The Complete Guide to Buying Kitchen Knives

Written by

Do you know the difference between a paring knife and a boning knife? What about the best type of knife to cut a side of beef? How about the advantages of ceramic blades over stainless steel blades? If you have questions about kitchen knives, we have the answer.

Even though pocket knives get all the love in knife circles, the knives that consistently get the most use are found in the kitchen. Whether we're chopping vegetables, slicing up cheese, or carving a turkey, kitchen knives are essential tools in food preparation, so you should pick the right knives for the job. Unfortunately, that's not always the easiest thing to do.

Since there are dozens of specialized kitchen knives, matching the right one to the task might be confusing at first. To help you parse through the complex world of kitchen knives, we've assembled this guide.

Here's what you'll find in the article.


Table of Contents


Section 1: Anatomy and Terminology of Kitchen Knives

Before we jump into the nitty gritty of kitchen knives, we first need to go over common terminology and basic anatomy of a kitchen knife.

Blade: The blade is the entire portion of the knife that consists of the edge, spine, point, etc.

Bolster: This is the piece that joins the blade and the handle. It can also be used to add weight for better balance.

Butt: The butt is the end of the handle.

Edge: An edge is the portion of the blade that does the cutting. It might be plain or feature serrations.

Granton Edge: A trademarked feature, a Granton edge is when the blade has scallops extending toward the middle of the blade. It's said to enhance a knife's slicing ability.

Handle: The second major portion of the knife, the handle is where the knife is traditionally held.

Point: This is the very tip of the knife that's used for puncturing.

Rivet: Rivets are pins that affix the handle scales to the tang.

Scale: Scales are molded materials that attach to the tang and make up the handle.

Spine: The spine is the typically unsharpened back of a blade.

Tang: A tang is the portion of a blade that extends into the handle. Tangs come in all shapes and lengths, including full tangs, partial tangs, skeletonized tangs, and more. To see the range of tangs, see our guide to knife tangs.


Section 2: Kitchen Knife Blade Material

Most discussions on knife blade materials revolve around the stainless steel vs. carbon steel debate. Unfortunately, analyzing the true merit around the best blade material for kitchen knives isn't that simple.

The truth is that there's no such thing as stainless steel because all steels will rust under the right circumstances (except for maybe H1 steel but that's a whole other story). Since we don't want to needlessly complicate things for you, we'll look at blade materials in the most common categories. If you want a thorough look at blade steels in kitchen knives, we recommend visiting zknives.com.

Stainless Steels

Description: As we said before, there's no such thing as true stainless steel. Even though the term "stainless steel" is constantly bandied about, the real term should be "stain-resistant steel." But because pretty much everyone uses the term stainless steel, we will too.

For a steel to be considered a stainless steel, it must contain at least a certain amount of chromium (Cr). The number varies, but it's generally about 10.5% or more chromium. This adds resistance to corrosion, decay, and wear. Some of the most common stainless steels in kitchen knives include VG-10, 420HC, and 440C.

Advantages: The main benefit of using stainless steel is the fact that it's less likely to rust than a steel with higher amounts of carbon. This is particularly advantageous in kitchen knives because food and its juices will get on the knife, increasing the potential for stains. Stainless steel blades require less maintenance.

Disadvantages: While stainless steel excels in stain resistance, it suffers in performance. Obviously it will depend on the type of stainless steel, but it will typically not hold an edge as well as some of the other blade materials.

Examples:

Carbon Steels

Description: Nonstainless steels with a carbon content of around 1% are considered carbon steels. Carbon steels don't use significant amounts of chromium and will often include alloys like manganese and vanadium.

Advantages: Carbon steels are valued for their reasonable price and ability to hold an edge. These are easy to sharpen and can boast a keen edge.

Disadvantages: The major disadvantage is the susceptibility to stains. Even with maintenance, carbon steel blades will undergo a transformation called oxidation. This means the blade will develop a patina, which changes the texture and color of the steel.

Examples:

High-Carbon Stainless Steels

Description: High-carbon steels are steels with a higher carbon content than regular stainless steels. High-carbon steels are essentially higher-grade stainless steel alloys.

Advantages: The higher carbon content allows for increased strength, edge retention, and cutting ability without sacrificing its resistance to stains. These high-quality steels offer the best of both worlds.

