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Lefty needs a knife!

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I have tried many cheaper knives, and some more expensive ones just to find they are balanced for a right hand, and sharpened in just the left side of the blade. I need a chefs knife that works for me as a left! Does anyone have any suggestions? I am sick of looking and don't want to drop a ton of money for a knife made for someone else.

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  1. <and some more expensive ones just to find they are balanced for a right hand>

    Some maybe, but most knives are neutral.

    <sharpened in just the left side of the blade>

    You are looking for a personal knife?

    cowboyradee bought a lefty knife and he wrote about his decision and all. You can read about this if you want time.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/757992

    I would suggest that you can look for a specific knife you like and then contact the sellers. You will likely have to pay more.

    By the way, what kind of knife are you looking for?

    1. Southpaw daughter has been working her way up the culinary ladder and over Christmas holidays we visited Korin in lower Manhattan to look at some serious steel that is designed for a enormous range of hand tasks much of which is either fabricated for OR can be converted for lefties. Impressive collections that range from the affordable ($100 or less) to the insane $11 k knives that belong in the hands of Jiro and his descendants. Website is almost as helpful but no substitute for their sales reps or their in store sharpening craftsmen working in full view.

      1. Shun makes their knives with handles for both right and left-handed people.

        http://www.amazon.com/Shun-DM0706L-Cl...

        10 Replies
        1. re: Philly Ray

          I'm ambidextrous (though I write left handed) and I have left and right handed Shun's. To be honest, I'd actually recommend getting something with a symmetrical handle rather than going for a left handed Shun.

          1. re: Philly Ray

            I know a lefty that used the left-handed Shuns. I used them too as a righty and really had no problems. However, I agree w/ Cynic and you're probably better off just getting a solid knife that isn't "handed."

            1. re: Philly Ray

              my knives are Kershaw Shun Classic designed for LEFT HANDED people.

              i love them.

              1. re: westsidegal

                Is there anything besides the D shaped handle that makes them RIGHT v LEFT?

                1. re: paulj

                  I'm pretty sure it's just the handle--the grind doesn't appear to be handed.

                  1. re: Cynic2701

                    That's my understanding, too.

                  2. re: paulj

                    i believe that only the handle is different, but the difference is pronounced enough so that i can feel it.

                  3. re: westsidegal

                    I'm left handed & just received a right handed shun nakiri at christmas. I don't think the nakiri is made for left handed people or at least not without special order or something. Anyway, i was concerned that it would be uncomfortable to use but its fine.

                    1. re: flourgirl

                      the nakiri does not come in a left-handed version.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        Yeah, I didn't think so. I'm
                        doing fine with the right handed version anyway. I can actually cut with either hand but i prefer using my left and the handle feels fine.

                2. What's your price range? What style of knife do you like?

                  1. I should have been more clear. I need a chefs knife. I was surprised when looking how many didn't have a straight blade. Also I am looking for under $150 but preferably under $100. I am just a home cook so I don't need something perfect, just a well balanced straight blade knife or knife for a lefty (let's face it husband will not use it!)

                    Any lefties out there I would love to hear what you use. It is nice to hear what right handed people think, but it is kind of like getting advice on woman's underwear from a man. :)

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: chickennosenshi

                      Thanks for letting us know. What kind of care are you used to giving your knives? Do you sharpen your own knives? Would you be willing to use a carbon steel knife that may require a bit more care and maintenance than a stainless knife?

