Our guide to knife anatomy and selection

Knife Know-How

What Taylor's doesn't know about knives isn't really worth knowing. Here we share with you what's important when choosing a knife and which knives no kitchen should be without.

Types of Construction

There are essentially six methods of kitchen knife manufacture, each imparting different properties in terms of performance, appearance & cost. 


Fully Forged

A genuine fully-forged knife - such as one from our Veritable Sabatier range - is made from a single billet of steel that is formed with drop hammers to define the shape of the blade, bolster and handle. After forging and heat-treating, the handle material is moulded onto the tang, then the blade is polished and sharpened. Offers exceptional performance, strength and balance, favoured by professional chefs.


Full Tang Riveted

A centuries-old design, the classic Full-Tang, Triple Rivet knife is made with a stamped steel blade that is individually heat treated and tempered for excellent edge retention. Left and right 'scales' - made from wood, plastic or micarta - are riveted on either side of the blade. The whole knife is then polished back for a seamless finish. Lower cost than a fully forged knife, but with similar balance and performance qualities.


All Steel

When making a hollow handle knife, stainless steel pressings are welded to the blade, then the joints are ground and polished back to a smooth finish. Being completely seamless and free of food traps, this type of construction is hygienic and requires very little maintenance. The hollow void inside the handle is often filled with sand or steel weights to fine-tune the knife's balance characteristics.


Japanese 'Wa' Handle

The Japanese style 'Wa' handle is characterised by a metal ferrule near the blade which prevents the traditionally wooden handle from splitting. The blade 'tang' extends ½ to ¾ of the length of the handle providing some weight, though this type of knife typically has a blade-forward balance. Like a broom handle, this traditional design meant that the handle could be easily replaced throughout the life of the blade.


Moulded-On Handle

As the name suggests, the polymer handle is moulded directly over the near-finished blade. This results in a very resilient knife to withstand even the most demanding of environments. This type of knife is favoured particularly by professional chefs, butchers and commercial food producers owing to its easy maintenance, durability, lack of food traps and the ability to colour-code the handle.


Push-On Handle

Many modern knives feature push-on or 'hafted' handles that allow for creative finishes and designs that would not be possible by other methods. In some processes, after insertion of the blade the 'tang' is warmed by inductive heating to melt the polymer handle firmly onto the blade. Push-on knives are generally lower cost, light weight and have the added benefit of consistent quality and performance.

Blade Materials

Stainless steel is a popular class of material for knife blades because it resists corrosion and is easy to maintain. A simple wash and wipe dry is generally all it takes. It is not completely impervious to corrosion or rust, but any stain spots or small rust marks that do occur can be polished out with a good quality stainless steel cleaner and a soft cloth.

There are a number of different grades of Stainless Steel we use in our knives, each with different properties that we exploit depending on application. The key consideration when selecting the most appropriate steel is the hardness that can be achieved through heat treatment. A blade with very high hardness keeps an edge longer, but is more difficult to sharpen at home and will be considerably more expensive.

Our 'Sheffield Choice' and 'Heritage Series' ranges are made using 420HC steel, which is normally used in the manufacture of razor blades and scalpels. With between 0.4% and 0.5% carbon, it has the highest carbon content in its class, which makes a tough, readily hardenable blade that can be sharpened & maintained easily at home. Our heat treatment process achieves a hardness of up to 56 HRC on the Rockwell hardness scale. Items from the 'Professional Series' and 'Trade Tools' ranges are made in Sheffield with a grade of French stainless steel known as T5Mo - a Molybdenum alloy with 0.45% and 0.55% carbon.

Super-premium knives in our Sheffield Made range are made with Sandvik 14C28N® martensitic blade steel. The addition of nitrogen into the alloy in place of carbon leads to exceptional corrosion resistance. With unrivalled corrosion resistance and a typical hardness of 60 HRC, this super steel is used to make some of the finest kitchen and sports knives in the world. 

Further afield, VG-10 stainless steel is a core feature of our Japanese-made kai knives. VG-10 is an exotic alloy with a very high carbon and chromium content for exceptional blade hardness and stain resistance. This steel grade is often used in the manufacture of 'Damascus' steel. Damascus knives feature a blade 'core' made with VG-10. This core is sandwiched between 66 layers of premium blade steel. This process exploits the best properties of each of the steel alloys for the ideal combination of hardness, flexibility & corrosion resistance. When the blade is ground to the classic convex “hamaguriba” taper profile, the minute variations in the thickness of these layers reveal the stunning pattern characteristic of Damascus steel.

Last but by no means least, knives in the Sabatier Professional family are made with molybdenum steel alloy and can be identified by the 'X50CrMoV15' blade etching. This is a high quality all-rounder with very good hardness and stain resistance without breaking the bank.

Hardening & Tempering

The hardenable varieties of Stainless Steel are generally supplied to the factory in the soft state to allow working of the material into its basic shape either by stamping or forging. Hardening involves heating the blade to between 1020° & 1040°C before cooling it rapidly. The process alters the crystalline structure of the steel making the blade extremely hard. This process is usually followed by tempering - a soak at approximately 200°C - which takes out a little of the hardness to de-stress the steel, making it less brittle and slightly flexible.

