How to buy knives?

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Handles:

Knife handles are made from many different materials, including various woods, composites, resins, metal and different types of plastic. Each offers a different feel, grip, aesthetic and comfort level. The only way to find your favorite is by holding them to experience how certain handles will feel better to you. From a maintenance standpoint, the handle is often the “Achilles’ heel” of a knife. Long term protection of the handle is why hand washing is recommended for any quality knife. The dishwasher will cause wood handles to dry out, crack and degrade over time. And it will even dry out and dull high quality molded and resin materials well before the blade has been compromised. Once again, the most important aspect of the handle is that it feels comfortable to you and gives you a good sense of control over the blade.

Knife Maintenance:

Proper storage, cleaning, honing and use are critical to ensuring that cutlery will last and remain a pleasure to use. Also, be sure to store your knives properly. Knife blocks, magnetic strips and plastic edge guards are all affordable solutions for the protection of fine knife edges.

How to Choose a Chef’s Knife

As one of our editors likes to say, a chef’s knife “is like a dance partner.” A knife that feels comfortable and graceful in your hand might feel klutzy to someone else. When you start shopping for that perfect chef’s knife—one that will make slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing more pleasurable, precise, and effortless—it’s important to identify your personal preferences, and to realize that there isn’t one knife that’s right for everyone. Finding your ideal knife might take a little time, but you’ll know it when you’ve found it.

Where to meet your match

The first step to finding a chef’s knife that works for you is to search out a cutlery or cookware store (rather than an online or mail-order source) with a wide selection of sample knives that you can hold or, even better, maneuver on a cutting surface. “You can’t buy a knife off a peg board. You need to feel it and talk to someone who can guide you,” says Jacob Maurer, a cutlery buyer for Sur La Table, which lets customers chop food with their knife samples. Seek out salespeople who can lead you to a knife that fits; don’t fall prey to those who tell you which knife to buy.

Another shopping tip: Have an open mind. Richard Von Husen, owner of Warren Kitchen and Cutlery in Rhinebeck, New York, has customers “play” with a range of knives without looking at price to determine the size, shape, and weight of knife that they prefer. Then he helps narrow the choices down to those within the customer’s budget.

Wherever you buy your knife, ask if you can return it if it feels dull or isn’t the right fit after a short test drive at home (just don’t ding it or wear down the blade). For ideas on what tasks will best help you to evaluate a knife, see “How to test,” below.

How to test

In choosing some of our favorite knives (below), the Fine Cooking test kitchen ran more than two dozen models through this battery of tasks. If possible, try using your favorite few knives to:

  • Mince parsley
  • Dice an onion
  • Slice winter squash
  • Cut carrots into thin strips
  • Carve a melon

What to look for in a knife

Once you’ve got a knife in your hand (see photo above for proper grip) you should immediately get a sense of its fit. It should feel comfortable, like a natural extension of your hand. It should inspire confidence, not instill fear. If it feels wrong, move on. If it feels pretty good, start chopping (or mock chopping), noting how you respond to the knife’s physical characteristics.

  • Weight: You’ll need to try several knives to find your ideal knife weight. One school of thought believes a hefty chef’s knife cuts through foods easier because it “falls” with more force. Another thinks a lighter chef’s knife flows more freely and lets you maneuver the knife more skillfully. Bottom line: Choose the style that feels right to you.
  • Balance: “Perfect balance” is in the palm of the beholder. Judge balance by gripping the knife by its handle. If it feels uncomfortably weighted toward the back of the handle or toward the blade, then it probably isn’t for you. An unbalanced knife will make you work harder. Side-to-side balance is also important. When you come down on the blade, the knife shouldn’t feel unstable, as if it wants to teeter toward one side or the other.
  • Size: An 8-inch chef’s knife is the most popular among home cooks because of its versatility. A 10-incher’s longer blade can cut more volume but may feel intimidating. A 6-inch chef’s knife can offer an element of agility, like that of a paring knife, but falls short when working with volume or when slicing through something large, like a watermelon.

Anatomy of a chef’s knife

The handle: A good handle is one that feels comfortable and ­secure to you. You shouldn’t have to strain to hold onto it, and it shouldn’t feel slippery when wet. There should be enough clearance on its underside that you don’t bang your knuckles as you chop (the height of the blade affects this). Some knives’ handles have molds or indentations to facilitate grip. These work for some people. For ­others they force an unnatural grip and make the knife hard to hold at awkward angles, such as when butterflying a chicken breast or carving a melon.

The bolster: Also called the collar, shoulder, or shank, the bolster is the thick portion of metal where the blade and handle meet. The bolster can add strength and stability to a knife as well as act as a ­finger guard for your gripping hand. Some forged knives have only partial bolsters, which don’t extend all the way to the blade’s heel, and some knives, especially Japanese-style knives, have no bolster at all. An advantage to partial- or no-­bolster knives is that you can sharpen the full length of the blade, right through the heel. As you hold a knife, notice the slope from the bolster to the blade. It may be pronounced or gradual, but neither style should make you feel like you have to tighten your grip.

The heel: Unless it’s a Japanese-style forged knife (see “What is a Japanese-style chef’s knife?” below), the heel is the broadest and thickest part of the edge with the greatest heft. It’s meant for tasks that require force, such as chopping through poultry tendons or the hard rind of a winter squash. Watch out for knives that “thunk” at the heel when rocked. The heel shouldn’t abruptly stop the rocking motion. Nor should it be so curved that the blade wants to kick backward.

The spine: This is the top portion of the blade, and it typically has squared edges. Note whether the edges feel polished or sharp and rough, which can potentially irritate your gripping hand. The spine should also taper at the tip; a thick tip will be hard to work with.

The edge: A good chef’s knife should be sharp right out of the box. To evaluate sharpness, try slicing through a sheet of paper. A really sharp knife will make a clean, swift cut. (Of course, if you have the opportunity, chop some food, too.) Also note the line of the blade. A gentle curve from the tip to the heel can help the knife smoothly rock back and forth during chopping and mincing.

What is a forged knife?

This article focuses on high-carbon stainless-steel chef’s knives, which are commonly made by hammering a red-hot billet of steel into a shaped die. Forged knives have a reputation for durability and balance. There are, however, excellent stamped chef’s knives laser cut from sheets of high-quality steel, as well as knives made from other materials like ceramics. See below for more information on ceramic knives.

Some of our favorite German-style chef’s knives

1. Chef’sChoice Trizor Professional
For a substantial knife, its noticeable weight really worked in its favor. Markedly sharp and with just the right blade height, it has a comfortable, nubbly-textured handle that’s easy to grip.