Disadvantages: As Zvi over at zknives points out, there's no industry standard for what defines a high-carbon steel, so you might see some companies slapping the name on the label without actually having a carbon content of more than 1%. Additionally, these premium steels are more expensive than stainless and carbon steels.

Examples:

Ceramic

Description: Ceramic blades are made from, well, ceramic. Zirconium powder makes soft-powder blanks that are then heated to add strength. The blades are sharpened to make a keen edge that rarely needs sharpening. The show How Do They Do It has an excellent segment on how ceramic knives are made. The thin edges make it great at cutting fruits and vegetables, but it isn't great for meat and frozen foods.

Advantages: The most advantageous property of ceramic is its ability to thrive in harsh environments. Ceramic blades will not rust and slicing into acidic foods will not have a harmful effect. Along with its stainless qualities, ceramic is exceptionally hard and lightweight. That means once the blade is sharpened, you get a razor-sharp edge for a long while.

Disadvantages: Advances in technology have made ceramic blades stronger and more durable, but ceramic blades are still more brittle than their steel counterparts. Ceramic blades keep an edge for much longer than steel, but when it dulls, sharpening can require professionals.

Examples:

Titanium

Description: We're moving on to less common steel alternatives with titanium. Titanium blades are found on a small number of kitchen knives. This is a softer material than the others.

Advantages: The greatest asset of titanium blades is its neutral composition, meaning it won't have any chemical reactions with the food. It's also more flexible than steel.

Disadvantages: Titanium is more expensive and is considered a specialty material that's not optimized for kitchen cutlery because it compromises in cutting performance.

Examples:

  • Kasumi Titanium Chef's Knife

Other materials

Along with the aforementioned blade materials, you'll also find blades made from other materials. These are much less common, so we're not devoting much time to them. One of the materials you might encounter is talonite. It can be pretty thick without much advantage. Another material is plastic. Occasionally, a company will make a plastic blade that's not very sharp and typically features serrations. The benefits involve safety, disposability, and resistance to discoloration.


Section 3: Forged vs. Stamped Blades

Blades of kitchen knives are typically manufactured two ways: forged or stamped. There's a great debate between the two that isn't entirely necessary. Let's take a look.

Forged

When you hear the term "forged," it means that the blade is made from a single piece of steel that's heated and then pounded into form. After that, the blade is once again heated, quenched (cooled down quickly), and tempered. The blade is then polished and sharpened into the finished product.

Here are some of the qualities of a forged blade:

  • Thicker blade
  • Heavier construction
  • Generally features bolster
  • Typically considered higher quality
  • Usually more expensive

Examples:

Stamped

A stamped blade is when the blade is made in a machine. The blade is cut from a piece of steel, usually via a hydraulic press, and heat-treated. Then the blanks are ground, polished, and sharpened.

These are some of the qualities of a forged blade:

  • Thinner blade
  • Lighter construction
  • Typically made without a bolster
  • Usually less expensive

Examples:

Which is right for me?

If you buy into the hype, you'll immediately conclude that a forged blade is the only way to go. However, that's simply no longer true. Back in the day when forged blades were the only way to get dependable, high-quality knives, it was a no-brainer. However, advances in technology have made stamped blades just as durable and well-made as forged blades.

Many professional chefs will still opt for forged blades mainly because of the reputation (though some prefer the heavier weight and thicker construction), but amateur cooks will usually not be able to tell the difference.

You have a higher chance of getting a quality product when the blade is forged, but it's not a foregone conclusion that a stamped blade is lower quality. Go with what appeals to you and don't worry too much about whether it's forged or stamped.


Section 4: Serrated vs. Straight Edge

One of the biggest debates among knife and cooking amateurs is whether a blade should be straight or serrated. The reality is that it's not a debate; there's a time and place for each.

When to use a straight-edged blade

This is a bit simplistic, but if you could only get one knife for your kitchen, it should have a straight edge. These types of knives are the most useful and versatile. Plain edges are optimal when you have to make push cuts through food. A push cut is when you use force to make a cut, instead of using a sawing motion. For example, if you're cutting through a piece of cheese or removing the skin off of an apple, you would push through the food.

When to use a serrated blade

A serrated blade is not used as widely in the kitchen as a straight-edged blade. The simple reason is that there aren't many foods that require a sawing motion to cut. Bread and tomatoes are the most notable foods that require a serrated edge. If you try to push down on either with a straight edge, both will get crushed.

What about the Granton edge?

