What is the best Chef (Santoku) knife for small hands?


Having small hands and handling a big knife is not as easy as it sounds, finding one or knowing which you need to buy can equally be challenging.

The best santoku knife for small hands is generally a 5 inches blade. But since everyone works differently, checking the size, weight, and balance is a must. Ultimately, this helps you to choose the knife that suits you best.

So you have decided to acquire a santoku knife but have no idea what to look for. If your knowledge is minimal, and if the world of Santoku knives is new to you, you find that this whole buying thing is a little intimidating. Maybe you wonder what type of handle is ideal? Why are there different sizes? Do you even need to buy this knife, or will having an array of other kitchen knives meet your needs? Knowing how to buy a chef knife is essential.

Santoku knife and a chef’s knife are made for the same tasks as any other chef knife, but with a santoku knife, you have many other specific uses. Santoku knives are more focused on finer, smaller tasks such as making paper-thin slices of vegetables for toppings. The different method one must apply with a Santoku knife is a little more complicated to handle than that of a chef’s knife, but ultimately it translates to more delicate slices and smaller dices and takes much less time to complete these tasks. Does this mean you should not buy it for general use? Not at all, to me, it means that this knife is ideal for general use, and on top of it, it’s for perfect for particular smaller and thinner tasks.

Before I recommend anything, first we must know the things to look for when choosing a santoku knife.

Thickness and angle

As previously mentioned, Santoku knives are ideal for smaller and thinner slicing tasks, and therefore the sharpness is critical. The blade needs to be honed to a very acute angle to make sure that it can pierce through any fruit or vegetable, without putting much work on your part. Remember, chopping in an up-and-down motion with your Santoku knife is how you should be using it. You cannot rely on a forward and backward motion used with a regular chef’s knife to achieve your slicing goals.

Thin blades are essential to achieve thin slices. Whether you want to have extra-thin slices of toppings for your sandwich, a thin blade will be necessary. You cannot accomplish this with a thick edge. Equally is the sharp cutting angle of your knife, above 20 degrees is considered too large of an angle. Try to find one with an aspect of between 15 and 20 degrees. And if in case you have found one that is less than 15 degrees, you have a big winner.

Don’t automatically think that just because it’s called santoku and it’s shaped like one, it’s thin; therefore, it should have a very sharp angle. Make sure to do some research before buying it. Is the cutting angle listed by the manufacturer? In case not, read some reviews from consumers to see how sharp they say the blade is. If possible, try to find reviews from chefs and consumers online with no affiliation to the company you are buying it from.

Strength is important.

You must find a blade which has been made with quality and robust steel. Santoku knives are not meant to be flexible. Not only will you require a robust, sturdy blade, you will also need a knife that is solidly built.

I suggest finding a blade that is made from high-carbon steel or high-carbon stainless steel. The carbon in these types of steel offers added strength. If you feel that you need to choose a stainless steel blade, try finding one that is fully forged. What I mean is, try finding one that is hammered into shape from a chunk of steel, not one that has been stamped from a sheet of steel. This forging method makes any type of steel stronger, but it’s more expensive. I would suggest selecting forged steel, regardless of the nature of the steel you choose.

Ceramic knives, for example, are really sharp and do not bend or flex, but they are way too fragile for the kind of tasks you are probably going to do with this type of knife. If you really like ceramic, I would be careful when choosing your cutting board. Try to select one which is plastic or wood. Believe me. They will be easier on your blade comparing to a surface like glass or marble.

Because the types of techniques are used with a Santoku knife, having a firmly attached handle is essential. That is why I recommend going for a triple-riveted, full-tang edge. If triple-riveted is not possible or not available, make sure that the knife is, at least, a full tang. You do not want to find your blade to fall apart when you chop down on something. This could be dangerous.

A tall blade is more advantageous.

Why are Santoku knives tall blades? There are two answers to this question. First, in order to get those paper-thin slices which Santoku knives are excellent for, you need your knife’s blade to be about as tall as (or, rather, taller than) the things you are chopping. Tall blades serve as a barrier as you are slicing, which helps to keep your slices even.