2. Friedr. Dick Premier Plus
More well known in commercial kitchens, Friedr. Dick makes a classic-style chef’s knife that’s well balanced and proportioned, sharp, and “doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to move.” The blade is nicely curved for a smooth, continuous rock.

3. Messermeister Meridian Elite
Our test kitchen manager succinctly summed this knife up as “sharp, swift, balanced, and just the right weight.” This knife has a partial bolster so that the edge can be easily sharpened along its full length. Its cousin, the Messermeister San Moritz Elite, with a seamless molded handle, was another well-liked knife.

4. Wüsthof-Trident Classic
As one editor noted, it’s “tapered in the right places and beefy in the right places” with “subtle details that make the knife work naturally for you.” Wüsthof’s Grand Prix II knife was also a favorite of many. It has the same blade but with a contoured, slip-resistant polypropylene handle.

What’s a Japanese-style knife?

There’s a growing trend toward “Japanese-style” knives, and even classic German knife makers are getting in on the act. A Japanese-style chef’s knife tends to be lighter and have a thinner blade than a German-style knife, making it highly maneuverable and adept at fine slicing. With the thinner blade, it also tends to be quite sharp.

But a Japanese-style chef’s knife isn’t the best for splitting a chicken or slicing through an acorn squash because it doesn’t have the beefy, wedge-like heel that’s needed for those tasks. Also, its edge tends to have a straighter profile (less curve) than a German-style knife, so it doesn’t always rock as smoothly.

Some of our favorite Japanese-style chef’s knives

1. Calphalon Katana
This knife had a soft, “incredibly comfortable” handle, despite a lack of bolster to nuzzle up against. It “encourages your hand to be in the right position, naturally,” noted one of our test cooks. The thin blade sliced adeptly, but a lack of curve made it less smooth at mincing and chopping.

2. Chroma Type 301
You’re apt to either love or strongly dislike this light knife. Some found it comfortable and very easy to hold and control with the “pearl” on each side of the handle providing a guide for knowing where your grip is. Others found the pearl feature ­irritating.

3. Global
This sleek knife has a thin, sharp blade that, to its many fans, felt amazingly skillful and precise. It’s very light—almost a quarter pound less than the heavier German-style knives. But the blade’s lack of curvature means it doesn’t rock so smoothly, and the knife’s lack of bolster, sharply angled heel, and thin handle felt precarious to even some of its strongest advocates.

4. Kershaw Shun Classic
Many really liked how this knife felt: slender, sharp, fluid, nicely balanced, and truly comfortable. For a Japanese knife, it had a “feeling of substance” yet was still “light on its feet.” Like other knives in this group, the lack of bolster may require some getting used to. This knife comes in left- and right-handed models.

How to Hone & Sharpen Your Knives

Once you have great knives, you want to take good care of them. You don’t need to sharpen your knife as often as you might think, but it does need regular honing. In our bonus videos, Institute of Culinary Education chef-instructor Norman Weinstein demonstrates the proper way to hone your knife on a steel, as well as sharpen it on a stone.

Video: How to Sharpen Your KnifeVideo: How to Hone Your Knife

Curious about ceramic knives?

Knives made from superhard ceramic are available in an increasing variety of shapes and sizes—chef’s knife, santoku, paring. But what they have in common are their thin, incredibly sharp, and precise blades. The larger chef’s or santoku-style ceramic knives are the most versatile, making it a breeze to fillet salmon, carve steak, slice squishy, ripe tomatoes, and dice vegetables finer than you ever thought you could. Just as impressive, ceramic blades hold their sharp edge longer than steel. But ceramic knives are still more of a complement than a replacement for steel blades. Like Japanese-style knives, ceramics lack a bolster and a thick heel; you’ll want something heftier for hard squash, raw potatoes, and chicken bones.

When it comes to completing kitchen tasks, you won’t get very far without a knife. With the price of premium knives running into hundreds of pounds, choosing the right model for you is something to give due consideration. Food writer Sara Buenfeld explains eight knife types to help you along…

Sara’s four must-have knives

Although I have collected several racks worth of knives over the years, there are some that I reach for every day that cover most kitchen tasks…

Paring knife, also called a vegetable knife


This little knife copes with small or delicate jobs like deveining prawns, seeding chillies, trimming sprouts or coring fruit. You will use this knife mainly when you’re cutting in your hand, rather than on a board. It’s also the knife most likely to be swept away into the bin or compost, so don’t spend a fortune on it!

Read Sara’s review of paring knives

Flexible serrated knife or tomato knife

This is fantastic for peeling oranges and other citrus fruit, and for thinly slicing tomatoes as well as general vegetable prep. The serrated edge means it grips as it slices, and you won’t ever have to sharpen it.

Cook’s or chef’s knife

This large all-purpose kitchen knife will tackle a host of prep, from finely chopping herbs and nuts; preparing meat and hard veg like squash or red cabbage, as well as precision cutting vegetables. They come in a range of sizes (anything from a 15 to 36cm blade), so make sure you buy one that you feel comfortable using – not everyone likes a large knife. The handle should fit in your hand easily and feel well balanced. Spend a bit of money on this one, as it will last for years.

Read Sara’s review of cook’s knives

Bread knife

The long blade with a serrated edge will cut through crusts and stacks of sandwiches without squashing the crumb. Also good for splitting cakes in half. It will also double up as a carving knife, if you don’t have one.

Sara’s pick of knives for special tasks

“Knives are a personal reflection of how you cook and eat, so you may find some of the following useful…”

Boning knife

For the serious or budget cook who likes to do a bit of butchery at home, this narrow, dagger-shaped knife will cut through ligaments, and remove bones and connective tissue.

Filleting knife

If you eat a lot of fish, this flexible blade (often used on its side) will help you with the sweeping movements you need for filleting, and for removing skin in seconds.

Carving knife


Once, a carving knife and fork was a must-have in most households. The knife blade is fine, sharp and very long, and designed to give even slices of meat.

Santoku


You don’t have to be a fan of Asian cuisine to find this Japanese-style knife useful. The end is blunt, rather than pointed, and the knife is designed for slicing, dicing and chopping. The ‘granton edge’ (dimples) on the blade help to release thin slices and sticky food.

More buying tips…

Consider the type of metal

The type of metal will affect price and performance.

Stainless steel is the cheapest, but requires regular sharpening.

Carbon steel is hard, more expensive and easier to keep sharp.

