A User’s Guide To the Different Types of Knives

type of knives

A knife is a valuable cutting instrument used in a variety of situations that make things easier and more convenient. Because knives have become conventional in its production and use, it is easy to take them for granted. It can be used as both a weapon and a tool with its versatility being tested on a number of products and produce. The formal definition of a knife is an instrument consisting of a sharp edge on a sharp piece of metal with a handle.  

There are several (and we mean several) lists of knives available online. Scanning through them can be tiresome because of this influx of information. That being said, checking a lot of information about knives can overwhelm you but it could eventually lead to being able to get the details that you need. In this article, we would like to be of help and offer you useful information about knives that would help you in your quest to look for the best.

A way to categorize the influx of knife production is to organize them through categories. Users then make critical choices by browsing knives based on their tactility, length, expertise and blade material. Because some of these cutlery are mentioned frequently, they often build the idea that these are the only knives that exist for your options. With our research, we would also like to give a glimpse of qualities and types of knives that are occasionally or rarely shown.

Analyzing the Parts of a Knife

Based on the description above, the simplicity of a knife is attributed to its sophisticated design. For each sub-type of knife, one or several of these features are altered for a more prolonged and sustainable use.

parts of a knife


The two basic parts of a knife are the blade and the handle. In between them are segments of the knife that fit different purposes when being used. The parts of a knife’s handle, on the other hand, describes the technology of putting pressure and control on the knife as caused by the external force put into it.

Blade

The blade of the knife is the part that creates the action of cutting, slicing, chopping and mincing as it interacts with various food items and materials. Blades are either forged or stamped.

Forged blade – This type of blade cements the handle into the knife by a heated process where it is pounded. Heat is then re-applied, cooled, tempered, polished and sharpened. It is characterized by a thicker blade and a heavier hilt. This is a feature of handmade knives that are assured to be durable and strong.

Stamped blade – This type of blade is usually for mass production. The process is equally meticulous during the heating process. With the blade being cut into and put together via the hydraulic press, it also goes through the process of being sharpened and polished until it is fit for distribution. A stamped blade can be without a bolster and has a lighter hilt with similar strength.

  • Point

Located at the tip of the knife. This can be used to puncture something, to hold something up or together or mark something by making a hole.

Survival Blades

Kitchen Use  

drop-point
drop-point
clip-point
spear-point
spear-point
tanto-point
  • Tip

This part of the knife is used for gentle cutting when the right pressure is exerted.

  • Spine

Anatomically, a knife’s spine is the back of the blade and the thickest part of it that provides durability when slicing and cutting. The guiding foundation of the spine allows the knife to define its cut.

Thick-spined knives are good for balance sideways and these are efficient for dutiful slicing and dicing at a fast pace. For thin-spined knives, they produce a light hilt that allows the knife to be moved swiftly from the back to front and therefore making more precise and delicate slices.

  • Heel

The lower part of the blade. Similar to the tip, it can gloss through simple cutting and dicing actions.

  • Edge

Referring to its name, it is located on the side of the knife and it is the part most used for cutting, slicing and tearing food and other materials. Depending on the knife, the edge would be different. Edges can be Convex, Chiseled, Serrated, Flat Ground, Hollow Ground and Compound.

Edge Type

Description

Knives

Convex

A rounded-shaped blade made from two arcs that intersect to the knife point. Sharp and stronger than the traditionally-shaped Flat Ground

Chef’s knife, utility knife

Chiseled

Narrow and intensely sharp, this knife edge can slice and chop in fast speed due to its precision

Paring knife, slicing knife, vegetable knife

Serrated

A chiseled and dentated knife with splits in each cutting edge. Possesses a saw-like quality that carefully cuts through a material or food.

Bread Knife, Paring knife

V or Flat Ground

A special edge that is made for cutting down food into big chunks and then slicing them into rough pieces. 


A general shape of most knives where there are two slanting edges to the tip.

Meat cleaver, Chef’s knife utility knife

Hollow Ground

Very fine, razor-sharp and for some variations, flexible

Pocket knife (for survival), boning knife, fillet knife

Compound

The general shape of most knives, it shapes into a much smaller V

Small variations of chef knives and utility knives

Handle (Scales)

The handle is the part where the knife is held by the hand. In a serrated knife, the wood composition needs to be light and non-slip just in case the knife falls out of the hand when it is being used. The metal in the handle can be durable but can be heavy because it holds the weight of the knife dependent on it.

  • Bolster

The blade is attached to the handle through what is known as the bolster. Although this may seem as its primary function, the bolster serves as leverage when added pressure is applied. It improves strength and balance in a serrated knife’s performance. The existence of a bolster means that a knife is of high quality.

  • Tang

A tang describes the projected piece inside the knife that serves as the connection from blade to handle. This means that the tang is cut in the same size and shape as the handle for it to fit. The handle scales (screws that hold the handle in place) are fixed evenly on the top and bottom of the handle to make it secure.

Knives that are heavy duty or that go through more pressure such as cleavers, chef knives and serrated knives normally have full tangs.

  • Handle Fasteners (also called scale fasteners)

Simply put, these are screws that are placed and put into the two sides of the handle together. While they are convenient for making sure that the handle does not go anywhere, these fasteners may loosen are prone to loosening up if it used too frequently.

  • Butt

The back end of the handle that holds a good grip.

Based on Purpose: Pocket and General Utility Knives

There are two general divisions of a knife’s purposes: for utility and for the kitchen. There are more uses to them but using it for food and other multi-purpose activities such as cutting plants, plastics and DIY procedures are their most frequent function.

This is a category not often mentioned in knife types because it includes other blades that are not used for the kitchen. How a knife is organized into this category depends on the feature of being adaptable and portable and less about it being sharp to cut food items and materials.

Non-Folding Knives

non-folding knife

Fixed Blade – A fixed blade (also called a sheath knife) refers to the design of a knife that does not bend nor slide. The extension of the blade is through the handle – making it stronger than a folding knife. The form of a fixed blade is prone to accidents since the blade sticks out and the handle is usually on the same level as the blade. It is used for everyday carry (EDC) and can be used in daily projects and repairs.

Tang – The tang is not just a referring to the part of a knife that is connected to the blade and the handle. The tang also refers to a handle design that gives the knife user a good grip. It is still debated whether a tang designed knife should be classified under a fixed blade or should be classified as a non-folding knife. The truth is, it is both a fixed blade and a non-folding knife. Assorted tang designs are presented below:

Full Tang –  A full tang is a design that is a continuous piece of metal between the blade and the handle. It is one of two basic forms of a fixed blade. The handle is securely placed by scales (otherwise called as grips) with a safe grip to prevent injury. Strong knives with longer lengths are normally full tang. Examples of this design can be found in most European-manufactured knives in all kitchen types. Heavy-handed blades such as chef’s knife, a meat cleaver and utility knives are also full tang

full tang

Partial Tang – This tang style’s design does not cover the entirety of the handle. In terms of safety, this tang is more preferred as it offers a more precise grip. The blade is narrow and has an adhesive of scales that screw the handle in place. Partial tangs come in stub, half and three-quarter tangs. Examples of this type of tang design are slicing knives, some variations of the utility knife and bread knives.

partial tang

Push Tang – This is a tang that’s pushed inside a handle. These tang design sub-types do not have to be completed to the handle for it to be manufactured. They are reliable for long-term use. Cutlery used for cutting such as utility knives and different sizes of slicing knives.

push tang

Encapsulated Tang – This knife has the handle of the knife built around the tang. With the handle and the tang inside comes more strength from the base. Examples of encapsulated tang design: chef’s knife and the meat cleaver.

encapsulated

Hidden Tang – For its general description, this knife has a thin tang which slides through the handle that makes it difficult to see where the tang actually is. Instead of fasteners like a typical knife, pommel or buttcaps secure it in place. Like the stick tang, examples of this are the smaller, more flexible knives such as the boning and fillet.

hidden tang

Stick Tang (Rat Tail Tang) – Even thinner than a hidden tang, a stick tang is a feature present in most lightweight knives because of less stack materials. It is proven to cut small materials with ease. Examples of these can be seen in paring, boning and fillet knives as well as Japanese-manufactured knives.

stick tang

Folding Blades

folding blade

Not to be confused with the design of Swiss Army knives, these blades fold into two with single, double and multiple blades that can fit into their different-sized compartments.

Assisted Opening

assisted opening

Just like pocket knives, they need to be opened by an external force. For multiple blades in the knife, each blade can either be dependent or independent on the opening of the other. Swiss army knives and other brands of pocket knives fall into this category.

Switch Blade

requires force or additional mechanism to be opened. Lightweight and travel-sized.

Based on Kitchen Use

Through the vast selection of cutlery, one distinct way of categorizing them is through function. Knives have different types of uses in the kitchen and it can fit more than one category.

Types of Kitchen Knives

Utility Knife

utility kitchen knife

In-between a paring knife and a chef’s knife is the utility kitchen knife. It can measure about 4 to 7 inches and can be straight-edge or serrated. Because it is smaller, it is more efficient in doing small, specific tasks such as cutting crusty bread and sandwiches (this is done with the serrated version) and chopping smaller food items like white meat, herbs and vegetables. In addition to this, a utility knife can be used for everyday and emergency repairs but this is not its main purpose. It is often included as part of a knife set, second only to the chef’s knife.

Chef’s Knife

chef's knife

This knife is not just a versatile knife but also a basic necessity. It is a reliable utensil that is found in any kitchen.It makes the job of cutting and disjointing meat, slicing and dicing vegetables and roots seem professional. It is treated as an “all around” knife.

The size of this knife is medium to large (approximately 6 to 14 inches) for it to be able to be used on all types of food and another it for it to be able to be used on all types of food and other items or for large quantities of food preparation. Although it is versatile, a chef’s knife might not be the best tool if you’re after precision such as peeling and carving jobs should be passed on to smaller and narrower knives.

Slicing Knife

slicing knife

With a more flexible blade and narrow edge, slicing knives have thin blades that are long and round or pointed. It has length strength to be compared with a chef’s knife but equally sharp. At 8 to 14 inches, knives of this type make sure that cuts are even. Slicing knives can produce thinner and wire-like versions of meat, poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables for food preparations in hot and cold dishes. They are capable of cutting and dicing vegetables but are not as effective as a vegetable knife, utility knife or chef’s knife.

Paring Knife

paring knife

This knife is often marketed as a decorative knife and is commonly used for food carving and designing. Paring knives are small, ranging from 2.5 to their typical 3.5 to 4-inch length. Its razor sharp and fine blade makes it ideal for intricate mincing, dicing and peeling. Small kitchen jobs such as deveining shrimps and prawns, cutting fruits and cutting vegetables into small, uniformed sizes. These knife types do not do well on food items with thick skin or hard bread/pastries.

Bread Knife

bread knife

A specialty knife with a serrated edge, the bread knife comprises of dentated slits that produce a saw cut on the food or item that you are slicing. This knife is ideal for freshly baked bread, layers of sandwiches, cake and pastry-making.

Cleaver

cleaver

The cleaver is a thick, full tang knife that has a sharp, beveled edge and is used by professional chefs and butchers to make sure that parts of the meat have a clean cut. Depending on the thickness of the blade, it has an effect on the outcome of the cut meat and vegetables. This knife functions best with thick cuts of meat specifically near the bone. It also works effectively with large and thick-skinned vegetables. They are available in a variety of sizes, which measures anywhere from 6 to 12 inches. They also have smaller models that have the same function for smaller meat and vegetables.

Based on Expertise

Expertise Level

Expectations 

Knife Types 

Everyday Cooking

  • Cooking simple meals daily using simple ingredients and occasionally big meals for guests 

  • This cook works best with knives that can do the job without needing any specialty knives

Amateur Cook 

  • The expertise is a level advanced than the daily cooking hobby 


  • More proficient and have prepared/cooked more complicated meals and dedicated on knowing more regarding tools and other kitchen terminology

Pastry Chef 

  • Selecting a good pastry knife is a balance of knowing the strongest knife that does best with light pressure and delivering a good cut that would not ruin the aesthetics of the pastry

  • Note that a user will be most likely cutting a lot of layers with two or more solid or liquid ingredients in between

  • Bread and Cake Knife 

  • Utility Knife

  • Paring Knife

  • Chef’s Knife

Apprentice Professional 

  • Cooking skills are used in a professional setting. 

  • In-charge of professional slicing, dicing, cutting and mincing that is crucial in making meals

  • Experiments with different styles and cooking techniques to produce new recipes and therefore needs a variety of knives

Professional Chef 

  • A seasoned craftsman that has years of experience and knows the difference between each knife because of regular use

Based on Length

The bigger the knife, the more challenging the material being cut is. In this case, bigger knives are reserved for large preparations. One can determine the type of knife being used based on its length.

Length

Expectations 

Knife Types 

3.5 inches 

  • Referred to paring knives and pocket knives 

  • Knives that are used for a specific kind of work

  • Usually fits strategically within the hand as it should be handy when being used for precise cuts and slices

  • Come in different styles and are used for de-seeding fruits, cutting and dicing citrus fruits and vegetables, removing shells for seafood.

  • General Utility Knife

  • Pocket Knife (Folding Blades, Assisted Opening Blades)

  • Paring Knife

5 inches 

  • Identified as a utility knife that is used by anybody exposed to kitchen work 

  • Can produce a rough or clean cut depending on the pressure exerted on the knife

  • Ideal for boneless meat, herbs, layered sandwiches and semi-hard bread like bagels and buns. Does not do well with large cuts of meats and vegetables. 


  • Utility Knife 

  • Chef’s Knife (Serrated versions)

  • Smaller versions of cleavers

  • Boning Knife

  • Bread Knife

7 inches 


  • Typical of chef and boning knives and some utility knives.

  • Knives in this medium-sized length are used to cut prime meat and disjointing from its bone. These knives can be used by amateur cooks as they are easy to handle but need a specific skill

  • Variations of 7-inch knives are used for removing bones and skin from different kinds of meat, poultry and seafood.


  • Chef’s Knife (straight and serrated varieties)

  • Boning Knife

  • Cleaver

8.5 inches 


  • Used in large food preparations

  • Common uses for 8.5 inch knives are slicing and carving medium to large cuts of meat in food preparation and during roasting and braising

  • These knives can also be used in slicing bread in different directions


  • Bread Knife

  • Chef Knife

  • Carving Knife

  • Slicing Knife

12 inches  


  • Quantity and length of chopped food is concerned

  • 12-length knives have both the strength and the skill to produce precision slices because of their design

  • Professional knives that cut through dense textures from meat and produce

  • These knives are used by those who are confident and proficient at handling cutlery such as chefs and amateur cooks


  • Chef’s Knife (Serrated and straight-edged varieties)

  • Carving Knife

  • Slicing Knife

Based on Blade Material

Making the most of your knife’s efficiency, the material that a knife’s blade is made of will ultimately test longevity, strength and durability as well as frequent usage.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is the knife that can last a period of time with minimum scratches or stain despite the intensity of its use. The blade has to have a significant amount of chromium, a percentage of 10.5 percent or higher. This will make it resistant to decay.

Using stainless steel cutlery can minimize high maintenance. Unfortunately, there have been reviews that these knife types can suffer from good cutting performance due to chromium not being very durable.

Carbon Steel

Non-stainless steels with at least 1% carbon and include manganese alloys. They easily sharpen and can have well-performed edges. Unfortunately, carbon is susceptible to oxidation where the texture and color of the blade change no matter how much maintenance is given to it. This type of material should be considered carefully by those people who desire a long-lasting knife.

High Carbon Stainless Steel

A combination of carbon and stainless steel, this type of knife increases strength, edge retention and efficiency while keeping the knife in good condition. Although it seems that  HC Stainless Steel seems unmatchable, there is no industry accreditation for these knives. Do extra research on the brands that claim to have this feature so that you can be assured of its quality.

Ceramic

Great for cutting food that has various degrees in temperature, dependable ceramic-made knives can have an attribute of Zirconium powder that adds to their durability. Cutting fruits, vegetables and other acidic foods do not affect the condition of ceramic blades. They are surprisingly lightweight and sharp but need to be handled with care as they are prone to breaking.  

Conclusion

When examining the types of kitchen knives, not every knife can do every job. Remember the purpose of each knife and its best use. In each of their tactility, length, expertise and blade material, what matters is that it is helping you do the specific task that it is intended for Do not get a knife which can be your detriment because the knife that you choose should make your task easier and more efficient. It takes a lot of critical and analytical thinking in selecting the best knives for your needs.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.