Site Information

 Loading... Please wait...

Ultimate Knife Guide

Ultimate Knife Guide

Let’s get started

So you have decided you want to buy a new knife and add it to your collection and do not know where to start. You have heard of the names and types of knives and all that nonsense. Here is our guide for every knife that is being used worldwide. Hopefully by the end of this guide you would know how to distinguish between knives and hopefully make better choices when it comes to buying a new knife. So let us get started!

The Basics is where we start.

Before we get into the types, having some basic idea about the Anatomy of Knife can be help you understand a lot. First things first. Let us go over the basics of a knife’s structure and then you will be ready for the juicer stuff.

 

Anatomy of a knife:

Ok, what is it?

 

 

 

Edge:

Edge is the sharper part that extends from heel to spine. To maintain a sharp edge proper maintenance is the important thing.

Spine:   

The spine of the knife is the rear part of the blade that is directly opposite to the edge.

Tip:

The tip is a small section in the front of the blade and does most of the cutting and separating work. A knife tip is usually pointed and rounded which helps in making delicate cuts.

Point:

Point of the knife is the place where the spine and edge meet and it is used widely in piercing.

Heel:

Heel of the knife is the part that is next to the guard or handle. The Heel helps in cutting heavier portions.

Bolster       

The bolster is a raised area between the blade and handle. It provides additional mass to cut and helps to protect fingers from accidently slipping across the blade.

Tang:

Tang is a part of the blade that is enclosed by the handle. It gives wonderful stability and strength while cutting.

Handle:

Handles, also called as "scales" provides the much needed gripping surface for the knife. Handles are often made of wood, plastic or stainless steel.

Butt:

It is the end of the knife.

Why should you care?

Forged vs. Stamped Knife: 

A forged knife is made of a single bar steel, which is heated and roughly shaped. After the basic shape is formed, the blade goes through a grinding and honing process to have its final shape and edge. A forged knife is usually stronger and better balanced than stamped knives. They have a thicker and heavier blade and they are more expensive than stamped knives.

The alternate is a stamped knife, in which the blade is cut out from a large sheet of steel and sharpened through a multi step grinding and honing process. They are not balanced and they are very less expensive than forged knives. 

Types of Steel:

Ok, what is it?

Kitchen knives are mostly made of 2 types of steel.

There are two main types of steel used in kitchen knives

  • High carbon steel
  • Stainless steel

High carbon steel has an incredible edge and gets sharpened very easily. It gets rusted easily if it is not kept dry or oiled.

Stainless steel easily holds the edge strong and it is harder to sharpen.

Few common steels for kitchen knives are:

1055:

A good meat cleaver and it is called "asset" to the kitchen. It has an excellent edge and very hard to break.

1095:

Similar to 1055 this has a better edge retention and also has a slightly stiffer blade. If sharpened properly this blade will go through frozen meat and bone very easily.

440c & 420c:

A premium knife holds a steel composition and it is a decent performer in the kitchen and outside as well. Holds a good edge than 420c. Both of these steels have best grip and excellent sharpness.

VG10:

A high carbon stainless steel is one, which features superior edge retention, corrosion resistance and toughness. This steel is one of the most popular stainless steels amongst Japanese knife makers.

There are three qualities that a kitchen knife holds:

  • Rust resistance
  • Edge retention
  • Tensile strength

Why should you care?

Types of Handle:

Ok, what is it?

The right handle makes all the difference! It sits comfortably in your hand, enables you to give pressure at the right place and keeps things under control. Let’s dive in.

Few types of knife handles are

  • Wood
  • Plastic
  • Stainless steel

Wood:

Wood is one of the most important knife handle materials and is used as a handle since it came into existence. Among many types of wood materials, deciduous trees have hardwoods which facilitate a strong grip while using the knife. And on the other hand soft woods largely come from Coniferous trees which are also used a lot especially by professionals for delicate cutting. These days exotic hardwoods are used in knife making as well. One main reason why people go for wood is, for its comfort in holding. Wooden handles with good quality and depending on the material used will be expensive and difficult to attain as well but at the same time only few wooden knife holds good durability.

Cons: It is difficult to maintain a wooden knife well and it becomes porous with regular use.

Stainless Steel:

Stainless Steel offers excellent durability to knife handles and is corrosion resistance when it comes to handles. Stainless steel handles are very heavy to lift and at the same time slippery when it comes to grip. Manufactures usually produce handles with plastic or rubber to provide an excellent grip.

Plastic:

Plastic knife handles appears to be very attractive, gives a good grip and also feels good to work with but becomes brittle over time due to temperature changes. There are few other kinds of handles namely Fibrox, Nylon, Resin, Styrene.

  • Fibrox is safe to use and is slip resistant.
  • Nylon holds a good durability and is economical too..!
  • Resin & Styrene: They are light weighted, comfortable and sturdy too..!

