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    Username Post: Right Handed Vs Left Handed Knives        (Topic#865705)
    JBroida
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    11-29-09 06:48.19 - Post#1992428    



    After reading this forum for a while, i thought i would just type this up as a reference for people looking into japanese knives.

    Often times, you hear people here talk about right handed versus left handed knives. For traditional japanese knives, this is very important. On a right handed knife, the right side of the knife will have the bevel cut on it and the left side will be hollow ground. On a left handed knife, you will find the opposite to be true.

    However, with western knifes, this is much less important. We tend to sharpen our knifes according to our personal preferences, but at the end of the day, it makes no real difference. Left handed people can use "right handed" western knives (assuming the handle is symmetrical) and visa versa. Also, if you want to change from left handed to right handed, the work is pretty easy (whereas it is an impossible task on a traditional japanese knife).

    The main point of this is to say, dont get caught up in whether a western knife is right or left handed (again, except for the handle). The only real thing that right or left handed will tell us about that knife is what the owners preference is. It does not mean that knife is permanently right or left handed, or that it can not be used by both right or left handed people. On the other hand, if you are looking at a traditional japanese knife, pay very close attention to whether it is a right or left handed knife.

    -Jon
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    etoknife
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    11-29-09 08:47.49 - Post#1992502    


        In response to JBroida

    Spot on Chef,
    I am left handed and use western style japanese knives for work. I slowly convert some of them my self. I do sometimes feel a little difference when , say cutting fine shallots and the like. But not much.
    I don't use traditional knives just yet, have no use for them at this point in the game, but I know they would have to be ordered as left handed for extra money.

    Cheers
     
    pedro the lefty
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    11-29-09 08:52.49 - Post#1992507    


        In response to JBroida

    I think it is a great idea to have this here, Jon, perhaps as a sticky.

    If it comes to that, I would suggest a few additions in places, especially considering that the target audience is likely to include those with limited knowledge of the distinctions between traditional and western-style japanese knives, and even their names. A few suggestions are indicated below, in italics.

    I also added a sentence at the end referring to Adam's Kitchen Knife Terms sticky. A reference to Gator's knife database might be a good idea too.


    • JBroida Said:
    After reading this forum for a while, i thought i would just type this up as a reference for people looking into japanese knives.

    Often times, you hear people here talk about right handed versus left handed knives. For traditional japanese knives - deba, yanagiba, and usuba being the most common examples - this is very important. On a right handed knife, the right side of the knife will have the bevel cut on it and the left side will be hollow ground. On a left handed knife, you will find the opposite to be true. It is not possible to change the handedness of one of these types of knives.

    However, with western-style japanese knives - gyuto, petty, sujihiki, nakiri, santoku, and western deba being the most common types - this is much less important. We tend to sharpen our knives according to our personal preferences, but at the end of the day, it makes no real difference. Left handed people can use "right handed" western knives (assuming the handle is more-or-less symmetrical) and visa versa. Also, if you want to change from left handed to right handed, the work is pretty easy (whereas it is an impossible task on a traditional japanese knife).

    The main point of this is to say, dont get caught up in whether a western-style japanese knife is right or left handed (again, except for the handle). The only real thing that right or left handed will tell us about that knife is what the maker's or present owner's preference is. It does not mean that knife is permanently right or left handed, or that it can not be used by both right or left handed people. On the other hand, if you are looking at a traditional japanese knife, pay very close attention to whether it is a right or left handed knife.

    See the "Kitchen Knife Terms" sticky post for more information on various knife types.

    -Jon




    Edited by pedro the lefty on 11-29-09 08:55.09. Reason for edit: No reason given.
     
    Dave_Martell
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    11-29-09 09:29.32 - Post#1992530    


        In response to JBroida

    Jon, I have to disagree with a couple of points.

    I think it's OK to use and convert most really thin 60/40 ground western style Japanese knives but it's not so great to do this to many others. If a knife is on the thicker side and/or ground 70/30 to 90/10 then I see problems occurring with this conversion.

    In the more recent past there has been a lot of lefty users who either have done the conversion themselves or had it "sold" to them at the time of sale who have come to me with complaints of twisting and/or wedging. The problems seem to be found on thicker knives or knives with greater asymmetry but also from first time Japanese knife owners/sharpeners as well as users who have been sharpening these knives for long periods of time.

    I advise left handed users to consider the knife specifics and who is doing the conversion and how they will maintain the conversion over time before purchasing a right handed knife. Often times the initial savings is spent later on down the road on repairs or corrections.

    I'm mentioning this so that the info is out there to consider and make informed decisions upon. I hear about too many problems to not mention them.

    Dave


     
    JBroida
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    11-29-09 10:45.53 - Post#1992583    


        In response to Dave_Martell

    dave-
    great points. I guess when i think about the conversion process, i dont see it as an immediate need... more like something that can be corrected slowly over time. I think over time, with proper thinning, etc., a conversion can work just fine. To give an example, i gave away a sugimoto sujihiki, which has a really extreme right handed bevel, to a lefty friend. He doesnt sharpen his own knives, so i do it for him from time to time. I have slowly been converting it to a lefty knife for him and he has had no problems with it. There is some thinning required though, just slightly more than there would be if i had continued sharpening it as a righty knife. This friend is a chef, so i am sure this knife gets its fair share of use and i am sure i would hear about problems with it if there were any.
    Japanese Knife Imports
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    Dave_Martell
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    11-29-09 13:24.06 - Post#1992694    


        In response to JBroida

    Yeah I'm sure that's true and you're correct in going about it like that.


     
    JBroida
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    11-29-09 13:30.13 - Post#1992707    


        In response to Dave_Martell

    in retrospect, i should have posted this in the "useful links for the Kitchen" area... Adam, when you get a chance, can you please move this thread. Thanks.
    Japanese Knife Imports
    High-end, hand-crafted Japanese kitchen knives
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    diced
    Journeyman KnifeNut!
    *
    11-29-09 16:10.33 - Post#1992792    


        In response to Dave_Martell

    My friend can cut rough, jagged but pretty straight slices with his dull or serrated knives; but when he is over at my house using a 50/50 sharpened/beveled nakiri he can't keep it straight.
     


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