How to Choose the Right Knife for the Job
January 8, 2015
Knife enthusiasts know that all knives are not created equal. A blade you might use for one job is not necessarily the same blade you’ll use for another. In this post, we’ll look at the various things you’ll want to consider when choosing a knife.
Many people don’t know this, but using the right knife in the kitchen can actually improve your cooking. The right knife will help you cut safely, accomplish tasks more efficiently, and can even improve the texture of your food by preventing bruising of fruits and vegetables, and tearing of meats.
- Paring Knife - The paring knife has a short blade (between 2-4 inches) and is generally used for delicate jobs like peeling garlic and slicing small fruits and vegetables.
- Utility Knife - The utility knife is a medium-sized knife used for miscellaneous cutting. The blade is anywhere from 4 to 7 inches. It’s larger than a paring knife but not as large as a chef's knife.
- Boning Knife - This knife is used to separate meat from bone. The blade is specifically designed to closely follow the bone.
- Fillet Knife - The fillet knife has a long, thin, flexible blade with a pointed tip. Its purpose is to remove scales and bones from fish.
- Chef’s Knife - The Chef’s knife is one of the most used kitchen knives. It has an 8-14 inch blade and is generally considered an all-purpose knife. Use this to dice or chop fruit, vegetables, meat or fish.
- Cleaver - The cleaver has a long, wide blade and is used to cut and chop through thick meat and bone.
- Bread Knife - Also known as the serrated knife, the bread knife is great for cutting through soft, crusty items (bread), or foods with a tender center (think tomatoes).
A survival knife is commonly regarded as the most important tool when you’re out in the wilderness. While choosing a survival knife is a personal task (what’s right for one person may not be right for another), there are a few things everyone should look for.
- Full tang – A full tang design means the steel of the blade continues all the way to the end of the handle in one piece. This creates a stronger knife that can handle more stress.
- Fixed Blade – A fixed blade knife is more durable. Folding knives tend to have shorter and thinner blades, which limits the ways in which they can be used. A fixed blade is your best bet in survival situations.
- Length of Blade – For the most versatile survival knife, choose one with a blade between four to six inches. Also, the thicker the blade, the better it will stand up to hard use. A good general rule is about 3/16 -4/16 of an inch thick.
- Handle – Make sure the handle is non-slip and comfortable to hold.
A pocket knife is exactly what its name implies, a knife that can be carried in your pocket. It’s a general purpose tool that come in various designs and sizes. There are, however, a few common traits you’ll want to look for when considering a new pocket knife.
- Every Day Carry (EDC) – An Every Day Carry knife is one that you regularly carry. For most knife enthusiasts, an EDC knife truly is carried every day.
- Blade Length – Generally, a blade between 3 to 4 inches is best. A longer blade will make the knife more difficult to carry, and a blade that’s too short won’t be able to accomplish many of the tasks you’re likely to take on.
- Durability – You won’t always be able to tell at first glance if a knife is going to be durable but look for things like coated blades or nylon handles, as these point to a stronger overall knife.
(Lansky’s Responder knife is a great example of an ideal EDC pocket knife).
A good hunting knife will be versatile enough to do everything the hunter needs. But it’s not as simple as that. For instance, a large game hunter will want a much bigger knife than a rabbit hunter. Before purchasing your hunting knife, take the following into consideration.
- Fixed Blade or Folders – Folders are easier to carry but fixed blades are generally better at getting the job done. They’re stronger and more reliable.
- Full tang – Much like your survival knife, you’ll want a full tang design for your hunting knife too. Partial tang designs won’t work very well in this capacity.
- Handles – Look for non-slip handles that are comfortable in the hand. You’ll be using your hunting knife a lot so you’ll want to make sure it’s comfortable.
As always, don’t forget to keep your knives sharp. Regular maintenance improves the longevity of your knives.
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