You might have also heard the term Granton edge or seen strange grooves cut out in the edge of a kitchen knife. A Granton edge, which is when there are hollowed out grooves in the side of the blade, is not really comparable to the plain or serrated edge.

The purpose of a Granton edge is to reduce friction and enhance slicing ability. You'll find these dimples on both straight and serrated blades.


Section 5: Common Handle Materials

After the blade, the most important part of a kitchen knife is the handle because no matter how amazing the blade is, if the handle is uncomfortable and poorly made, you won't want to use the knife.

When it comes to pocket knives, you'll find an array of different handle materials. However, handle options are more limited in kitchen knives. Here are the most common types of handle materials you'll come across.

Wood

Advantages: Wood is a very common handle material in kitchen knives and is well-known for its classic look and feel. The softer material can be very comfortable on the hands. Another benefit is the sheer amount of options you can choose from. Handles are made with everything from olive wood to maple wood.

Disadvantages: Despite being the classic handle material, wood has plenty of downsides. First and foremost is its susceptibility to bacteria. It can be particularly difficult to completely clean and sterilize the handle, which is why you won't often see wood-handled knives at restaurants. They also aren't as durable as some of the other materials and require extra care, including hand-washing and treatment with mineral oil.

Examples:

Laminate

Advantages: In lieu of wood handles, laminated handles are made from laminated wood composites with plastic resin. These types of handles are becoming increasingly popular because of their similarity in appearance and weight to wood but without the same sanitary issues. These are much easier to clean and take care of.

Disadvantages: The cons of laminated handle materials are few, which may account for their popularity. Nevertheless, some diehard knife enthusiasts may get hung up on the fact that they're not actually wood.

Examples:

Synthetics

Advantages: Synthetic handles can be broken down into several different categories, such as polypropylene, fibrox, plastics, and Santoprene, but we're lumping them together here. Synthetic handles, which use man-made materials, are much easier to maintain than wood handles because they don't absorb any bacteria.

Disadvantages: When synthetics are exposed to extreme temperatures, they may become more brittle and susceptible to cracking. Exposure to UV rays may also wear down these handles. Synthetics are lighter than other materials, which may also cause an imbalance in the knife.

Examples:

Stainless steel

Advantages: Out of all the possible handle materials, stainless steel is the most sanitary and easiest to maintain. It's extremely durable and looks sleek.

Disadvantages: Whereas synthetic handles are too light, stainless steel handles are too heavy. Stainless steel may shift the balance of the knife toward the handle, causing hand fatigue. Some companies have countered the problem with hollow-handled knives. Yet another issue is how slippery stainless steel can be when wet. Again, some designers have added bumps or ridges to provide a better grip.

Examples:


Section 6: Types of Kitchen Knives

Think you can name every type of kitchen knife? Unless you're a chef, you'll probably have a hard time coming up with all of them. To help you get a better idea about the knives that exist, we've created this list of different types of kitchen knives. This is an incomplete list, but these are the most common you'll encounter.

  1. General Knives
  2. Meat Knives
  3. Specialized Knives
  4. Japanese Knives
  5. Chinese Knives
  6. Brazilian Knives

General Knives

Chef's Knife

Description: A chef's knife is a straight-edged knife with a belly that curves toward the point. Blade length varies from about 6 inches to 14 inches, but the typical length is 8 inches.

Uses: This is an all-purpose knife in food preparation. It's used for everything from cutting large pieces of beef to chopping vegetables. It's also great for mincing, dicing, slicing, and more.

Examples:

Paring Knife

Description: The paring knife is a smaller knife and acts as a complement to the chef's knife. The blade length ranges from 3 inches to 4 inches.

Uses: This does all the finer work a larger chef's knife can't, such as deveining shrimp, peeling fruits, and slicing small vegetables.

Examples:

Utility Knife

Description: The utility knife has the same appearance and function as a chef's knife, but it's smaller and more versatile. The blade length is between 4 and 7 inches.

Uses: Before the rise of the chef's knife, this was the multipurpose knife that did pretty much everything in the kitchen. Now it's been mostly relegated to basic tasks like cutting pieces of meat or preparing small dishes.

Examples:

Bread Knife

Description: With its large serrations, the bread knife is one of the most recognizable kitchen knives. Average bread knives can feature blades up to 10 inches with serrations the entire length.

Uses: The bread knife has one main use and it does it exceptionally well. Using its serrations, the knife is able to saw through bread to keep it from being crushed. Because it has serrations, its uses are limited, but you can also cut other items like tomatoes.

