Tips & Lifestyle

Like a knife through butter—Part 1

February 25, 2014
Like a knife through butter—Part 1

If you’re into cooking, you probably already know that many good knives are essential to any kitchen. But which one should you choose? Which material is the best? Is it really necessary to choose expensive ones? How do you recognize a good quality one?

Knives 101

First: Knife glossary! Just a few basics regarding the parts of a knife.

There is eight parts to a knife:

  1. The tip is the pointed end of the knife, at the opposite end of the handle.
  2. The blade is made of the spine (or back), which is the thicker side, and the cutting edge, which is the sharp side of the blade used to cut, chop and slice food. The cutting edge and the back are the two parts of the blade, which can be forged or stamped. The forged blade is made of hot steel pressed in a mold, hammered into shape, thus usually thicker with a bolster (but not always). Knives with a forged blade have a reputation of being of better quality and tend to be more expensive. Stamped blades are cut from a flat sheet of steel that is then ground and tempered before being polished and finally sharpened.
  3. The heel is the last one or two inches of the blade’s cutting edge at the opposite end of the tip.
  4. The bolster, or collar, or shank, is usually running from the spine to the cutting edge. It provides the knife with better control and balance.
  5. The handle holds the blade.
  6. The tang is the part of the blade that is sandwiched between the sides of the handle, and is riveted in place.
  7. The butt end is the opposite end to the tip.
  8. The rivets are used to assemble the tang and the handle.

There never was a knife made from dull steel

There are six materials used for blades: high-carbon steel, high carbon stainless steel, stainless steel, titanium, ceramic and plastic. They do not require the same maintenance, nor do they have the same use.

The most popular material used for high quality kitchen knives is high-carbon stainless steel; it is a combination of the best qualities of stainless steel and high-carbon steel. High-carbon steel can be very sharp, tough and sharpens easily, but can break under stress. It will also discolor when put in contact with acid food. Stainless is very resistant to rusting or discoloring. When it comes to titanium, it is lighter than steel, corrosion and wear-resistant, easy to sharpen and holds its edge for longer than steel ones. The ceramic blades are the ones that hold their edge the longest, though they have to be sharpened by a professional with a diamond sharpener. As for plastic, they are meant to prevent food discoloring from the blade of a knife. Usually these require more force when used since they are not very sharp.

The sharper your knife, the easier your life!

Now that you know what good quality knives are made of, you want to make sure to have a good quality wooden cutting board to preserve the sharpness of its blade. Since it offers less resistance to the edge, wood is knife-edge friendly compared to plastic, metal or ceramic kitchen cutting boards. Have a look at our selection by clicking here.

Wood Cutting Boards, your homegrown source for cutting boards and natural wood products.

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