Heat treatment of blade blanks in Sheffield

Edge Types

There are several common types of blade grinding techniques, all intended to thin the blade edge without compromising strength. Most blades are then given a plain edge - which requires periodic sharpening at home - or are given serrations for specific cutting tasks.


Taper Grind

A symmetrical wedge shaped profile is ground through the breadth of the blade. Results in a very fine edge that will retain it's sharpness well, without sacrificing the overall strength of the blade. Requires considerable skill to produce.


Asymmetrical Hollow Grind

Typical of many traditional Japanese knives, the main body of the blade is flat, while a chisel grind is taken from the right-hand side of the blade. The opposite side of the blade - while appearing flat - has a slight concave grind.


Symmetrical Hollow Grind

A concave grind is taken from a portion of the blade to thin the edge before sharpening. This process results in a very durable edge and permits the use of thinner steels for improved cutting performance & flexibility.


Blade 'Kullens'

Typical of Japanese style santoku knives, these concave air pockets are ground into both sides of the blade with the aim of reducing sticking & drag while slicing & chopping.


Fine Serrated Edge

Peaks and troughs are ground to one side of the knife. The peaks provide the initial cut, while protecting the troughs from damage. Ideal for tender foods, stringy vegetables, dried foods and tough, sinewy meats.


Scalloped Edge

Broad, saw-like scallops ground on a single side of the blade. Designed to zip through crusty bread, reducing the amount of pressure required thus reducing the chance of crushing the soft centre.

 

Kitchen Knife Types

Selecting the best tool for the job will make all your food preparation jobs quicker, easier and safer.

Sabatier Professional Paring Knife

Paring Knife

A short, agile blade with a sharp point for removing blemishes. Designed specifically for precision tasks such as peeling, top and tailing & de-seeding vegetables.

Taylor's Eye Witness Tacoma All Purpose Knife

All Purpose Knife

A versatile knife for cutting, slicing & trimming meat, vegetables & even sandwiches. Its small size is ideal for precision tasks and decoration.

Sabatier Professional Pakkawood Serrated Utility Knife

Serrated Knife

A good serrated knife will glide through a tomato without crushing the delicate flesh. Makes light work of tough, stringy vegetables and cured sausage.

Kai Shun Santoku Knife

Santoku Knife

Loosely translates from Japanese as 'three virtues', in reference to the three cutting jobs it is intended for: slicing, dicing and mincing. Scallops on the surface of the blade help reduce sticking of food.

Veritable Sabatier Chef's Knife

Chef's or Cook's Knife

A chef's knife's deep heel protects the knuckles for chopping, rocking & dicing. Available in various sizes between 14 and 25cm, a curved blade facilitates a rocking motion while chopping herbs or nuts.

Taylor's Eye Witness Juno Bread Knife

Bread Knife

Broad, saw-like scallops zip through crusty bread, reducing the amount of pressure required thus reducing the chance of crushing the soft centre. Also ideal for carving roast pork & beef joints. Usually 20 or 23cm long.

Sheffield Made Professional Series Carving Knife

Carving Knife

Usually between 20 & 25cm long, a carving knife is used to slice thin cuts of poultry, roasts, hams & other cooked meats. A carving knife is generally thinner than a chef's knife enabling it to carve with more precision.

A Taylor's Sheffield Made Filleting knife

Filleting Knife

A thin, flexible blade designed to move easily along the backbone and under the skin of fish. The blade is specially heat treated and tempered to give it its characteristic spring. Normally 15cm to 20cm (6 to 8 inches) long.


Boning Knife

A boning knife is used to remove bones from cuts of meat and is particularly useful when deboning poultry. Similar to a filleting knife in size and shape, but with a narrower, stiffer blade to negotiate small spaces.

A Taylor's Sheffield Made Ham & Salmon Slicing Knife

Ham & Salmon Slicer

A very long, flexible blade with a rounded rip. They are especially useful for slicing roast meats & cured fish, as their generous length allows you to slice with a single draw of the blade for a smoother presentation.

A Taylor's Sheffield Made Cleaver

Cleaver

Used for splitting or 'cleaving' meat & bone. They have a thicker, stronger & less acutely ground edge than a kitchen knife. A Chinese Chef's Knife is similar in size & shape, but with a finer edge intended for fine chopping.

Sheffield Made Carving Fork

Cook's Carving Fork

A cook's fork features two sharp tines to hold roasts steady while carving, keeping your hands safely away from the knife. Also lends a hand while moving food during cooking, serving slices & shredding pulled pork.

Veritable Sabatier Steak Knife

Steak Knife

Unlike other 'table' knives, a steak knife is made to same standard as a kitchen knife to retain a sharp edge. Serrations assist with cutting & help protect the sharpened edge from damage by ceramic plates.

Quantum Damascus Nakiri Knife

Nakiri Knife

The Nakiri blade shape is a traditional Japanese vegetable knife, ideal for chopping and dicing. The thin, straight-edged blade cuts all the way through to the chopping board without the need for a pull stroke.

Kai Seki Magoruku Hekiju Deba Knife

Deba Knife

A small but sturdy knife with a strong, broad blade and a single cutting edge. The forward half of the blade is used mainly for filleting fish & poultry. The stronger heel of the blade is use for cutting small chicken & fish bones.

 

Check out our handy guide

Knife care & sharpening