What Are the Parts of a Knife? Know Your Knife Anatomy

Jason Webster
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The different parts of a kitchen knife

A knife is an essential tool for the kitchen. Knowing the different parts of a knife is the first step in understanding how to use it.

The anatomy of a kitchen knife is quite straightforward.

The point and tip

These refer to the parts of the knife located at the end of the blade. You’ll find them on many types of kitchen knives (such as chef’s, paring, and bread knives). Depending on the knife, the point is either the well-defined, sharply pointed tip of the blade or a rounded protrusion where the edge comes to a point.

The point and tip are useful when you need precision control over the knife, such as when you are making a small cut or carving intricate designs.

The edge

The blade, which is the part that comes in contact with the ingredients you are trying to slice. Some blades are single-beveled, meaning they are sharpened on one side only, while others offer a double-beveled edge, which means that the blade is sharpened on both the front and the back of the blade.

The edge is commonly made of high carbon steel, which is much more rust-resistant than stainless steel. But, on the downside, it requires more maintenance as well. Steel is a very hard material and can deliver cut after cut with little or no break-in period.

Blades are usually long but there are shorter versions available; check out finesse knives if you don’t like the cumbersomeness of long blades.

Blades can be round or hollow-ground. Hollow-ground blades, as the name implies, have a concave surface. A hollow-ground blade has a finer edge, more precise slicing and an easy-to-clean surface.

A round edge, on the other hand, is easier to sharpen but does not hold the edge as long. Blades are commonly made with Western handles that have a round indentation at the butt of the handle.

There are two basic knife blade shapes: ¾ and ¼.

The spine and the heel

Spine is a term used to describe the strongest part of a blade which you will see at the end of the knife opposite from the sharp edge. The spine is not sharpened and is used to help control the knife when applying pressure at the sharp edge. The knife’s spine is made different so it can withstand impact when used for tasks such as hammer blows, prying, and crushing.

The heel is the first flat part of the blade opposite to the cutting edge. It is also unsharpened. The heel is not too thick and, in most cases, it is ground or whittled away to help deliver a clear snap when cutting.

The bolster

Is that wide part of the blade on the bottom, near the handle. To be clear, the bolster is the metal between the blade itself and the handle. This is where the tang of the knife (the metal inside the handle of the knife that attaches to the blade) is inserted and locked into place with the use of a pommel.

All-purpose kitchen knives typically have bolsters. This adds more strength to the knife so that it can be used to do heavier tasks.

You may also see the bolster referred to as the bolsterplate. There’s a good reason for this. A bolster plate is a single piece of metal that spans the entire width of the knife. You will often see the bolster plate on high quality knives.

A bolster is considered the strongest part of the knife because it really adds support for the blade. Consistent with how it looks, the bolster typically has the most weight to it.

It is the strongest part of the knife because it is firmly holding in place the tang of the blade.

Some bolsters are just a single piece of metal, but some have a steel spine that runs through the middle.

The handle

The knife handle is the grip portion of the knife. It is used to hold the knife and can be made from different types of material.

Materials made for handles are: Ivory, horn, coco, bone, antler, and wood.

Handle grips are made with different textures, shapes, and lengths.

Some handles have a guard to minimize mishaps in a kitchen setting.

The most common form of knife handle is known as the bolster, which has a large hump or protrusion behind the cutting edge that reduces the likelihood of the user cutting themselves while using the knife.

Knives that have bolsters are ideal for butchery. This is because the bolster reduces the likelihood of the blade slipping while working.

There are several methods of holding the knife while using a bolster type handle.

Your first method is to hold the knife on the bolster itself and using it the same way you would one that doesn’t have a bolster. The problem is that the bolster makes it harder to control the blade, thus reducing your control and chopping ability.

The second method is to place your thumb between the bolster and blade. This allows you to hold the knife like a standard blade and have better control, but it can be uncomfortable.

The handle fasteners

The handle is probably the most important part of a knife especially when you are going about your business. For this reason, you should have the key screws tightened periodically to prevent them from coming loose.

The most vulnerable screws are usually the ones in the butt in the middle of the handle.

There are three types of handle fasteners:

(i) The tang:

This is the most common. It is a metal part of the blade that extends from the handle.

(ii) The pinned tang:

This is sometimes confused with the tang. The difference is that the pinned tang has a piece of metal running through the middle of the handle to keep it from splitting.

(iii) The concealed tang:

A concealed tang blade is not visible from the outside. It is mostly just a piece of metal hidden in the handle. The blade was sometimes called hidden tang.

The tang

Is the bottom part of the blade, which can be seen in the handle or guard body. It fits perfectly into a hole through the blade’s handle. In other words, it is the part of the blade that extends into the handle.

The butt

The butt is the bottom rear part of the knife. It is usually bigger than the average handle and often made of metal. This allows the knife to be driven into the ground. The butt is also useful as a makeshift hammer or for hitting something.

Fixed Blade vs. Folding Knives

When you think of a knife, you imagine a blade attached to a handle with the blade attached to the handle with a pin.

Now, we get into different types of knives based on the different parts and where the blade is attached to the handle:

Fixed Blade Knives – A fixed blade knife has a one-piece handle, which means that the blade is a permanent part of the knife. A fixed blade knife has either a full tang or a partial tang. A partial tang is where the blade of the knife is not as straight up and down as a full tang. A full tang knife has the entire blade a part of the handle. The partial tang is what you see on a survival knife.

