Left handed knives
We recently received an email about left-handed knives that got us thinking again about a subject that always causes confusion and we would be very interested to know what you think. Linda in the UK said…
“A few years ago I was looking for a new set of kitchen knives. The ones I liked best looked and felt different – although I did not know why. When I got home and used the bread knife I was amazed that I could cut my bread better.
It was only when I saw your shop about a year later that I looked at a left handed knife and noticed that the blade was the same as mine. After having a disagreement with my mother about it your shop manager explained that it was a left handed knife, serrated on the right side of the blade, and that was why I could cut food properly (I wasn't going mad after all).
Like most people I thought left-handed knives were just a gimmick, but now my husband lets me cut bread (and he can't use MY knives properly). I have since noticed that some serrated knives in the shops are actually left handed knives, but right-handed people will never believe me!”
Most “normal” knives for right-handers are serrated on the LEFT of the blade – the idea being that the effect of the serrations counter-acts the natural inward (clockwise as you see it) twisting action of the right hand, leading to a straight cut. If a left-hander uses one of these knives, the serrations actually EMPHASIZE the natural anti-clockwise twisting motion of the left hand which leads to the classic “overhanging” loaf or whatever is being cut. All our knives are serrated on the RIGHT side of the blade to give the correct balanced action for left-handers and generally people are very pleased that they can suddenly cut straight!
|The correct way for a left-hander
The serrations are on the right side of the blade to counterbalance the natural inward twisting motion of the left hand, giving a nice straight cut.
|The wrong way
The serrations on a normal bread knife exaggerate the natural twisting motion of the left hand leading to a curved slice and an overhanging loaf.
Confusion sometimes arises because some manufacturers make their “normal” knives serrated on the right of the blade – the left-handed side. When we ask them about it, they do not have good explanation, and most have never really thought about it – they have just always done it that way!
From our practical experience and that of many customers and from discussions with our own knife manufacturers in Sheffield UK who have been in the business since 1838 we can say that a knife serrated on the right of the blade is definitely best for left-handers.
We asked our Left-Handers Club Members for their comments on left-handed knives and the responses came flooding in and they were all great to read! There were a variety of comments and opinions, , but most of you agreed that left-handed knives definitely do the trick and have saved many a loaf from becoming a doorstep wedge!
Listed below are some of the responses that we received to our questions.
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- I bought a left-handed bread knife online because I was curious to see if it made a difference. Whenever I cut slices off a bread loaf, they are at a serious angle. Well, was there a difference with the left-handed knife! The control I felt left me awestruck. The slice I cut was perfectly straight.
- I bought a left handed bread knife from your shop several years ago and it is one of the best items I have ever purchased. I can now cut bread in even slices without making a mess of the whole loaf! Cutting a French stick is no problem. I no longer have to ask my husband to cut my bread for me!!
~ Dr Claire Woodfield, Scotland
- May I give a compliment for the quality of your knives. I'm very happy since I know my bad way of cutting has nothing to do with me, it's just the wrong knife. My 5-year old son is a lefty too (it's runs in the family – from both sides) and he is “happy to be a left hander” as he told me a few days ago and he is able to cut everything very well with a left- handed knife. This weekend he chopped meat, carrots and peppers without any problem. With a left-handed knife!
The funny thing is: he is a real danger for himself with a right-handed knife in his hand.I'm very grateful your materials turn the world for him in a place where he can be a happy handy boy! Best wishes! Marjolein, Netherlands
I bought a left handed knife from you last month – I couldn't believe the difference! However, its my secret as it has always got me out of any job that involved using a knife!!! ~ Michael Elliott, England
- Amongst my first purchases from the Left handed site was a ‘Left-Handed Bread Knife'. At last I was able to cut thin bread slices. Wizard! Likewise my left-handed lawn edging shears, trouble is my wife has more or less opted out of edging the lawns. ~ Bernard Hyde, England
- I have no problems cutting bread/food because I've used products from the Anything Left-Handed shop, including knives, for many years. I always use my left-handed bread knife. My left-handed vegetable knives enable me to cut e.g. cucumber straight. Incidentally, my left-handed York style potato peeler is the one implement I'd hate to have to do without. A final word about bread knives – the index finger of my right hand will always bear the scar which is the result of a self-inflicted injury – when I was 7 years old I tried to cut a slice of bread, obviously using a right-handed knife with my left hand, and sliced into my finger instead! ~ Nancy Shepherd, Bahrain
- I didn't realise how much difference a left handed knife would make – until I got one! ~ Denise Cox, UK
- Wow, I had no idea that my problems with cutting softer food like bread came from what side the knife was serrated on! I thought I was just a sloppy cutter in general. I find the same to be true when I try to cut cheese or even tomatoes into slices. What a catharsis to find out that it's not just me and the way I cut! Thank you! ~ Chris, USA
