What Makes a Knife Left-Handed or Right-Handed?

There have never been more left-handed items. Manufacturers are noticing the call from lefties for things that make life easier for them.

Of course, there are jokes about a left-handed screwdriver but while you may laugh, there are other left-handed items, like knives, that really can make all the difference if your dexterity isn’t right-handed.

It’s believed that around 10% of the global population is left-handed. That might not seem like a lot but when you do the maths, you see that works out to be around 700,000,000 people!

So, if you’ve been looking for a way to cut, chop, slice and dice in the kitchen with your left hand, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a knife for you. But a knife is surely just a knife, right? What makes a knife better suited to right-handed or left-handed users?

Single bevel knives for left-handed people are sharpened on the opposite side. This counters the natural twist of the hand while cutting and allows for a neater and cleaner result.

Note that, if you’re using double bevel knives, they can be used by left-handed and right-handed people equally so there are no different types available. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the difference between left- and right-handed Japanese knives and how to choose the right one for you.

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What Makes a Knife Left-Handed?

When you pick up a regular knife blade that’s designed for a right-handed user, you will notice that the blade is sharpened on the left side. This is so that, as you naturally turn your hand inwards as you cut, this doesn’t affect the quality of the cut. Instead, it keeps it straight and neat.

However, if you’re a leftie and you try to use one of these knives, you’ll likely find that you don’t get a nice neat slice. This is because the design of the knife actually worsens that inward twist and ruins the cut. At best it spoils the presentation of your food, at worst it’s incredibly frustrating.

But, there is a solution, and knife makers have heard your plea. You can buy a left-handed knife whose blade is sharpened on the opposite side so you too can counter that natural twist of the wrist and get a clean cut like all those smug righties out there.

Do Left-Handed Knives Really Work?

For a lot of people, a knife is a knife regardless. But sharpening the knife on the opposite side really does make a difference in how easily and how straight you can cut.

I’ve heard stories of a lot of left-handed people who have been astonished by how much difference these knives make. So I would highly recommend swapping out your current knife collection for one that is aimed at left-handed people. You’ll have a much easier, and more enjoyable time in the kitchen, that’s for sure.

With that said, you should note that this concept only applies to single-bevel knives. Perhaps if you have a Japanese knife collection, you’ll have noticed how difficult it is to use if it isn’t designed for lefties. However, most western blades are double bevel and this really doesn’t make a difference either way. Whether you’re left- or right-handed, you’ll be able to use one of these knives with ease.

Single Bevel Knives for Left-Handed People

As I have explained, left-handed knives are almost always single bevel. There are serrated left-handed knives but I’ll explain more about that later on.

A single bevel knife is one that has a flat side while the other side is tapered towards the cutting edge. You should note that there are some single bevel knives, like Japanese ones that have a slight curve on the flat edge.

In any case, a lot of people prefer a single bevel knife as it is possible to get the blade much sharper. If you want something that is going to make incredibly precise cuts then a single bevel knife is always the best option. That said, if you’re a leftie, you’ll need to make sure you choose a single bevel knife designed for left-handed use, or you’re going to struggle.

On these knives, the flat side will stay close to the food as you cut it. On the other beveled side, the knife pushes the cut section away from the blade. For the most part, these knives are made for right-handed use which means that the bevel is on the left side. But on a left-handed single bevel knife, it’s on the other side which, as I have mentioned, makes the world of difference.

What Happens If I Use a Right-Handed Single Bevel Knife as a Leftie?

If you pick up a right-handed knife with your left hand, you’re not going to get very far. In order for the knife to work as intended, you would need to hold it in your right hand which you’d likely find very difficult.

But it’s not only difficult because of comfort. You may also have less control over the knife when using it in your non-dominant hand and this could be dangerous. Knives are incredibly sharp and it’s essential to use them safely to avoid injury. But I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that!

Serrated Knives for Left-Handed People

There are also serrated knives for left-handed people and this is because the design is quite similar to a single bevel smooth blade. The serrations are only sharp on one side so this does make a difference as to how easy they are to use depending on which hand you’re holding them in.

As with a single bevel knife, if the serrations are on the wrong side, the natural twist of your hand won’t be countered and you’ll find it very hard to cut straight. The only real difference between a serrated left-handed knife and a left-handed single bevel knife is the serrated edge.

Is The Handle Different On a Left-Handed Knife

While the blade design is the main difference between right-handed and left-handed knives, you should also note that the handle design is often different as well.

When you use a knife, it’s really important to choose one whose handle feels comfortable and allows you the best control over the knife. If not, you’ll find it unpleasant to use, not to mention it’ll be far less safe.

When you use a knife designed for a right-handed user, you will notice that the handle is made so that the fingers can curve to the left side. However, this won’t feel comfortable for a left-handed user so when you’re shopping for a knife, looking at the handle design is also essential.

That said, there are some knives out there with more symmetrical handles that are easy to use regardless of your orientation.

Which Should I Choose: Left-Handed or Right-Handed Knife?

If you use your left hand as your dominant hand then it goes without saying that you should choose a left-handed knife. Conversely, if you’re right-handed, then you’ll need to buy knives designed for this orientation.

Of course, it really does depend on the type of knife you are using. If you’re shopping for a double bevel knife then it really doesn’t matter as these knives are universal. Whereas a single bevel knife must be designed for either left- or right-handed users.

Final Thoughts

Being left-handed isn’t always easy. There are lots of tools and utensils that are designed only with right-handed users in mind. A lot would say this isn’t fair but there is some good news; there are lots of things designed especially for lefties and that includes kitchen knives.

The key difference between a right-handed and a left-handed knife is how the blade is sharpened. It applies only to single bevel and serrated knives but the blade is sharpened on the opposite side to a right-handed knife and this makes it easier to achieve a straight, neat cut.

If you are left-handed, we would strongly suggest purchasing knives designed for left-handed people as this will make life easier and much safer.

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