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Kitchen knife balance point – What is the best kitchen knife balance point?

Before we know what balance point suits you the best, we need to point out your preferred gripping style, and based on that. We can determine your balance point.

The Pinch Grip

You have the pinch grip at the blade, bolster or handle area. The point where you pinch the knife determines the balance point for this gripping style.

Pinch grip, the point where you pinch determnines the balance
Pinch grip, the point where you pinch determnines the balance

Thumb Grip

The Thump grip is when you place your thumb on top of the handle. Your pointing finger determines the balance point of this gripping style.

Thump Grip
Thump Grip
Index Finger dertermines the balance
Index Finger dertermines the balance

The Fingertip grip

With the fingertip grip, it is your thumb and middle finger that determine the balance point.

Fingertip grip, thumb & middle finger dertermines the balance
Fingertip grip, thumb & middle finger dertermines the balance

What balance point do you want? 

The balance point is more critical for cooks at a restaurant since they do the same task for an hour or two with the same knife compared to home cooks that use them for a few minutes.

Bunka: Middle Balance at the point where I grip neither front or back heavy
Bunka: Middle Balance at the point where I grip neither front or back heavy

Knife styles and the best balance point

There is no such thing as the best balance point. There are multiple knife styles, and the best balance point is different for each person and knife style. Therefore I will tell you what balance point I’m looking for and why I want the balance point to be there for me.

Gyuto: Middle Balance at the point where I grip neither front or back heavy
Gyuto: Middle Balance at the point where I grip neither front or back heavy

Gyuto, Santoku and the Bunka

My preferred balance point on a Gyuto is at the middle with a pinch grip since it suits my cutting style the best. I use the forward and down motion the most and sometimes use the tip to slice towards me. The knife will not work against me with the forward and down motion, and I’m in control.

Balance should be in the middle from the point where I pinch
Gyuto: For me the balance should be in the middle from the point where I pinch

When I use the tip to slice, I pull the knife towards me. Therefore I often switch my gripping style to a fingertip grip to get a front-heavy knife to assist me with that task.

Fingertip grip, prefered balance front heavy
Fingertip grip, prefered balance front heavy

With the Santoku and Bunka, I prefer the same balance point.

Middle Balance at the point where I grip neither front or back heavy
Santoku: Middle Balance at the point where I grip neither front or back heavy

The Nakiri

When it comes to the Nakiri, I prefer a front-heavy balance point, but I don’t mind a middle balanced Nakiri. I don’t pull the knife towards me when I use a Nakiri; therefore, I prefer a front-heavy balance point over a middle balanced one. I’m not too fond of a back heavy Nakiri because it will fight against my cutting motion.

Nakiri: I prefer front heavy, middle is fine but not back heavy
Nakiri: I prefer front heavy, middle is fine but not back heavy

Knife profile and handle

On some occasions, the balance point is pre-defined. The reason for this is that the knife handle is changed for a specific gripping style. Any other gripping point will be less comfortable since you are fighting against the handle design. So keep that in mind when you buy a knife with a unique handle shape.

Questions

If you have any questions or need help, leave them in the comment section below, and I will try to help you as much as I can. I would love to know your preferred balance point and what knife style you are using, so don’t hesitate to answer it in the comment section below.

Kives used in the video and article:

🛒S H O P:

Kai Shun:
NA: Kai Shun Santoku NA
EU: Kai Shun Santoku


NA: Wusthof Ikon Classic
EU: Wusthof Ikon Classic

Hezhen Nakiri

Japanese made knives
(Japanese artisan knives, recommended to order one from your local Japanese knife import store because of the return policy and warranty).

Shibata Takayuki Bunka Review
Shibata Takayuki Gyuto Review

N O T E S:

The knife used in the video and article is for reference only. There was no particular reason for showing them in the video. At the same time, there are knives that I personally like, but there were also knives that I still need to test and review.

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ChefPanko

Hi, I'm ChefPanko, I have worked for multiple restaurants and have decided to share my experience with you guys. I will share recipes and techniques that I have learned, taken, and improved from the French, Japanese restaurants that I have worked for. I will also explore other cuisines with you guys.

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One Comment

  1. The point where you naturally hold/grip the knife is how I determine the balance point of a knife. From there on, you can determine if it is front, back, or middle balanced based on your preferred gripping style and where you hold the knife.

    Giving you the following:
    Pinch grip: Thumb and Index finger determine the balance.
    Thumb grip: where the knife rest at the Index finger determines the balance.
    The fingertip grip: thumb, and middle finger determine the balance.

    The following factor of where you want the balance point is more critical for cooks at work since they prep for hours doing the same task for 1 to 2 hours with the same knife.

    Yanagiba: Slicing towards yourself, front heavy.
    Western Chef Knife: Back heavy, middle balance is okay. (I prefer Back)
    Gyuto: Mainly slicing in Japanese cuisine front or middle balance is oke. (I prefer Middle)
    Santoku: up and forward motion (I prefer it in the Middle).
    Nakiri: middle/front balance (I prefer front heavy).
    Paring knife: Since it is used off the cutting board and in the air.
    I want a back heavy balance (handle heavy).
    Utility knife: Middle or front (you are still on the cutting board unlike the paring knife).
    Boning knife: depends on what you debone if it is a chicken, I prefer middle/front (Japanese style Honesuki).

    But with a boning knife, I would prefer a knife with a wider comfortable balance zone.
    Like with the chicken, the front/Middle balance is my preference. I prefer a back/middle balance zone when making a lamb rack. (so, by a simple handle grip, switch the balance shift with you). I call it a ”wider balance zone”.

    And once you know the knife style, what you intend to use it on, then you can decide what balance point you would personally prefer based on your gripping style and usage.

    For boning knives, we use it on and off the cutting board when we are maneuvering around the meat, so a wider balance zone is preferable unless you want something specific.

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