The only reason I have no problems cutting bread/food is because I already have a full set of your left handed knives. Previously I often served up wedges of cucumber instead of slices! When I first got my left handed knives I could not believe what a difference they made. I had never realised before that knives could be so sharp. Nowadays I very rarely use a right handed knife, although there are some in my kitchen drawer because my rightie husband is banned from using my left handed knives! ~ Helen Almond, Netherlands
- I have been using a left handed bread knife which I purchased from Anything Left Handed in Beak Street, London about 30 years ago. It was brilliant. I also purchased a left handed ironing board, cake slice, and obtained a cheque book from the bank with no stubs! It certainly made life a lot easier for me! ~ Louise Goodacre, UK
- I have always had a problem with knives seeming blunt to me and always cutting on an angle. Since I have invested in some left handed knives I have found them to be always sharp and I can actually cut things better. I wish I had found these years ago. ~ Sue Blunt, England
- I've always wondered why I found it easier to cut with one particular knife so after reading your article I checked it and found that it is actually a lefties knife! My right handed partner thought I was weird finding this particular knife to be my favourite as he has never been able to cut properly with it. Thank you for clearing this up for us! ~ Vicki Barber, UK
- Since buying left handed bread and other kitchen knives about 3 years ago, I've realised how long I struggled with right handed knives. As a child being told to put my knife in my right hand when eating meant that I just stabbed the food with my fork and tore it away with my knife as my dexterity was less at that time. Its quite amusing watching Righties use my knives and cut the most amusing pyramid shaped slices of bread!! ~ Sally, UK
|It was an epiphany for me when I bought my first lefty bread-knife from you! Just like most lefties, I'd just assumed I just wasn't made to cut bread and other stuff without getting an overhang. I was so happy when I realised that it wasn't me at all, it was my old righty knives! ~ Jo Smith|
- To be honest with you I thought a left-handed knife was just a gimmick (all my knives were right-handed), I thought I was just useless at cutting bread until I read about it on your website and thought I'd give cutting a loaf of bread a try with my right hand instead of my usual left. The difference was startling and now ALL my knives are left-handed.As an aside, I have a left-handed cheque book (in that its bound down the right side instead of the left) with paying in slips in the back and whenever I go into a bank to pay something in the cashiers always struggle to even open the cheque book! And they always say the same thing “now I know what it's like for left-handers!” ~ Nicola, Wales
- I've had trouble cutting bread and other things for years, and my loaves of bread always end up looking like the ones in the picture in your email, with that “overhang,” and I always thought it was just me! Now I know better. I'm also constantly cutting myself, and often my fingernails, when I cut things, because the knife tends to slip. Again, I thought it was just me. ~ Sue Goldian, Israel
- I had great problems cutting with ‘normal' knives and people laughed at me for not being able to cut straight! But since I bought some left-handed knives from you my bread is no longer wonky, I can cut slices of cheese that are the same size (how exciting!!) and the grip is so much more comfortable too. Thank you! (PS – My right-handed husband can't use the knives at all – and completely gives up when it comes to my left-handed scissors!) ~ Kate Lawton, England
|I always end up cutting bread so that it ends up with a huge slant on the end. For ages I thought this was just me until I found out my left-handed friend has the same problem,and also read a previous article you produced on this subject. ~ Yvonne Aburrow, UK|
- I always used to have terrible trouble cutting, especially, bread and hard cheeses, but since using your knives I am amazing! People (including me) always thought I was just clumsy, but with the right equipment I can even cut thin bread for cucumber sandwiches!Thank you! ~ Margi Merriman, UK
- I got really lucky gowning up. My mom is also left handed. We had all the “proper utensils” in my house… Until I moved out on my own… I used to love home made BREAD! For the the longest time I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me when I moved out and tried to cut bread for the first time! I went home after reading this and checked… Sure enough, my mom's got the left handed knives! Every time my boyfriend (the WONDERFUL righty he is) comes over to my mom's house with me, he has the HARDEST time! It's HILARIOUS! My mom and I just laugh it off knowing he finally has a SLIGHT understanding of what I go through every day! It's nice to know I'm not alone! ~ Allison, USA
We had some comments that were not as favourable to left-handed knives and we thought that it was only fair that we share them with you too!
- I really can't tell the difference between left and right serration, since my knife handles are “neutral” and not contoured toward either side (hand).~ Adele Hirschmann
- I have a set of Calphalon Knives and I have had no problems with them. Really I don't think I have ever really had a problem working with a “right handed” knife. It is just a knife and I spend most of my life in my kitchen. It does not bother me, I have learned to adjust and accept. ~ Carolyn Laird, USA
- Being serrated on one side or the other doesn't make much difference if I'm hungry. ~Charles Filson, USA
- I seem to be able to cut fine even though we have no special left-handed knives, although the bread only stays straight when only my dad (who is also a leftie) and myself cut the bread, if my mum cuts it (she is a rightie) it then goes all wonky!! ~ Lily Walker, UK
Well, there you go!
Thank you to everyone who responded to our question – it is great to be part of such a helpful worldwide community of left-handers.
Please add your own thoughts as comments below.