Basic Chef Knife Skills

Get to Know Your Chef Knife With These Chef Knife Skills

Tip

The tip of the knife, which includes the point, is typically considered to be the first third of the edge. This portion of the blade is used for slicing and delicate cutting. 

Edge

The edge, or belly, is the sharp portion of the blade that runs from the point to the end of the heel.

Heel

Located in the rear of the blade, the heel is the widest part of the knife’s edge. It’s the strongest part of the blade, and ideal for cutting hard ingredients, like carrots and winter squash.

Spine

Opposite the edge, the spine is the thickest part of the blade. The thickness of the spine will vary from knife to knife, and affects the strength of the edge and the overall stability of the blade. 

Handle

Varying in shape, weight, and material, the handle is the portion of the knife that extends from the bolster to the butt. 

Bolster

Adding to the stability of the knife by counterbalancing the blade and handle, the bolster is the area between the blade and the handle. 

Tang

This is where your knife’s strength, stability, and balance comes from. The tang is the metal part of the blade that extends into the handle. Depending on the knife, the tang can extend part way through the handle (a partial tang) or to the end of the handle (a full tang). 

Butt

The butt is the back end of the knife handle. 

How to Hold Your Chef Knife:

The handle of your chef knife is designed to provide comfort, precision and safety while utilizing your knife. While handles may differ based on materials used, size and shape the basic handling is the same. A proper grip of your knife will allow you to get a precise cut while also protecting your fingers from harm in the process. 

Common Ways to Grip Your Chef Knife:

There are two ways that are most commonly used when gripping a chef’s knife. First is known as the handle grip. This is when you wrap all five fingers around the handle of the knife avoiding any contact with the blade itself. While common, it is not necessarily the best way to hold your knife. If you are looking for the power, comfort and precision then we recommend you use the pinch grip. Rather than curling all your fingers around the handle, wrap only your pinky, index, and middle finger. Put your bent pointer finger on one side of the blade and your thumb on the opposite side, like you’re pinching the blade between them. It may take some time to get used to this style of grip, but once you do you’ll never look back. The overall comfort, ease and precision will allow for more intricate cuts. 

Protecting Your Fingers – The Claw:

While properly gripping your knife handle is important – some would say it’s just as important to properly place your other hand as well. If you are not properly holding the food you are cutting in order to protect your fingers then accidents can easily happen. That’s why we recommend you use what’s called the claw in order to keep your fingers safe from harm. To form a proper claw you hold the food item with your fingertips curled under and tucked away. Your knuckles will press into the item and your thumb, positioned back and below, toward the cutting board, will help to stabilize it. The knife should be flush against your knuckle and you’ll move your hand backward as you continue to slice. This will protect your fingertips and provide even cuts as you go. 

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