Anatomy of a traditional kitchen knife

8 min

138 shares, 138 points
Anatomy of a traditional kitchen knife

Anatomy of a traditional kitchen knife.

Today the market for kitchen knives is growing thanks to more and more cooking enthusiasts who over time go in search of quality and above all personalized kitchen knives to make their kitchen more and more exclusive.

A kitchen knife is generally made of a metal blade or other material such as plastic or ceramic, and a handle that can be made of wood, plastic or other resins but also be made of metal by constyring one with the blade.

To preserve the kitchen knife during work, the cutting board is a kitchen tool used in combination with the knife.

It is practically a flat wooden or plastic surface where you can cut food, avoiding damage to the work surface and knife.

Many makers have also diverted to kitchen knives where the market is larger and a real market of custom kitchen knives is developing.

There are hundreds of different types of knives in general and even just looking at “the humble” but very useful kitchen knife is the same thing.

There are different types of kitchen knives depending on the type of work but the most classic and used is the one I use in this post to create the anatomy of the kitchen knife.

The kitchen knife is a knife that is used for the preparation of food and for this reason the choice of materials and steels certified for food to comply with safety regulations.

Although most of the work in the kitchen can be done with a minimum amount of knives, many chefs prefer to surround themselves with a considerable amount of knives, specialized for the most varied operations.

Personally the number that for me is ideal is 3 types of knife in the kitchen but it is a personal choice but I understand that for some needs the professional or the cooking enthusiast seeks even more specificity especially when treating some foods and especially when a certain speed of execution is also required.

The various kitchen knives can be made with different shapes and materials (steel, handle, etc.) to best fit your purpose.

Anatomy of a traditional kitchen knife

Today there are different types of traditional kitchen knives at very different prices and qualities, I tell you about the traditional ones and not the Japanese ones that are going very fashionable in recent years because I will dedicate a specific post to it.

I tell you that surely the Japanese kitchen knives, “Hōchō” are also an important element that determines the taste of Japanese cuisine and the oriental charm has also led in the kitchens of the rest of the world to possess the typical Japanese kitchen knives.

As with traditional kitchen knives, there are several types of Japanese kitchen knives.

The most used types in Japanese cuisine are:

  • the deba bōchō (kitchen cleaver),
  • the nakiri bōchō and
  • usuba bōchō (Japanese vegetable knives),
  • tako hiki and
  • the yanagi ba (slicers for sashimi).

Currently it is stainless steel that is generally used for Japanese knives today but traditionally, however, these knives were made of the same carbon steel as the katana,and the more expensive knives have a similar quality to these where if you look at the section they have an inner core of hard and crumbly steel, covered with a thick layer of softer and more ductile steel (sometimes stainless), so that the hard steel is exposed only on the cutting edge.

Anatomy of a traditional kitchen knife

Most used materials for blades in traditional kitchen knives

  • Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon,often also bound with vanadium and manganese. Usually the amount of carbon is 1.0%, as it makes the product inexpensive but with excellent yields. This type of metal is also much easier to re-effilate than steels called Stainless Steels, but it is much more vulnerable to the problem of rust. These knives should be cleaned, dried and lubricated thoroughly after each use. The first uses of a carbon steel knife give food (especially if acidic) an iron/metallic flavor, however over time, the knife will acquire an oxidative patina that, in the long run, prevents corrosion.
  • Stainless steel they are iron alloys characterized not only by the mechanical properties typical of carbon steels, by a considerable resistance to corrosion, especially in wet air or fresh water thanks to the presence of chromium (10-15%), nickel and molybdenum and a carbon content generally less than 1.2%. The typical stainless steel knives are those used as cutlery (Stainless steel 420 with a high concentration of chromium).
  • Stainless steel at high carbon concentrations is a combination of the two steels above. Blades characterized by this type of metal do not discolor and tend to keep a sharp blade for a fair period of time. Knives of this type are made with higher quality alloys than classic STAINLESS steel at the expense of the price which, of course, is higher. Often this alloy is added with significant amounts of molybdenum, vanadium, cobalt and other metals that improve its hardness, strength and cutting capacity.
  • Titanium lighter and more flexible than the others, but less durable than steels. Titanium does not release metallic flavor on food, but it is very expensive and inconvenient to use for the production of cutlery.
  • Porcelain is a robust but lightweight material for knives. It keeps its blade sharp for a long time and does not give flavor to food. In addition, not being metallic, the blade does not corrode. Ceramics, however, are easily chipped, so knives of this kind are considered extremely fragile when misused. Sharpening of ceramic blades should be carried out with special tools.
  • Plastic is the material of knives exclusively from vegetables, as they are not sharp enough for cutting meat. However, some self-sharpening plastic knives can be very sharp, so much so that they are sold with protective coatings.


