Anatomy of a Chef's Knife

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Most knives contain the same parts with the exception of the bolster, which is only found on forged knives.   Below is a list of parts and definitions.

Tip

The knife tip is considered as the first third of the cutting edge including the point of the blade. This area is used for intricate work or making delicate cuts and used as an anchor in mincing preparations. It is also used in piercing, making incisions in meats for stuffing purposes, cutting ingredients into strips and carving various food items for garnishes.  

Blade

The best knives are known by the type of blade material used. Different cooks have different opinions as to which blade type or profile is the best. Various blade materials have pros and cons which make setting the best blade steel or material is almost impossible. Every blade material differs in knife purpose use, which is the same thing with knife profile.    

High carbon steel is the most commonly used blade material in knife making. It’s tough and retains its shape, can be very sharp and require less effort in sharpening. But because it has a tendency to be brittle and require intensive maintenance because of regular sharpening, some cooks prefer other blade materials.

Some knife blades are made by stainless steel and are known to retain sharpness for long periods of time. But if it becomes dull, it is harder to sharpen compared to carbon steels.  

Spine

This is the backend of the knife or the blunt edge opposite to the cutting blade edge. It is thicker than the cutting edge which gives strength to the blade. It is also where the cook applies pressure by pressing it down with the palm or fingers for added knife control in cutting harder ingredients.  

Cutting Edge

The cutting edge is the sharp part of the blade that runs from the knife tip to the heel. It can be in the serrated or straight. The blade can be available in various grind types each having a different use and purpose.

Heel

It is the widest part of the blade located at the end part of the cutting edge opposite to the tip. It is used mainly for chopping hard ingredients and coarse cuts such as squash, carrots, nuts and bony meats like fish and poultry.  

Bolster

This part of the knife is located between the knife blade and handle. It is an indicator that the knife has been forged from a chunk of steel and its thickness shows how thick the original chunk of steel before it has been forged. The purposes of having a knife bolster is to help prevent the fingers from slipping accidentally, and to provide additional mass for improved stability and knife balance.  

Handle

This is the part of the knife that holds the blade and the part where the metal rivets is attached to secure the blade. The part of blade that is attached in the handle is known as the tang. High quality knives have a tang that is completely covered and fully attached in the knife handle. This means that the blade steel section that is attached in the handle runs all the way to the end of the knife handle, and this type of knife handle is called a full tang.

Butt

This is the back end of the knife opposite to the knife blade tip. This is used to crush ingredients such as garlic, ginger and lemongrass. This is also the reason why having a full tang knife handle is very important because it has a more stable construction and durable and where the heavy impacts is applied.