Examples:

Table Knife

Description: Look in your kitchen drawer and you'll see a table knife, which is sometimes called a butter knife. This is a standard kitchen knife that comes with every utensil set. It has a dull, rounded blade with light serrations.

Uses: The table knife is a versatile tool used while eating. Although a steak knife does the heavy cutting, the table knife does much of the grunt work, including cutting things and spreading butter.

Steak Knife

Description: The steak knife is a complement to the butter knife and is usually only given when eating a meal with tough meat. It typically boasts sharp serrations and a point.

Uses: As the only sharp knife given at the dinner table, the steak knife is designed to cut tough food items like meat.

Examples:

Butter Knife (Spreading Knife)

Description: The butter knife, also known as a spreading knife, features a blunt, flat blade that's not meant for cutting.

Uses: The primary use of the butter knife is for spreading. It can be used with butter, certain cheeses, and more.

Examples:

Meat Knives

Cleaver

Description: The cleaver is one of the most iconic kitchen knives because of its prevalent use in horror movies. It's typically a large knife with a rectangular blade. The blade does not need to be extremely sharp for it to be effective.

Uses: While the cleaver is most commonly known for cutting through soft bones and meat, it is also used in hard vegetables.

Examples:

Carving

Description: This knife is often bundled together with the slicing knife or used interchangeably, but they are two different knives. A carving knife is what you see at a Thanksgiving table when the turkey is ready to be cut. It can be pretty big—up to 15 inches—and has an upswept point.

Uses: Both knives are designed to thinly slice meat, poultry, and fish, but the carving knife makes larger, less precise cuts.

Examples:

Slicing

Description: A slicer has a blunt point and tends to be longer than a carving knife.

Uses: The slicing knife can make thinner slices than a carving knife, which is great for sandwich meats. There are also slicers made for very specific uses, such as ham slicers and salmon slicers, but we won't go into that in this guide.

Examples:

Electric Knife

Description: Electric knives are no longer a quaint relic of the '80s. Electric knives mainly come in two styles: electric carving knives and electric fillet knives. A device in the handle pulls the blade back and forth to take some of the work out of cutting meat. They usually run wirelessly.

Uses: Whether they're used for carving turkeys at Thanksgiving or filleting fish, electric knives are a great option for those looking to get clean and professional-looking cuts.

Examples:

Boning Knife

Description: A boning knife is very thin, narrow, and flexible, with a blade of about 5.5 inches on average.

Uses: Boning knives are used for removing bones from meat, poultry, and fish.

Examples:

Fillet Knife

Description: This is almost a subset of the boning knife because it has virtually the same design but with greater flexibility. An average fillet knife is anywhere between 6 and 11 inches.

Uses: Fillet knives specialize in fish preparation. These are particularly useful when separating fish skin from flesh.

Examples:

Butcher Knife

Description: Normally found in the meat-processing industry, the butcher knife boasts a large blade with a deep belly and a clip point. The blade can get up to 14 inches.

Uses: The primary use of the butcher knife is to butcher and dress animal carcasses. The broad blade allows for splitting and cutting meat; however, some of the smaller butcher knives are used more generally.

Examples:

Cimeter Knife

Description: Modeled after the sword known as the scimitar, the cimeter is similar to a butcher knife except the blade curves upward. Typical blades range from 10 to 12 inches.

Uses: The cimeter shares some of the same duties as the butcher knife, including breaking down cuts, slicing meat, and trimming.

Examples:

Breaking Knife

Description: The breaking knife is very similar to the cimeter, but it tends to be a little lighter. It has the same curved blade.

Uses: The main function of the breaking knife is to break down larger chunks of meat into more manageable pieces. Just like the three previous knives, these are mainly found in the meat-processing industry, but we decided to include them since some people do use them in the kitchen.

Examples:

Specialized Knives

Tomato Knife

Description: This is a small serrated knife that usually has a fork at the tip for grabbing tomato slices.

Uses: The main use is to cut tomatoes, but you could also cut small pieces of bread or cooked meat in a pinch.

Examples:

Oyster Knife

Description: Believe it or not, several iterations of the oyster knife exist. Some are long and narrow, others are wide and blunt. Oyster knives generally have a short, thick blade that's optimized for prying open oysters and separating the meat.

Uses: It's only used for oysters.