                      1. re: chickennosenshi

                        At the risk of treading way outside my personal experiences Asa right-ie there is a wide range of options for someone looking for a 'flat' blade profile knife; however, they might be more readily described as santuko or natiri type blades rather than a traditional Chef's knife only because most examples of the latter tend to have a curved blade profile, sometimes with a pronounced belly and other times with a curve up to the tip that enables 'rocking' cut movements. Flat blades enable precise push/pull cutting or chopping motions. It seems cutlery designed with 50/50 symmetrical blade profiles and symmetrical handles should prove usable for righties and lefties. When you begin to consider asymmetrical that favor a right hand or a lefty hand, then it's likely the handle may favor the specific orientation as well. Most asymmetrical blades beyond 5" likely exceed your $100 target. Shun may provide a dedicated leftie handle with their symmetrical blade line

                        1. re: chickennosenshi

                          <I need a chefs knife. I was surprised when looking how many didn't have a straight blade. >

                          By Western cutlery definition, a Chef's knife is curved. If you want a straighter edge blade, then you should look for "nakiri", "santoku", "Chinese slicer", "Chinese cleaver"....etc.

                          http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/...

                          All of these knives above are usually neutral without left or right handed orientation.

                          This is assuming I understand your meaning of "straight blade"

                          1. re: chickennosenshi

                            I am a lefty, but without much to offer. I mostly use a Westhof santoku and a boning knife, but I am not sure if it's ones I bought for a lefty. I'm thinking the boning knife was sharp on the right side for a lefty. I have bought some other lefty knives and scissors , but I also often get by with a tool designed for someone right handed without realizing it. It's such an "aha!" moment when you realize it, and something many just don't get.

                            Have you seen this thread? Title is misleading; VERY informative:
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/760308
                            Or

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/369362

                            Or
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/918171

                            1. re: chickennosenshi

                              wow, knives to women's underwear and within 10 posts, I think that's a new one. very "Special Victims Unit"

                              seriously though, this is a topic I had never considered occurred in the mass-produced world.

                              1. re: chickennosenshi

                                Not a straight blade - do you mean when viewed from above? Why would a knife have a intentional curve or bend that way?

                                1. re: chickennosenshi

                                  I'm a lefty. My knives are a mix of Kanetsune and Tojiro DP. The K's are slightly RH biased(60/40), the DP 50-50. Both have similar handles. I have not had problems with either.

                                  I would recommend the DP as an excellent knife in your price range. The K's are slightly higher in price, but still a good value.

                                  1. re: Bigjim68

                                    What Kanetsune's do you have, and what do you think of them? I've been eyeing them as a good gateway to Japanese knives for friends, but have never handled one before.

                                    1. re: Cynic2701

                                      Mine are the 100's. VG 10 with damascus blades I have been very satisfied. They hold an edge well and are comfortable to use. The 200's are the same knife with a blue handle.

                                      About equal in performance at a lower price point is the Tojiro DP line. VG 10 with single layer cladding. But you don't get the damascus pattern. Both represent good value compared to other similar knives.

                                      1. re: Bigjim68

                                        Yeah, I saw some Kanetsune from JapanBlade (website). Some are at higher price point than Tojiro, but some are lower. I actually bought my brother a lower price point Kanetsune Santoku

                                        1. re: Bigjim68

                                          Cool. Thanks for letting me know.

                                          I got my brother a 210 mm Tojiro DP for Christmas and I was satisfied with the product that you get for the money. Take a little bit of time and elbow grease - and some Chosera's and Shapton's - to thin it out and it cuts quite well.

                                          The damascus pattern seems to be equated with being expensive, so it's nice to know another alternative for the next gift.

                                    2. re: chickennosenshi

                                      I'm left handed and use a 9 1/2" Tojiro gyuto & i love it.

                                    3. I'm a lefty, and haven't noticed much handedness to knives. Nearly all have symmetrical grinds and handles.

                                      The exceptions are:
                                      - an inexpensive Japanese knife with a slight asymetry in the wood handle. That is, one side is rounded, and the other side has a slight ridge. I trimmed that ridge a bit. But the handle shape does little to mess up the 'balance'.

                                      - serrated knives have serrations on one side. But I only notice that asymmetry when using those knives on something hard. Then the blade deviates to one side. But those are paring or bread knives, and not meant for hard/crisp foods.

                                      - I read about Japanese knives with a one sided bevel. Handedness would matter with those. But those are beyond my budget.

