A surgeon wouldn’t go into an operating room without knowing every function and detail of the tools he or she would be using to perform delicate surgery, right? Why would someone who needs precision tools in the professional kitchen do any differently?
Knives are the most commonly used tool in the kitchen that we often tend to underestimate. We expect them to cut with ease and once the job is finished, we don’t pay much more attention to them until we need them again.
Most people don’t realize the importance of learning about the construction and functions of their knife nor the importance of being able to identify the various knife parts.
Let’s take a look at the Superior Culinary Master™ Masterpiece Forged Series 8″ Chef’s Knife as an example. It’s quite easy to say “the blade is on the left and the handle is on the right”. The truth is, both of these parts can be further broken down into their own parts. Let’s dig in deeper at some of the proper terminology that should be used which will help you get to know your knife a little bit better.
The tip is the forward part of the knife (the first third of the blade) that also includes the knife point. Since it is the lightest part of a knife, the tip is most often used for detailed or delicate cutting tasks such as juliennes or to dice soft fruits or vegetables.
The edge is the cutting part of the blade which goes from the most forward point (the tip) to the heel of the knife. This is the part of the knife that does most of the work such as cutting, chopping and dicing.
The spine is the top of the knife blade, opposite to the knife edge. The spine on a forged knife (image above) will usually be thicker than the rest of the blade. Because of its thickness and weight, the spine can be used to crush garlic quickly.
The heel is the rear part of the edge closest to the handle (back third of the blade). Since it is thicker and heavier, it is commonly used for heavier work such as cutting through thick skin.
The bolster is the raised thick part between the blade and the handle. The bolster usually distinguishes the knife as fully forged. The bolster acts as a guard providing safety, balance, sturdiness, and comfort. Beware of companies that manufacture knives with an imitation bolster as these knives are invariably of inferior quality compared against a “one piece Hot Drop Forged” knife.
THE handle scales
The scales are the part of the knife that create the handle. The scales (one on each side of the tang) are often made of wood, plastic or composite resin. The knife handle in the picture above is made up of polyoxymethelene (POM).
THE Metal Tang
The full metal tang which can be seen below, is the portion of the knife blade that becomes the handle. It gives the knife strength, durability, balance and weight.
There are many shapes and this is dependent on what will be done with the knife. For example an injection molded handle can be a completely different shape than a full tang handle.
High quality rivets are usually made of Nickle/Silver, Stainless Steel or Brass. The design is usually a compression type rivet (not just a pin). This means that the two sides of the rivet secure to each other inside the handle, which then fully secures the two handle scales.
so, how did you do?
How much did you already know about your knife? Hopefully you learned some new terms and functions that will help you get more comfortable and familiar with your knife. This information will also help you make informed decisions regarding the purchase of the right kitchen knives and tools in the future. Just like a surgeon is always ready to enter the operating room, you should be just as prepared to enter the kitchen!
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