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Kitchenware - Knives - Part III

A guide to Buying Kitchen Knives and their Uses

Jump to:-   General Buying Guide  | What do you need  |  Full range of knives & Accessories

Go to:-   Knives - Part I  | Knives Part II |  Main Cookware Page | Buy Kitchenware

As with most equipment it is important to pick the right tool for the right job. Trying to cut a joint of beef with a 7.5cm/3-inch paring knife will not only take forever but will also not produce good slices and could be dangerous. Parts I and II of this section explained the technical details of the types of kitchen knives available. This buying guide will explain the individual knives and accessories available, their uses and which are recommended for a well stocked kitchen.



        When purchasing knives, the length stated sometimes refers to the overall length of the knife, including the handle so if buying online, check the blade length too


         Choose knives which are Flat (Taper) Ground and preferably forged


         Choose knives which are stain resistant and therefore easier to maintain. Carbon Stainless Steel is a good choice


        Choose knives where the tang runs a good way down the handle - preferably the whole length


         Remember plastic or metal handles are not only more hygienic but are also harder wearing and easier to maintain than wooden handles


         If possible, gauge the balance of the knife  and the comfort of grip first hand. If you donít feel completely comfortable holding it Ė donít buy it


         Consider buying a purpose-built holder of some kind to house your knives when they are not in use as careless storage blunts and can even damage the cutting edge.


        When buying plain edge knives, be sure to also purchase a knife sharpener or steel at the same time


         Buy as expensive a knife as you can afford, as good quality knives last much longer. Better to have three quality knives which last a lifetime than 12 cheap ones which will need to be replaced in a yearís time


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Which knives do you really need?

It is not necessary to buy a a dozen knives. Just three will suffice for basic everyday use plus a sharpening steel however, you should choose the three with care.


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A small Paring knife with a 7.5cm/3-inch blade suitable for preparing fruit and vegetables and for decorative or smaller cutting

A medium chef's (cookís)  knife with a 15cm/6-inch blade - suitable for chopping

A large serrated Utility knife with a  a 20cm/8-inch blade - suitable for slicing larger items such as bread and meats and for shredding vegetables such as cabbage


Full range of Kitchen Knives and Accessories

The more you cook and the more varied your culinary  repertoire becomes, you will probably find you could do with some more specialist knives. Below is a list and description of the many types available. To buy them all in one hit would set you back a pretty penny, however you can easily add to your collection over a period of time. Remember - the right tool for the right job makes life easier and safer.


Blade: Comes in a variety of shapes between 5-10cm/2-4" long with pointed tips
Uses -  Cutting fruit and vegetables and for making decorative or small cuts. Not suitable for large and chunky foods

Paring Knife



Blade: Comes in a variety of shapes between 15-22cm/6-9" long with pointed tips
Uses -  Cutting and trimming meat and larger vegetables and slicing larger foods

Serrated Utility Knife

Blade:  Broad, flat curving towards a pointed  tip between 15-30cm/6-12" long
Uses -  Chopping, dicing and mincing. best used on a chopping board. The flat side is good for crushing garlic and spices

Chef (cook's) Knife

Blade:  Rigid or flexible, narrow curving towards a pointed  tip between 15-25cm/6-10" long
Uses - Rigid types and good for boning large cuts of meat whilst flexible types are good for boning poultry 
Boning Knife
Blade:  Very flexible, thin curving towards a pointed  tip between 17-23cm/7-9" long
Uses - filleting fish or poultry
Filleting Knife
Blade:  Narrow, flexible between 22-30cm/9-12" long with a pointed tip often sold with a fork. Comes with plain or serrated edges
Uses - Cutting cooked meats into thin slices


Carving Knife
Blade:  Flat, rigid, serrated or scalloped edges, or a combination of the two between 22-30cm/9-12" long with a rounded tip. Cuts through a hard crust  without damaging the soft centre 
Uses - Slicing bread and other foods like tomatoes
Bread Knife
Blade:  Heavy, strong, thick   and broad with a straight edge   between 22-30cm/9-12" long
Uses - Chopping meat and smaller bones and joints. Also good for pounding meat

Meat Cleaver

There are various tools you can buy to sharpen knives including steels,  stones and electric sharpeners. Buy whichever you are most comfortable using.
Many knife sets are sold complete with housing blocks. However,  it is possible to buy separate wooden, metal or magnetic blocks or wall mounted strips.

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