                                      - one other type of asymmetry - I've have a few cheap knives with sloppy grinding, so the final bevel is larger on one side than the other. I don't think that is intentional or meant to favor right handed users. It's just due to poor manufacturing control.

                                      - I have a vague memory of seeing Western knives (chefs) with an asymmetric bolster. But bolster on my first chefs knife is symmetric, and nearly all my newer knives are cut from flat steel.

                                      - some knives might have shallow hollows on one side of the blade, mean to reduce surface tension with slicing through some foods. But I don't think those will affect over all balance.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: paulj

                                        <- I read about Japanese knives with a one sided bevel. Handedness would matter with those. But those are beyond my budget.>

                                        They have cheap ones for like $15, but those are not really good, and are not worth. You can find them often in Asian supermarkets.

                                        http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/d...

                                      2. I'm a hopeless lefty, and a bit of a knife collector...
                                        Off the top of my head here are some recommendations:

                                        In the more expensive range, knives by Shosui Takeda. He makes great kitchen knives, albeit Japanese style, and grinds them symmetrically, that is on both sides. Lefty friendly all the way. Murray Carter....his knives are also ground on both sides, also Japanese style blades. You can buy Carters knives from his website.
                                        Takeda dealers in the US include Chefknivestogo, Arizona Custom Knives and Fort Henry Custom Knives. I've dealt with all 3 of them, and they are all top notch.

                                        Mid range knives I would include to be the Shun knives, as well as the Globals. Both Global and Shun have lines that are asymmetrically ground, you just have to know what you are buying. Global does make lefty knives, you just have to look for them.

                                        Lower cost, (but still very good knives), look into the Artiflex knives offered by Chefknivestogo. Most if not all are symmetrically ground, and offer a lot of knife for the buck.

                                        There are other knives out there, and many more lefty friendly knives in the western knife category. I prefer Japanese style knives, and this is what my sinistro-centric search has come up with.

                                        Don't give up though...there are lefty knives out there if you look for them.

                                        1. Fellow lefty here, and a knife nerd too.

                                          What knives have you been using, and what problems have you been having?

                                          If you're concerned because your knives are steering, you don't necessarily need a lefty knife. You could likely benefit from getting a knife that is either symmetrical or even slightly righty-biased, but thinner than what you've been using. Generally, relatively thin knives don't steer much even if they're slightly asymmetrical - the blade just isn't thick enough to give you much one-sided resistance. For example, I can use a Tojiro DP gyuto (Japanese chef's knife) or a thinned Hiromoto gyuto with no problems at all - even though both are a bit righty-ground. And some Japanese knives you'll find are even thinner still. You might also benefit from relaxing your wrist a bit while cutting or trying a pinch grip (which helps stabilize the knife's lateral movement) if you don't already.

                                          Likewise, a lot of Western-made knives are either fully symmetrical or so close to it that they might as well be. You're not likely to have problems using a Forschner or a Wusthof or a Sabatier as a lefty.

                                          If your knives feel uncomfortable to hold - the problem might just be a righty handle, or even just that the knife is uncomfortable in the first place, regardless of which hand you use. Frankly, ambidextrous handles are more common than hand-specific ones. The Shun classic series are the most common knives to use a right handed handle. Most knives, you'd be fine with.

                                          If you're looking for a chef's knife that's really optimized for a left handed user, then we're probably talking about specially-made lefty-ground knives from Japanese makers. In other threads, I've explained how double beveled knives can be ground for a lefty, from the edge all the way to the spine - shrinkwrap linked you to one of those threads above.

                                          If you're looking into Japanese knives, you can sometimes buy a knife that's ground for a lefty by contacting the maker or a seller who works closely with the maker. There are a few catches though:
                                          - You can expect to pay 25-50% more for such a knife
                                          - You probably won't find this option until you're looking at knives that are north of $100. May be out of your price range.
                                          - You'd want a knife that's made for a lefty - not just reprofiled at the edge by the seller. Reprofiling the edge of a righty knife does NOT make it a lefty knife. See the thread Shrinkwrap linked you to.