Why should you care?

Because…

Knife Edges:

Ok, what is it?

To have a sharp knife, proper maintenance of your blades is of high value. Having a good knowledge on types of knife edges will help you in maintaining the knife properly to get the best usage out of it and ensure longevity.

There are different kinds of edges in knives as well which facilitates different usages.

  • Hollow ground
  • Flat Ground
  • Chisel ground
  • Double bevel or Compound bevel
  • Convex ground
  • Serrated
  • Granton

Hollow ground edge:

Hollow ground edge has a characteristic concave grind to the edge which has a very sharp and thin blade edge which is not preferable for heavy cutting task. But a hollow ground edged knife can be made use for slicing of fruits and skinning can be done of the same.

Flat ground edge:

Flat ground edge is otherwise called as simple edge usually comes with a full flat classic "V" shape. The blade usually tappers from the sides and meet at the edge making the tip razor sharp.

Chisel ground:

Chisel ground blades carry a flat ground blade which holds a single level mostly used in wood working and modern "art" tactical knives as well. Because of the flat side of the blade it is also used as a kitchen knife that helps in separating slices of food being chopped up.

Why should you care?

Because….

Types of Edges:

Ok, what is it?

Double Bevel or Compound Bevel:

This is similar to the flat blade which has back bevel that keeps the edge thinner thereby improving cutting. This compound bevel could be present on any modern blade and can be efficiently used as well.

[insert image]

Convex Ground:

Convex ground carries the blade that is slightly rounded, difficult to sharpen but holds good sharpness and wonderful durability. This is also referred to as "axe grind", since this can be used on axes as well.

[insert image]

Serrated Edge:

Serrated Edge knives have wavy teeth along the blade edge that helps in cutting the inner part soft. These serrated edge knives can be found on bread knives.

[insert image]

Granton Edge:

Granton edge knives have got notches on the blade edge running along both sides of the blade helping in slicing the meat thin.

[insert image]

Why should you care?

Because….

Types of Knives:

Chef Knives

Ok, what is it?

When it comes to food, a knife is of utmost importance to mankind and in this, a chef knife holds a very unique place. The chef knife is also called the "King of the kitchen". Chef refers to one who is a cooking professional as well as the chief cook in a restaurant; similarly, a classic chef knife is the most important knife among other kitchen knives. A Chef knife is the go-to-tool for more than 90% of daily kitchen tasks including slicing and dicing of fruits, vegetables, meat and fish.

Chef knives blade ranges from 6-12 inches long and most people use 8 inch long blade, which is perfect. The longer the blades are, the sharper the cuts will be. Thus, it saves time. Shorter blades are useful for making swift cuts and it is mostly suited for small hands. The blade comes with high carbon steel, stainless steel, laminated and ceramic and the knife is a versatile tool for chopping and slicing.

What it does?

The edge of the knife is used for mincing and it comes with hollow ground, v-shaped, single and double bevel which helps a lot in mincing fruits and vegetables but not meat.

Few Chef Knives carry a curved handle that might feel better for people when they use. For personal comfort one can hold the bolster and chop different things. (Bolster is the place where the blade and the handle meet).

Coming to the style, design and craftsmanship, the knife is designed in such a way it has the best features of all the categories. The knife is available in many brands and depends on how long and how well you use it. But, it can last for 30 years and more when it is used with care.

When to use one?

Paring Knives

Ok, what is it?

There are many types and styles of knives used in kitchen for various uses and there are few types of knives that no cook can really do without and paring is one of them. A paring knife is a small knife which has a short blade and a firm handle, primarily used in paring fruits and vegetables. Paring knifes are extremely flexible and can be used in a wide variety of ways.

Paring knives slice easily through many vegetables, fruits including many tougher ones. There are certain tasks in the kitchen that you can do only with the paring knife. When it comes to small tasks like mincing or to make perfect segments, only a sharp paring knife can help.

The size of the paring knife is usually between 6 and 10 cm long and usually has a 3 to 4 inch thin blade. This is just like a chef knife but smaller in size. A paring knife can also be used in de-veining shrimps, removing seeds, cutting shades or designs for small garnishes. The French paring knives are of 2 types: one with slightly rounded cutting end, and the other with a sharp angled end. These knives are used for paring leathers. The knife with a rounded end is used for scraping; while the one with an angled end is used for direct cutting.

The paring knife with the cutting edge on an angle has the point squared off to prevent slitting of the leather. It is also quicker than the paring knife with the rounded edge in taking down thickness of leather. The blade is thin as we discussed above but, the handle is designed to be heavy for a proper and safe use.

Points to remember while choosing a Paring Knife

The best paring knife is forged and made of high-carbon stainless steel.

Types of kitchen paring knives include:

  • Spear Point Parer:

With an edge similar to chef's knife, it can be used for light chopping.