Examples:

Peeling Knife

Description: A peeling knife is a more specialized type of paring knife. It has a small blade that resembles a bird's beak—short and curved to a point.

Uses: Peeling knives are mainly used in making intricate cuts to decorative garnishes and peeling produce.

Examples:

Cheese Knives

Description: We're cheating here a bit by lumping cheese knives into one category because these come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, there's probably around 12 types of cheese knives alone. Some have wide blades, some have holes, some have forks. Someday, we may devote a whole article to cheese knives, but until then, check out this guide at Cello Cheese.

Uses: The purpose is simple: cutting and serving cheese.

Examples:

Sandwich Knife

Description: Similar to the bread knife, the sandwich knife features a long, serrated blade used for cutting bread. The major difference is the fact that sandwich knives usually have an upswept handle that allows the blade to make contact with the cutting board while leaving space for your knuckles.

Uses: This is another highly specialized knife designed specifically for sandwiches, but it can also be used for cutting bread in general.

Examples:

Japanese Knives

Santoku

Description: Although the Santoku knife has Japanese origins, it's since become widely used in kitchens across the United States. These usually have a straighter edge than the curved chef's knife and a blunt point. They're sometimes described as a cross between a chef's knife and a cleaver.

Uses: The Santoku is a multipurpose kitchen knife, but it excels at slicing, dicing, and mincing.

Examples:

Gyuto (Gyutou)

Description: The gyuto—also known as the gyutou—is the Japanese version of the chef's. It ranges from about 8 to 10 inches and typically has a curved belly for rocking the blade to cut like the chef's knife.

Uses: This is another multipurpose knife that's used for pretty much everything in the kitchen.

Examples:

Petty Knife

Description: Petty knives are small knives comparable to paring or utility knives. They can act as a complement to the Santoku or gyuto.

Uses: These are used for nuanced tasks that the larger knives can't handle, like peeling small fruits.

Examples:

Honesuki

Description: The honesuki is a Japanese boning knife with a triangular blade that's significantly less flexible than its Western counterpart.

Uses: This is a boning knife that's especially optimized for poultry.

Examples:

  • Al Mar Knives Ultra Chef Honesuki

Usuba Knife

Description: The usuba is a traditional Japanese vegetable knife. It has a single edge that allows the blade to become exceptionally sharp and is mainly used by professionals.

Uses: Since it's an exceptionally sharp knife, it's used for precise and intricate cutting of vegetables.

Examples:

Nakiri Knife

Description: This is another Japanese vegetable knife similar to the usuba knife, except it's more widely used in home kitchens. It has a rectangular blade.

Uses: The nakiri is used for chopping vegetables.

Examples:

Deba Knife

Description: The deba knife is a pointed carving knife (that's what deba bocho literally translates to) that comes in a variety of sizes. The blade has a thick spine and can get up to 12 inches long.

Uses: The focus of the deba knife is fish. It's used to butcher and fillet fish, but it's also used for meat and poultry.

Examples:

Yanagiba

Description: The yanagiba is one of the knives used in the preparation of sashimi and sushi. It's very long and thin because it's meant to slice by pulling the knife, not pushing down. Since a yanagiba only has a single bevel, it's considered a more specialized knife.

Uses: It's used solely to slice raw seafood and prepare sashimi.

Examples:

Sujihiki

Description: The sujihiki is comparable to a slicing knife, but the blade is usually thinner and made of harder steel. Unlike the yanagiba, its blade features a double bevel.

Uses: This knife is like the yanagiba, except it's much more versatile. It can be used for slicing fish and other meats.

Examples:

Chinese Knives

Chinese Chef's Knife (aka Chinese Cleaver or Chinese Chopper)

Description: The Chinese chef's knife, also known as the Chinese cleaver or Chinese chopper, looks similar to a Western cleaver in that it has a large rectangular blade. The major difference is the thickness of the blade. Cleavers have thick, blunt blades while Chinese chef's knives have thin, sharp blades that are usually between 7 and 11 inches. These have become increasingly popular throughout the world and some even claim that it's the only knife you need in the kitchen.

Chinese chef's knives sometimes fall into three categories (slicers, choppers, and cleavers), but the only difference among the three is the thickness of the blade.

Uses: This is an all-purpose knife that's great for slicing, chopping, dicing, and mincing everything from vegetables to boneless meat. Even though it looks like a cleaver, it should not be used as such.

