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How kitchen countertop height (angle) effecting my knife selection habits

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Gjackson98

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Few weeks ago, I moved to a new home. As I am still adjusting to my new kitchen, one thing that really had an effect on me was the countertop height.
The new countertop sits about 6mm lower than my previous home.

I am 5'9 (about 175cm tall), at my old place when I hold a knife, it sits horizontal to my belly button. That leads me to purchase/ and favoring low tip knives with 52+height at heel to maintain clearance at knuckle.
When I use a tall tip gyuto such as KATO 240WH, the tip hardly ever touches the board, If I have to use the tip I will need to raise my elbow. On the other hand, my flat suji from Cimms performed outstanding with the smooth draw cut.

Moving into the new place, with new countertop sitting lower. My first observation was that I can't finish the "normal" draw with my Cimms Suji anymore, towards the very end of the draw, the cutting board stops the motion and forcing me to lift up my elbow to finish the cut with the tip of the blade.

To prove my theory I then tested few other knives with taller tip and variance in heel height . I can clearly tell by decrease the height of the countertop it guides me to use more front and mid section of the knife, in result some knives that I didn't like earlier with tall tip and shorter heel height turn out to be outstanding performers. With using more mid section of the knife, the 52+ heel height wasn't as critical as before.

I encourage everyone to give it a try and share your experience.
To increase your countertop height in relationship to you, simply use a thicker cutting board, or put layers under it.
To decrease your countertop height in relationship to you, simply wear shoes if you like to cook at home with barefoot.
Use your imagination, just be safe.
 

Corradobrit1

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This is one of my biggest issues in the kitchen being 5'6" with a 2.5" end grain chopping board. The tip profile especially can make or break a particular knife. I've gotten rid of several as the tip was too high to complete cuts. I've mitigated things somewhat by standing on a rubberized 3/4" thick pad and/or using my new Hasegawa PE board which is only 2cm thick (its a little higher due to the addition of small silicon buttons I added to stabilize the board), effectively lowering the height of the cutting surface. All these constraints mean that I now choose knives that have the correct flatspot to tip transition that I know suit me.
When I build my retirement home in the next couple of years I'll be spacing a lower than standard countertop height.
 

Gjackson98

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To clarify my flat suji experience with lower countertop height. I could of use a different way of draw or bend my back like the salt Bae guy to avoid the angle. I am only referring to my usual habit here.
 

Barmoley

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I've been saying this for a long time, edge profile and heel height preferences are very much dependent on your elbow height vs cutting surface height. This is one of the reasons why some people like taller heeled knives or flatter profiles or high tips, etc. With low height cutting surface curvier cutting edge profile, higher tip works well and flatter profiles not so much unless the knife is tall and you mostly chop. With higher cutting surface flatter profile work well as long as the knife is not very tall at the heel, think cleaver or tall nakiri. You can of course adjust, but then it is not very natural. On high cutting surface high tips can't be used comfortably and very high heeled knives force you to raise the elbow too high. Another variable is handle angle vs cutting edge. Handles that angle up when the edge is on the board effectively make the knife feel taller and might make even a normal heel height knife uncomfortable on high cutting surface.
 

pleue

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You guys wear shoes inside the house? I don't, but curious if you notice differences with the type of shoe you're wearing then.

Each counter in my kitchen is at a slightly different height and all my boards are different heights. I can't say I notice too much but that's probably because I'm used to shifting about and at home the hours logged aren't like they are in a commercial kitchen and I'm a pretty consistent push cutter. My kitchen island is also height adjustable :)

In restaurants there were definitely times I cut on an overturned dishrack with some wet towels and a poly board. Often that was because the table was just really low and the prolonged use at that height wore you down a bit. The plus side was it allowed me to push product into a hotel pan really easy.
 

Kippington

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It was mentioned before that the height of your cutting board is important when considering the spine/handle angle (or flat-spot angle, the two being different sides of the same coin).
I find that (a) tends to be easier to use on a higher surface, while (b) is easier to use on a lower surface. Many of the pro chefs here would understand what it's like when someone is using your favorite spot in the kitchen and you have to go and find another bench to work on. I tend to use different knives depending on the height of the bench I'm working with.
To add to this, the profile shape will often influence the way I want to move my arm and wrist, depending on what I'm cutting of course.
On a higher table (a) will have more of a chopping wrist action with the lower arm moving up and down, pivoting at the elbow in a movement similar to a drummer. 240mm Shigs are amazing for this, and I'm sure many others are too.
On a lower table (b) tends towards a locked wrist push cut, and relies more on forward-and-down arm movements. Lifting the knife off the board is optional. This is my default style for most work, and so I personally like my knives to have more of a spine angle and prefer to work on lower tables.
Sori/re-curve spines are basically a mix of the two.
 
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