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Parts of a Knife Explained

Parts of a Knife Explained

Knives are used every day in kitchens all over the world. It does not matter whether you are a professional chef or home cook or a newcomer to the kitchen knives are everything.

They are the essential tool in the kitchen.

There are several differences in the size, blade type, and materials used to craft the knife.

However, whether they cost $10 or $300, all kitchen knives generally have the same components and are constructed using a standard process.

Why Are There So Many Kinds of Knives?

Many individuals have often wondered why there are so many different kitchen knives.

This question is particularly true for those persons who have had the daunting task of looking for knives for the kitchen.

The hunt for a knife can be very overwhelming to decide which types or how many knives you need.

Furthermore, the fact that there are so many knives all with different shapes and sizes can overcomplicate the process of choosing a knife.

The reason why there are so many different knives lies in their origin.

Knives are created based on the demands of the cuisine of the region it originates from.

For example, fish is a staple element of Japanese cuisine. Therefore, chef knives are crafted in a way that maximizes their potential for carving fish.

In contrast, German knives are the ideal choice for cutting meats such as pork or beef, which are a large part of Continental cuisine.

Furthermore, the material used to construct the blades of the knife can differ in certain regions.

For example, Japanese knives are usually produced from high carbon steel, while European knives are made from flexible steel.

On the other hand, there are also kitchen knives that are crafted for specialized tasks.

For example, carving knives are specifically designed to slice whole roasts or birds and make slicing meats a cinch.

Santoku knives are perfect for cutting fish, vegetables, and poultry and are the ideal knife for most Japanese home cooks.

Pairing knives are specifically designed to peel and cut fruits and vegetables with precision.

Bottom Line
In general, as long as new cuisines or dishes are emerging, there will always be innovative knives emerging.

Parts of the Knife

Every component of the modern knife comes from a long history of bladesmithing that started in the ancient era when swords were the weapon of choice.

Many modern knives still carry some of the same names used to describe a sword as well as their functions. These are the most common parts of the knife.

Cutting Edge

The cutting edge of the blade has been tapered into an extremely thin point. This part of the knife is designed for cutting and slicing.

Unfortunately, as we can all attest, the cutting edge becomes dull every time it is used and has to sharpen from time to time.

Since sharpness is the determining quality between a great knife and a basic knife, manufacturers use top-notch steel as well as tried and tested traditional crafting methods and computerized sharpening tools to create the blade.

Harder steels, such as high carbon steel, retain a sharper edge than softer steel. For this reason, forged blades have a sharper edge than stamped blades.

In addition to this, there are seven ways the blade may be ground. Each method gives the blade a different shape and cutting edge.

This process creates knives that are better suited to various tasks.

Blade Styles

The blades of the knife can also have different styles. Are usually three different kinds of blade styles: straight, scalloped or Granton, and serrated blades.

Straight bladers are the common everyday kitchen knives. In fact, 90% of all kitchens knives are straight knives. As the name implies, they have a straight blade.

In contrast, scalloped blades, also known as Granton blades, are scalloped along the sides of the blade. However, these blades still have a straight edge.

Scalloped blades are designed to slice through firm foods without the food clinging to the knife. As a result, these kinds of blades are less likely to ruin the appearance of the food.

Lastly, serrated blades closely resemble a saw’s blade. Though they are most commonly used to slice bread, serrated edge knives can also be used to cut tomatoes or even steak.


The back or spine of a knife is the thicker blunter edge of the knife.

The back’s thickness helps you to have a steady grip on the knife as you chop or slice your foods.

Chef knives and cleavers tend to have thicker spines that add weight and make it easier to cut large foods.


The heel of the base of the knife gives you more control over the knife when you are using the tip of the knife.

In addition, the heel allows the blade to cut through tough foods such as chicken bone joint, sweet potato, pumpkin, or rutabaga.


A knife’s bolster is the thick metal segment in between the blade and the handle. In past times, bolsters were only featured on forged blades.

However, today some producers add bolsters to machine-stamped blades.

Bolsters are designed to give a knife balance and stability in addition to providing ease of use and a comfortable grip.

Knives can either have a full bolster or half bolster.

Full bolsters extend from the intersection of the handle and run all the way to the blade’s heel. Knives with a full bolster are heavy and durable.

In addition to this, they also give you an extra layer of protection between the blades cutting edge and your fingers.

The drawback of full bolsters is they make it much more challenging to utilize the entire length of the blade.

On the other hand, half bolsters integrate smoothly into the heel of the knife. Half bolsters are also known as semi or sloped bolsters.

This kind of bolster also gives you precision and a comfortable grip.

You can also use the entire blade if it has a half bolster. In addition, the blade will also be much easier to clean.


The shoulder is the section of the knife where the blade thickens and joins to the handle. The shoulder prevents chopped foods from moving back towards your hand as they pile up on your cutting board.