Examples:

Brazilian Knives

Churrasco

Description: Churrasco, which is Portuguese for barbecue, is the national food of Brazil, so unsurprisingly, there is a knife just for the task. The Churrasco knife is a cross between a carving knife and slicing knife and is becoming more popular in the United States. The blade length varies, but it's typically around 9 inches or so.

Uses: A Churrasco knife is mainly designed for cutting various types of meat when preparing a barbecue. It's also great for cutting cooked meat off skewers.

Examples:


Section 7: Which Kitchen Knives Do I Actually Need?

After seeing the dozens of kitchen knife styles on the market (and we didn't even mention every knife that could be used in food preparation), you're probably wondering just how your kitchen will hold all these knives. The good news is that unless you're a professional chef (and even if you are), you don't need every single knife. So which ones do you actually need?

The Three Essential Kitchen Knives

Every chef has his or her own consensus about which knives are the most essential. The reality is that home cooks could get by with just a single knife, but if you're looking for the bare essentials, we've narrowed it down to three knives.

  • Chef's Knife: The chef's knife is the multipurpose knife of the day. It's used for pretty much everything in the kitchen. You could conceivably get by with this knife only.
  • Paring Knife: The paring knife is essentially a mini chef's knife. It has the same look of a chef's knife except its smaller size allows for more nuanced tasks like peeling fruit.
  • Bread Knife: You can get by without a bread knife, but since this is the only serrated knife on the list, you'll be eating a lot of crushed bread.

Other Knives Chefs Recommend

Just because you can get by with those three knives doesn't mean you have to. There are other knives chefs and cooks recommend for the average person. Here they are and why.

  • Utility Knife: Although it can be a bit redundant if you have a paring knife, a utility knife is another general purpose tool for the kitchen. It falls between a chef's knife and paring knife.
  • Carving Knife: Since it's usually bigger than a chef's knife, a carving knife is a great tool to have in the kitchen to not only cut meat but also larger objects like melons.
  • Boning Knife: A boning knife offers a little more flexibility, literally. Its smaller, flexible blade is great for a variety of things, like peeling fruit and even filleting.

What About the Specialty Knives?

That accounts for six of the knives, but what about all the others? This is a copout, but it completely depends on you and your preferences. If you happen to love oysters and always eat them, an oyster knife isn't so farfetched. If you're a wine and cheese connoisseur, get a cheese knife. If you fancy yourself a butcher, opt for a number of meat knives to make your life easier.


Section 8: All About Kitchen Knife Sets

Along with the option of buying knives individually, many companies also make knife sets, which include a variety of knives and occasionally a block for storage. But are they worth it? Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages to see if it's the right choice for you.

Advantages of Knife Sets

Offers cohesive set

One of the main advantages is the fact that all of your knives will feature one design, instead of having six knives that look completely different from one another. To some, this is a dealbreaker when thinking about buying knives a la carte.

Gives you a variety of options

Even though some people argue that certain knife sets aren't great value because you end up with knives that you will never use, that's not always the case. Some knife sets just include the essentials while others have all the knives you could ever want. You get to pick which one is best for you.

Perfect for amateur cooks

Knife sets are ideal for amateurs because you don't have to go out and research/buy individual kitchen knives. It takes the hassle out of buying knives while giving you a range of options in the kitchen.

May include bonus items and a knife block

When you buy a set, you typically get everything you need and more. A set often comes with a block for storage, a honing steel, and sheers.

Disadvantages of Knife Sets

May end up with too many knives

Even though you can pick your set, it's still possible to end up with knives you'll never use. If that's the case, you'll get a better value buying knives individually.

Tend to be pricer

Because you have to buy an assortment of knives, a set will typically be pricier than buying a la carte.

May be of lesser quality

It's not always the case, but some knife sets are not as well-made as knives bought individually.


Section 9: Kitchen Cutlery Storage Options

When you're cooking, fewer things are more important than having a sharp and pristine knife, especially if you've spent a good amount of money on a quality kitchen knife. While knives often suffer some natural wear and tear from cooking, you can significantly extend the life of your knife by considering how you store them.

Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to take your needs and kitchen setup into consideration.

Knife Block

This is probably the most common method of storing a knife. The knife block is great because it's simple to use and offers a nice presentation in kitchens without a lot of space. Here are some of the materials knife blocks are often made of:

  • Oak wood
  • Ash wood
  • Cherry wood
  • Olive wood
  • Rubberwood
  • Bamboo
  • Stainless steel

As you might expect, knife blocks come in a ton of styles, so it's almost crazy to put this into one category. Some are the traditional knife blocks where the knives go in at an angle, some are clear stainless steel blocks with completely vertical knives.

