To get a feel for how well a knife fits in your hand, take a look at the photo above for an example of a proper grip. Ideally, it will feel as though it is an organic extension of your hand. Instilling a sense of confidence, rather than fear, is the goal. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s time to move on. Start chopping and observe how the knife’s physical characteristics affect your reaction.
Achieving a state of “perfect balance” is a matter of personal perception. Judge the knife’s balance by holding it in your hand. If the weight of the handle or the blade causes discomfort, it probably isn’t for you. You’ll have to work harder if you use an unbalanced knife. Balance from side to side is also critical. If the knife feels shaky when you put your hand on the blade, it’s probably not the right tool for the job at hand.
You’ll need to experiment with a variety of knives to find the right weight for you. A hefty chef’s knife, according to one school of thought, is easier to cut through food because it “falls” with more force. Another person believes that a lighter chef’s knife allows for better control and maneuverability. The most important thing to remember is to go with what feels right to you.
Among home cooks, an 8-inch chef’s knife is the most popular because of its ability to handle a wide range of tasks. To cut more volume, a 10-inch knife has a longer blade, which can be intimidating. Using a 6-inch chef’s knife to cut through a watermelon will be difficult because it lacks the volume or strength of a paring knife.
Choosing the right handle is a matter of personal preference. If it isn’t slippery when wet, you shouldn’t have to struggle to keep it in your hands at all times. You should be able to chop without banging your knuckles on its underside. To make them easier to hold, some knives feature molds or indentations on the handles.