Ordering a knife over the internet can be a real challenge. Ever wonder why some knife handles feel great, and others are just not comfortable?
It’s all a matter of ergonomics and the law of averages, and here is how to figure out if a handle will work for you.
by Leon Pantenburg
No knife handle is going to work for everyone. We can’t all wear the same size shoes, clothes, hats or gloves, can we?
So before you buy a knife you can’t physically hold, here are a couple of things to consider about the handle:
Length: What is the most common complaint of knife users? In a haphazard, unscientific, random survey I did of first responders, butchers, outdoorspeople, bushcrafters, and knife users in general, I found that the biggest complaint is that knife handles are too short.
Knife makers must design their products to suit the largest possible audience and that means the average user. According to a comprehensive study of proportions of the human body by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), here are the average adult hand sizes:
|Gender||Average length||Average breadth||Average circumference|
|Male||7.6 inches||3.5 inches||8.6 inches|
|Female||6.8 inches||3.1 inches||7.0 inches|
There are three key measurements of adult hand size, according to NASA.
- Length: measured from the tip of the longest finger to the crease under the palm
- Breadth: measured across the widest area where the fingers join the palm
- Circumference: measured around the palm of your dominant hand, just below the knuckles, excluding the thumb
For example, if your hand length is 7.6 inches, multiply that by 0.197 to get 1.49 inches. This means the optimum handle diameter for a tool such as a hammer would be about 1.5 inches.
That said, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) suggests there’s more to tool selection than handle diameter. For example, you should also be sure that the tool:
- is designed for the job
- is comfortable to hold
- requires a minimum amount of force to use
- is balanced
- is not too light for the job
In my knife reviews, I always handle the knife for the camera so viewers can have a standard to help them decide if the knife will work for them.
Bottom line: That good-looking knife with the slender, short handle may not be the best choice if you’re looking for a user knife. Do the math and make a good handle choice before you invest in a knife!
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