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Handle Shapes

As already mentioned, the handle shape is not a matter of quality, but one of personal preference and cutting technique. Although nowadays handles come in a big variety of designs, most of them are based on the following four shapes:

Classical western shape

The classical Western knife handle is straight on the top as an extension of the blade, has a belly on the underside (where the middle rivet is in three rivet knives) and a rounded butt that is extended downward, to “close” the handle and avoid slipping back. It has an oval or rectangular cross section with rounded corners and offers good cutting comfort and a firm, comfortable hold, regardless of grip. The straight shape orients the knife in vertical plane and provides good control. It’s ambidextrous.

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Straight western handle for kitchen knife

Arch shape

It’s another common handle shape that offers good ergonomics, especially in hammer grip, and has an oval cross section.

Despite of being very comfortable to hold, it offers less orientation and thus somewhat less control, which is the reason that it’s not the preferable shape of some professionals. It’s ambidextrous.

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Arch handle shape for kitchen knife


The D-shape is found on some traditional Japanese knives as well as modern Japanese knives. It strongly orients the knife in vertical plane, thus provides excellent feedback and control and a lot of precision.

It’s not ambidextrous. However, if the ridge on the handle is not too pronounced, it’s not too uncomfortable as a left-handed person to work with a D-shape knife laid out for right-handed people.

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Japanese d-shape handle for kitchen knives

​Octagonal shape

An octagonal handle is another common shape in Japanese knives.It strongly orients the knife and thus provides excellent control. It’s ambidextrous, but may not be the most comfortable for people using a hammer grip.

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Japanese octagon handle for kitchen knives
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