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The majority of the world is geared towards right-handed people, and this includes the use and design of cutlery and, in particular, knives. It is a fairly recent trend for manufacturers to take left-handed people into account and start producing knives easier for these people to use. What are the differences between left and right-handed knives, and where can you source left-handed versions?
Single bevel and serrated blade knives must be made for either right or left-handed use due to the design of the cutting edge. The design and shape of the knife handle must also be taken into account for left-handed use. Most popular knife makers produce knives suitable for left-handed use.
Your dominant hand is usually not relevant for the use of normal knives that are symmetrical in design. Where hand-dominance plays a role in knives that have specific designs that make hand orientation important for their use. We will discuss these differences and give you some great left-handed knife options!
If you are interested in checking out the best left-handed knife we recommend, you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).
What Are Left-Handed Knives?
Most knives are symmetrical in design, which means that the left-hand side of the knife looks exactly the same as the right-hand side of the knife.
Knives designed in this way can be considered universal knives since they can be used with equal comfort by left or right-handed people.
The differences come in where the knife is designed in an asymmetrical way to give the cutting-edge certain characteristics key to its intended purpose. Asymmetrical knives are not the same on both sides of the knife.
This means the use of the knife and its performance will depend on which hand the knife user is using to operate the knife.
Most asymmetrical knives are designed for right-handed use, but some knife manufacturers have realized the need to produce these asymmetrical specialty-use knives for left-handed people.
Do Left-Handed People Need Special Knives?
In most cases, left-handed people do not require special knives designed with left-handed people in mind. However, with some knife designs, left-handed people will need special knives that are designed for use with a left-dominant hand.
Most pocket knife manufacturers design their knives for ambidextrous use, meaning the knife can be opened, closed, and used with either hand.
Certain kitchen knives cannot be built for ambidextrous use, especially with knives designed with specific blade features. In this case, left-handed people will need knives designed especially for left-handed use.
If a left-handed person uses a knife designed for use by right-handed people, the performance of the knife will be affected. This can produce undesirable results in the cut, such as jagged or angled cuts that are not clean and precise. Using a knife incorrectly can also result in injury to the operator.
Can Left-Handed People Use Japanese Knives?
Most Japanese knives are symmetrical knives, which means they are suited to both left or right-handed use.
The Japanese knives that are not made for left-handed use are knives with single bevels. These knives are usually designed for right-handed use.
Historically, in Japanese culture, left-handed people were seen as abnormal and were not welcomed in society. In some cases, left-handed people were killed because of the superstition around being left-handed.
Most Japanese knives were originally single bevel blades, and due to the superstition around left-handed orientation, these knives were only made for right-handed use. If you were left-handed, you had to learn to use these knives with your right hand.
When Japanese knives became popular in the West, the manufacturers began producing more double-beveled knives to cater to the Western market. In recent decades, Japanese knife makers have also introduced single-bevel knives made for left-handed people.
However, left-handed single-bevel knives are still fairly difficult to source. As a result, if you are left-handed and want to use Japanese kitchen knives, you should look for double-beveled knives since these knives can be used in either hand.
TIP: Choosing your first Japanese knife can raise a few questions about which style of knife to choose. Check the complete guide on how to properly choose your first Japanese knife:
Choosing Your First Japanese Knife (Ultimate Guide + Tips)
What Are The Differences Between Left And Right-Handed Knives?
There are two main knife blade types that have a left-handed or right-handed orientation and are designed for use in a particular hand.
These are single-bevel blades and knives with serrated or partially serrated blade edges. Knives with these blade designs must be oriented for use in the correct hand for the blade to cut effectively.
The design of the knife handle can also influence in which hand the knife will be most comfortable to hold and safely operate.
Left-Handed Single Bevel Knives
Single bevel knives are blades with one side flat, and the opposite side of the blade tapers toward the fine cutting edge.
In some cases, such as in Japanese single-bevel knives, the flat side of the blade is not completely flat but has a slight concave grind.
Single-bevel knives can be sharpened to a greater level of sharpness than double-bevel knives and are the blade style of choice for precision cuts.
The flat part of the single bevel blade is designed to remain against the ingredient being cut, while the bevel on the opposite side pushes the section that has been cut off away from the blade.
Most singlebevel knives are designed for right-handed use, where the flat part of the blade is on the left-hand side of the knife, while the bevel is on the right side of the knife.
For a left-handed person to get the full benefit of the single bevel design, the flat side of the blade must be on the right side of the knife and the beveled side on the left side of the knife.