The tang is the segment of the blade that stretches into the handle. Good quality knives usually have a full tang.

A knife with a full tang features a tang that is the same shape as the handle so that it fits like a glove. The tang is usually molded or riveted to the handle.

A full tang also gives you a knife that is strong, sturdy, and balanced. Most experts believe that knives with a full tang feature the strongest blade design.

In contrast, a partial tang stretches partially into the handle of the knife. Therefore, knives with a partial tang are not as durable as knives with a full tang.

Furthermore, partial tangs are used for delicate knives.


The butt of the knife is just as it sounds the back portion of the knife.

The butt can be clearly identified on knives that have a full and riveted handle as the tang is visible at the butt between both pieces of the handle.


Scales are the materials used to make the handle. Handles can either be fabricated from natural or synthetic elements. Wooden handles are the traditional material.

However, even though they are beautiful, they are not antibacterial like plastic handles.

On the other hand, specialized polymer knife handles give you the feel of wood. However, these handles are durable and very easy to maintain.


The point is the region where the spine and edge collide at the front of the knife. Pairing knives are the only kind of knife that requires you to use the point to cut food.

Larger knives utilize the length of the blade to cut foods.

Fresh Raw Meat With A Butcher Knife.

Types of Knives

As mentioned above, there are different kinds of knives that all serve different purposes. Therefore, knowing the differences between these knives will automatically boost your cooking skills.

Chef’s Knife

The chef knife is one of the most popular knives. It is a versatile blade that is a kitchen must-have. Chef knives are perfect for chopping vegetables, herbs, and fruit.

In addition to this, you can use a chef knife to cut foods such as fish, meat, and poultry. Chef knives are usually 8-10 inches long.

Chef knives also have a blade that curves at the tip.

For this reason, chef knives are not the ideal knife for peeling small foods like potatoes since the blade is too big to give you a precision cut.

Chef knives are also not suited to carve meats.

Santoku Knife

Like the chef knife, the santoku knife is also a popular choice. With a straight blade and small imprints ingredients, you are cutting will easily slide off the blade.

In addition to this, santoku knives are also perfect for chopping or mincing foods and slicing cheese. Moreover, you can use this knife for any tasks you would use a chef knife for.

Carving Knife

Carving knives are designed to cut large slices of meat. They are the ideal knife fr carving whole roasted chicken or turkey, beef, or pork.

The narrow knife is designed to give you more precision, and some knives have impressions that create clean, smooth slices.

Bread Knife

Bread knives are to the kitchen as gas is to a car. Most kitchens have at least one bread knife.

The identifying feature of a bread knife is the lone serrated-edged blade.

Bread knives will seamlessly cut through crusty and soft bread without decimating the shape of the bread and turning it into a pile of crumbs.

You can also use bread knives to cut baked goods such as cake or slicing fruits such as melons and tomatoes.

Utility Knife

Utility knives are not quite chef knives, but they are not pairing knives either. Utility knives are smaller than a chef knife but not as small as a paring knife.

Utility knives are best used for tasks such as cutting small or medium vegetables and meat. In addition to this, a serrated utility knife can also be used to cut sandwiches.

On the other hand, straight-edged utility knives are ideal for peeling foods, but you should use a pairing knife if you have one.

Boning Knife

Boning knives are used for deboning pieces of meat or fish. In addition to this, boning knives are also maximized to reduce waste during the deboning process.

Boning knives have a flexible barrow blade that tapers out into a pointed tip.

These knives can easily slice through connective tissues and joints that another type of knife cannot.

As a general deboning rule, cut around the bone rather than slicing through them.

Paring Knife

Similar to how you should not judge a book by its cover, you should not judge a knife by its side.

Though paring knives are small, they feature a sharp, thin blade optimized for slicing, mincing, chopping, or removing seeds from fruits and vegetables.

However, paring knives should not be used for cutting large pieces of meat. Pairing knives can also feature a straight or a serrated blade.

Tourné Knife

Tourne knives are a special kind of paring knife that has a short curved blade. Torne knives resemble a bird’s beak.

Since tourne knives are rounded, they are perfect for cutting round ingredients or creating round shapes.

Chinese Cleaver

Chinese cleavers are a large knife that boasts a rectangular blade. Cleaversserve several different functions, but it is most often used to cut through bones.

In addition to this, the flat side of a cleaver can also be used to crush garlic cloves, making it easier to remove the peel. Cleavers are also perfect for cutting vegetables or slicing meat for stir-fries.

Cleavers can also be bought in different sizes or weights, giving you the option to buy a cleaver that fits your needs.

However, proceed with caution when using a cleaver, as they can be dangerous if they are not used properly.

Final Thoughts

Like the ancient warriors, every chef or home cook needs a trusty knife to whip up delicious meals in the kitchen.

Now that you know the basic construction of a knife and the most common types of knives, you can confidently prepare meals.