Folding Knives – The folding knife has one-piece handle but the blade is not a part of the handle. The blade is attached to the handle by means of a pivot pin.

One type of folding knife has the handle made in one piece, but it is spread open with the hinge on one side of the blade. In the other type, the hinge is right in front of the blade.

There are also a variety of folding knives, including pocket knives, hunting knives, combat knife.

Synthetic Handles and Exclusive Steel

The handles of a knife come in a variety of materials including wood, plastic, cloth, G-10 composite and others. The most common materials are synthetic and steel.

What knives do I need to BBQ with?

Most people have in their homes and kitchens a chef knife. But did you know that a chef knife is actually just one of the many types of knives in the kitchen? Most people also probably don’t know that each type of knife has its own use.

A good knife is an investment for you and your home. Today you can find a plethora of brands, styles, shapes, sizes, and prices to choose from.

A wide variety of knives can be used to prepare meat, fish, vegetarian meals, or desserts. Having two or three different good quality knives that you can use to perform slicing, dicing, peeling, chopping, mincing, or even serving, will definitely make your life in the kitchen a lot easier.

Always keep your kitchen knives sharp. Do a search on how to keep them sharp. Take good care of your knives. Don’t store them in your sink, or worse, in the dishwasher. Wash them by hand and dry them immediately after to prevent dulling the quality of the blade.

If you’re serious about cooking, consider having a sharpening tool or take your knife to a knife shop for sharpening. Some of them even offer knife care classes.

The boning knife

Boning knives are long, thin and flexible. They are used for cutting and trimming meat. Commonly used for cutting or removing bones of poultry and large quantities of meat, this is possibly the most-used knife by professional butchers.

The utility knife: these are the knives of choice if you want to become a knife enthusiast or a chef. The utility knife is larger than the santoku or parer. It is a multipurpose knife and can be used for vegetable prep, butchering or cutting meat and you can even peel with them.

The paring knife: these are small knives, the ones you see chefs using. They’re used for cutting, carving, peeling and garnishing.

The serrated knife: this is great for slicing and cutting bread, rolls and cakes.

The cleaver: now this is just a special knife. It is heavy and has a wide blade. It is used for chopping or hacking through bones and joints.

But there are also chisels, fillet knives, boning knives, carving knives, and steak knives among other specialized knives.

The Slicing Knife

An 8-inch, or 20 cm, sashimi knife is ideal for slicing sashimi.

This knife is specially designed for slicing delicate food such as fish and vegetables. The thin and sharp blade allows you to slice through these ingredients with minimal pressure and without bruising them.

The sashimi knife is longer and thinner than the slicing knife, with a blade length of more than 10 inches. Slicing knives with blades longer than 10 inches are more suited for slicing meat.

Other specialty knives are designed for peeling and chopping.

The chef’s knife

Is the most versatile of all kitchen knives. It has a wide blade that is ideal for slicing, dicing and chopping fruits, vegetables, herbs and other ingredients. A chef knife’s blade is generally 6 inches to 8 inches long and is most often made of forged steel. The bolster between the blade and the handle is essential for balance and stability and the middle of the knife is designed to be a rocking blade.

You might not think that a chef knife needs special care, but it does.

It’s always a good idea to hand wash the knife to remove stubborn dirt or residue. Dry the knife well before putting it away.

The handle shouldn’t get wet so be sure to wipe it dry if it gets wet.

After use, wipe the blade clean and stow in a knife block or roll it up in a towel.

For more tips on knife safety, check out our story on the Top 5 Tips for Properly Storing, Nurturing and Maintanning your Knives.

Another essential knife to have in your kitchen is the paring knife. It is small enough to cut small fruits, vegetables and garnishes but strong enough to easily slice into a whole chicken.

A pitmaster’s best friend

Apart from being a valuable tool in the kitchen, a good quality kitchen knife is a must have for any pitmaster out there. It is advisable to get some tips on choosing the right knife from both professional chefs and knife experts before hitting the kitchen.

Knife Anatomy

  • Blade: A good quality kitchen knife has a sharp blade designed for effortless cutting of various ingredients. Apart from its main function, the blade also acts as a guide to control the amount of food that can be cut at one time.
  • Tang: The tang is the part of the knife where the blade and handle join together. It goes all the way to the end of the handle. A good quality kitchen knife has a full tang. A full tang knife is generally heavy duty and helps hold the blade in place. Some knives are made to thin and have no tang at all, which is not the best idea.
  • Handle: The handle is the part of the knife where we keep our hands on and control the knife. Materials used to make the handle can be wood, plastic, or anything else if required. It’s important, however, that the material used is able to or comfortable for holding.

Smoking Times and Temperatures Chart

How long do you smoke different meats in your smoker? What temperature do you cook it at? This chart lists the recommended smoking times and temperatures for a variety of meats.

I’ve used this chart to smoke a lot of meat and to nail down my own personal favorites. But always remember that smoking times and temperatures are a guideline.

Humidity levels, personal preference and many other factors affect the amount of time a piece of meat needs to be in the smoker.

This smoking chart is a fantastic starting point for new BBQ enthusiasts. But don’t be afraid to experiment with different temperatures and time to find what you like best.

Tip! Make sure to read my article on best BBQ smoking temperature.