Most used materials for handles in traditional kitchen knives

The kitchen knife handle can be shaped with a fair number of different materials, each of which has pros and cons.

  • Wood these handles allow a good grip of the knife, and many users find them beautiful to see. However, they are more difficult to treat and occasionally have to be treated with mineral oil. In addition, many wooden handles, especially painted ones, tend to crack and deform after a long exposure to water. For this reason they must be washed by hand. Painted wooden handles also tend to accommodate a large number of microorganisms when the paint layer is removed, so many users prevent this problem by repainting the handle.
  • Plastic are easier to maintain than wooden handles and do not absorb microorganisms. However, plastic handles are less resistant and become more and more fragile over time, resulting in breakage. In addition, the plastic is lighter than other materials and more accurate the balance of the knife, making the cut less precise. Many cooks also find plastic handles extremely slippery in the hand.
  • Composites are the handles formed from laminated wood and plastic resin. Many chefs prefer these knives to others as they are easy to store and hygienic, such as those with plastic handles, but at the same time they have the appearance, weight and grip of wooden ones and are more durable than the others. They often have a glossy and smooth appearance, with a varied coloring.
  • Stainless steel are metal handles and therefore are by far the most durable and hygienic. However, many users claim that this type of handle is very slippery, especially when wet. In response to these criticisms, knife manufacturers tend to improve their grip, creating steel handles with ridges, recesses, and bumps that improve hand grip. These knives, being made entirely of metal, are naturally very heavy at the expense of a worse balance during cutting and easier wrist fatigue than those who use them. To solve this problem, steel handles are created with internal cavities, in order to decrease the weight of the tool.


Beyond some differences most kitchen knives have a number of similar features, which go beyond the simple handle and a blade and which in this post I try to list you to give you an idea and recognize the differences.


Below we look at some of the most interesting features that traditional kitchen knives have:

Anatomy of a traditional kitchen knife

This one in the photo is the typical Chef’s knife also known as “Chopper”, “Cook’s Knife” or “French Knife”, and the style of this knife comes from that used by German cooks.

It is a knife with a specific curvature that allows you to get a more precise cut.

Its wide and heavy blade also allows you to shred the bones, without having to use the cleaver.

So it is a multipurpose knife, which is used for the preparation of many dishes.

Usually these knives are between 15 and 30 cm in size, although the most common size is that of 20 cm.

Let’s see the main parts that compose it:

Spines: Thespine is the back of the blade opposite the cutting edge. It is almost always thicker than the cutting edge and opaque to make the positioning of the flat hand on it safe for greater control and pressure. The thickness depends on the type of knife, for example, some mannaie have very designed plugs to be able to withstand a large amount of pressure.

Tip/Point: The tip of the knife is the pointed end of the knife. Depending on the type of knife, the corners of the tip can vary greatly. The tips can break by dropping the knife on a hard surface or trying to stab something too hard (something we don’t recommend!). We can repair the tips of knives for free with our knife sharpening service.