Traditional knife blocks can be difficult to clean because it's impossible to get into the small slits, so its important to make sure the knife is clean and dry before putting it away or some nasty contamination could occur.

Certain knife blocks also dull knives because when you pull them out, the blade drags against the wood. You can combat this by putting the block on its side or getting a block that rests knives on their sides.

Magnetic Strips

The magnetic knife strips that you attach to the wall are becoming very trendy because they look great in the modern kitchen. The strip is placed on a wall and the knives stick to it.

The advantage of a knife strip is that there's not a lot of unnecessary wear on the blade. However, the wear is transferred down to the tang because you must pull with some pressure to remove the knife from the strip.This could cause the tang to weaken over time and potentially snap if it's a low-quality knife.

Another hazard is that it's more exposed, so you wouldn't want this in a house with kids because of the easy accessibility to the knives. Still, the knife strip is a good way to keep your edges sharp.

Knife Bag

Even though you might think this is only for transportation of knives, some chefs highly recommend knife bags for your home kitchen. The reason is that it keeps your knives separated and protected more than any other storage method. Knife bags can be pretty inconvenient for your home though.

Drawer Tray

This storage method is similar to the knife block, except it's inside your drawer. There are specific places to insert your knife in the drawer, so they don't rub against one another. The tray is useful because it keeps your knives organized without being displayed, but it still has some of the same downsides as the knife block.

Knife Sheaths

Finally, you can also get sheaths for all of your kitchen knives. The sheath allows each knife to be individually protected, but it can be annoying, especially if you have a lot of knives you need to put away. These can also be difficult to clean.


Section 10: Popular Kitchen Knife Brands at Knife Depot

When shopping for kitchen knives, you'll most likely run into the same brands over and over. While the name on the side of a knife shouldn't be the only thing you look for, knowing a little more about the brand will give you a good indication of the quality and background of a knife.

Some of the most popular brands around the world are Global, J.A. Henckels, and Wusthof, but this article only includes the brands we sell at Knife Depot.

Victorinox

Victorinox is best known as the maker of the Swiss Army Knife, but if you think that's all they make, you're sorely mistaken. Victorinox makes a wide range of products, such as watches and luggage. But an underrated part of their offerings are their kitchen knives. Victorinox not only makes some of the finest budget kitchen knives around, but they also make a variety of types, including niche and specialty knives.

Kanetsune

Established in Seki City, known as the Japanese city of blades, in 1948, Kanetsune creates high-quality knives and swords with a focus on Japanese styles. Many of the knives are crafted using ancient Japanese traditions. Although the kitchen knives are on the higher end of the price spectrum, the quality and elegance of the knives prove their worth.

Ergo Chef

Founded in 2002, Ergo Chef is a relatively new company built by chef Scott Staib with the help of his family's design and machining company. As its name implies, Ergo Chef pays extra attention to the ergonomics of the knife, since many chefs (including Scott Staib) suffer from tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

When you're holding one of these knives, it'll feel like a natural extension of your arm.

Ginsu

Say what you will about Ginsu and its use of the infomercial in the '70s and '80s, but the brand is extremely popular for its affordable prices. Some Ginsu sets have been rated highly by Consumer Reports in affordability and quality. With these knives, you won't just be getting some reasonable kitchen knives, you'll also get a piece of pop culture.

Dexter-Russell

As the largest manufacturer of kitchen cutlery in the United States, Dexter-Russell has been in the business a long time—since 1818, to be exact. Those nearly two hundred years have given them a ton of experience making and experimenting with knives. According to the site, the company manufactures more than 1,500 different knives and utensils, including everything from two-handled cheese knives to utility slicers with scalloped edges.

Along with its rich history and wide variety, Dexter-Russell prides itself on making its knives in the United States.

Chicago Cutlery

Probably best known for its kitchen knife sets, Chicago Cutlery is an American brand that's been around since 1930. The brand started in the meat markets of Chicago, offering knife services to butchers. Chicago Cutlery has since grown tremendously and expanded to make professional-grade knives for at-home chefs. One of the greatest strengths of the brand is the constant search for innovative designs that'll make chopping, slicing, and dicing easier and more efficient.