Damascus looks amazing as the knife is mottled. This is because a carbon steel core is surrounded by layers of soft and hard stainless steel, creating a knife that is hard and razor sharp.

Try a ceramic blade

Ceramic blades are 10 times harder than carbon steel, yet so much lighter. They also retain their edge for longer, so they don’t need to be sharpened. However, they are more prone to chipping.

Best brands for your budget

Great value:

Try Victorinox. For a razor-sharp blade at a good price, these knives (from the makers of the original Swiss Army knife) are a good choice. The handles are made from moulded plastic and there’s a wide range of sizes.

Read our review of the best knives for under £40.

High-end buy:

Splash out on a model by Kai Shun. You can’t get more special than this Japanese range made from damascus steel and inspired by the samurai sword. Impressively sharp with the distinctive wood-like marking on the blade, they look almost too good to use!

Good all-rounder:

Go for Signature from Robert Welch. This range of award-winning knives is an excellent choice if you want quality at an affordable price. You can tell how much thought has gone in to the design from the tactile handles to the shape, strength and edge of the blade. There are six cook’s knives available – from 12cm blade up to 25cm.

Do you invest in expensive knives, or do you have a budget model you swear by? We’d love to hear your favourites.

Knives are the most personal kitchen tools you will ever own. The shape and heft of the handle you chose, which grows more familiar over time, and the wear on the edge of the blade reflects what and how you cook. Using someone else’s knives is like wearing someone else’s shoes: uncomfortable and a little weird.

The assortment of knives you assemble also reflects your personal cooking style. There are fundamental cooking techniques that require foundational knives: Most people trim vegetable ends and chop onions. But we don’t all bone fish or carve prime rib roasts.

That’s where your specialty knife selection comes in: the shape and length of blades chosen according to your individual cooking habits.

Buying one of those wooden blocks with a preselected assortment of knives is fine for some people. And you might like the way it looks on the counter. But knives aren’t decorative; they’re functional.

Many serious home cooks like to build their own set, buying exactly each knife that works for them. And whether you are buying the basics or beyond, a knife is a tool designed for motion—you need to experience it in action.

TIP: Wooden block storage can be unsanitary because microscopic bits of food can get trapped in the slots if you don’t thoroughly wipe your knife after use. You also insert them with the vulnerable point side down, which doesn’t make sense.

I’ve stored my knives two ways: magnetic bar (and there are many styles), always placing the blade flat on the bar and never tapping the edge of the blade on the magnet, and in a drawer protected by blade edge guards.

The Best Magnetic Knife Bars

Ouddy 22 Inch Magnetic Knife Bar, Magnetic Knife Storage Strip, Magnetic Kitchen Knife Holder, Knife Rack Strip Ouddy amazon.com $29.99 $20.99 (30% off) Norpro 12-Inch Magnetic Knife Tool Bar Norpro amazon.com $15.64

The Best Knife Guards

EVERPRIDE Chef Knife Guard Set (6-Piece Set) Universal Blade Edge Protectors for Chef, Serrated, Japanese, Paring Knives | Heavy-Duty Safety and Protection | Slip-On EVERPRIDE amazon.com $24.99 $17.99 (28% off)

I’ve had most of my knives for over 25 years, which is why I originally went with (and stick with) the brand Wüsthof, a seventh-generation family-owned company based in Solingen, Germany (known as the City of Blades for its long history of blacksmith-smelter craftsmanship, from swords to scissors and razors). They last. And although Wüsthof makes other styles including a newer Eastern-influenced blade, I stay with the traditional forged Classic series because it looks both timeless and contemporary.

Twice a year I take my knives to my neighborhood hardware store and have the blades reshaped and sharpened. The rest of the year, I keep an edge on my blades (which fold over and dull with the impact of normal everyday use) using the Chef’sChoice Diamond manual sharpener with precision fixed-angle control (stabilizing the blade at the proper 20-degree angle along its entire length), diamond abrasives (harder than the blade), and two stages: the first to create a sharp edge without taking off too much metal, and the second a honing action. It can be used with straight-edge or serrated blades.

Chef’sChoice 464 Pronto Diamond Hone Manual Knife Sharpener For Serrated and Straight Knives Diamond Abrasives Easy and Secure Grip Compact Design Made in USA, 2-Stage, Black Chef’sChoice amazon.com $33.06

KNIVES FOR CHOPPING

The chef’s knife—also called a French knife, very traditional—is the fundamental kitchen tool for classic cooking. It has a curved, rigid blade designed for a smooth rocking motion, employing the tip as a stationary pivot. The blade spine is used to scrape foods from the board, and the flat side for crushing garlic.

Because it is always used on a cutting board, the broad blade of the chef’s knife must provide maximum knuckle clearance (lifting your hand up off the board), while the length varies with the individual.

It takes some energy to use your wrist and forearm to lift the blade off the cutting board, especially in the repetitive motion of chopping, so I own two chef’s knives: an 8-inch, which is the longest-length blade my hand and arm can handle, and a 6-inch, because I am often cooking for one and that’s all the blade I need to work with smaller sizes of vegetables.

Classic Six:

Wusthof Classic Chef’s Knife: 6 Wüsthof amazon.com $119.95

Classic Eight:

Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife (4582/20) Wüsthof amazon.com $165.00 $128.86 (22% off)

KNIVES FOR TRIMMING

A paring knife is not just a tiny chef’s knife. It typically has a 3½-inch blade with a tapered tip that is not designed for impact. Because its size gives better control for close-up work, a paring knife is often used with its blade held aloft (between the thumb and the forefinger with the blade at about 11 o’clock) for handheld jobs, like peeling and coring fruit, eyeing potatoes, and trimming the ends off of vegetables. Some cooks prefer to substitute a 5-inch utility knife (or up to 7 inches, depending upon the size of your hand) that can perform a paring knife’s tasks, but can also be used for slicing fruits, vegetables, and cheeses. I have both.

Paring:

Wusthof Classic 3-1/2-Inch Paring Knife Wüsthof amazon.com $49.95

Utility:

Classic Utility Knife Blade Length: 6 Wüsthof amazon.com

KNIVES FOR SLICING

There are straight-handled serrated knives, but the practical offset handle (also called a deli or sandwich knife) keeps your hand above the blade, which provides leverage (as well as knuckle room) for cutting through crusty breads and tough-skin fruits like oranges. The blade serrations stop part of the blade from making contact with the cutting board, which dulls edges much faster. A thinner, scalloped edge (which doesn’t tear as much as the sawtoothed shape) will also work for “gentle cuts”—slicing through water-bearing produce like cucumbers, tomatoes, and melon, as well as soft bread, salami, and semisoft cheese—without ripping or tearing. If you’re a home baker, you can cut a mile-high cake into thin slices without compressing the layers. Also: sticky dough, such as fresh pasta.