If you think about it – the same way as you would cut in a straight line through a piece of paper with the entire length of a pair of scissors, so likewise, you would have a higher chance of cutting equal slices with a Santoku knife. A knife under two inches will likely produce irregular slices, the same way you would have if you cut through a piece of paper using only the very tips of a pair of scissors.

Another good advantage of using a tall blade is that you can use it for transporting the food you have already cut. Just by turning the knife on its slide and sweeping your processed bits of food onto the blade, you can carry it to where you need it. You will want to exercise caution when using your knife this way, as you might open yourself for kitchen mishap.

Edges

You probably noticed that many, if not most, Santoku knives have dimples along the edges. If you are not familiar with this type of knife, I would recommend for you to read this part so that you can understand what these indications mean and why they matter in a Santoku knife.

These types of blades are called hollow or Granton edge blades. Thanks to dimples in the blades, it creates an anti-suction environment that helps to stop the food from remain on the blade. Why is such a thing so important for a Santoku knife? The foods you mostly will work with when using a Santoku knife are going to be juicy and or sticky. From red onions and peppers to garlic and chives, you are destined to encounter foods that will cling to your blade.

You probably are thinking that this is not such a big problem for you. You can always remove the food off of the blade with your finger and continue. Right? However, one of the biggest reasons people go for a Santoku knife over a chef’s knife is the time it takes to complete tasks with a Santoku knife. Stopping every five seconds to clear the blade will negate that advantage. Therefore, I strongly recommend purchasing a Santoku knife with a hollow edge.

Weight: 

By trying several types of knives, it allows you to find the ideal weight. It is believed that a heavier chef knife cuts better because it falls with more force. On the other hand, you can maneuver the knife more skillfully with a lighter chef’s knife. So, this is something you need to make out for yourself.

Balance: 

“Ideal balance” is different for everyone. You can only judge it by holding it by its grip. If the weight is uncomfortable towards the back of the handle or the blade, then it probably isn’t the right fit for you. It should never feel unstable when you come down on the blade. And the negative part of working with an unbalanced knife? It will make you work harder! So having the right balance is essential.  

Size: 

The ideal size comes with weight and balance. If the first two are checked, this part should come naturally. But in general, people with small hands commonly use between the 6 and 8-inch knives. I have seen others using bigger knives, and in all honesty, this is possible. The way you hold and handle your knife makes it possible. However, I do not know if, in the long run, it would be handy to have a big knife. It would feel very tiring after a while. 

The best uses for a Santoku knife?

Before going online and start buying, let us first see what santoku is mostly used for. 

The definition of ‘Santoku’ is a medium-sized, multipurpose kitchen knife that has a lightweight blade with a slightly curved cutting edge and a spine that curves downward to the tip. When I say multipurpose, it does not mean you can do everything with it; taking care of your knife and using it correctly is very important, so this means that there are things you cannot do with this knife or any knife for that matter. Using the correct knife for the task you wish to do will help you to cut with more ease but also help you to maintain your knife and prolonge its lifespan. 

Santoku knives are best used for:

  • Cutting meat
  • Mincing meat or herbs
  • Slicing cheese
  • Dicing fruits, Slicing or chopping vegetables, and nuts.
  • Shoveling food off a cutting board due to wide blade
  • Cutting fine slices, particularly useful for vegetables and seafood
  • Fine and delicate tasks

Design and material.

The design of a typical kitchen knife has mostly remained the same for the last 10,000 years. But when it comes to materials (especially steel) and their treatment, there has been significant progress.

The price and quality of a kitchen knife are nowadays determined by:

  • Type and quality of the steel.
  • What method they use for transforming steel into a blade and hardening.
  • The sharpness of the edge and how long it can be maintained if correctly handled.
  • How often you need to sharpen the knife and how difficult this is.
  • How the knife feels based on balance and handle.
  • The manufacturing and the quality of the handle.

Are there enough options for people with small hands?

You might think the option of knives for smaller hands are very limited, but rest assured, there are many out there. You just have to know what you are looking for. Once you have familiarized yourself with the types of knives and their purposes, you will be able to make a much easier choice.  

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