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Kitchen Knives – An Overview


When working in a kitchen, many different types of knives are used for different tasks. The metal that a knife is made of is important, since the metal must be able to take and hold a very fine edge.

1. Carbon Steel – this is the traditional favorite because it can be sharpened to an extremely sharp edge. Its disadvantages are that it corrodes and discolors easily, especially when used with acidic foods and onions. It even discolors some foods (such as hard-cooked eggs) and can leave a metallic taste.
2. Stainless Steel – This type of steel will not rust or corrode, but it is much harder to sharpen.
3. High-Carbon Stainless Steel – This alloy combines the best aspects of carbon steel and stainless steel. It takes and edge almost as well as carbon steel, and it wont rust, corrode or discolor. Knives made of this material are relatively expensive.


The tang is the portion of the metal blade that is inside the handle. The best-quality, most durable knives have a full tang, meaning that the tang runs the full length of the handle through to the end of the knife.

You will need to know how to identify these 7 aspects of the knife


The French or Chef Knife

1. French or Chef’s Knife – most common knife used in the kitchen; used for chopping, slicing, dicing and so on. Blade length of 10 inches is most popular for general work. Larger knives are heavy for cutting and chopping.

The Salad Knife - plastic won't discolor the tender leaves

2. Utility or Salad Knife – Narrow pointed knife 6-8 inches long. Used mostly for pantry work, cutting and preparing lettuce, fruits and so on.

The Paring Knife

3. Paring Knife – Small pointed blade about 2-4 inches long. Used for paring and trimming vegetables and fruits.

The Boning Knife

4. Boning Knife – Thin, pointed blade about 6 inches long. Used for boning raw meats and poultry.

The Carving Knife - longer than a Chef knife, skinnier and bends easier

5. Slicer – Long, slender flexible blade up to 14 inches long. Used for carving and slicing cooked meats.

The Bread Knife

6. Serrated Slicer – Slicer with serrated edge. Used for cutting breads, cakes and similar items.

The Butcher Knife - rounder than a cleaver

7. Butcher Knife – Heavy, broad, slightly curved blade. Used for cutting, sectioning, and trimming raw meats in a the butcher chop.

The Scimitar or Steak Knife

8. Scimitar or Steak Knife – Curved pointed blade. Used for accurate cutting of steaks.

The Cleaver - flater than the butcher knife

9. Cleaver – Very heavy, broad blade. Used for cutting through bones when butchering meats and chicken.

The Oyster Knife

10. Oyster Knife – Short, rigid, blunt knife with a dull edge. Used for opening oysters.

Clam Knife - smaller than an oyster knife

11. Clam Knife – Short, rigid, knife with a slight edge. Used for opening clams.

A vegetable peeler - don't you wish they were all monkey peelers?!

12. Vegetable Peeler – Short tool with slotted, swiveling blade. Used for peeling vegetables and fruits.

A Steel - for honing, not sharpening a knife

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