The knife is one of the essential tools in every kitchen. As a regular homemaker or home cook, you may want or may not want to know every single part of this versatile kitchen tool. For you, the knife may be just a blade. But this is not the case for anyone else. Chefs and culinary students, in particular, will come across a number of common terms associated with different parts of a knife.
Besides, kitchen knives come in several types, and some knives require different angles so that they can be efficient at what they were designed for. There is no single knife that can do all jobs. And also, there is no single sharpening technique that will work for all types of knives, which means that every blade has its own sharpening “quirks.”
At least, being familiar with the knife parts and terminology can help you decipher a variety of instructions, as well as opinions and questions, regarding knife use. It can also add to your kitchen knowledge!
Here are the parts of a knife:
The part where the blade tapers to the end is called a point. It is also the sharpest and the forwardmost part of the knife. You can use the point to puncture something, to score something, to hold something in place, or maybe even to stab something. There are several types of points. You’ll find trail points, clip points, drop points, spear points, hawksbill points, and tanto points, depending on whether it is above, even with, or below the spine of the blade.
he edge, or the cutting edge, is the working part of a knife. It is the sharpened part of a blade that does the actual cutting, chopping, and slicing. Edges can be ground to various profiles, depending on what the knife is designed or intended to be used for.
There are various edge styles, including the V-edge (the most common), chisel, hollow-ground, flat-ground, compound, convex, and serrated.
While most common knives have a single bevel, some types of knives have two or even more bevels, such as half-serrated and half-hollow ground knives. Depending on what the knife is used for, the edge can be crucial. For example, the hollow-ground has a very fine, ultra-sharp edge. However, it tends to be somewhat delicate, and thus, it will not stand up to heavy or rough chopping or batoning (hammering the blade really hard through another object, such as a dry piece of wood). Hollow-ground edges are common on slicing, boning, pocket, and fillet knives, as well as in many high-grade chef’s knives.
A knife with a V-edge or flat-ground edge is usually tough, making it great for chopping and batoning. While it will do most tasks, it will not take a super-fine edge for making clean slices. Flat grounds are found on meat cleavers, machetes, and axes. V-edge is common on regular kitchen knives.
Serrated edges, on the other hand, are ideal for making clean cuts through tough and hardened materials that range from frozen foods to seatbelts. Serrated knives are also perfect for slicing certain foods with hard exteriors and soft interiors, such as a big piece of sourdough bread.
Knives with convex and compound edges play a happy medium between flat-ground and hollow-ground edges. You can look at the products of knives with different edge styles.
3. Tip or belly
Some may be confused between the “point” and the “tip” of the knife. Others think that the point and the tip of the knife are one and the same. Well, you can’t blame them. “Tip” may be an inaccurate description since the area is not at the “tip” of the blade. “Belly” should be the more appropriate name. Whatever you call this part a tip or a belly, it does the same thing: making delicate cuts.
The heel is the very end of the blade, just before the handle. It is generally the widest part of the blade and the part where you have the most control and leverage.
You need to use the heel, especially when you’re cutting food that needs a little extra force.
Some blades have the heel blended into the extended bolster for additional protection, but this style will lose a bit of your knife’s versatility. Slimmer knives usually have no heels, with the blade being swallowed up into the handle.
Knives with heels typically have a bolster. It is a part of a blade, but somewhat thicker. Its primary function is to add strength between the handle and the blade. It also protects your fingers from sliding down onto the blade if your hand gets slippery.
The spine is the back of the blade opposite the cutting edge. It is the non-cutting part of the blade that provides strength to the edge.
When looking for quality knives, you should consider this general rule: the thicker the spine, the more heavy-duty the knife.
The blades of higher-quality knives (such as chef’s knives) become thicker as they approach the spine. It is called a “full-flat grind” and creates less resistance when cutting and slicing. Plus, thicker spines provide better balance. Some less expensive knives, such as the saber grind, have pretty much the same spine thickness throughout. However, the difference is the beveled edge of the blade.
he tang is the extension of the blade, which anchors into the handle. The tang can be a “full-tang,” where it runs up to the full length of the handle, or “partial tang,” which means the tang may run only part way into the handle. On some knives, the tang can be seen at the end of the handle.
8. Rivets (or handle fasteners)
Some types of knives have scales or two-piece handles. The rivets fasten the two handles together and hold the blade in place by the tang. There are knives with two or three rows of rivets, depending on the tang’s length.
The back end of the handle. It is also called the pommel.