Wusthof Classic Serrated Deli Breakfast Knife, 8 inch Wüsthof amazon.com $125.00 $79.95 (36% off)

KNIVES FOR CARVING

If you’re a roaster who frequently prepares turkey and bone-in meat and hams, consider a narrow-blade carving knife, designed to cut through fiber and tissue and form thin, uniform slices. The blade—long enough to cover ground on a big piece of meat— is slightly flexible, with a sharp tip to handle the curves around bones. I call this the November knife because it is perfect for carving holiday roasts.

There are also slicers with a rounded tip, for boneless meats. Most have a hollow-ground edge in what is called a Granton pattern, meaning a series of oval indentations ground into both sides of the blade, designed to make it easier for moist meat like brisket or even sticky smoked salmon to slide off the knife.

10 Wüsthof amazon.com $109.95

Burning Question: Do you really need a carving fork? Yes, if you are carving anything of size. Carving a large roast means stabilizing the meat on the cutting board and then transporting slices to a platter or serving dishes. This is not the job of a fork you use for eating. A carving fork has a long handle to keep your hand up and away from the carving knife and only two tines, sharp and deep enough to pierce and anchor the roast as well as transfer sliced meat without making a mess. Carving forks come straight, better for smaller pieces of meat like a filet of beef, or curved for better maneuverability on larger roasts like prime rib or roast turkey.

Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Straight Meat Fork Wüsthof amazon.com $129.95

A Note About Eastern versus Western Knives

Knife options are greater today in part because culinary habits have changed, particularly our growing Southeast Asian influence. We now have Western (the classic hefty German styles) and Eastern (sleek Japanese design with thinner, razor-sharp blades) as well as crossbred knives that combine Japanese style with German utility.

When you look at a German versus a Japanese knife, it is easy to see that the functional design differences are based on culinary culture.

Japanese knives entered American mainstream cooking for a few reasons:

• our interest in the timeless integrity of that cuisine,

• the greater respect paid to ingredients, and

• technique, visible in skillful arrangements of paper-thin vegetables and almost transparent slices of protein.

This refinement and precision requires a lighter knife with a sharper cutting edge.

Because Japan is an archipelago—a chain of four main and about 3,000 smaller islands along the Asian Pacific coast—the Japanese eat a fish-heavy diet, with unique raw preparations: sushi and sashimi. Working with raw fish requires a knife made without a bolster (a collar that joins the blade to the handle and protects fingers, found on Western knives), allowing use of the blade’s full razor-sharp length, which gives access to more real estate on a long piece of fish.

This knife is typically sharpened on one side—called a chisel edge—and worked in a gliding motion with the index finger extended along the flat side of the blade.

There are as many design differences in knives as there are brands, especially in Japanese cutlery, with varying blade alloy compositions, some for specific food preparations that border on the ceremonial. But in general, traditional German knives have a lower HRC*, which means the blades are softer—easier to sharpen but less likely to hold that edge—while Japanese knives use a harder steel alloy, taking and holding a sharper edge. But that edge leans toward the brittle and requires greater care in handling and maintenance.

*HRC indicates hardness of the alloy and is measured on the Rockwell C Scale, patented in 1919 by Hugh Rockwell and Stanley Rockwell, unrelated co-workers at bell and ball-bearing company New Departure in Bristol, Connecticut. The test measures the resistance of metal to force using the deformation or depth of indentation that occurs when a penetrator (typically a diamond cone) is pressed into the material. The standard HRC for better-made German kitchen knives is 56 to 58; some Japanese knives go up to HRC 62.

Stainless Steel

The composition of knives parallels the history of metallurgy: copper, bronze, iron, steel. But what revolutionized the cutlery industry was the early 20-century development of stainless steel, credited to British metallurgist Harry Brearley who was experimenting with the production process of steel to prevent corrosion in rifle barrels due to heat and discharge gasses. Adding chromium for its high melting temperature, he discovered that the new material was noncorrosive, resisting marring and spotting from the chemical attack of acids like vinegar and lemon juice. At the time, cutting knives were carbon steel and had to be carefully washed and dried after each use to prevent rusting and even then, carborundum stones were necessary to remove rust stains.

High-carbon stainless-steel alloy (high being relative, as carbon composition is typically between .0.5 percent to 1.5 percent) combines the corrosion- and spot-resistant properties of stainless steel with the hardness of carbon so the blade sharpens and keeps an edge (varying with percent of carbon) and has better tensile strength (or the amount of stress you can put on the cutting edge before it fails). There are different “recipes” for kitchen-blade carbon stainless steel (including other elements like nickel, vanadium, molybdenum, and manganese) that create varying edge-holding properties and corrosion resistance. This formula is often included in the materials that accompany a well-constructed knife or are stamped on the blade.

Two standard steel recipes used for kitchen knives:

X50 CrMoV15,also known as 1.4116 steel, often used in high-end German knives that sharpen to 56 to 58 on HRC.

VG10 Steel Composition,often used in Japanese knives that sharpen to 60 to 62 on HRC.

You should now feel fully prepared. Happy dicing.

How to Buy Professional Kitchen Knives According to Your Budget

Choosing the right cutlery for your kitchen (or as a gift for someone else’s) can be a daunting task when you want to make the right choice for both your needs and budget. Whether you go online or walk into a retailer, there are a dizzying array of options. You can select knife blocks with multiple tools or individual pieces of cutlery of different sizes, shapes, types, brands and purposes.

So how do you choose? Well, who better to ask than professional chefs and knife makers? We asked bladesmith (custom knife maker) Adam Marr of Marr Knives; Organic Personal Chef Terry Ryan of Cosmopolitan Delights in Tampa, FL; and former-butcher-turned-chef Nick Miller of the Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis for their expertise.

They all agreed that there are four different categories of knives to choose from: entry level, mid-range, high-end and custom. What follows is an overview of each. But first, here’s one piece of advice all three gave us.

Don’t Automatically Buy a Knife Block Set

So, why would three professionals who started off with knife block sets (Wusthof, one of the most famous brands) recommend against buying one? Because you’ll end up with many knives you don’t need. Most people, because they don’t know how to care for kitchen knives, says Marr, “Only use the others as the ones they use most become dull” and then conclude the entire set was poor quality.