                                          1. I use my kitchen knives left-handed as well (though I write and eat right-handed). I don't own the great knives that others here have, so my experiences may not help much. I have a nice Henckels 10" chefs knife that I enjoy using, and some inexpensive santoku knives that I am able to keep sharp, and therefore like to use. Neither are designed for leftys. I don't notice any deficiency in their performance.

                                            1. I'm one of the ones who don't get it.

                                              I have been left handed most of my life (ok, ok...all of it). With a few dozen knives in my arsenal I have never experienced a lefty issue.

                                              That doesn't help I'm sure, but it is my real-world observation.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: JayL

                                                Jay,

                                                I'm not a knife nerd, getting by just fine with a 20 year old set of Henckels 4 star, plus a Forschner/Victorinox boning knife. Both are neutral, with bi-lateral symmetry of the blade and handle. I'm sure that's why they work equally well for me and the Dude, and why most lefties have no problem with the vast majority of knives.

                                                I was able to see the difference once at a knife demo, where there were some right-handed knives. Horrible!

                                                1. re: JayL

                                                  You're unlikely to ever have problems as a lefty unless you buy some of the more esoteric Japanese knife brands and/or styles. Shuns are the only particularly common maker using a right-handed handle (and even that is far from impossible to use as a lefty), and the knives that feature a particularly noticeable right-handed blade grind are not common on the Western market. Though a few of the more common Japanese knives that are often recommended here are in fact righty-biased (the Tojiro DP, for example), the bias is so slight that I doubt many lefties would notice it unless it was pointed out to them.

                                                2. Shun makes left handed knives. They usually are a special order and not always stocked in stores.

                                                  1. My twenty-some-year-old Henckels work just fine for this lefty, but then again, I cut at the dinner table with my right hand, and in the kitchen with my left. Being in the vast minority, I learned to adjust. And, I don't look like a nut, transferring my utensils from left to right.

                                                    8 Replies
                                                    1. re: RosePearl

                                                      I do the same thing! And I cannot use left-handed scissors at all. I remember my teachers tried to make me do that when I was little because I was "left-handed" and I had to keep telling them " I WRITE left-handed, but I CUT right-handed - leave me alone!!!". (I do cut left-handed in the kitchen most of the time, I have no idea why.)

                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                        I have a pair of good quality left-handed sewing scissors. They just don't work for me.

                                                        - I'm used to using scissors in my right hand
                                                        - When I use them in the right hand there are 2 problems. The handles have the wrong shape, and my hand forces the blades apart rather than together, so it does not cut well.
                                                        - When I use them in the left hand, the motion is awkward. But with practice I could adapt.

                                                        So with scissors handedness is real. For most knives it is superficial.

                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          As a lefty, I have always used right handed scissors...in my left hand. I have no problems doing it.

                                                          1. re: JayL

                                                            Even though I'm left-handed, I can't use scissors in my left hand no matter whether they're right OR left-handed. It just feels very awkward. I can only use right handed scissors in my right hand.

                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                              Luckily, I can use regular scissors in my left hand.

                                                        2. re: flourgirl

                                                          I'm a 'righty' but always thought it was BS to instill one method. my advantage was writing Western just meant less smeared ink.

                                                          for lefties I just sort of set the table a bit different.

                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                            You mean who sat where? That really makes a difference. We have been brought up to accommodate many things, but two elbows in a tight corner is hard.

                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                              yeah that and where the water/wine glasses reside.

                                                      2. try Guy Fieri's, just bought a set on sale & really like weight & blades. not sure, but he may have a lefty, he's very versatile

                                                        1. How do you tell if knife is made for left or right-handed? Is there a label?

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: csh123

                                                            Most of the Western knives made in German, France, USA have neutral/ambidexter design. Japanese knives sometime have a handiness to them. Sometime it is very subtle, and sometime extremely obvious.