With a single bevel knife designed in this way for a left-handed person, the ingredients can be held in the right hand, the non-dominant hand, while the knife is used in the dominant left hand, and the blade works as designed.
If a left-handed person uses a right-handed single bevel knife, they would need to use the knife in their right hand to use the knife correctly and get the full benefit of the design. This orientation would be uncomfortable and can even be dangerous when using an extremely sharp knife in your non-dominant hand.
TIP: Single-bevel Japanese knives have benefits as well as some challenges, particularly in terms of the knife’s maintenance. Check out why to use single-bevel knives in the article below:
Single Bevel Japanese Knife Types: Explanation & Usage
Left-Handed Serrated Edge Knives
Serrated blade knives have a very similar design to single-bevel knives, which poses similar problems for left-handed knife users.
Serrated edge knives have serrations on one side of the blade only. This is to counter the natural twisting or angling of the knife during the cut and give a clean, straight slice. The side of the blade opposite to the serrations is flat. Essentially, a serrated blade knife is a single bevel knife with the cutting edge serrated rather than beveled.
Most serrated edge knives have serrations on the left-hand side of the blade and the flat on the right side of the blade. This would be the correct orientation of the serrations for a right-handed person.
A serrated knife for a left-handed person would have the serrations on the right side of the blade, and the left side of the blade would be flat.
Contrary to a single bevel knife, the serrated side of a serrated blade is intended to remain in contact with the item being cut, while the flat side is on the side of the piece being sliced off.
If a right-handed serrated knife is used by a left-handed person, the serrations will cause the knife to angle inwards during the cut, and the slice will not be straight. The resulting cut will not be clean and precise.
Consequently, left-handed people should use a serrated edge knife where the serrations are on the right side of the blade.
Left-Handed Handle Design For Knives
The handle design of the knife also plays a role in how comfortable the knife is to use. Knives designed for use by right-handed people will be made with the intention of the fingers to curve around the left side of the blade.
This design may make it uncomfortable for left-handed people to use a knife intended for right-handed people.
If the knife handle is designed to be symmetrical, it can be comfortably used by right or left-handed people.
Knives designed to be used by right-handed people generally also have handles designed to be held in the right hand. This can further complicate the use of a right-handed knife by a left-handed person!
TIP: Knives have different designs and consist of different parts. The knife bolster is one of these parts. Have you ever thought about why knives need the bolster? Check out the answer in the article below:
Do Knives Need A Bolster? Here’s The Explanation
Who Makes Left-Handed Knives?
If you are looking to acquire Japanese kitchen knives and you are left-handed, you will find that most of the more well-known and bigger brand names offer left-handed options. Brand names such as Heisei, Shun, Yoshihiro, and similar names all offer left-oriented options for single-bevel knives.
Most pocketknife brands offer ambidextrous knives or the ability to modify the external hardware and change it around to make the knife suitable for left-handed use. Brands such as Kershaw make pocketknives with left orientation.
It is sometimes difficult to source dedicated left-handed knives, which limits the options available for left-handed people. You will need the patience to do the research to find these knives, or you will need to settle for knives that can be used in either hand, such as symmetrical, double-beveled knives.
Many of the knife makers who produce left-handed knives are premium knife makers, which can make knives in this orientation more expensive than right-handed models.
BTW: If you want to know more about Japanese and other knives and their sharpening, check out the books listed above. These books are recommended by professional sharpeners and knife makers (Amazon links):
- Japanese Kitchen Knives: Essential Techniques and Recipes
- The Knifenerd Guide to Japanese Knives
- Knife: The Culture, Craft, and Cult of the Cook’s Knife
- Sharp: The Definitive Introduction to Knives, Sharpening, and Cutting Techniques, with Recipes from Great Chefs
Best Japanese Knife For Left-Handed Users
If you are not specifically in the market for a single beveled Japanese knife, then the best option to go for is a knife with a double bevel blade and a symmetrical design that includes the shaping of the handle.
A Japanese knife that we highly recommend in this category is the Tojiro DP Gyuto knife (Amazon link). This knife has an 8.2-inch blade or 21cm and has a VG-10 core with stainless steel outer layers.
While the handle is not the traditional Wa-style handle, the Western-style handle is symmetrical, making the knife comfortable to use in either hand.
The double-bevel edge on the blade ensures that the performance of the blade will be equally great when used in either hand.