Miller, who is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, agrees, adding, “Either buy a knife block with no slots or don’t buy a knife block at all. Buy the knives you need and store them, properly, in a drawer in a knife guard, in a knife safe or on a magnetic rack.” And you think you need the sharpener on the knife block? “It’s better to have your knives sharpened twice a year by a professional,” says Ryan, who uses a mobile sharpening service for restaurants. Both other pros agree with Ryan; Miller adds that it’s okay to buy a whetstone and learn to sharpen at home. So what should you do instead? And what should you do if you already own a knife block set and want to add new knives?

Buy Kitchen Cutlery Based on Your Specific Needs

If you’re just starting out, all three agree that you should spend the money that you’d spend on a knife block set on three to five key knife types: chef’s, bread, carving, utility, and paring knives. These pros all agree you’ll do most of your cutting work with a chef’s knife and paring knife, though. So depending on what you do most in your kitchen, invest what you’d spend on a multi-tool knife block set on those key knives.

Choosing the best cutlery is also based on your budget, and the pros broke that down into the following four categories:

  • Entry Level. This is where knife sets are under $200 and an individual chef’s knife is around $75 at most, with many costing considerably less. If you’re not inclined to, or don’t know how to, take care of kitchen cutlery, you should start here. Marr suggests that users in the former category buy kitchen knives at a discount retailer. For those who want to learn how to take care of cutlery while still being able to put knives through a dishwasher, Miller says, “Victorinox is the best bang-for-the-buck knife.” This Swedish steel knife is durable, cuts well, and is dishwasher-safe and relatively inexpensive, with a chef’s knife retailing for around $55. It’s used by home cooks and pro cooks alike. “A lot of industry professionals endorse it as a very solid piece of equipment,” he adds. Hampton Forge and Mercer are also strong contenders in this category.
  • Mid-Level. You’re at this level when you’re ready to upgrade and spend between $75 and $200 for a chef’s knife. According to Marr, at this level, you can expect a quality-production (mass-produced) knife with a solid handle and good blade that holds the edge well with proper care. Cost varies by brand and type of use. Common brands at this level are German and include Wusthof and Henckels. This is also where you move into Japanese knife brands like Shun (for paring) and MAC. “Most Japanese knives are made with harder steel and have a finer edge and more fragile blade than most German knives,” explains Ryan. Common Japanese chef’s knife types are Santoku and Gyuto. Knives at this level require more care, including regular, usually professional, sharpening.
  • High-End. If you’ve advanced to this level (or your gift recipient has), you’re buying semi-production knives made with high-end materials with some handwork, like hand-ground, hand-finished, or hand-sharpened blades and semi-custom handles. Whether German or Japanese, these are constructed with high-end steel, and because of their thickness (geometry), cut extremely well. These also have high “edge retention,” which means they stay sharper longer. A single chef’s knife is $200 to $300, but cutting performance is at its best at this level. German knives by Wusthof, the Zwilling knife by J.A. Henckels, and Shun Japanese knives are in this category.
  • Custom. These knives are exactly what they sound like, custom-made. These are luxury knives you buy because you’re looking for something special, the pros say. Bladesmith Marr says, “You’re looking for exotic steel like Damascus or special wood for the handle.” Or, adds Miller, “You want to own a knife by a specific bladesmith.” These knives can cost well over $300 and reach into five figures. “But,” explains Marr, “a $2,500 custom knife isn’t better than a $250 high-end production or semi-production knife. You’re buying this knife because you love to cook and you can afford the best. This is a knife you really want in your collection, and it has a specific purpose. It’s a knife you’ve always wanted.” Top bladesmiths include Shigefusa, Watanabe, Heiji, Devin Thomas, Butch Harner and, Bob Kramer.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. Buy the best cutlery you can afford for your budget and needs. Rather than automatically default to a block set, invest the same money in the three to five key knives you need for everyday use separately and store them in the block, if you must have a block.
  2. Add knives to your collection as you need them, based on their purpose. Continue to make knives an investment as key kitchen tools that are meant to help you do your cooking better and more efficiently.
  3. Learn to take care of the knives you’ve bought. Either learn how to sharpen them yourself, or have them sharpened professionally once or twice a year, “Because sharp knives are safe knives,” says Miller. And learn how to properly clean and store them to keep them in good working condition.

If you follow this guide and do your own research, you’ll be choosing the best kitchen cutlery like the pros for you or a gift recipient.

How to choose the right kitchen knife? Guide on Choosing the Right Handle

When we decide to buy a kitchen knife, it is nearly always the blade that receives increased attention and scrupulous consideration of all its details, including the manufacturer, quality and hardness of steel, geometry and purpose. Very often we forget that the knife is not only a blade, but also a high-quality, reliable and convenient handle that fits well in the palm of your hand and is pleasant to the touch. After all, it is exactly the handle that is responsible for ergonomics and security, the reliability of grip and the degree of fatigue of your hand when manipulating the knife for quite a while.

Generally, the technology for manufacturing handles and, most importantly, the selection of suitable material for them is not that simple as it may seem. The kitchen knife comes into contact with food, which means that its handle should be both environmentally safe and hygienic. While cooking, we often rinse the knife, which means that its handle should adequately withstand moisture, differential temperature and exposure to detergents. Of course, under no circumstances should the handle fail before the blade does.

In order to knowingly choose and buy the kitchen knife being fully aware of all the nuances, let us elaborate on the handle, what it is, what materials it is made of and which of them are preferable.

How to choose and buy the kitchen knife with a sound handle?

Before you buy the kitchen knife, take a close look at its handle.

The handle is a part of the knife that is integral with the blade. It is typically made of a different material, although there are also all-metal knives. It is designed to support the entire structure of the knife and ensure its easy manipulation. As a rule, it is located in line with the blade, at least for household kitchen tools, although among otherknife varieties there are specimens with inclined or even perpendicular (stop) handles.

The handle consists of:

1. Tang, which we grasp;

2. Spine – an upper part of the handle;

3. Belly – a part of the handle opposite to the spine;

4. Butt – an outermost part of the handle at its end.

The handle is often equipped with guards that perform the protective function and act as the knife’s boss near the blade. They prevent your hand from slipping onto the blade during manipulation. In some cases, a bolster can act as a guard, although it is a separate part (not a part of the handle) that covers the joints between the metal part of the knife and the grip.

The belly is often equipped with finger grooves to improve ergonomics, with the tang featuring convex portions and surface irregularities in the form of dots or ribs. This also increases the grip firmness and prevents the knife from sliding in the palm of your hand.

