WebstaurantStore / Food Service Resources / Buying Guides / Types of Knives

Types of Knives

One of the most basic, but important hand tools for any commercial kitchen is the knife. With so many different types of knives, it can sometimes be difficult to decide which is the best kitchen knife. A quality knife that's matched to the task at hand can increase productivity in your kitchen and provide better results. We offer a great selection of commercial kitchen cutlery to match any task and budget!

The Anatomy of a Knife

Knife Anatomy
Bolster The bolster is only found on forged knives. It is a thick band of steel between the heel and the handle that helps balance the knife and prevents the user's hand from slipping across the blade.
Butt The butt is the end of the knife handle.
Edge The edge is the sharpened part of the knife blade that extends from the heel to the tip. Maintaining a sharp edge is crucial for user safety and maximum effectiveness.
Handle Also known as the scales, the handle provides the knife's gripping surface.
Heel The heel is the rear portion of the blade and is most often used to cut thick or tough products where more force is required.
Point This functions as the piercing tool of the blade.
Spine The spine is the top of the blade opposite the edge.
Tang The tang is the part of the blade that extends into the handle and helps provide balance. Full tang blades are considered superior in balance and durability. A sub tang or half tang is less durable but more economic.
Tip The tip is the front quarter of the blade that does most of the cutting and separating. Pointed tips are ideal for piercing and cutting small portions. Rounded tips are ideal for cutting or slicing thin portions.

Forged vs. Stamped

Every piece of commercial cutlery is constructed using one of two methods, forging or stamping.

Forged blade knives are formed when heated bar steel is roughly shaped under a drop hammer, which compresses the steel under immense pressure. After the basic knife shape is formed, the blade goes through a grinding and honing process to form its final shape and edge.

Forged Knives:

  • Have a thicker and heavier blade than stamped knives
  • Have a bolster between the heel and handle
  • Are usually stronger and better balanced than stamped knives
  • Are usually more expensive than stamped knives

Stamped blade knives are formed when a hydraulic press, or die, cuts the desired blade shape out of a flat sheet of steel, like a cookie cutter. Next, the blade blanks are sharpened through a multi-step grinding and honing process.

Stamped Knives:

  • Have a thinner and lighter blade than forged knives
  • Do not have a bolster between the heel and handle
  • Are not usually as balanced as forged knives
  • Are less expensive than forged knives

Types of Steels

There are numerous types of stainless steel, but some of the most common for commercial kitchen knives are VG-10, 420HC, and 440C stainless steel.

VG-10 and San Mai Stainless Steel

San Mai Steel Knife

VG-10 and San Mai steel are high-carbon stainless steels that feature superior edge-retention, incredible edge sharpness, strength, and durability. VG-10 and San Mai steel are very popular in commercial kitchen knives, especially Asian or Japanese knives. The process for creating San Mai steel involves layering laminated hard carbon together to create a steel which meets high-quality standards for its durability, sharpness, and stain-resistance. Best of all, San Mai is about half the weight of German steel. Because of these factors, VG-10 and San Mai are favored by many chefs.

420 and 440C Stainless Steel

Carbon Steel Kitchen Knives

High-carbon stainless steel that is commonly known as German steel is usually made of a variant of 420 or 440C stainless steel. Both of these steels are sharp, durable, and excellent at resisting stains and corrosion, making them prevalent in many western knives, especially forged knives. One of the biggest differences is that 440C stainless steel is stronger than 420, making it slightly better at holding an edge.

Other variants of 420 stainless steel include 420HC and 420J2 stainless steel. These steels are similar to 440C and have a higher carbon content for a stronger more durable blade.

Types of Knife Handles

Commercial cutlery is available with a variety of knife handle types and constructions.

Wood Handles

Wood Handle Knife

Wood handled cutlery used to be very common, but has fallen out of favor with health inspectors due to food safety concerns. While very attractive and comfortable to use, wood handled knives are not as durable and can trap bacteria.

Pakkawoodis a wood/plastic composite material that provides the look and feel of real wood, but comes with more advantages than traditional wood. Though still not dishwasher safe, they are moisture resistant and don't warp or split.

