Knife DNA 101

The Cutting Edge the sharpened, honed edge of the blade. It should be razor sharp. Chef’s knife blades come in varying degrees of curvature, designed for various tasks, such as cutting, slicing, filleting, butchery.

The Back, or Spine, is the long side opposite the sharp blade. This is where you hold your non–knife hand when rocking the knife back and forth for rapid mincing. It can also be used as a makeshift bench scraper for moving pieces of food around on your cutting board. Never use the knife cutting edge for this.

The Tip is the sharp point at the end of the blade. It’s used for precision work.

The Heel is at the bottom of the blade. In Western-style knives, the metal thickens significantly at the heel. This is to make it easier to grip.

The Bolster is the part of the blade that meets the handle. It is thick and heavy, providing a good balancing point for the blade and the handle. The center of mass should be somewhere near the bolster, so that you can rock the knife back and forth with minimal effort.

The Tang is the extension of the blade that runs through the handle. It provides balance as well as sturdiness.

The Handle is where your hand rests if using the handle grip, or where your three smaller fingers rest if using the blade grip. Handles can be made of wood, polycarbonate, metal, or various exotic materials.

The Butt is the fattened section at the very bottom of the handle.

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