With a hidden tang, the butt can additionally be equipped with a cap to conceal the nut or rivet at the end of the tang. With a full tang, the handle will reveal rivets.

As regards the handle shape, manufacturers occasionally resort to weird geometries, nevertheless, it is a regular straight shape without expansions and narrowings that is considered the most convenient. It can have an oval, round, rounded rectangular section, or it can even be D-shaped. Conical handles tapering to the blade are also common and have good ergonomics.

Therefore, the handle is not that simple as it may seem. However, being aware of its structure, you can easily pick up the kitchen knife with the most convenient and suitable shape for yourself.

What material is appropriate for the kitchen knife?

Please note that before you buy the kitchen knife, you need first to decide on the material from which the handle is made. There is a great variety of them, will all materials conditionally divided into several groups based on their origin.

Inorganic Materials

In general, this group includes various steels, metals, and their alloys. It is certainly not the most popular material for the handle as it is simply not always advisable due to high price and complexity of metal processing, although such knives are sometimes come across. At various times, bronze, brass, aluminum, nickel, copper, tin, titanium, and cupronickel were used for this purpose.

This group also includes various minerals such as nephrite and obsidian. Knives with such handles can be found even now, but they can hardly be referred to as practical, rather souvenir ones as the material is too expensive, difficult to process and perishable.

Natural Organic Materials of Plant or Animal Origin

This is a comprehensive group of materials, which are now very common for handles. Basically, organic materials of plant origin include different types of wood (from common to rare and fine), bark (for example, birch bark), or burl (burled wood producing handles with an interesting texture).

In turn, organic materials of animal origin include skin of domestic and wild animals, their bones, teeth and tusks, horns and shells. A variety of animals can serve as a source of material – from ordinary pigs or cows to elephants, walruses or turtles/tortoises.

All these materials are certainly environmentally safe and beautificent following processing. However, their value or difficulty of producing trophies sometimes accounts for the sky-high price for the knives with such handles. In addition, these materials do compromise the usability, with them being not that hygienic and moisture resistant, often flammable and prone to rotting, cracking, and fracturing. If you buy a kitchen knife from such material, it will hardly serve you good time.

Except perhaps only for wood, which is impregnated with various compounds to improve its performance characteristics.

Artificial Materials.

This group is not less comprehensive than the previous one. The up-to-date industry has developed a huge number of synthetic materials suitable for the manufacture of handles, and it is simply impossible to list them all. Plastics and synthetic resin, ABS and G-10, fiberglass and rubber, plexiglas and nylon, lavsan and kevlar, TPR and just a myriad of other materials.

Unlike other material types, these materials certainly take the lead since they have excellent performance characteristics and are absolutely safe for humans. They are hygienic, incombustible, moisture resistant and chemically neutral, withstand high temperatures and have no adverse affect on the products. They have low conductivity and ensure a reliable grip and pleasant tactile sensations. They are the most common materials for all knife types manufactured today.

Combined Materials

The combination of different materials in a single handle is not that common and is typically found in piecework production by craftsmen. These products are very beautiful and unique, unleashing the author’s limitless imagination for combining different material types. It can, e.g., be a combination of leather, plexiglas, wood, and plastic, or any other combination.

The strength and usability of such handles will depend largely on the materials being combined. However, it is hardly sensible and economically sound to set up the production of such goods on a commercial scale.

This group can also comprise materials that include both synthetic and natural organic components such as micarta and pakka. Micarta includes textile and cardboard or paper (wood) layers, as well as polymer film and resin binders. Pakka is a wood combined with phenolic resin. Both pakka and micarta feature all the strengths of plastics and are not inferior to wood, bone or any other natural organic material in terms of aesthetics and environmental friendliness.

It is up to you to decide what handle material to choose when buying the kitchen knife; the point is that the handle should be strong, reliable, and durable.

The Amateur Guide to Choosing Your (Next) Chef’s Knife

About three years ago, I got serious about my kitchen tools. I’m not a professional chef, but I spend enough time in the kitchen cooking that I want to be intentional about what I’m using. My focus is on what matters to me: quality, efficiency, and ease-of-use.

The first step I took toward leveling up my kitchen tools was actually buying a highly rated chef’s knife, the 10-inch Classic model from J.A. Henckels. I got it in February 2016 for $58 (now it’s $60, which is notable since it hasn’t dropped in price in more than three years) — that and a 4.5-star average rating speaks volumes to the quality of this knife. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about chef’s knives — also known as multipurpose knives — and what my needs are, putting me yet again in a search for the perfect everyday knife. To begin my search, I consulted some knife experts from knifemaker Sasaki for tips on the basics of choosing my next multipurpose knife.

The Right Steel

You’ve got two basic types of steel to consider for your chef’s knife, the Sasaki knifemakers advised: carbon and stainless steel. Carbon will last longer and stay sharper but requires more maintenance. Stainless steel will dull faster but is easier to maintain and lighter. You’ll usually find language about high-carbon content in a stainless steel blade, which is a good place to start.

Imarku Pro Kitchen 8 Inch Chef’s Knife, $20 at Amazon: Imarku’s best selling chef’s knife has a high-carbon, stainless steel blade. It also has an average rating of 4.3 with more than 1,300 reviews — and it’s going for $20 right now.

Get the Full Tang

You know how some knives you hold show you the blade extending into the handle and sometimes all the way to its bottom edge, sandwiched by the handle itself on either side? That’s a full tang, or a way to denote how far the blade extends into the handle. The more tang, Sasaki’s experts explained, the more strength and balance your knife has (think of the basic concepts of leverage from your last physics class).

Sasaki’s Masuta Chef’s Knife, $60 at Amazon: The full tang of this Amazon’s Choice chef’s knife means you’re getting the most long-lasting balance from its Japanese steel.

Remember This is YOUR Knife

You want to use the knife and test it for a few days to be sure it’s a good fit — your best bet to achieve that is to shop online for your exact needs (filtering by knife length, for example, or even color if style is important) — and find a blade you can return if it’s just not the right fit.

Victorinox 10-Inch Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife, $54 at Amazon: Lightweight and a crowd favorite, the handle of this Chef’s knife is made of thermoplastic elastomer for a non-slip grip that’ll never quit. More than 4,800 reviewers left it a 4.7-star average rating.

Paudin Pro Kitchen Knife 8 Inch Chef’s Knife, $25 at Amazon: From chopping and slicing to mincing and dicing, this knife will do it all. The substantial and ergonomic design of the handle will make it a joy to use. More than 500 reviewers gave it a 4.6-star average rating.