  • Bird's Beak Parer:

Used to trim small and spherical-shaped vegetables. This bird's beak is also good for doing intricate works like fluting or other precise carving.

  • Miniature Boning Knife:

Has an S-shape and used to bone the meat of small birds.

  • Sheep's Foot Parer:

Resembles an animal's hoof and has a straight-edged blade perfect for peeling skin off of food.

  • Clip Point Parer:

Has a cutting edge that curves gently upwards and normally used for cleaning unwanted parts of fruits and vegetables.

Note: This paring knife is better as stamped than forged.

When to use one?

Utility Knives

Ok, what is it?

Utility knife used for utilitarian purposes were originally a fixed blade knife that was developed some 500,000 years ago when our ancestors were making knives made of stone. It has a sharp edge and slightly larger than a paring knife and too small for a chef knife. This can cut all types of products such as vegetables, fruits, herbs and meat.

Later in the 19th century fixed blade utility knife started to manufactured using steel blades which can be used in many works like cooking, butchering animals, wood works, arts and crafts etc.

This small lightweight knife carries blade with 4-7 inches long and used for miscellaneous light cutting.

Utility knives have two types of blades:

  •      Straight edge blade
  •      Serrated blade

The serrated blade has notches that help in cleaning soft textured food items. The serrated blade needs sharpening occasionally where as a straight edge blade does not need sharpening. Hand wash is recommended for cleaning those blades than using dish washer since it becomes dull over time.

The six inch or 8 inch utility knife has a long blade where as a 4 inch knife is called as a dwarf knife which needs a good control.

When to use one?

Santoku Knives

Ok, what is it?

Of the various styles of knives still in use, the Santoku is the most arising, new style of knife which has its roots in the west. As different as the name Santoku appears, it has an interesting history too..!

What makes it different from other kitchen knives is, "Santoku" as the name sounds like a Japanese term, it has a Japanese historical significance also. Santoku meaning "Three Virtues", actually started to appear around the end of World War II, which was also the time when different cooking styles and other cuisines were introduced in Japan.

Santoku has "Three Virtues" is actually referred to chopping, dicing and mincing was indeed very much needed by the Japanese for their new kind of cooking and thus it became their new hybrid western style knife.

A sharp knife produces greater results. In that sense Santoku carries this best feature when it comes to their sharp edges. Santoku has a blade that looks like a sheep's hoof and has less of a curve with optimal sharpness that helps in perfect chopping. The size of the blade ranges from 5-7 inches and it also comes in compact sizes.

Only with greater grip and good control one can work with a knife and Santoku is no lesser when it comes to that. The knife comes with handles and each type of it carries its own manifest. Having said thus, the selection of the best knife handle primarily depends on user's interest.

The knife is lighter to carry and it is admired for its sharper response. Food that is sliced with Santoku not only adds special style and delicately thin slices but also acts as a best user friendly knife for amateur and professional cooks.

When to use one?

Fillet Knives

Ok, what is it?

Fillet comes from the French language which means to cut and is referred to the art of cutting boneless piece of meat. Filleting is an important part of the whole culinary experience as it adds sophistication to the dish and its presentation. Given its importance, filleting of meat or fish is carried out with the help of a fillet knife which is very much in demand. It is a time consuming task indeed to fillet vegetable, meat and fish and a good fillet knife goes a long way in reducing the preparation time for a dish. Hence it is very important when it comes in choosing a fillet knife. Choosing a wrong one not only makes the cook to waste meat but also makes one's work tough and not enjoyable.

A typical fillet knife offers blades of various sizes. The blade is usually 4 inches to 9 inches in size and the blade is very sharp, which helps in perfect filleting and especially in removing the bone and skin of a fish or meat. Choosing the right kind of blade is also an important task which fits your needs. Larger fish needs 9 inch blade. The blade has a curve on its edge which makes filleting easier. The knife also has a double beveled edge, which can be used by right hand as well as left hand users.

Fillet knife comes with various types of handle materials:

  •      Stainless steel
  •      Hard wood
  •      Fibrox
  •      Plastic

 

It is very light when comes to lifting it. Buying a fibrox handle is best when handle comes into play. The main idea of buying this kind of a handle is, its slip resistant quality and highly comfortable in holding. It can be used in wet conditions and also best in slicing around the ribs and chops.

Nowadays rechargeable cordless electric fillet knife is also available which makes the work much easier.

If you love fish and enjoy eating different cuts of meat, then fillet knife will help in making your dish delicious...!!

When to use one?

Boning Knives

Ok, what is it?

