Digging Deeper | The Black Iron Hori Hori Review

Spring is in the air, and so are all the chores that come with it. It’s the season of planting, weeding, pruning and trimming, and a hori-hori knife—a Japanese-inspired tool whose name literally means “dig, dig”—is the perfect implement to get you through this season of yard work.

Today I’m taking a close look at the Black Iron Hori Hori, and I’ve had ample opportunity to put it to the test this spring. Combining elements of a garden spade and a knife, it’s an impressively versatile tool that comes in handy in more situations than you might expect. 

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First Impressions

The Black Iron Hori Hori feels light and nimble in hand, despite being somewhat chunky in appearance. The handle feels a bit squared-off in my palm, so at first brush, it’s not quite as comfortable as the Barebones Hori Hori, which I reviewed last fall

I will say that the Black Iron is quite a bit sharper than the Barebones was right out of the box. It’s by no means sharp enough to shave with, but it has a serrated edge and a beveled straight edge that are both sharp enough to slice through plant matter, and sharp enough to do a number on your hand if you forget that this is indeed a knife, and not merely a spade.

Measurements & Specs

The Black Iron Hori Hori has a 7-inch blade and a 5.25-inch handle, for a total length of 12.25 inches. It has a full tang, and comes tucked inside a leather sheath. A sharpening stone is included as well. No concrete info seems to be available on what the Hori Hori is made of, other than that the blade is “100% stainless steel” and the handle is “sturdy hardwood.”

Features & Uses

What jumps right out about the Black Iron Hori Hori is the broad, concave shape of the blade, which gives it a scoop-like appearance. It’s ideal for digging, and the sharpened edges allow it to be driven with ease into hard and compacted soil. The thickness of the blade and the sturdiness of the full tang allow the user to do so without concern that the Hori Hori will bend or break. It feels rock-solid. 

The edges are also useful for cutting roots, vines, twine, string and any other material that might need some slicing during the course of your landscaping adventures. The serrated side in particular has formidable teeth that give it some serious cutting power.

Depth markings are molded into the metal of the blade, with inch markings up to 6” as well as millimeter markings up to 150mm. The markings are super helpful for planting bulbs or seeds at a specific depth.

The blade steel—which, again, I don’t know the precise composition of—is clearly very corrosion-resistant. I left my Hori Hori out in my garden for several rainy days, and there isn’t so much as a fleck of rust on it. For the record, I did that on purpose (you know, for science) and definitely didn’t just forget it out there. 

The wooden handle isn’t especially grippy, and it can slip under damp conditions. It helps that it flares out toward the blade, which helps keep it in your palm, but overall I’d recommend wearing garden gloves for protection. Gloves will give you some extra grip, and also help keep your fingers safe in the event of a slip. There is a lanyard hole at the rear end of the handle.

Sheath & Sharpener

In addition to the Hori Hori itself, you get a couple of extras in this package from Black Iron, namely a belt sheath and a sharpening stone. The sheath is sturdy natural leather, held together with stitching and metal rivets. It holds the Hori Hori snugly in place, and has a little strap with a snap on it that wraps around the handle. My only concern with it is that the serrated edge of the Hori Hori will gradually tear up the inside of the sheath. 

The sharpening stone is, if not totally useless, then pretty close. It’s small (about 1” x 3”) and quite coarse. It works decently enough for sharpening the Hori Hori to a serviceable edge, but don’t use it on your good knives. If you have a better sharpening stone, I’d stick with it. And if you’re on the fence about buying the Black Iron Hori Hori, don’t let the inclusion of this sharpening stone sway your decision. 

Final Thoughts

So look, I review a lot of knives, but this is a little different. I can’t hold a knife that’s meant to be used as a shovel to the same standard as a high-end EDC knife. 

I say that because some of the drawbacks of the Black Iron Hori Hori (i.e. not knowing what type of steel it’s made with) aren’t as big a deal here as they would be with a different type of blade. This is a tool that’s meant to be used and abused and roughed-up a bit, and based on my experience, it’s solid and durable enough to be up to the task.

And although it’s designed to be a multi-purpose garden tool, I’ve also found that the Black Iron Hori Hori is useful in a wide range of situations outside of the garden. It’s handy for camping, hunting and hiking trips, and other reviewers have noted its utility for metal detecting. Whatever your purpose may be, the belt sheath makes it easy to carry wherever you go. 

I’ve already touched on the comparison between the Black Iron Hori Hori and the Barebones Hori Hori, and if you find yourself trying to decide which of the two to buy, think of the Black Iron as the budget option. It lacks some of the Barebones’ style and flair, but it’s an affordable workhorse that handles garden chores with ease. Nothing wrong with that.

Black Iron Hori Hori Garden Knife [7 Inches, Japanese Stainless Steel] Durable Gardening Tool for Weeding, Digging, Cutting & Planting with Leather Sheath and Sharpening Stone
  • PREMIUM QUALITY & DESIGN. Take your gardening skills to the next level with Black Iron’s Hori-Hori Garden Knife. It features a beveled edge for slicing and a serrated edge for cutting through tough roots, and a sturdy ergonomic handle for better grip and ease of use.
  • DURABLE & MULTIPURPOSE. Accomplish a wide variety of gardening tasks such as cutting, digging, weeding, pruning, and planting bulbs easily with this powerful gardening tool. It features a 7 inch blade and is made of 100% stainless steel that is rust-resistant and and helps tackle the toughest garden jobs
  • MEASURE SOIL WITH EASE with this gardening knife’s easy to read depth measurements in both millimeters and inches, making planting seeds and bulbs a breeze.
  • OPTIMAL COMFORT & SAFETY. Black Iron garden knife has become a favorite of so many gardeners and for good reason – aside from its 5-inch sturdy hardwood handle that offers incredible grip, it comes with a sleek and heavy-duty leather sheath that keeps your blade in perfect condition when not in use.
  • SUPERIOR CRAFTSMANSHIP. Crafted to top-notch standards, this Japanese Gardening Tool features a high-grade stainless steel blade that extends into a full tang for superb strength and durability. You’ll also get a free sharpening stone to keep your gardening knife in great condition. Order yours today!