                                                            For an usuba knife, one side of the blade is almost flat, while the other side is angled.

                                                            http://www.knifeforums.com/uploads/12...

                                                            http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/Miz...

                                                          2. I am left handed but never had any problems with knives except Japanese knives which were made for right handed people so that presented lots of problems especially shaving Daikon Radishes and was like learning all over again.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Robj

                                                              That's why God gave us the Benriner - so someone less skilled than a kitchen demigod can slice daikon thinly.

                                                            2. I would love to know the answer to this one. I am left handed and have trouble with knives all the time. And yes I am trained but knives are still difficult for me. Looking forward to help.

                                                              1. Quality knives are ambidextrous, except some specialty knives (mostly Japanese sushi knives which are often available for left handed users.) Being laterally symmetrical there is no need for left handed knives.

                                                                Still, I have seen some knives which were claimed to be left handed. In all cases, those were cheap instruments (often part of a set offered on TV or the Web) whose handle was designed to be “different” and claimed to be ergonomic. Buyers of these seldom keep them for long when they try quality conventional knives.

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: JMPSR

                                                                  There are many non-sushi knives that are non-symmetrical. Most Japanese chef knives (gyutos) are subtly asymmetrical, and many Western knives with grantons or divots on one side only. The difference is subtle enough not to matter to most users in many cases - the biggest reason to make a knife asymmetrical is actually to make it cut with less resistance.

                                                                  That said, there are also differences in how an asymmetrical knife steers or releases food that can give it advantages to a right- or left-handed user. How drastic these differences are depends on the knife, and you would have to go out of your way to find a knife that has really drastic bias. But they're certainly out there. For example, I found as a lefty that I couldn't use a Carbonext sujihiki (slicer) I received as a present due to its marked right handed grind.

                                                                  Most left handed people don't have to worry about this, if they're shopping among the most common knives in the western market. But if you are looking at Japanese knives - and not necessarily sushi knives or other single beveled knives - it's good to be aware of it. And if you're something of a knife aficionado, you might find you prefer a knife that's specifically crafted to use in your dominant hand.

                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                    True, but the distinction is so subtle that I have yet to meet a human being that can perceive it when actually using the knife.

                                                                    Sushi knifes are quite thick and beveled on one side only, and the difference is drastic. I may be in error, but I was under the impression that this configuration was meant to facilitate separation of the knife from the sliced part of the fish, not to make it slice easier (which can be achieved with a thin blade with Japanese sharpening (acute angle).

                                                                    In my opinion, single bevel on a Japanese chef knife is a good idea carried too far. Japanese sharpening is already at a sharper angle than that of standard western knives, which make the Japanese blade quite delicate. Unless such a knife is dedicated to tender flesh or vegetable, I can see problems of sharpness retention and, upon hitting a bone, blade damage.

                                                                    One must not forget that until very recently, all quality Japanese blades were hand crafted objects and the shape of various knives varied among craftsmen. They were not all the superb instruments they claimed. I own a small collection of Japanese knifes which are a joy to use and maintain. I also acquired a few duds I quietly parted with.

                                                                    At the risk of being tar feathered, I must say that I suspect left handed chef knifes belong in the same category as left handed baseballs.

                                                                    1. re: JMPSR

                                                                      Then, there are "typical" knives from other countries that are distinctly 'handed'. I have a Foshan #2 Fruit Knife with an edge that is definitely ground right-handed. The left side of the blade is slightly hollow-ground, while the right side is slightly convex-ground.

                                                                      http://www.chasesupplies.com/products...

                                                                      I have no idea if they even make a left-handed version, but a lefty using this knife would be at a distinct dis-advantage. Of course, this is all focused on the blade grind, not the handle. The handle is 'neutral', but the knife is definitely designed to be used right-handed.

