How to Buy a Chef Knife
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Purchasing

The most important when choosing a chef’s knife, is how it feels in your hand. The knife should feel like an extension of your own hand and sit effortlessly in your grip. If a knife you are considering “feels right” here are some tools to further evaluate how it may perform for you:

1. Size: In order to maximize its versatility, your chef’s knife should be the largest size you can comfortably grip as a smaller knife will fall short in chopping vegetables, halving pizzas, etc.).  In general, a shorter cook will find an 8 inch (200 mm) knife comfortable while a tall cook may prefer a 10 inch knife (254 mm).

2. Sturdiness: Forged Knife, is preferred based on its construction. The knife should be constructed from a single piece of steel (“a full tang”) and be manufactured from high gauge (18/10) High Carbon Steel, Ceramic, or Stainless Steel. Although stamped knives can be sturdy, some may be dangerously flimsy in harder cutting tasks. The key to a sturdy knife lies in its balance.  A heavy blade or a heavy handle can leave you with an exhausted wrist.  Look for a knife that is well-balanced between the handle and blade. 

3. Sharp: The sharper the better.  A dull knife increases the chances of injury. A “steel” should be used to sharpen your chef’s knife prior to each use in order to keep its edge sharp. Using a steel is detailed in Basic Knife Skills Topic 2. Occasional sharpening (with a sharpening stone or electric sharpener) will also keep your knife in good sharp shape. We cover sharpening in Intermediate Knife Skills Topic 2: Knife Sharpening

4. Rounded: If your cutting edge is rounded rather than perfectly straight, chopping and mincing tasks will be easier.  A rounded edge allows you to rock the knife back to starting position in a rhythmic flow after you have lifted it to make a cut.   

5. Grip: Avoid smooth handles that can become too slick. Look for a textured handle.  A plastic handle is often more durable than a wood one, requiring less maintenance, but there is something to be said for the beauty and feel of wood in an artistic implement.