When selecting a knife there are five basic grip styles according to author, chef and all-round food expert, Tim Hayward in his new definitive guide: Knife: The Culture, Craft and Cult of the Cook's Knife published by Quadrille.
Once you've mastered how knives both gripped and moved (coming soon) in the same ways around the world you understand all the ways in which knives are designed and why, he tells us.
Fitting your hand to the handle of the knife and mastering the grip will all be determined on the combination of the hand size, handle shape, cutting intention and culinary tradition, in what will be the most comfortable and effective use of the blade.
5 Basic Knife Grips
1. Hammer Grip - Used for Cleavers and Choppers
Think of how you naturally grip the handle of a blunt knife to cut through something big and tough, like a pumpkin, and the hammer grip is the automatic grip the hand adopts on the handle. The grip is strong, but without so much control.
2. Pinch Grip - Used for Chef's Knife
A delicate grip that yields massive control, not the one you'll use for brute force jobs, but ideal for precise chopping.
3. Point Grip - Used for yanagibas (Used by Sashimi chefs)
By placing the forefinger on the spine of the knife the blade is locked into place and becomes a natural extension of the arm. The blade must be sharp enough and the grip offers absolute precision from the knife. Appropriately it's also the grip a surgeon uses on a scalpel.
4. Dagger Grip - Commonly used by hunters, butchers and fisherman
This is a strong knife grip used to break down carcasses when you need to exert extra pressure. The grip is similar to the hammer except the blade tip faces in the opposite direction pointing out of the bottom of your grip.
5. Toward the Thumb Grip - For use with narrow blades and small handle eg French tourne
Using all four fingers wrapped around the handle, the free thumb is used for pushing the ingredient onto it which requires extra skill to cut fast and accurately without ever hitting the fleshy part of the thumb.
Take a look at how the grip styles look below: