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How To Choose The Right Types Of Kitchen Knives

Picking the right (and safest) kitchen knife can be a tricky business. Our knives guide will take you through all the different types and their best uses.

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Durable, good-quality knives are a kitchen must-have. But with so many different types of knives to choose from, where do you start? This guide will take you through the key characteristics and safety measures to consider and best uses when choosing your kitchen knives.

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The Parts Of A Kitchen Knife Explained

The point is the part of the knife where the edge and spine meet. The point allows for piercing, scoring and delicate cutting. 

The tang refers to the unsharpened part of a blade which extends to the handle. There are three types of tangs: the full tang, the half tang, and the whittle tang. A Full Tang extends from the tip of the knife to the grip, adding strength, better balance, and weight. A half tang is where the length of the blade runs partially down the handle. Therefore, the knife is lighter than a full tang knife but not as strong. A whittle tang blade only extends to a small portion of the knife handle and cannot be seen. They are only suitable for lightweight work.

The Spine is the top of the knife blade and is blunt. The spine allows you to safely put pressure on your knife, allowing you to quickly slice, chop, and dice. Larger knives often have thicker spines, which allows for balance and strength.

The bolster is the thick divider between the blade and the handle of a knife. Bolsters give balance to a knife and grip, preventing your lead finger from slipping to the blade edge.

The knife-edge determines its ability to cut different types of food. A plain-edge knife is where a knife blade is not serrated. Plain-edged knives are typically made from stainless steel and are great for push cuts. (Where the knife edge is pushed through the food.) Serrated or scalloped edged knives allow for effortless slicings, such as slicing bread or foods with hard exteriors.

The heel is the part of the blade that is furthest away from the tip. The heel meets the handle and allows for coarse cuts that require more pressure.

The handle of a knife provides balance, grip, and comfort.

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Which Material?

Stainless Steel knives are durable, simple to sharpen and rust-resistant. Frequent sharpening is required to keep it in optimal working order.

Carbon Steel is the traditional material used to make knives. Carbon Steel knives are strong and stay sharp for a long time. They are, however, prone to rust and require more care than other materials.

Damascus Steel is a premium quality material, recognizable by its wavy pattern. Damascus Steel knives have a stainless steel exterior and carbon steel core. They are usually handmade and can therefore be a little more expensive.

Ceramic knives are razor-sharp, affordable and lightweight. They are naturally rust-resistant and will rarely need sharpening. However, ceramic knives are fragile and can crack easily.

Hand-Forged Or Stamped?

Hand-forged or fully forged knives are premium quality and finished almost entirely by hand. A hand-forged knife is made from steel and commonly has a bolster. (The bolster is the thick junction between the knife handle and blade)

A stamped knife earns its name by the way its blade is made. Similarily to a cookie-cutter, a machine will stamp out the knife blade from a continuous piece of steel. The blade is then attached to its handle with rivets. Stamped knives are often more affordable and lighter to use than hand-forged knives.

Understanding Knife Handles

Wooden handles have a natural texture which allows for easy gripping. Modern wooden-handled knives often have a clear plastic coating to protect them, however these require careful cleaning. Plastic handles, or wood/plastic composites, are popular because they have similar characteristics to wood but are easy to clean and look after. Plastic handles can melt if exposed to heat while cooking.

How Much Should I Spend?

Your cooking lifestyle should guide your kitchen knife budget. For those couples who enjoy everyday cooking, we recommend brands such as Kitchen AidJoseph Joseph and Masterclass. These brands have a great selection of expertly crafted, durable kitchen knife sets that will have you chopping, slicing and dicing with everyday ease.

For foodie couples who are more adventurous in the kitchen, we recommend looking at higher-priced knife sets. Consider brands such as WusthofZwilling and Robert Welch, which produce some of the finest kitchen knives around.

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Kitchen Knives Explained

Your cooking lifestyle should also guide the type of kitchen knife you choose. For couples who prefer to spend less time in the kitchen, a great multi-purpose knife collection is the way to go. We recommend a bread knife, paring knife and carving knife. For couples who are budding chefs, you may prefer to upgrade your knife collection with specialist knives, such as a boning knife or Santoku knife. Below is an explanation of each type of kitchen knife to get you started:

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Cook's or Chef's Knife

A cook's or chef's knife is a versatile knife with a large, sharp blade. A Cook's knife is commonly used when cutting meat, dicing vegetables and finely cutting herbs.

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Utility or Kitchen Knife

A utility or kitchen knife is a versatile knife that is slightly shorter than a Cook's knife. A Utility knife is perfect for most general kitchen tasks.

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Bread Knife

A bread knife, which features a serrated or scalloped blade, is used to cut bread, baked goods or food with hard exteriors.

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Santoku Knife

The Santoku knife originates from Japan and is a favourite of many professional chefs. The Santoku Knife is a general-purpose knife used for slicing, dicing and mincing.

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Paring Knife

A paring knife is a small knife with a short, sharp blade. Pairing knives are perfect for intricate or precise cutting.

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Carving or Slicing Knife

A carving or slicing knife is used when slicing and carving meat or large fruit. Carving knives come in a range of styles, each tailored to suit specific types of meat.

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Boning Knife

A boning knife, as the name suggests, allows the easy removal of bones from raw poultry and other meat. Fillet knives are another type of boning knife, specifically used to remove the bones of fish. Fillet knives have a thin, flexible blade.

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Steak Knife

A steak knife has a serrated blade and a sharply pointed tip. It is a table knife designed for slicing cooked meat.

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Kitchen Scissors

Kitchen scissors, when used during food preparation, are a great way to cut herbs and poultry quickly.

Caring For Your Knives

Storage and usage
Keep your knives in excellent condition by storing them in a knife block or a magnetic board. Additionally, using appropriate chopping boards during food preparation will ensure the knife blade is not damaged.

Washing and drying
It is always best practice to hand wash knives with mild detergent and dry them thoroughly - this will keep them sharp and rust-free!

Sharpening knives
knife sharpener is an easy way to keep your blade sharp and even. It removes a small amount of the blade to create a new edge. We recommend sharpening your knife every few months. For frequent sharpening, use a knife hone. Honing a knife re-aligns the knife blade, ensuring the edge is at the centre.

And that's a wrap - now you have all the information you need to make an informed decision, whether you're looking to upgrade your current knife collection or start afresh. Explore our collection of kitchen knives sourced from renowned brands, perfect for all your chopping, slicing and dicing needs.

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