There are a lot of aspects to consider when you purchase a new knife. For example, it must be cleaned and sharpened regularly to stay in good condition. But part of maintaining a knife is learning to use it properly, and that starts with learning how to hold a knife. If you hold it awkwardly or improperly, your weak grip will affect its operation, which could decrease safety and also affect the lifespan of the knife.
How do you hold a knife? The answer could depend on the type of knife you have. In general, though, you should have a relaxed but firm grip. Your other hand should stay out of the way so accidents don’t occur.
How to Hold a Kitchen Knife
Kitchen knives, including chef knives and Santoku knives, should be handled with care and safety. This will reduce the likelihood of accidents in the kitchen and allow you to prepare foods quickly and effortlessly.
When learning to hold a knife, you should pay attention to both of your hands. The hand holding the knife is your cutting hand. This hand should grip the handle of the knife, placing the thumb on the top of the blade. Your other fingers should wrap around the knife’s bolster. Your index finger should rest on the blade opposite your thumb. You will focus your grip on the thumb and forefinger.
Your other hand is the guiding hand. Make a claw with this hand and curl your fingers inwards. Rest your fingertips on the food and position the thumb low. Your wrist should rest on the cutting board. When you cut, rest the knife against your knuckles instead of your fingers, and walk your fingers back on the food item following each cut.
Some other basic guidelines for using a knife in the kitchen include:
- Always slicing away from the knife to avoid cuts
- Making oddly-shaped food items more stable by slicing a thin piece off the bottom
- Never using your palm as a stabilizing surface
In addition to these basic tips, there are techniques which may help based on your experience level:
- Handle/Hammer Grip: This technique is for beginners in the kitchen. Wrap your thumb and index finger around the handle, with the thumb beneath the bolster and the index finger wrapping around from the other side to meet your thumb. Curl your other fingers around the handle, keeping them aligned with your index finger. Keep your fingers close together for a secure grip.
- Blade/Pinch Grip: This technique is for professional chefs and others with lots of experience in the kitchen. Pinch the base of the blade between your thumb and index finger. Hook your middle finger behind the bolster. It should curl completely around the handle. Wrap your other fingers around the handle lightly. These fingers on the handle provide support, but should not grip the handle too tightly.
There are also specific positions that should accompany specific types of cuts:
- Slicing: Use the claw grip above for your guiding hand.
- Chopping: Use the claw grip above for your guiding hand.
- Mincing: Place the food in the center of the cutting board in a heap. Place the fingertips of your guiding hand flat on the top of the blade’s tip.
How to Hold a Sword
Swords can seem large and unwieldy for new owners. They can become dangerous and incur damage if not used properly. Using a sword effectively starts with learning to hold it properly. These tips will help you hold a sword the right way:
- Hold the handle with your dominant hand below the guard. Your other hand should grip the pommel, which is the bottom of the sword. If the sword is a katana, grip it with the bottom three fingers of your dominant hand, keeping your thumb and forefinger free. Katanas should be held about an inch below the guard.
- Your grip should be light and relaxed, but firm.
- Position the sword with the pommel level right above your belly button. Don’t rest it on your stomach, though.
- Angle the sword so that the tip is positioned between the sternum and throat.
How to Hold a Straight Razor
A straight razor can be a powerful tool for achieving that perfectly close shave. But if you don’t know how to handle it properly, it will become dangerous. Follow these tips to hold a straight razor for shaving:
- Place your pinky finger on the tang of the razor. The handle should rest on top of your pinky finger.
- Place your thumb on the bottom of the razor, near the blade.
- Your other three fingers should grip the side opposite your thumb, called the shank.
Learning to Hold a Knife is the First Step to Perfect Knife Skills
Holding a knife properly will increase safety and eliminate accidental cuts and injuries. It will also reduce damage to the knife, which will extend the lifetime of the knife. The better you take care of the knife, the longer you can go without replacing it.
Different types of blades require different techniques for holding and using them. When using any type of kitchen knife, you should guide the food with your non-dominant hand. There are different techniques for beginners and professional chefs, as well as techniques specially designed for types of cutting, such as slicing, chopping, and mincing. Taking the time to learn these techniques will serve you well in the kitchen.
Swords should be held firmly with both hands. Katanas are the exception and may be held solely in the dominant hand.
Straight razors should be held securely so that your hand can guide the razor during shaving. A specific technique should be employed which places your fingers at certain points on the razor.
Learning to hold and use these various types of blades will help you prepare food, shave, and carry out other activities safely and quickly. It will optimize the performance of your blades and allow them to last longer.