                                                                      1. re: JMPSR

                                                                        "True, but the distinction is so subtle that I have yet to meet a human being that can perceive it when actually using the knife."
                                                                        ______
                                                                        You haven't tried the right knives. The Carbonext sujihiki I had previously was not subtle when cutting firm foodstuffs. Same with my honesuki (a Tojiro), though because I use that primarily to cut chicken on the bone, I can use it just fine with minor technique adjustments.

                                                                        "I was under the impression that [sushi knives were] meant to facilitate separation of the knife from the sliced part of the fish, not to make it slice easier (which can be achieved with a thin blade with Japanese sharpening (acute angle)."
                                                                        _____
                                                                        Correct, more or less. Keep in mind that a knife which doesn't release fish easily when cutting it will smash any thin slice into an unattractive shape. An asymmetrical grind does reduce cutting resistance compared to a symmetrical grind of similar thickness, but this isn't a major factor in the design/philosophy of a yanagiba.

                                                                        "In my opinion, single bevel on a Japanese chef knife is a good idea carried too far."
                                                                        ______
                                                                        Japanese chef knives (gyutos) are almost never single beveled, though they may be (and usually are) asymmetrical. Some traditional Japanese chefs use a single beveled knife called a Usuba, which requires its own set of techniques. But they're not really equivalent.

                                                                        "At the risk of being tar feathered, I must say that I suspect left handed chef knifes belong in the same category as left handed baseballs."
                                                                        _______
                                                                        At the risk of tarring and feathering you, I suspect you haven't tried the knives to know. Again, I don't recommend them to leftys just looking for something functional - a forschner will work as well for a lefty as a righty. But if you're spending a couple hundred bucks or more and looking into Japanese knives, then you might as well get your money's worth and take advantage of some of the more obscure features of Japanese knife-making.

                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                          OK, cowboyardee, I stand partly tared... but I won't leave town until I have a chance to try the "knives to know". I am counting on the fact that if ever I lay my hand on one I'll know that it's one of the ones to know. (Yes, I know, I once said that about a girl.) You probably did so to, but you seem to have transfered your enthusiasm on some shiny metal implements.

                                                                          1. re: JMPSR

                                                                            <Yes, I know, I once said that about a girl.>

                                                                            Do you still believe this? I am having my doubt about this.

                                                                            <but you seem to have transfered your enthusiasm >

                                                                            I am guessing that cowboy has been a victim of domestic abuses.

                                                                            cowboy, I have a perfect video for you to counter your abuser:

                                                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTWfqi...

                                                                        2. re: JMPSR

                                                                          <I may be in error, but I was under the impression that this configuration was meant to facilitate separation of the knife from the sliced part of the fish, not to make it slice easier>

                                                                          Knowing less than cowboyardee and you, I actually think you two are both correct. Let's say you are right handed and you have a right handed usuba knife. When you make thin cut of your vegetable, the thin slice of food is on the angled side or the bevel side, and the knife will push the slice away from the knife. Major of the vegetable will be not be pushed because it on the straighter side.

                                                                          So it is true that it will help food separation, but I believe it also help relieve resistance. Just imagine you being a right hand person using a left handed usuba. Now your knife will be pushing toward the food, and you try very hard to steer it back. That got to create resistance.

                                                                          <Unless such a knife is dedicated to tender flesh or vegetable>

                                                                          I agree, but that is why single bevel are usually on yanagiba, usuba, deba knives. Common folks do not use usuba, they use double bevel knives like nakiri. I don't know if it is because of the problem of of sharpness retention or because of ease of making a double bevel nakiri, it is what it is.

                                                                    2. I am left handed, and I have absolutely loved Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four Star series, most of my life. The blades are nicely balanced, and the handle has a built in cleat at the end, to make holding it in either hand, natural and comfortable.

                                                                      For a less expensive knife, I have a nice Mundial I picked up in a commercial kitchen supply store. As for sharpening, both brands are not sharpened on one edge, and they both last with proper knife care. (Many of my knives are 15+ years old, and minus the shiny handle from wear, and fading blade logos, they have held up to daily use and have never taken a ride in a dish washer or soaked in a sink with dishes).