Stainless Steel Handles

Stainless Steel Handled Knife

Stainless steel handles are virtually maintenance-free. They are extremely durable and easy to clean. A very large or heavy knife with a stainless steel blade will likely be better balanced than a similarly sized wood or plastic handled knife. However, stainless steel handles do not provide a very good "grip" and can become slippery when wet.

Plastic Handles

Plastic Knife Handle

Plastic handles are now the most popular type of handle. They are often very easy to clean and hold up well, but can occasionally crack over time or when exposed to extreme temperature changes. Several types of plastic handled knives are available on our site:

  • Fibrox - RH Forschner Fibrox handled knives are NSF Listed, dishwasher-safe, and slip-resistant.
  • Nylon- Nylon handled knives are durable, easy-to-clean, and economical.
  • Proflex - Proflex poly resin handles provide a safe, no-slip grip, and are NSF Listed.
  • Resin - Resin handles are lightweight and comfortable to hold.
  • Styrene - Styrene handles are light weight, sturdy, and comfortable.
  • Polypropylene- Knives with polypropylene handles usually have a textured grip and are easy to clean. They are typically an economical option and usually standout by their white coloring.
  • Riveted POM (Polyoxyethylene) - POM (Polyoxymethelene) handles are more durable than polypropylene and are easy to clean. They are also resistant to high heat and have less water absorption than other plastic handles.
  • Dexter-Russell V-Lo- Dexter-Russell V-Lo handles are durable, easy to clean, and feature an incredibly comfortable, "soft-touch" grip.
  • Mercer Millennia Santoprene- Mercer Millennia santoprene handles are a blend of santoprene and polypropylene. Not only do they provide a non-slip, comfortable grip during use, but they also will not break down when exposed to kitchen oils, hot environments, or cold temperatures.

Types of Knife Edges

There are four common types of blade edges available on commercial cutlery.

Straight Edge

Straight Edge Knife

Sometimes called flat ground, a straight edge is the most common, and is formed by grinding the blade in a straight line so it tapers to form a razor sharp edge.

Granton Edge

Granton Edge Knife

Granton edge knives feature hollowed out sections running along both sides of the blade. When slicing meat, the grooves create a small air space between the product being cut and the knife to ease slicing. Granton edge knives are often preferred when slicing thin portions of poultry, roasts, or ham.

Serrated Edge

Serrated Edge Knife

Serrated edge knives may also be referred to as wavy or scalloped edge. Serrated edge knives feature teeth along the blade edge, which easily penetrate the tough outer crust or skin of the product being cut while protecting the soft inner part from tearing. Serrated edge knives are ideal for cutting bread and fruit.

Hollow Ground Edge

Hollow Ground Knife Edge

Hollow ground edges are created by grinding from just below the midpoint of the blade to form concave sides that come to a very thin cutting edge. Since this edge is so thin, it is more brittle and easily dulled. Hollow ground edges are not preferable for heavy cutting tasks, but are ideal for fine cutting such as skinning, preparing sushi, or peeling and slicing fruits.

The Right Knife for the Job

The following descriptions should serve as a basic guide for some of the most common types of knives.

Meat Carving Knife

Carving Knife

Though there are many meat cutting knives, a meat carving knife is used to slice thin cuts of meat, including poultry, roasts, hams, and other large cooked meats. Carving knives are much thinner than a chef's knives, enabling them to carve thinner, more precise slices. Additionally, the pointed tip is perfect for cutting along a board, and it can be utilized in more ways than rounded blades.

Boning Knife

Boning Knife

Boning knives, another type of meat knife, are available with flexible, semi-fleixble (semi-stiff), or stiff blades ranging from 3" to 8" in length and are used to separate meat from bone. Flexible blades are great for shaping, denuding, and seaming and are typically used by experienced butchers for boning roasts, whole hams, lamb legs, veal legs, and filleting fish. Semi-flexible or semi-stiff blades allow for enough bend to keep the edge close to the bone or table and are great for jointing. Stiff blades are perfect for making precise, straight cuts without fear of wandering and are also great for jointing.

Bread Knife

Bread Knife

Bread knives are available in a variety of sizes from 7" to 10". Some feature an offset handle design to prevent the users' knuckles from hitting the cutting board. Bread knives may have a straight or slightly curved blade with a serrated edge that's ideal for bread and hard rind fruits.

