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Handle Grip

There are handles out there in a variety of shapes. But which one is the best? There is no clear answer to this, because the best shape for one user depends on his cutting technique and how to grip the handle.

Hammer or handle grip

The very common grip is the hammer grip (also called handle grip), which is often applied by casual users. In this grip the whole hand grips the handle, with none of the fingers touching the blade.

For this kind of grip, arched handles with a slight curve on the top generally offer slightly superior ergonomics, due to the bulge in the middle of the handle extending up- and down, filling the palm of the hand.

The hammer grip is often applied when push-cutting. It’s safe and comfortable, but offers limited control when doing precision work. It however produces the firmest grip and is recommendable when power is needed during cutting.

Hammer grip of kitchen knife handle
Arch handle kitchen knife

Pinch or blade grip

The pinch grip (also called blade grip) is how professionals usually hold the knife. In this grip, the knife is "pinched" in front of the handle/bolster with thumb and index finger, with the other three fingers behind the bolster/choil, and the inner limb of the index finger on the spine of the blade.

This grip is usually used when chopping in a rocking motion. The grip may be somewhat uncomfortable with cheaper knives or no bolster knives, but offers better control and balance. 

The grip is softer than the hammer grip, which is advantageous in rock chopping, when the blade is doing the work and not much power has to be used.

Since in this grip, most of the force of the hand goes onto the blade, the handle shape is of less importance. What is more important is the shape of the knife in the bolster area, including finishing of spine and choil, as this will decide how comfortable the knife is to hold, more so than the handle. If the corners in this area are not properly rounded, long cutting sessions can become painful.

pinch grip or blade grip of kitchen knife handle

Grip with index finger on spine

This is a very common grip in Japan, based on the push-cutting that is generally taught there. Although not very common in other parts of the world, putting the index finger on the spine in a pinch or hammer grip is useful when high blade control and cutting precision is needed, e.g. when working with the tip or when slicing.

Grip of kitchen knife handle with index finger on spine
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