Sharp Skills: Learning to Use Knives

Whether you’re a professional chef or a home cook, learning how to use knives properly is essential. Knives are one of the most important tools in any kitchen, and using them correctly is not only important for efficiency but also for safety. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of knife skills, including choosing the right knife, grip and stance, and proper cutting techniques.

Choosing the Right Knife

Using the right knife for the job is essential for both efficiency and safety. You’ll need different types of knives for different tasks in the kitchen, so it’s important to have a selection of knives on hand. Here are some basic knives every kitchen should have:

  • Chef’s knife: A multi-purpose knife used for chopping, slicing, and mincing.
  • Paring knife: A small knife used for peeling and trimming produce.
  • Bread knife: A serrated knife used for slicing bread and other baked goods.

When choosing a knife, make sure it feels comfortable in your hand and has a good balance. Look for knives made of high-quality materials that will hold their edge, like carbon steel or high-carbon stainless steel.

Grip and Stance

Having the right grip and stance is crucial for efficient and safe cutting. Here are some tips for a proper grip and stance:

  • Grip the knife handle firmly but not too tightly, with your thumb and index finger on opposite sides of the blade.
  • Place your other three fingers around the handle, with your pinky finger tucked underneath for balance.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your cutting surface at waist height.
  • Keep your non-knife hand in a claw shape, with your fingertips curled under and your knuckles against the blade.

Remember to keep your fingers away from the blade at all times, and to always cut away from yourself.

Cutting Techniques

Proper cutting techniques are key to efficient and safe knife skills. Here are some basic techniques every cook should know:

  • Chopping: Place the blade of the knife on the cutting board, with the tip pointing away from you. With a rocking motion, bring the blade down to chop through the food.
  • Slicing: Hold the food with your non-knife hand, using your fingertips to guide the knife. Use a sawing motion to slice through the food.
  • Dicing: Cut the food into slices, then stack the slices and cut them into cubes.

Remember to always use a sharp knife, as a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. It’s also important to keep your knives clean and properly maintained.


Learning how to use knives properly is an essential skill for any cook. By choosing the right knife, having a proper grip and stance, and using the correct cutting techniques, you’ll be able to work efficiently and safely in the kitchen. With practice and patience, you’ll be slicing, dicing, and chopping like a pro in no time.

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