Kitchen Knife Guide – How to Select the Best Tool for the Job

Knives are the basic kitchen tool, that should get a great deal of attention when looking for excellent culinary results. One of the first secrets of becoming an excellent cook is having a proper selection of knives, which are well kept and maintained.


Knives come in various shapes and sizes, as each one of them is meant for a specific type of job. Below I will show you the most essential types of knives and their basic use.

Office knife

Office (or paring) knives are the smallest but one of the most important knives in the kitchen. They are used for fine nimble work – things like slicing garlic, chopping a shallot, shaping carrots etc. Blade length is usually around 3.9 in. or 100mm.

Chef / Demi Chef knife

Chef knife is the king of knives for every chef. Sizes are important, and they vary from demi chef sizes (about 9.8 in. or 250 mm) to chef sizes (12 in. or 300 mm) or more. A modern chef’s knife is a utility knife designed to perform well at many differing kitchen tasks, rather than excelling at any one in particular. It can be used for mincing, slicing, and chopping vegetables, slicing meat, and disjointing large cuts.

Boning knife

The blade of a boning knife is specially tempered to make it very hard so that it can withstand cuts into and knocks against hard ingredients, like bones. So, if you are cutting up a chicken, for example, this is the knife to use. Blade length 5 in. or 130mm.

Filleting knife

The filleting knife is used for fish. The blade is thin and, in contrast to the other knives, very bendy, which makes filleting much easier.

Sharpening steel

Sharpening steels in domestic kitchens are almost always too short. Professional chef’s use steels that have a 300mm or 12 in. steel, and this makes the world of a difference.


Knives come in various brands, models and quality levels. When buying knives, make sure that the knife is properly balanced in your hand, meaning that when you are holding it at the base of the handle, it should be evenly balanced.

Second, knife should be made of durable, preferably forged steel. The blade should be sharpened evenly from the cutting edge up. Overly thick blades are usually a sign of poor quality steel. Some of the most renowned brands of knives are Global, Victorinox, WMF, JA Henckels, Wusthof and others.


In order to maintain your knives you should follow a few basic and simple rules:

  • Always wash your knives after usage in cold or temperate water. Washing your knives with hot water will dull the blade. NEVER WASH YOUR KNIVES IN THE DISH WASHER!!
  • To maintain the sharpness of your knife use a sharpening steel. Always sharpen in the same direction, using the same angle and stroke. If your knife is too dull, do not try to sharpen it with a steel. Steels are only used to maintain sharpness!
  • Sharpen knives with a sharpening stone. Always use manual stones. Always soak the stone in water prior to sharpening. Make sure you always use the same stroke and angle. NEVER USE ELECTRIC GRINDING STONES FOR SHARPENING!! You will permanently damage your knife as you will eat away the blade too quickly!

All the details about buying and maintaining your knives are very well presented in the kitchen knife guidebook, which I strongly recommend to all aspiring kitchen chefs and can be found HERE!