Shopping for a kitchen knife is always a challenge with all the many options available, but it can be even more difficult if you don’t understand the important terminology and descriptors of each knife. The Kitchen Knife Glossary can help you better understand this terminology.
The following is a list of key kitchen knife shopping terms, attributes, descriptions, and other definitions that will help you better understand kitchen knives to make informed decision. The Kitchen Knife Glossary is sorted alphabetically.
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Blade – The main knife body which includes the point, tip, edge, spine, and heel. The blade is the most important part of the knife and is normally defined by size, shape, and material.
Bolster – The think band that joins the knife blade to the handle. The bolster provides balance to the knife, and it also helps protect the hand from the knife’s edge.
Butt – The back end of the knife’s handle.
Forged – A forged knife blade is made of a single bar of steel that is heated and pounded into shape. There can be multiple iterations of the this process to bring the blade to the correct shape. Although this is normally done by an experienced bladesmith, many manufactures use robots and machines to forge their blades.
Example: J.A Henckels International Chef’s Knife
Full Tang – See Tang
Grip – How the knife is held. This does not refer to the handle. Common grip styles are: Hammer Grip, Pinch Grip, Point Grip.
Heel – The back end part of the blade near the handle. It is the widest part of the blade. The heel is used to cut harder ingredients since it pivot points provides the most leverage of the knife.
Hone – Most often referred to as sharpening; however, honing a knife’s edge usually does not remove metal from the knife like sharpening. A knife steel or honing rod is used to straighten the micro-teeth of the knife’s blade.
Partial Tang – See Tang
Stamped – This is where the blade is “stamped” or cut out from a large sheet of steel. Once the blade is cut out, it is further processed for durability and sharpened to add the cutting edge.
Example: Victorinox Fibrox Chefs Knife
Spine – The part of the blade that is opposite the edge. It is the thickest part of the blade. It can be used to apply pressure when using certain cutting techniques.
Tang – The part that extends from the blade into the handle. When the tang extend the end of the handle it is called a full tang, and when the tang extend only part of the way through the handle it is called a partial tang.
Tip – The first third of the knife which includes the point of the knife, and is used for precise and delicate cuts.