When you go to culinary school, instructors place great emphasis on knife skills.
In fact, many culinary students spend hours upon hours learning different cutting and slicing techniques to get straight and precise slices every time.
And even when working in a professional kitchen, a large portion of a coke’s time is spent with their reliable knives.
Knife skills are an integral part of any kitchen.
Not only does proper cooking make your food taste better, but using a knife properly also makes it much safer for you in the kitchen.
To understand how to use a knife, you must first know all the different parts of a knife.
Understanding the different parts of a knife will make it easier for you to know where to hold it, how to age it, and also how to use it for different techniques.
In this guide, we go into deep detail about the different parts of a knife.
That way, it will be easier for you to get a handle on using the most important tool in the kitchen.
Read more to learn more.
Parts of a knife
Let’s start with the most popular part of the knife: the blade.
Whether you use a pocket knife, a folding knife or a piece of kitchen cutlery, always pay attention to the blade.
When it comes to kitchen knives, there are different materials used for knives, but the most common choice is steel.
Although there are some wings made of ceramic, chefs do not recommend them as they are crispy and easily shaved.
Different brands and companies all have their own unique steel alloys and recipes that they use to form their wings.
Some companies use VG-10 and VG-Max, which are largely considered first-class materials, while others settle for more budget-friendly recipes like AUS-8.
Typically, a knife blade is either stamped or forged.
Once stamped, the manufacturer cuts or “stamps” the blade shape out of a large piece of stainless steel.
From there, the blade is further cut and machined.
Forged knives, on the other hand, are forged from a single piece of steel, which usually results in a harder and more robust construction.
Some knives boast double bevels, which means that the blade is sharpened on both sides and is double-sided.
Other knives have only a single beveled edge like Japanese kitchen cutlery, so this results in a sharper edge, but it is not ambidextrous.
The blade is the deciding factor for any knife and any chef or chef must pay close attention to it when buying kitchen utensils.
A knife blade is further divided into a few more parts, these are;
The spine is the back of the blade, it is also usually the widest part of the blade.
Chefs usually grab the spine as it allows them to put pressure on the knife without cutting their hands.
A good knife will usually have a thick back that gets thicker as the knives get bigger.
The heel is the posterior part of the edge of the blade.
This is the part closest to the upholstery.
The heel is usually used to cut harder ingredients like nuts, carrots and sometimes bones.
The tip is the part of the edge that is closest to the point.
It is usually curved in a western coke knife and is usually used for detailed and delicate tasks.
Using the tip gives chefs more control, and therefore it is used for intricate slices.
The point is the top of the leaf and differs from the tip.
The item is used to pierce various things, but is used more commonly with knives than kitchen cutlery.
Although the edge is technically part of the blade, it deserves a special spotlight.
A blade is the sharp side of the blade used to cut the ingredients through.
An edge is very thin and can be cut through a wide variety of ingredients.
As previously mentioned, they are usually double or single phase, depending on the style of the knife.
The edge is without a doubt the most important part of the blade, and chefs maintain and sharpen them regularly to keep their knives for a long time.
There are many different types of knife edges, but here are some of the most common;
The straight edge is the most commonly used type for knives.
You can find these edges on almost any kitchen knife, whether it is Japanese or Western.
These edges require the most maintenance and grinding to stay razor sharp for longer.
Some of these edges have a small curve on them which allows chefs to use a rocking motion.
Curved edges are typically found on western kitchen cutlery.
A Granton edge is very common in home kitchen knives.
A Granton edge is defined by oval divots that are molded into the blade very close to the edge.
The divots allow the knife to slide smoothly through the ingredients, while the ingredients do not stick to the blade.
Usually these edges are used for making meat slices.
Serrated edges are sometimes called serrated edges and are known to be rough with the teeth visible to the naked eye.
These edges require less maintenance and can easily tear through meat and other fibers, which is why they are commonly seen on steak and bread knives.
Shelled edges are known for various points on the edge that are connected by arches.
These edges are great for bread knives and can also be used to cut cooked meat like breast.
The hollow edges are very thin and delicate.
However, they are also very sharp.
Chefs typically use hollow grinding edges for delicate and precise cutting tasks.
The support is still considered part of the leaf, but it is much thicker than the spine.
Not all knives have bolsters, but if your blade has a heel, it typically has a bolster.
Bolsters are generally used to strengthen the blade, but they also protect your fingers from coming into contact with the heel.
Since bolsters are heavy, they add balance to the knife and also provide easier grip.
Seaweed is the part of the blade that is not seen.
What most people do not know is that the blade usually runs through the entire knife and is just hidden by the handle.
The part that is hidden by the handle is called pliers.
A knife with full pliers has a blade that runs through the entire handle.
And as you can see by the name, a partial knife has only one blade that runs through a bit of the handle.
Some knives have a visible pliers that you can see on the handle.
Many chefs prefer and recommend using knives with full tongs as they provide much more stability and balance.
However, partial seaweed knives are usually the cheaper option and can save you some money if all you need is an average kitchen knife for homemade food.
Now that we’ve covered all the parts of the blade, it’s time to look at the other main aspect of a knife: the handle.
Handles come in different shapes, depending on the style of the knife.
For kitchen cutlery, handles are either Western or Japanese.
Western handles are what most of us are familiar with that fit very nicely and naturally in the hand.
These handles are also quite larger than Japanese, which some chefs prefer.
When you have a Japanese handle, it is markedly different.
Wa handles or D-shaped handles are the most common types of handles on Japanese cutlery.
These have an octagonal shape that can feel foreign or new to chefs who have never tried them before.
But once you get used to the new shape, you will find that these handles are actually very ergonomic and comfortable to hold.
The handles are made from a wide variety of materials, and each chef prefers different materials.
For many manufacturers, synthetic materials like PP are the best choices for knives.
They are sanitary, easy to clean and can be molded to fit your hands very well.
However, these materials usually do not have the best aesthetics.
Other manufacturers combine the best of both worlds with a material called PakkaWood.
This is a combination of resin and real wood and provides a very aesthetically pleasing, durable and sanitary handle.
Other manufacturers have their own unique synthetic blends, with some brands even using stainless steel for their handles.
The materials and shape are not the only things to consider with a knife handle.
Here are some of the other components of a standard knife handle;
Not every knife has these, especially Japanese blades.
Rivets are also called handle brackets, and all they do is make sure the handle and blade are securely fastened together.
The brackets hold the two sides of the handle together with pliers and blade in between.
Most rivets are made of stainless steel and give off a very classic aesthetic.
Rivets are available on both wood and synthetic handles, but they are not normally used for stainless steel handles.
Knives are usually double or triple rivets.
The more rivets, the safer the knife, but the number of rivets is usually dependent on the length of the pliers and the overall size of the knife.
The last part of the knife we are going to discuss today is the butt.
The butt is the end of the handle and it is sometimes called pommel.
Many knives actually have the pliers exposed to the buttocks, so keep an eye on it.
The butt actually serves a practical purpose as well as an aesthetic.
At the end of your knife, you may find that the buttocks form a downward hook, giving you a more stable grip.
On top of that, chefs also use the butt to pound certain ingredients, though we do not suggest doing this as it can damage your knife.
And there you have it; all the different parts of a knife.
The first step in developing your knife skills is to understand the ins and outs of a blade and all the different parts of a knife.
That way, it will be much easier to decide which parts to keep or use for specific tasks.
And on top of that, understanding the parts of the knife also helps you maintain your knives and keep them functional for a very long time!
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Last updated September 27, 2021