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The Anatomy of a Chef’s Knife

When determining the perfect knife set for you, you first grab the knife to feel its sense of fit. If it feels comfortable, like a natural extension of your hand, it the perfect knife for you. However, if it feels out of place, opt for another knife choice. Perfect slicing knives tend to feel easy and effortless when chopping meals. Read on to learn more about the anatomy of a chef’s knives:

  1. The Bolster
    The bolster, also known as the shoulder, shank, or collar is the thick portion of metal, where the handle and blade meet. The bolster helps add stability and strength to a knife as well as protect your gripping hand. There are some Japanese knives that come with no bolster at all, while there are other forged knives that come with partial bolsters, which don’t extend to blade’s heel. The slope should be gradual or pronounced and either style should not force you to tighten your handle grip.
  2. The Handle
    The handle should not feel too slippery when wet and should not require you strain to firmly hold it. Instead, there should be adequate room on its underside that hinders you from banging your knuckles on the kitchen table as you slice.
  3. The Heel
    The heel is the thickest and widest part of the knife edge with the greatest heft. The heel is specifically designed for tasks that require excessive force, such as slicing through the hard rind of a winter squash or poultry tendons. Perfect knives ‘’thunk’’ at the heel when rocked and are not so curved that the blade kicks backwards.
  4. The Edge
    To determine sharpness, try cutting through a sheet of paper. A well-sharpened knife will make a clean, swift cut. Moreover, make sure to check the line of the blade. A good chef’s knife has a gentle curve from the tip to the heel that allows the knife to smoothly rock back and forth when mincing or chopping.
  5. The Spine
    The spine is the top part of the blade – check whether the edges feel polished, rough and sharp. The spine should irritate your gripping hand at all.