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A Short Guide to Knife Components and Blade Materials

Author: blue shoot

Knives are, perhaps, the most important tools in the kitchen and the pleasure of cooking can be greatly enhanced by the quality of knife you use, whether it is for cutting, chopping, boning, filleting, paring or any other job facilitated by knives. The importance of knives can be aptly defined by a chef, who is sure to have a wide assortment of the instrument.

Hence, here are some tips to understand the anatomy of knives and the variety of materials used to make them.

Knife Components

The Edge is the cutting part of the knife’s blade. This could either be plain or serrated according to the role of the knife.

The Spine is the side of the blade opposite to the Edge. The Handle, made of wood, steel, plastic, or rubber is where you hold the knife, is increasingly important when buying a knife for both comfort and protection, as demonstrated by Zwilling JA Henckels ergonomically designed handle which was developed after extensive studies by the Fraunhofer Institute. The Bolster is the thickest part of the knife and connects the blade to the Handle and only forged knives have bolsters. The Tang is the part of the blade that runs through the Bolster into the Handle and provides balance and strength. It is usually visible running along the Handle. It is generally believed that knives with a full tang (i.e.the knife is made from a single piece of steel) offer greater strength and durability, and the majority of quality knife manufacturers have fully forged knives with a single tang The Tang is kept in place with Rivets that ought to be the same level as the Handle to ensure comfortable holding.

There are names for every part and angle that a knife entails, such as the point, tip, heel, return, bolster lip, finger guard, scales, handle guard and handle head or butt but the above are the major areas.

Forged or Stamped?

Knives can be either forged or stamped. It is generally considered forged knives are the highest quality knives on the market. They take great craftsmanship as the process involves extreme heat and hand moulding to create the finished article. The blade, tang and bolster are one piece of steel and are hammered into knife shape, with the handle being either riveted or welded onto the metal. Following the process of heating and cooling, the forged blade is ground to create a full taper to the cutting edge. They are popular with chefs for being better balanced, and for the extra flexibility and durability they offer. Zwilling JA Henckels, and Stellar Sabatier, make some of the finest forged knives as do Wusthof and Mundial.

Stamped knives are lighter, more flexible and easier to sharpen but not as balanced or as strong as forged ones, but can still be of good quality. The name comes from the process where a sheet of metal is stamped out with templated cutters, and this process enables them to be less expensive than forged knives. The steel sheets are then cut into the shape of a blade. Stamped knives are either hollow ground or edged, with the hollow ground being the longer lasting of the two knife types as they will retain their edge for longer. While these knives are easy to sharpen they generally do not hold their edge for as long as forged knives. Judge Sabatier and Stellar James Martin are examples of stamped knives.

Blade Materials

The blade materials can sometimes been seen as the dark art of the knife manufacturer. The established knife manufacturers they have been continually refining the exact proportions of carbon, stainless steel and other components to achieve what they believe the perfect blade to be. For example, Zwilling JA Henckels knives go through upto 40 manufacturing steps to produce their knives, including an ice-hardening process the stainless steel goes through, helping create the hardest knife around (66 Rockwell).

High Carbon Stainless Steel is still commonly regarded as the best quality steel to use in knife manufacturing. They are rust and stain resistant, with its hardness, good looks and exceptionally sharp edge makes it a favourite for producing high quality kitchen knives. However, if abused they are likely to lose their sharpness. A good carbon stainless steel knife should not be put in the dishwasher as they can be damaged.

The use of molybdenum in High Carbon Stainless steel knives (sometimes known as Molybdenum stainless steel) is being increasingly used in knife manufacturing as they retain a sharper edge for longer and are even more resistant to rust. Whilst purists may say that the adding of molybdenum with reduce the sharpness of the knife they are in reality still incredibly sharp, with both Stellar Sabatier and Mundial have molybdenum in their knives.

Titanium knives are a better option over Stainless Steel as they are lighter, wear resistant and hold their edge longer. They are, however, more flexible and therefore not suitable for all kinds of cutting. Kasumi has a range of Titanium knives.

A lesser known variety is Ceramic knives. They are not metal, of course, but are extremely hard; hard enough to cut the glaze on dinner ware. They are low maintenance and can hold their edge for years sometimes. But they cannot be used for all kinds of cutting and can be used on cutting boards only. You can try brands such as Kyocera and Kasumi.

Here is a brief summary of my beliefs when it comes to knives:

For purists – Forged and Carbon Steel – Zwilling JA Henckels, Wusthof

High quality knives for the hard working, time poor cook – forged and molybdenum steel – Stellar Sabatier/Mundial

Light and easy to handle knives – James Martin Collection

Quality Knives for everyday use – Judge Sabatier

Knives for those who want to make a statement – Global and Kasumi

All knives will lose their edge over time, and it is dependent on how you keep them as to whether they retain their sharpness. So, whatever you do, don’t believe a seller when he says a knife would remain sharp forever – it is not true. Even your most prized possession will some day have to be face the sharpening steel or a Chefs Choice sharpening station. Manufacturer:

About the Author:

Blue Shoots love our cooking at Blue Shoots Ltd and understand that to be a successful cook it helps to have the right cookware and kitchen accessories. As a specialist cookware shops it is our aim to bring you a wide selection of quality kitchen appliances and kitchen gadgets at online, affordable prices.

Article Source: ArticlesBase.com – A Short Guide to Knife Components and Blade Materials

Running Shorts Blue

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