Kitchen knives buying guide

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A good, basic set of knives is a must, even for the smallest kitchen or the most infrequent cook. Good knives will make food preparation faster and easier and the best will last for many years. Follow our guide to find out which will best suit your needs, although we do not sell knives online we still feature the details of many knives and we do sell knife accessories online.

The right knife for the job

Kitchen knives come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The shape of a knife makes it suited to a particular job and a wide range is available. You may want to use purpose-made knives or keep to a few that will cope with most tasks. The measurement of a knife excludes the handle and refers to the length of the blade from heel to tip.

Basic knives

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Specialist knives

We also sell sets of cheese and butter knives online. Other specialist knives such as Chinese cook’s knives, palette knives, filleting knives poultry shears and mezzalunas (curved blades with two handles for chopping herbs) are available in our shops.

Equipping yourself with the basics

It is not necessary to buy a whole array of specialist knives. You may simply want to purchase a few basics for everyday use or add to a collection over time, especially with the more expensive ranges. We recommend the following for a basic set:

  • Paring knife
  • Small cook’s knife
  • Large cook’s knife
  • Bread knife
  • Carving knife & fork

Quality and construction

The quality and price of a knife will be affected by the way in which it is made. We hope the glossary below will help you decide which quality of knife you would prefer.

Fully forged

Fully forged knives are the best quality, made from a single block of steel. The blade and the tang (which attaches the blade to the handle) are all in one piece.

Stamped

Stamped knives are machine cut from a continuous strip of stainless steel. This process makes the knife more economical to produce and buy. They are not as strong or durable as fully forged knives but offer good quality and value for money.

Hardening and tempering

These are the processes knives are put through to produce a hard, durable blade.

Taper ground

Taper ground blades are the best quality. Taper ground means that the whole blade is ground, from the back of the blade to the cutting edge and from the handle end to the tip. This produces a blade with a fine sharp and very strong cutting edge.

Tang

The name given to the part of the blade which attaches the blade to the handle

Hollow ground

Not as strong or durable as taper ground blades, only the bottom part of the blade is ground to form a cutting edge.

Full tang

Full tang knives have a tang which runs the full length of the handle, follows its shape and is secured by rivets along its entire length. This helps to provide strength and balance and is a feature for the serious cook to look for.

Half tang

Half tang (or neb tang) is the name given to a tang which extends part way along the handle, from about halfway to as much as three quarters of the way. It is secured by rivets but usually the rivet furthest way from the blade is only cosmetic. Half tang knives are suitable for general work.

Whittle tang

Whittle Tang knives have only a short point which extend into the handle and cannot be seen. They are only suitable for lightweight work.

Care and storage

  • Most knives are dishwasher safe. Remove and dry at the end of the cycle to prevent corrosion. However if knives are washed by hand and dried they will stay sharper for longer.
  • To protect the blades, store in a knife block or magnetic wall rack and always use on a smooth surface such as a wood or acrylic chopping board.
  • Use a knife sharpener or steel to keep blades in good condition.
  • Please note: We are not permitted to sell a knife or blade to any person under the age of 18. Criminal Justice Act 1988 (as amended)