Best Chef (Kitchen) Knife For Left-Handed Users
The most popular kitchen knife is the chef’s knife. This is due to the versatility of these knives for a range of tasks in the kitchen.
Chef’s knives typically have double-beveled blades, making them ideal for use in the left or the right hand. However, the Global G-Series Deba Knife (Amazon link) is a single-beveled left-handed knife.
This chef’s knife is made from CROMOVA 18 stainless steel, making it easy to clean and care for the knife. The integrated steel textured handle seamlessly integrates with the blade for durable construction.
This knife is made in Japan, ensuring a quality, well-made kitchen knife that gives a great performance in the kitchen.
TIP: Part of the knife maintenance is keeping the blade in good condition and free from corrosion. Check out the best oil for kitchen knives that helps you in the article below:
These Are The 2 Best Oils For Kitchen Knives (+ How to Use)
Best Pocket Knife For Left-Handed Users
In the pocket knife arena, there are some great options offered by well-known brands for left-handed users.
One such option is the Kershaw Flourish Pocket Knife (Amazon link). Kershaw is an American knife manufacturer with a reputation for producing high-quality pocket knives, outdoor knives, and kitchen knives.
Kershaw has been supplying knives since 1974. In the early days, the knives were produced in Japan, but since 1997, when a production plant was opened in Oregon, the knives have been made in the USA.
The blade is double-beveled, making it perform equally well in either hand. The blade features a thumb stud flipper to easily open the blade with one hand. The mechanism is situated for easy use for right and left-handed users.
When the blade is open, it is held in place using a liner-lock mechanism, giving a solid, secure feel when the knife is in the open position.
The black carbon fiber handle is symmetrical, making it suitable for use with either hand. The hardware for the pocket clip is reversible to enable carrying the knife in the left or right pocket.
How To Maintain Left-Handed Knives
Left-handed knives, especially those with single-bevel blades, require special attention to ensure they remain sharp and in top condition. Proper maintenance not only extends the life of your knife but also ensures safety and precision with every cut.
Here are some essential tips tailored for maintaining and sharpening left-handed single-bevel knives:
1. Regular Cleaning: Always clean your knife immediately after use. Use warm, clean water with soap and a soft sponge to gently clean the blade. Avoid abrasive scrubbers as they can damage the blade’s edge. Dry the blade and handle with a soft cloth to prevent rusting.
2. Proper Storage: Store your left-handed knife in a knife block, magnetic strip, or blade guard. This protects the blade from unnecessary wear and potential damage.
3. Honing Before Use: Before each use, hone your knife using a honing rod. This realigns the blade edge, ensuring it remains straight and sharp. Remember, for left-handed single-bevel knives, you’ll need to hone primarily on the flat side.
4. Sharpening Technique: When sharpening a left-handed single-bevel knife, it’s crucial to maintain a consistent angle. Use a sharpening stone, starting with the flat side of the blade. Ensure the entire edge, from heel to tip, comes into contact with the stone.
5. Regular Blade Inspection: Periodically inspect your knife for any signs of damage or wear. Look for chips, nicks, or any unevenness in the blade. Regular inspection helps you address issues before they become significant problems.
6. Avoid Dishwashers: Never place your left-handed knife in a dishwasher. The harsh environment and detergents can damage the blade and handle. Always opt for hand washing.
7. Oil Your Knife: Especially if your knife has a high carbon content, it’s beneficial to occasionally apply a light coat of food-safe mineral oil. This prevents rust and keeps the blade in pristine condition.
8. Engage with Professionals: If unsure about sharpening your left-handed knife, consider seeking professional sharpening services. They’ll have the expertise to handle single-bevel blades tailored for left-handed users.
Remember, a well-maintained knife not only performs better but also lasts longer. By following these tips, you ensure that your left-handed single-bevel knife remains a reliable tool in your culinary arsenal for years to come.
Left-handed people can use the same knives as right-handed people if the knife blade and handle are constructed to be symmetrical.
Knives made intentionally for right-handed people, such as single-bevel knives or serrated edge knives, will not function as intended when used in the left hand.
Consequently, single-bevel knives and serrated blade knives must be designed specifically for use by left-handed people to be effective. Fortunately, many knife makers produce top-quality knives with left-handed people in mind!
TIP: Diamond stones have some benefits that may fit better with your sharpening needs. They are especially great for stainless steel knives. Check out the best diamond-sharpening stones in the article below:
Buyer’s Guide: Best Diamond Knife Sharpening Stones Set