Knife with coloured Octagonal Handle
Ichika (いちか) Damascus Steel Knife with coloured Octagonal Handle
Regular price
£306.00
Sale price
£249.99
Unit price
per 
Whetstone Sharpening Stones
Whetstone Sharpening Stones
Regular price
£49.99
Sale price
£39.99
Unit price
per 
Nakiri / Chukabocho (なきり) Full Tang Steel (Cleaver)
Nakiri / Chukabocho (なきり) Full Tang Steel (Cleaver)
Regular price
£109.99
Sale price
£59.99
Unit price
per 
Haruta (はるた) 67 layer AUS 10 Damascus Steel kitchen Knives
Haruta (はるた)  67 layer AUS 10 Damascus Steel kitchen Knives
Regular price
£600.00
Sale price
£399.99
Unit price
per 
Kiritsuke ( きりつけ) Damascus Steel Knife with coloured Octagonal Handle
Kiritsuke ( きりつけ) Damascus Steel Knife with coloured Octagonal Handle
Regular price
£129.99
Sale price
£87.99
Unit price
per 
Chikashi (ちかし) Damascus Steel Knife with Abalone Handle
Chikashi  (ちかし) Damascus Steel Knife with Abalone Handle
Regular price
£306.00
Sale price
£249.99
Unit price
per 
Makito Damascus Steel Knife with coloured Blue resin handle
Makito Damascus Steel Knife with coloured Blue resin handle
Regular price
£399.99
Sale price
£369.99
Unit price
per 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

our commitment

  • Sustainable Knives better thought out and better produced

  • 100% secure payment

  • Free Fast delivery and easy 30 days returns anywhere in the world

  • Any advice? Ask a question?
    use our live chat