Look for best selling chef’s knives — like the two above examples — to find what works for most people to get a sense of the style and features that many people find valuable. At the end of the day, the best decision-maker for your next chef’s knife is the chef: And that’s you.

Scouted is internet shopping with a pulse. Follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter for even more recommendations and exclusive content. Don’t forget to check to find deals from Macy’s, Walmart, Nordstrom Rack, and more. Please note that if you buy something featured in one of our posts, The Daily Beast may collect a share of sales.

The 12 Best Kitchen Knives You Can Buy in 2019

This definitive guide to the best kitchen knives of 2019 explores everything you need to know to buy your next favorite tool. It covers options at every price point, and it also clarifies which knives are essential and which ones you can cook without.

Quick Links
Best Chef’s Knives

  • Best Affordable Chef’s Knife: Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife
  • Best Western-Style Chef’s Knife: Zwilling J.A. Henckels International Pro 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
  • Best Japanese-Style Chef’s Knife: Global G-2
  • Best Value Chef’s Knife: Made In 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
  • Best Chef’s Knife to Give as a Gift: Korin Special Inox Gyutuo

Best Kitchen Knife Brands

Other Essential Knives

  • Best Bread Knife: Hoffritz Commercial Bread Knife
  • Best Paring Knife: Victorinox 3.25-Inch Spear Point Paring Knife
  • Best Serrated Utility Knife: Wüsthof Classic Serrated Utility Knife

Non-Essential Knives

  • Best Slicer/Carver Knife: Victorinox Fibrox 12-Inch Slicer
  • Best Cheese Knife: Swissmar Cheese Plane
  • Best Oyster Knife: OXO Good Grips Oyster Knife

There is no absolute best kitchen knife for every person. Different budgets, grip styles and aesthetic tastes, not to mention a dozen other micro-decisions, all determine which knife is best for the task at hand.

This guide aims to identify which kitchen knives are most useful, and hopefully, it helps you divorce from overpriced, unnecessarily bulky knife block sets. It also answers age-old questions haunting the kitchen: Do I really need a utility knife? When should I use paring knife? What in the hell does X50CrMoV15 mean? But first, our top recs for the most useful kitchen knives available in 2019.

Best Kitchen Knife for the Money: Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife

The trick to buying a truly affordable chef’s knife is basically just finding a product with the least number of negatives.

In testing, we compared affordable options from Victorinox ($30), Wüsthof ($30), Hoffritz ($25) and Potluck, a direct-to-consumer brand that sell’s a chef’s knife as part of a set (it’s $60 for three knives). Frankly, all affordable chef’s knives handle onions, tomatoes and the breaking down of chickens pretty much the same — they are reasonably sharp out of the box but they will chip with consistent use.

Ultimately, Victorinox’s ultra cheap 8-inch chef’s knife won out, though it too is liable to blade chipping and isn’t the most comfortable to use. But for the price of two movie tickets, there isn’t a knife that performs this well or is as widely available (you can find them in most home goods sections). Also, the handle isn’t as aggressively “ergonomic” as many others in this category, making it a bit easier to switch between knife grips.

Best Japanese Kitchen Knife: Global G-2

Global’s kitchen knives are really weird. Here’s why that’s a good thing.

The design is both Japanese (the blade is very light and very thin) and anti-Japanese (its balance isn’t pushed toward the cutting end and the whole thing is one piece; most Japanese-style knives taper into a wooden handle). This means it has the nice slicing properties you’d expect from a great Japanese knife, but in a much more durable, familiar package. Its stainless steel makeup (exact properties are proprietary) resists staining or corrosion and remains wicked sharp during use.

In testing, we tried comparably-priced MAC knives ($93), Tojiro’s Good Design Award-winning knife ($68) and a few other more premium options, but none balanced the features of a typical Japanese knife with lower maintenance, reasonable prices, edge retention and smart design quite like Global’s G-2.

Best Premium Kitchen Knife: Korin Special Inox Gyutuo

It’s hard to put into words how great this knife is. It is impeccably balanced, gorgeous to look at and scores a high 60 on the Rockwell scale. It slices, chops and glides through anything gracefully and is somehow also fairly corrosion-resistant. It’s made of a slightly altered AUS-10 steel, which is technically a high carbon stainless mix (it carries properties of stainless and carbon steels). Its biggest fault is a penchant for staining, but staining only occurs when not properly cleaned and dried after use.

As nice as it is, though, we don’t recommend everyone runs out and spends $209 on a single knife (for what it’s worth, MAC’s more premium 8-inch chef’s knife is excellent and $60 more affordable than the Korin option). This is a knife you give as a gift to someone who you know will maintain it — maybe yourself.

Best Chef’s Knives

Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife

The trick to buying a truly affordable chef’s knife is basically just finding a product with the least number of negatives.

In testing, we compared affordable options from Victorinox ($30), Wüsthof ($30), Hoffritz ($25) and Potluck, a direct-to-consumer brand that sell’s a chef’s knife as part of a set (it’s $60 for three knives). Frankly, all affordable chef’s knives handle onions, tomatoes and the breaking down of chickens pretty much the same — they are reasonably sharp out of the box but they will chip with consistent use.

Ultimately, Victorinox’s ultra cheap 8-inch chef’s knife won out, though it too is liable to blade chipping and isn’t the most comfortable to use. But for the price of two movie tickets, there isn’t a knife that performs this well or is as widely available (you can find them in most home goods sections). Also, the handle isn’t as aggressively “ergonomic” as many others in this category, making it a bit easier to switch between knife grips.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels International Pro 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

A Western-style knife (sometimes called a German-style knife) is typically going to be heavier and have a thicker blade than a Japanese-style knife. Most Western-style knives sport more defined handle ergonomics as well (more details here). The category of Western-style chef’s knife is very, very large, but after testing two dozen of them, Zwilling’s 8-inch takes the cake. It is a stainless steel knife (the exact properties of the steel are proprietary) that’s stain- and corrosion-resistant. After months of testing, the blade didn’t chip or show signs of dulling in any way.

The largest differentiating factor between Zwilling’s 8-inch and Wüsthof’s highly-recommended forged 8-inch ($125) was the bolster. The Zwilling knife’s bolster fades into the blade less dramatically than the Wüsthof which, when using a pinch grip, was a lot more comfortable. That said, both got on sale fairly frequently and are solid buys.

Global G-2

Global’s kitchen knives are really weird. Here’s why that’s a good thing.

