Are You Holding Your Knife Correctly?

Knives are critical tools in any kitchen. Let’s take a look at selecting, buying and using them.

Knife set in block.
Knife set in block.

Whether you buy a knife set or individual knives, take time to examine what you intend to buy. Are the handles secure? Is there a brand name stamped on it? Are there any marks, stains or scratches on the blade?

Make sure you hold the knife in your hand. How does it feel? Is it comfortable? Does it feel like your hand if wet might slip? Does the edge feel sharp? Does it look even all along its length? Is it straight if you sight along it from the handle? Will it work for what you want to use it? If you have big hands like me, do your knuckles clear the table if the blade’s heel is against the cutting board? If not, you may want to look at a knife with a taller blade. Your chef’s knife should be like an extension of your hand. The handle should be thick enough you can grip it comfortably without your fingers reaching all the way around and touching the heel of your palm.

Is the knife balanced? Hold the knife suspended between your thumb and forefinger at the widest part of the blade next to the handle. It should not move much. If it tilts handle down, the knife is not balanced and the handle is too heavy, which might make it hard to hold for a lengthy time. Also, the blade might be too flimsy for your needs. If it tilts handle up, it will become too heavy to hold for very long. The knife, as a whole, should not be too heavy. Most cooks prefer lighter knives that don’t become tiring to use.

Correct holding posture. We tend to hold a chef’s knife like a sword, with our whole hand wrapped around the handle, safely well back from the blade. However, the correct way to hold it is with the thumb and forefinger pinching the top of the back of the blade and your other three fingers curled around the handle just behind the bolster. This offers the most control. Most cutting and chopping should be done on the back end of the blade just in front of the heel, in other words as close to your hand as possible.