As the term ''Boning'' denotes, it is very much extensively used in removing all types of bones and skins from meat and fish. They are generally thin, sharp and flexible which helps in cleaning the meat. The knife is provided with a special curved blade which helps you to remove the bone as well as the skin around any joints and it has a great flexibility which gives you the grip so that you can get the thinner cuts of the meat. Few things you need to look for in a boning knife are:

  •      Blade Material
  •      Handle type
  •      Flexibility
  •      Sharpness

SIZE:

Boning knife comes in many sizes. Choosing a blade that is long enough will help in reaching the bone and cut it to pieces. A cutting board is very much needed while using a boning knife since it is extremely sharp and may cause deep injury if it is not used properly. They are usually 5-6 inches long and sometimes 8-9 inches also.

TYPES:

Boning knives are of two types:

  • Stiff and Flexible.

If you want to remove bones from delicate cuts you need a flexible boning knife which usually comes smaller in size and gives you greater flexibility and control in handling. When you want to remove skin or make smaller cuts you need a stiff boning knife which has little flexibility.

HANDLE:

Boning knife comes with a variety of handles ranging from wood to plastic. It is all about your preference in choosing the right handle for working with an ease. Boning knife with a wooden handle is preferable as it gives a good grip in holding but at the same time if it gets rotten in water it loses the grip of the blade which makes your hold to slip away and hurting you in the process..!

BLADE:

Boning knife has two types of blade:

-        Straight and Curved

With a straight blade you have to spend more time in removing the bone and with a curved blade your work gets over soon.

The super benefit of using boning knives are its thin blade and the way it is designed, which makes the boning faster and trimming the meat effortless which saves time. There are many brands available for boning knife which gives you good comfort and greater performance with a perfect price. Because you can get the grip near the bone or the skin, you can save time and good meat too. Boning knife does this at its best..!!

When to use one?

Some fantastic things you can do with the boning knife.

Bread Knives

Ok, what is it?

Among the most useful knives that are used in our day to day life, the bread knife has its own unique place which helps in cutting bread. It is usually 6-10 inches in length and also has small serrated blades which help in cutting the soft breads without crushing it.

If you make your own bread, you need a good bread knife with good serrated teeth. This serrated edge bread knife not only helps in cutting bread but also helps in other big tasks like cutting watermelon or other similar fruits and vegetables. Few brands have wavy blades and small handles which is very useful for those who have big hands and also for all left handed users.

Bread knives come with different types of handles in strong bolster and beautiful shapes which makes the work easier. Few knives carry finger guard with broad blades that provides stronger grip and also minimizes the chances of getting cut.

For better result place the knife in a safe place so that its edge doesn't get banged on and keep it free from moisture to prevent it from getting rusted easily and to avoid accidents if children are present.

When to use one?

Butcher Knives

Ok, what is it?

A Butchering knife is a knife that is designed and primarily used in butchering animal meat or dressing them. It was developed late in the 18th century was generally used by mountain men but later on refined for modern culinary usage.

Butchering knife usually comes with large blades which has high quality and fine sharpness. Butchering knifes haves two types of blades which are straight and curved and usually comes between 6-12 inches. The high carbon stainless steel blade helps in excellent corrosion resistance and produces accurate cuts even with large amount of products meat. It also helped in trimming meat which is generally large and tough.

The butcher knife has got great handle types. The knife has wood, fibrox, plastic, stainless steel handles where fibrox handle has a greater grip and fits very handy for users hand and safe to use. Unlike cleavers though, a butchering knife cannot be useful in opening the shells of fishes like calamari or lobsters.

How to identify one?

When to use one?

Knife Maintenance:

Quick Tips:

Knife is an amazing tool that has a greater value in everyday lives. Only with proper maintenance and sharpening of the knife work can be done quick and with ease.

Here are few tips:

  • Regular cleaning and slicing should be done so that the beginning of rust can be avoided.
  • Knives must be regularly sharpened.
  • Handles made of wood can be rubbed with oil or furniture polish occasionally.
  • Knives can be washed with soap water, like warm water.
  • Knives should not be washed in dish washer.
  • Wipe the blade with dry clean towel to remove the dust on the metal.
  • Blades must be sharpened in the same direction.
  • When using the knife to transfer food from cutting board to vessel, the dull side of the knife must be used.
  • Knives must be used for their intended purpose only. They must not be used as screwdriver, hammer etc.

The END

That’s it. Hopefully you are much sharper about identifying what type a knife is and comfortable about striking a good conversation about why the Heel is different from the spine. Hopefully you have some vocabulary now, to discuss about knives and hopefully you come across as smart when you go home to Aunt Sally’s kitchen next time. Hopefully you also know how to identify a paring knife from a Utility knife and when to use what for the best result. If it doesn’t make any sense at all to you, just choose a knife which is comfortable with your hand and get slicing and dicing and call it a day. But there is some beauty about using the perfect knife for the job and getting that perfect cut. Or just buy a chef knife which is comfortable with your hands. You can get away with 80% of your kitchen needs just with a good chef knife and buy a paring knife and utility knife if you are feeling adventures.