What makes a knife handle ‘bad?’ Knife maker Kyle Ver Steeg thinks about this question more than most makers. The Iowa native brings the perspective of both a plastic surgeon and lifelong outdoorsman to create knives with subtle, refined ergonomics. Ver Steeg is also a user who appreciates a wide variety of knives, but he says when it comes to hard use, not all handles are created equal. We reached out for some tips on how to avoid buying knives with poor ergonomics.

Consequences of Poor Ergonomics
Ver Steeg’s training as a plastic surgeon gives him a thorough understanding of the anatomy of the human hand. He says that a bad handle is more than just uncomfortable. “You’re going to be able to do less work with it, and at the end of that work you’re going to be more tired.” Increased strain also makes you more prone to accidents and slip-ups – and these issues are just the immediate pitfalls. “If you do that day after day for years, you’re going to have problems,” Ver Steeg explains.

Sharp Angles
Ver Steeg suggests steering clear of slab-style handles. Handles with sharp angles and squared off pieces disagree with the naturally curved dimensions of the hand. “Even if you lay your hand flat on a table, there’s still a curve to it,” Ver Steeg says. “The problem is your hand is going to have to compensate for that angle if you’re using it all day every day. You’re limiting how long you’re going to be able to use the knife under prolonged use.”

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