The design is both Japanese (the blade is very light and very thin) and anti-Japanese (its balance isn’t pushed toward the cutting end and the whole thing is one piece; most Japanese-style knives taper into a wooden handle). This means it has the nice slicing properties you’d expect from a great Japanese knife, but in a much more durable, familiar package. Its stainless steel makeup (exact properties are proprietary) resists staining or corrosion and remains wicked sharp during use.

In testing, we tried comparably-priced MAC knives ($93), Tojiro’s Good Design Award-winning knife ($68) and a few other more premium options, but none balanced the features of a typical Japanese knife with lower maintenance, reasonable prices, edge retention and smart design quite like Global’s G-2.

Made In Chef’s Knife

Direct-to-consumer brand Made In started with cookware, which remains its bread and butter, but the brand’s debut chef’s knife (released in 2018) is stellar. The blade is quite big and made with X50CrMoV15 steel (a mixture of carbon, chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, manganese and silicon), which is a staple for high-end Western blades. It is best described as a high-carbon stainless steel, meaning it carries some traits from carbon and stainless steel knives.

On top of this, Made In’s knife rocks a more straight-lined, Japanese-style handle and is finished in nitrogen. A better explanation is available courtesy of Knife Steel Nerds, but this essentially makes the blade far less susceptible to chipping. Finally, it easily worked through any and all cutting tasks we put it through.

We were also impressed with Material Kitchen’s knife ($75). Its blade is a bit smaller and it’s thinner and lighter than Made In’s, but it was a bit more prone to staining.

Korin Special Inox Yo-Deba

It’s hard to put into words how great this knife is. It is impeccably balanced, gorgeous to look at and scores a high 60 on the Rockwell scale. It slices, chops and glides through anything gracefully and is somehow also fairly corrosion-resistant. It’s made of a slightly altered AUS-10 steel, which is technically a high carbon stainless mix (it carries properties of stainless and carbon steels). Its biggest fault is a penchant for staining, but staining only occurs when not properly cleaned and dried after use.

As nice as it is, though, we don’t recommend everyone runs out and spends $209 on a single knife (for what it’s worth, MAC’s more premium 8-inch chef’s knife is excellent and $60 more affordable than the Korin option). This is a knife you give as a gift to someone who you know will maintain it — maybe yourself.

10 Knives World-Class Chefs Can’t Cook Without

All-purpose chef’s knives, single-focus slicing tools and everything in between. Read the Story

How to buy the best kitchen knives

We don’t know why anyone would want to slice up a tin can, but if you really wanted to you’d need to follow our advice on choosing a good knife for the job. After all, using the right tool on the chopping board could mean the difference between perfectly cut carrot sticks and a missing fingertip.

On this page:

  • Find the right knife for your hands
  • The ways of making knives
  • What to look for
  • Types of knives
  • Looking after your knife
  • Cost

Find the right knife for your hands

While it matters how well a knife cuts and how sharp it is, knives are really a personal choice. You need to find one that feels comfortable in your hand.

A good knife should have:

  • a comfortable, decent sized, non-slip grip handle
  • good balance
  • a nice curve on the blade.

Maggie Beer, author of Maggie’s Harvest and star of the ABC TV show The Cook and the Chef, says feel and balance are what she looks for in a knife. “It has to feel good as soon as you put it in your hand. If a knife feels right you can get to the stage where it truly becomes an extension of your arm rather than just a kitchen tool.”

The ways of making knives

There are actually two ways of making knives, so let’s start there.

Forged knives

Forged knives are made from a single piece of steel that’s been heated, moulded, hardened, tempered and then ground into a cutting edge. They often have a better feel and balance, and a heavier blade which is good for cutting tougher foods. They are also often the most expensive.

Stamped knives

Stamped knives are machine-stamped out of a piece of steel and then ground, polished and honed. One-piece seamless knives are also stamped, but the blade and handle are all metal, in one piece. Stamped knives are often lighter than forged knives, which can suit some people better.

Forged knives are often said to be better than stamped knives, but CHOICE tests found this isn’t necessarily so. Base your decision on how the knife feels for you.

What to look for

Balance

A well-balanced knife with a good curve on the blade allows it to roll all the way to the tip when cutting.

Comfort

This comes down to preference and whether you’re right- or left-handed, so try the knives before buying.

Safety

A knife that sits on its back exposing the blade isn’t a safe option, particularly for little hands.

A full tang

No, not the flavour! It’s the metal that extends from the blade into the handle. A tang that runs all the way through the knife handle gives a stronger connection between handle and blade, and can contribute to better balance, meaning an easier cut.

Types of knives

While cooks’ knives get a lot of things done, others are designed for specific jobs – like paring, carving and filleting. If you want these, it may be worth investing in a set as this is usually cheaper and more convenient than buying them separately. Here are some of the more common knife types that you might find in a set.

The picture shows, from left to right:

Paring knife

This little knife is handy for peeling and trimming fruit, potatoes and other vegetables.

Filleting knife

Good for removing skin from fish, butterflying meats and precise work with raw meat, fish or chicken.

Carving knife

This knife usually has a longer blade but isn’t as deep as a chef’s knife. The longer blade is good for slicing wider joints, such as cooked ham.

Chef’s or cook’s knife

This knife is very versatile and can handle a wide variety of foods and textures.

Utility or all-purpose knife

Similar to the paring knife but with a longer blade; it’s good for small, everyday cutting jobs.

Honing steel

To keep a good, fine cutting edge on your knives.

Bread knife

The serrated edge of this knife helps cut through a loaf of bread without squashing it.

Pull-apart shears

Kitchen shears are good for cutting chicken around the bones, the shears can also be used for cutting herbs or snipping bacon into pieces. They generally pull apart for easy cleaning and are handy for most kitchen jobs, including opening packaging.

Looking after your knife

Once you’ve got a knife that works for you it’s important to take good care of it.

Use a chopping board that’s softer than the knife blade, such as wood or plastic, to avoid blunting or getting nicks in the blade.

Knives need to be sharpened from time to time to keep their cutting edge fine. While stone sharpening is the best method, you can also use honing steels or pull-through sharpeners. Eventually, though, they’ll need to be professionally sharpened. Most good cookware shops offer this service.

Keep your knives clean and store them in a knife block, or use a guard to protect the blade from being knocked and chipped if they’re in a drawer. Don’t leave food to dry on the blade, as some foods contain acid that can permanently stain it.

Hand wash your knives. Some manufacturers claim their products are ‘dishwasher-safe’ but they still recommend hand washing. Somedetergents can be too harsh so if you want to be on the safe side, hand washing is the way to go.

Cost

Cook’s knives (size 18cm to 21cm) cost $10 to over $300.