Knife Profiles 

 

Chef's Knife: This is your most common knife found in most kitchens.  It has a wide blade to help keep your knuckles from hitting the cutting board.  The wide blade also helps to scoop up vegetables.  The belly is rounded to promote a rocking motion.  The amount of belly or curve to the edge can be adjusted to suit you style of cutting - rocking (more belly) vs chopping (slightly flatter).  

 

Slicer: These knives are typically longer in length and not as wide as a chef's knife.  They are used for slicing or carving meat.  As knuckle clearance isn't important  they have a narrower blade and an elongated pointy tip.

 

Utility: Similar to a slicer but shorter in length.  The blade is usually a bit thicker for added strength.

 

Paring Knife: Short narrow blade.  Much thinner than most knives help to make this an extremely sharp knife for peeling fruit and fine control.  These blades can have a slight belly or a flat edge profile and often have a little flex.

 

Nikiri: Japanese knife that looks similar to a cleaver.  These are made for vegetables.  They are much thinner than a cleaver and are extremely good cutters.  When sharpened and stropped to a polished edge they are perfect for push cutting (dropping straight through food instead of a slicing action).  These are also very handy for scooping up vegetables. 

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Camp Knife: Hard use knife for camp site or hunting trip.  These have thicker blades and more thickness behind the edge for strength.  Often used for cutting rope, dressing an animal or battoning wood.  They can come in a variety of grinds depending on owners preference and preferred use.  

 

Fillet Knife: Long thin narrow blade with a lot of flex.  Made for removing fish skin.  Their thin blades make these extremely sharp.

 

Ulu: First Nations - Traditional Inuit knife.  The unique profile of these knifes was developed by the first nations for skinning seals.  Held in a pinch grip, they are great for slicing, push cutting and scraping.  The one pictured here was a custom order but these are of little use in the kitchen.

Handle Shapes

Western: Very common outside of Japan.  The contoured shape makes this a very comfortable handle to hold.  It can be crafted to perfectly fit the owners hand but then may feel awkward to another user.  This handle works great with a normal grip or a pinch grip for more control.

Japanese Wa: These handles are most common in traditional Japanese knives.  They are straight or get slightly wider at the but end and have the square corners chamfered to give an octagonal shape.   These are great handles for multiple users as the lack of contours makes them feel good in anyone's hand.   They are much more comfortable to hold than they look.

D Handle: Similar to a Japanese Wa but somewhat round in shape.  These handles have a shape that is a little flatter on the palm side and more of a rounded triangle on the finger side of the knife to fit inside the closed fingers.  The round curves and unique shape makes them very comfortable to hold while still providing great control.  Their shape does, however, limit then to right or left-hand use.

Frame Handle: Hidden Tang style where the handle is made with 3 pieces of wood sandwiched together.  The middle piece of wood is formed to accept the tang of the blade.

Other Terminology

Bolster: Metal, wood or synthetic material at the front of the handle.  Traditionally used to strengthen or "bolster" the blade, these are mostly for cosmetics now days

Belly: This is a term used to describe the curve or a cutting edge.  A blade with a lot of belly will rock back and forth with ease with a hinge of the wrist.  A blade with a flatter belly is better used in a chopping motion.

Tang: This is the steel part of the knife that the handle or handle scales attach to.  

Full Tang: This tang is found in western handle and the entire tang can be seen.  These are considered the strongest construction.  They are especially suited for a camp knife that may be impacted on the but end of the knife - driving in tent pegs.

Hidden Tang:   The tang extends up and into the handle.  No part of the tang is visible as it is completely covered by the handle.

Handle Scales: Term to describe the wood or synthetic material on eather side of the tang that makes of the handle.

Jimping: Groves cut into the spine of the blade to aid in control.

Saya: Wood Sheath or sleeve used to protect the knife edge and user when the knife is not in use. 

Liners: Colored material placed under handle scales or between spacers for anesthetic appeal. 

File Work: Decorative filing on the spine of the knife to create various patterns.