I found this class so helpful and want to share all of this information with you, my readers! But, it is way too much to put into one post, so I'm splitting the information into a five-part series. This section will cover the different parts of the knife. In future posts, I will cover knife safety and proper hand placement, how to choose the right knife, maintaining your knives, and I'll detail the cutting techniques I learned in class. A link to each of these sections will be in the index under the "Kitchen Basics" section at the top of my blog. If you haven't yet had a knife course, or even if you have, I am sure you will find this information just as useful and exciting as I have! :]
Parts of the Knife
Each part of a knife has a specific purpose, and knowing how to use it properly will greatly reduce your chance of injury and improve your cutting technique. This section will describe each part of the knife, its purpose, and a few hand placement guidelines during use!
1. The Point - The point is located at the front of the blade. It is used as a piercing tool to begin the cut.
2. Knife Tip - The tip consists of the front quarter of the blade, including the point. It does most of the work when cutting and separating, and is best used for smaller foods and cuts, such as when mincing garlic or chopping cherry tomatoes.
3. Cutting Edge - This is the working part of the blade which extends from point to heel. It is often the first part of the blade to get dull, as it is used to cut the majority of foods. The edge is used for long slicing motions, pushing slightly forward with each slice, and can produce large chops or delicate slices. Your hand should touch the point, tip, or edge.
4. The Spine - The top of the knife, opposite of the cutting edge. When cutting large of tough foods, such as boiled potatoes or melons, the palm of your non-dominant hand can rest on the spine to provide extra power and control. Never rest the fingers of your dominant, cutting hand over the spine.
5. The Heel - Rear part of the cutting edge, used to cut large or tough foods when extra force and weight is needed. The thumb and index finger of your dominant hand grip the heel for maximum control when cutting, as described in later posts.
6. The Bolster - Forged knives will have a bolster, a thick steel band of which shows that the blade is made from one piece of steel which runs throughout the length of the knife. This helps balance the knife and protect the hand from accidental slips across the blade. Forged knives are easily sharpened and maintained, and offer the most balance, weight, and control during cutting
Two examples of forged knives.
Stamped knives do not have a bolster, so the handle is attached to the blade during the manufacturing process. Stamped knives are lighter less expensive, but are difficult to sharpen and do not hold their edge for very long. They are also prone to breakage and slips due to their lack of balance and weight.
An example of a stamped knife.
7. The Tang - The portion of the blade which extends through the handle of forged knives, designed to have the knife its balance and durability.
8. The Handle - This is the part of the knife which we grip. It is typically made out of wood or plastics.
9. Butt - The very end of the knife.
I feel that this information is the foundation for other knife skills. Knowing the parts of a knife will be very helpful when learning about proper hand placement while cutting, choosing the right knife for you, maintaining and sharpening knives, and especially, cutting techniques. Please leave me a comment with any questions you may have or topics you'd be interested in for future posts!
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You can find an index to the Essential Knife Skills series, and more Kitchen Basics, under the "Kitchen Basics" section at the top of my blog.
Next: Proper Hand Placement and Knife Safety