Hell (Heel): The heel is the back of the blade furthest from the tip and often the strongest area of the blade. This area can be used to cut food that requires more strength than usual.

Edge: This is quite explanatory car! The edge that cuts, this can be be blunted single, double beveled, asymmetrical or serrated. You can also have V-edges, beveled, convex, rectified and chiseled. More complex than I thought!

Bolster: This is the balance point between the blade and the handle, protects the fingers from the blade by adding comfort. Not all knives have reinforcements, it depends on the design of the knife, and often reinforcements are used to provide the “feeling” of the knife in terms of weight and balance. It also provides a secure transition to …

Handle: Handlescan be riveted, cemented or glued and made from a wide range of materials. On some knives, they surround the entire knife shank.

Tang (Shank): This is the portion of metal inside the handle. A full shank that crosses the entire handle is ideal and will provide strength and balance to the knife. Not all knives have a complete shank, some are three-quarters or half-shank. In addition, it adds weight to the handle that affects the balance and “feeling” of the knife during cutting.

Butt: this is the end of the handle. Some knives have steel hoods above the butts to protect the handle and holes that can act as hooks.

Now I think he understands better the anatomy of a traditional kitchen knife and clearly there are many possibilities as a choice of steel although they must always be for food and type of handle material.

If you want custom kitchen knives or your kitchen knives to be professionally sharpened and repaired, check out our blade and knife sharpening services via hand delivery or postal service.

The blade of a kitchen knife tends to lose its sharpening over time, but can be restored by an accurate sharpening process.

For many types of knife (such as butter knives), sharpening or not sharpening the blade does not make much difference.

Smooth blade knives can be re-sharpened by the same user, while serrated blade knives must be subjected to professional sharpening with specific instrumentation.

Anatomy of a traditional kitchen knife

List of main kitchen knives

  • Chef’s Knife
  • Peeler / Spelucchino
  • Cutter (Not to be confused with the term “Cutter”, used for a stationery knife.)
  • Bread knife
  • Butter knife

Meat and fish knives

  • engraver
  • Slicer
  • Slicer for ham
  • Mannarino / cleaver
  • Chinese Chef’s Knife (above) and North American Mannarino (below)
  • The Lobster Knife is an extra version of mannarino, mainly used for molluscs and poultry, although it has the profile of a Chef’s Knife.
  • Disoxor
  • Filleter

Cheese Knives

  • Soft cheese
  • Hard cheese
  • Tagliagrana (also called ” Drop”)

Small knives

  • decorative
  • Gasket knife
  • Groover

Specialized knives

  • Tomato[modification
  • Oyster knife
  • Svenator
  • Grapefruit knife
  • Chestnut knife
  • half-moon

Kitchen scissors

They are scissors that can be used for work similar to those of the knife, such as shredding herbs.

The Knife Carrier

It is a useful tool for storing knives.

It is an angular block of wood, steel or other material, with deep carvings in which to insert the blades of knives and some accessories (such as scissors).

The new generation of these tools includes a magnetic bar to keep knives, in fact many traditional knife carriers cannot be cleaned inside and this makes them unseathing.

The Knife Carrier


Traditional kitchen knives..

Are you experience?


If you liked what you read and it was useful to you before leaving the page share the article through the social buttons you see at the top and comment. Thank you very much!

That’s important! I still ask you for a little effort but for me it is useful for the project, click like on the Facebook Page and Instagram Channel.


Like it? Share with your friends!

138 shares, 138 points
Andrea F

Maker and Enthusiast of Knifemaking. Other: Engineer / Professional Blogger / Bass Player / Instructor of Boxing / Muay Thai / Brazilian Jiu Jitsu / Grappling / CSW / MMA / Self Defence / FMA / Dirty Boxing / Silat / Jeet Kune Do & Kali / Fencing Knife / Stick Fighting / Weapons / Firearms. Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport! State Of Love And Trust!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Warning: Division by zero in /home/customer/www/ on line 281
error: Content is protected !!