Where Should A Knife Balance?

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Whether you’re shopping for them, or making one yourself, one of the most important characteristics of any knife is its balance.

A balanced knife will simply feel right in the hand, and it will require very little effort to use it if it’s balanced right.

But what a lot of people always end up asking when talking about knife balance is, “where should a knife balance?”

The ideal point where a knife should balance will defer from person to person. It’s a very subjective thing and there are no hard rules set in stone when it comes to where it should balance.

That being said, a good knife will have a balance point that allows the user to slice, cut, and maneuver the knife with little effort, which gives you much more control over the blade.

Just because it’s subjective, that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain things to look out for.

In this article, we talk all about balance and the factors that go into it.

So if you’ve been looking to learn more about the world of knives, you’ve come to the right place.

Read on to learn more.

The Importance Of Knife Balance

Whether you’re experienced or not, a hand will simply know if a knife is balanced.

It is one of the most important characteristics of any blade, whether it be a chef knife, nakiri, or even a tactical, survival, or hunting knife.

This factor will dictate whether a blade will feel comfortable in the hand, as well as how much control you can have over the blade when using it.

Now, every knife wielder is different, so the right balance will always vary from person to person.

Some users might prefer having it balance at the heel of the handle, some prefer to have it somewhere on the blade, while others like to have it balance on the guard.

Aside from differing from person to person, it also differs depending on the knife you’re using.

For example, smaller tactical and survival knives tend to be handle-heavy, which is to be expected because of their size while hunter blades tend to have their point of balance right on the guard itself.

Regardless of where you prefer the knife to balance, however, it’s integral that any blade you own will feel balanced in your hand as that is what allows you to have as much control as possible.

Factors That Go Into A Knife’s Balance

There are a lot of factors that can contribute to where a blade will be balanced, including the length of the blade, its thickness, placement of the guard, size and mass of the tang, and its overall design.

And while there are a lot of things to consider when trying to balance a blade, the most important factors are the length and overall mass of the blade.

This is because the blade is usually constructed first, and its size and mass will dictate how large the handle and guard have to be.

While balance preferences vary from person to person, knifemakers usually try to have a neutral center of gravity on their knives, which will usually be near the center-point of the guard.

Again, this might vary depending on how long your blade is.

It’s considered a general rule that if you have a longer blade, you will need more weight in the handle to offset the forward mass of the blade.

Putting a weight bias in the handle components can be tough, but it can be done in a couple of different ways.

Some craftsfolk accomplish the bias by modifying the tang, which might involve tapering it or even drilling holes.

This is how it goes for full-tang blades, but for hidden and stick-tang knives, the weight bias is usually accomplished by adding a metal butt cap to provide a rearward bias to counter the forward mass.

So as you can see, a whole lot of different techniques are used to make sure that knives are balanced, but none of these techniques will really matter to a person unless they know how to check whether a knife is balanced in their hand.

And we’ll be talking about just that in the next section.

How To Tell If A Blade Is Well Balanced

The only real way to tell if a blade is well-balanced is to hold the knife in your hands.

Try gripping the handle as you would if you were going to use the blade for its intended purpose.

Move the blade around and go through the motion of slicing and chopping.

A balanced blade will feel just right in the hand and require very little effort to control, which are very small details that you need to pay attention to when trying and testing different knives.

Conclusion

And that concludes our crash course on knife balance.

Just remember, everyone will have different tastes and preferences when it comes to balance, and there is no “wrong” balance, just one that doesn’t feel comfortable in your hand.

So when shopping for knives, just remember to keep in mind that balance will depend on your cutting style and your preferences, which is why testing out a blade before buying it is very important.

Last Updated on April 27, 2021

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.