Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have a Wusthof Trident Classic 8" Cook's knife that I use for chopping. I thought I was holding it properly but when chopping for extended amounts of time I end up with a blister on the edge of my palm at the base of my index finger where it rubs on the top edge of the knife.

I hold the knife where the blade and handle join together, between my thumb and index finger. I have no problem with arm fatigue or tension, just the rubbing.

Can someone recommend some tips or point to instructional resources that can help me prevent this? Do I just put a barrier on the spot where it rubs?

share|improve this question
add comment

6 Answers 6

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Friction blisters are usually the result of continuous rubbing on skin that hasn't toughened up.

If you are getting blisters with normal amounts of chopping, either your knife is moving in your hand more than it should, or you are exerting more force than you should need.

Focus on your technique. Are you pushing down with the whole palm, the front of the palm, or the back of the palm? Are you guiding or forcing with your thumb and forefinger? Is your knife sharp and heavy enough for the materials you are cutting through? Are you using a circular motion to chop?

share|improve this answer
add comment

You should start by analyzing your current technique. You should compare this to the technique recommendations I make in my answer to How can I safely improve my cutting technique?

I describe the proper grip to be used for a knife briefly there, but I think images may be best. Here is a guide that shows just that.

The knife should not be moving around in your hand. Besides causing blisters, it's also dangerous and you may end up cutting your finger or worse if you continue.

Another thing you should ask yourself is "Does this knife feel awkward in my hand?". It's rather common for people to buy knives that they haven't tried in the store, or to receive them as gifts. Sometimes a certain brand or style of knife just isn't a good fit for you. If you just shrug off any discomfort you feel, over time it will manifest itself as a blister. It's quite similar to shoes. "Some people" (cough) will cram their feet into uncomfortable shoes just for fashion, and end up with some gnarly blisters. If your body is warning you, listen closely!

Personally, I think Wusthof are great knives, but their boxiness doesn't feel good in my hand. If your technique doesn't need improvement, or you still get blisters after improving then you might want to look into an alternative brand. I suggest trying a Japanese style handle, which are circular and comfortable in my hands. An equivalent knife to yours is the Shun Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife. I use this in the 10" version and love it.

share|improve this answer
    
I completely agree with your fourth and fifth paragraphs. I worked at a kitchen store when I was young, tried a Henckels and Wusthof set, chose the Henckels, and thought it was great because those were the only two I know. Then I went to a few kitchen stores as an adult and tried Shun, and Global. The difference in grip, weight, and balance is amazing. Until I find something better I will always choose Shun and Global over Wusthof and Henckels, as they just feel better in my hand (all 4 are great knives, no hard feelings to the Germans!) –  stephennmcdonald Jul 30 '10 at 20:34
add comment

I'm not sure if this is normal or not, but I have a pronounced callus in the exact place that you have a blister. Is this from an in proper technique? I'm not sure. However, you should eventually get a callus there if you continue as is and it will stop being a problem.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I think Tim is on to it. My most likely guess: You're gripping a too dull knife too hard and using too much downward force. The technique Tim described allows the knife to do the work. The sharpness, plus a circular motion creates maximum slicing and minimum friction on your hand.

I'd get a good knife-sharpener if you don't already have one, use it, then check out a few youtube videos about knife technique.

share|improve this answer
add comment

The pervasive belief is that we should hold hold the knife with our index finger on the bolster - the part between the handle and the blade. Many people choke up on the handle to get a better feel for the knife, to "control" it better. the feeling is much more pronounced when you use a bigger knife and is common even with experienced cooks.

This however, is NOT the preferred technique. it commonly taught to compensate for lack of skill / comfort with a knife. This is fine in the beginning, but you get stuck with this grip and it's very difficult to unlearn. It's far better to stick with the uncomfortable grip and with time you'll get comfortable with it.

the proper grip is the naturally assumed one: grip the handle like you would a stick. it should feel comfortable in your hand, but will likely feel a little loose - with a lot of looseness in the wrist. That's actually a good thing - when you become more comfortable with a blade you'll cut at different angles and directions - you'll need the flexibility in your wrist.

situations that you can't use the "choked up" grip: a) if you use any other knife than a chefs knife or cleaver - boning knives, slicing knives, serrated blades, paring knives don't have a large bolster for you to grab onto. you will have to use the traditional (proper) grip anyways

b) some chefs knives, and slicing knives have a very short (height) blade. if you use the choked up grip, your index finger is very close to corner of the blade and you CAN cut yourself. This is also a problem when you sharpen your chefs knife a lot, and the blade gets shorter

c) the callous. a lot of chefs think you have to earn your callous - a sign of an accomplished cook. that callous is formed from the hard heel of the blade rubbing against your finger. with the proper grip - you don't get a callous. its much easier on your hands

the callous is not only unsightly and unpleasant, for those who cook ALOT it can become a problem. the callous can become so dry and hard that it splits and doesn't easily heal. this is not only very painful, but susceptible to infection in the dirty environment of the kitchen

d) difficult to chop something hard. sometimes impossible since the heel of the blade smashes into your finger. with the proper grip you can chop / smash things easily.

if you use the right grip from the beginning - you'll have fewer problems down the road.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Seconding needing a good sharpening as described by Ocassi and Tim. I was getting blisters with my Henckels until I sharpened it. Then I received a Shun as a gift, which is significantly sharper than my Henckels, and I haven't had an issue since.

Your knife should definitely be doing the work, not your muscles. I didn't truly understand this until I got my Shun.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.