The anatomy of a knife

  • By
    Sara Buenfeld

There’s so much more to your knife than a blade and handle. We show you how a knife is constructed and how to use the parts for different kitchen tasks.

Knife

1. The point

The point at the very tip is used for piercing and scoring. It’s an important feature of a boning knife, where it’s used in a dagger fashion.

2. The tip

The tip is the first third of the blade, used for fine slicing – for example, with garlic, onions and mushrooms.

3. The blade

The blade  is the main body of the knife and its size, shape and strength varies according to purpose. Edges can be straight, scalloped, serrated or granton. The oval depressions along the granton, often found on a carving or santoku knife, hold pockets of air, which stop thin slices of food from sticking to the blade.

Knife

4. The belly or cutting edge

The belly or cutting edge is the part that works hardest when you’re chopping and slicing. This area should be sharpened regularly.

5. The spine

The spine is the top of the blade and can be held for better stability when finely chopping nuts or herbs, or for adding strength when slicing hard ingredients like butternut squash.

6. The heel

The heel is the section of the blade closest to the handle. It’s the strongest part and the optimum area to use for shearing through tough ingredients.

knife

7. The tang

The tang is the part of the blade that extends into the handle. It isn’t always visible, but adds strength and balance to the knife. Look for ‘fully forged’, meaning that the blade and tang are made from one piece of steel.

8. A bolster

A bolster is the thick piece of metal between the handle and blade, which adds weight and counter balance between the blade and handle.

9. The handle

The handle is as vital as the blade and can be made from plastic, wood or metal. It should be comfortable to hold, so try it before buying.

More knife know-how...

A guide to knife types and how to use them
Review of paring knives
Review of cook's knives

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