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Kitchen Knives: 4 Must Know Tips

Updated on December 15, 2012

The Kitchen Knife: What to look for when you buy.

Most people would agree that the best cooks and chefs are the ones know how to use their kitchen knife. Part of knowing how to use it is knowing what to look for when you buy any kitchen or chef knife.

Here we will outline the four main tips for discovering how to select the right kitchen knife for you. Once you have this information you will be able to make a better decision about purchasing kitchen knives that suit your needs.

The four tips are:

How are Kitchen knives made?

Different varieties of the chef knife.

The uses of the kitchen knife.

What are the best brands of chef knives to buy?

Chef Knives: How they are Made.

Stamped vs. Forged

The quality of the knife you use is also important. The key to selecting a good quality knife is to know its made. A good stainless steel knife will be forged out of one piece of metal and the handle will be attached on both sides of the tang. This is a key point to remember when buying chef knives.

Forging is the term for shaping metal using compression. It is the desired way to mark quality in knife making.

Stamping is a method similar to cookie cutting the shape of the knife from a sheet of metal. The stamping variety of chef knives are typically of less quality and less durable than the more stronger forged technique.

The Main Varieties of the Kitchen Knife

Different knives for different uses

When looking for kitchen knives that are on sale, you need to know the different varieties of kitchen knives and their uses. There are many different kinds of knives for a variety of uses. For example, a paring knife will not do the same job cutting or trimming a beef tenderloin.

Here is a quick list of the main types of Chef Knives:

The French Knife or Chef's Knife:

This is the most frequently used knife in the kitchen, for general purpose chopping, slicing, dicing and so forth. The blade is wide at the heel and tapers to a point. They are available commonly in 8", 10", and 12" lengths. I prefer the 12" length because you can have more control over the movement of the knife and still not work your hands to death as in the 8" and 10" versions.

Paring Knife:

Smaller knife with a 2 to 2 1/2" pointed blade. This knife is used for trimming and paring vegetables and fruits. I use mine for garnishing work, making roses from tomato peels, or delicate fruit carvings, and sometimes just peeling potatoes.

The Boning Knife:

This knife comes in two varieties: Stiff and flexible. The knives are usually about 6" long and used for cutting and trimming raw meats and poultry. The flexible ones are used for lighter work like filleting fish.

The Slicer:

Typically a long slender, flexible blade that is up to 14" in length. This is used for slicing or carving roasted meats such as leg of lamb, turkey, or roast of beef. It also comes in a serrated variety that is used to slice breads and cakes.

The Steel:

This is not a knife itself, but it is the most important tool you will use to care for your knives. It tunes in the sharpness of the knife and maintains the edges. They can be purchased to match the handle of your Chef's knife. I purchased a Wusthof to match my French Knife.

What are Chef Knives used for?

Cutting things obviously.

The obvious things a kitchen knife is used for is cutting. But again, what type of cutting do you want to accomplish. Different types of cuts require different knives.

For example:

To dice an onion or green pepper you would use the chefs knife for better control of the cut. As stated above, for more controlled cuts as in garnish creation a paring knife would be used. And, a boning or filet knife would be used to remove skin and fat from fish or beef tenderloins.

Thanks for viewing this lens. I would love to have you sign the guestbook with any feedback or comments on your favorite chef knife or technique of using kitchen knives.

Comment on Kitchen Knives - What is your favorite Brand of Chef Knife

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    • anne mohanraj profile image

      anne mohanraj 4 years ago

      Very informative! Great lens!

    • thegrayrabbit profile image

      thegrayrabbit 4 years ago

      @KimGiancaterino: My pleasure, and thanks for stopping by.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 4 years ago

      We have the same Henckels set you show in your intro. They're excellent knives and the steak set comes in very handy. Thanks for the history and tips!

    • thegrayrabbit profile image

      thegrayrabbit 4 years ago

      @ajgodinho: I am glad this lens helped. Thanks again for stopping by.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Good to learn more about knives. I will be buying some knives this week so this info came in handy for me...thanks!

    • senditondown profile image

      Senditondown 4 years ago from US

      Always wanted a good chef's knife. Maybe one day I'll get one.

    • thegrayrabbit profile image

      thegrayrabbit 4 years ago

      @WriterJanis2: Yes its like any tool to do a job. Without good ones, its hard to have a good product.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      It really helps to have some good kitchen knives.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      It really helps to have some good kitchen knives.

    • thegrayrabbit profile image

      thegrayrabbit 4 years ago

      @Melissa Miotke: You are right Cutco knives are good and some models are expensive. Sorry you didn't see the lens sooner, as my bio states I slacked off of squidoo for awhile but now I'm back in full force. Thanks again for stopping by.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 4 years ago from Arizona

      I wish I had seen this before we bought our last set. We spent a good deal of money for it but have never been happy. I recently bought a Cutco chef's knife which is excellent but an entire set would be extremely expensive.

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 4 years ago

      Kitchen Knives are something I always need.

    • thegrayrabbit profile image

      thegrayrabbit 4 years ago

      @GregoryMoore: That is the brand I prefer. Thanks for stopping by.

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 4 years ago from Louisville, KY

      I got my wife a Wusthof set for Christmas. We're not pros by any means, but it has been a pretty decent set.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 8 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Great tips! I wish I'd had this information back when I bought knives last - the bleepity bleep things came apart and almost cut off my finger!

    • profile image

      jt5280 8 years ago

      nice lens