Knives for food preparation

General principles

  • Keeping your knives sharp will reduce the effort required as blunt tools need greater force to use and can slip. Some electric free standing tin openers are combined with knife sharpeners. If you have serrated knives that require sharpening, ensure the knife sharpener is capable of this.
  • Storage of knives on a magnetic board or in a knife block can reduce the risk of accidents, particularly for blind and partially sighted people.

Types of knives

Knives with handles set at a right angle to the blade will enable you to maintain your wrist in a good working position which minimises the effort of the wrist and fingers and conserves energy1. Many of these knives are lightweight and have soft touch or contoured handles which can make them more comfortable to hold1. Closed or loop handles protect the hand from the blade and some have a supported edge for the thumb.

Right-angled knives are available:

  • in a range of sizes, for example, for small hand use;
  • with different blade lengths and types;

These knives can be used with a food preparation station to provide stability for one-handed use or to reduce the amount of energy required.

Knives with a 'T' shaped handle and a rocking blade require less strength and dexterity because pressure is applied directly above the food2. The handle is centrally positioned and the cutting action is carried out by rocking the semi-circular blade backwards and forwards, similar to the action of some pizza cutters. They can be used to cut pastry and other foods when used on a flat surface3.

  • If you want to slice and chop by different methods, see our hand held choppers and slicers or consider a food processor.

  • An electric carving knife (readily available on the high street) may make slicing easier as usually only downward, light pressure is required. Ensure that you are able to release the blade for washing4.

Advice last checked: 20 April 2017 Next check due: 20 April 2020

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
Conflict of interest statement