Butcher Knife

Butcher Knife

Butcher knives usually have heavy, wide, and slightly curved blades that are useful for cutting, sectioning, and trimming large pieces of meat.

Breaking Knife

Breaking Knife

Breaking knives are similar to butcher knives and are primarily used to break down large pieces of meat into smaller cuts. Their blades are usually around 10” and are curved to create leverage to break through tough skin, cartilage, and small bones. They are also excellent knives for trimming fat off of meat.

Chef's Knife

Chef's Knife

A chef's knife, or "cook's knife" is one of the most commonly used knives in a commercial kitchen. Available in sizes ranging from 6" to 14" (8" to 12" is most popular), the chef's knife features a wide blade with symmetrical sides that taper to a point. It is suitable for a wide range of tasks such as chopping, slicing, and mincing.


Cimeter Knife

A cimeter (or scimitar) knife is a cousin of the classic butcher knife. Its upward curving blade makes it well suited for cutting and trimming steaks.


Meat Cleaver Knife

A cleaver features a long, wide blade that is used to chop and cut through thick meat and bone. Cleavers are also ideal for opening lobsters.

Deba Knife

Deba Knife

Often used as a light to medium duty cleaver, the Deba knife is ideal for cutting fish, meat, and hard vegetables, as well as for chopping.

Flank and Shoulder Knife

Flank and Shoulder Knife

Flank and shoulder knives are a type of boning knife that are excellent for creating flank steaks. Their straight, stiff blades are perfect for generating precise cuts while boning, trimming, and jointing.

Gyuto Knife

Gyuto Knife

Similar to a chef's knife, the Gyuto knife is a multi-purpose blade. However, there are several key differences between a Gyuto knife and western-style chef knife: A Gyuto knife is lighter and thinner than a western-style chef knife and also has a much flatter edge. This allows the knife to have faster push-cutting abilities and makes it easier to handle.

Nakiri Knife

Nakiri Knife

Nakiri knives enable you to cut vegetables paper-thin in just seconds! Its razor sharp taper edges are best for seedless vegetables.

Oyster Knife

Oyster Knives are used to shuck the oysters. These knives can be used for opening the oyster as well as removing the oyster from the shell. There are several common styles of oyster knives:

New Haven Oyster Knife

New Haven: The New Haven oyster knife features a comfortable, pear-shaped handle and a short wide blade with a curved tip. It is ideal for use on small to medium sized oysters for half shell consumption. The unique, curved tip offers two major advantages:

  • It provides excellent leverage for opening the oysters
  • The curved tip tends to travel high inside the oyster, above and away from the tender meat of the oyster, which avoids damaging the oyster meat. This allows you to easily spoon the oyster out of its shell to remove as much meat as possible.

Providence Style Oyster Knife

Providence: Features a shorter, wide, straight blade. This serves the same function as the New Haven style, but does not have a curved tip. Thanks to its blade’s edge, the style is great for shucking any sized oyster from its shell, though is ideal for removing medium oysters. Plus, the contoured handle features an easy-to-hold design, as the end is thicker than the front.

Boston Style Oyster Knife

Boston: The Boston style oyster knife features a long, narrow blade and is extremely versatile and very effective at opening just about any type or size of oyster with a variety of shucking methods. Narrowing to a rounded, flat tip, the blade is moderately sharp, but perfectly effective.

It features a comfortable handle shaped like a pear with a narrow front and a wide, round backend. Topped-off with a small, front bulge, the handle promotes a secure, stable grip while also providing a convenient resting surface for the hand’s palm.

Galveston Oyster Knife

Galveston: With its long, wide blade that narrows to a point, the Galveston style oyster knife is excellent for commercial use. This style is often used in processing medium and large Eastern oysters for meat gain and features the Boston handle for optimal comfort and maneuverability.

Frenchman Oyster Knife

Frenchman: The Frenchman features a short, wide blade that utilizes a sharp edge that is perfect for finding the crease between oyster shells.

Paring Knife

Paring knives rate second in versatility after a chef's knife in a commercial kitchen. There are several common styles:

Spear Point Paring Knife

Spear point paring knives are great for removing corn from the cob, breaking up heads of lettuce, peeling fruits and vegetables, cutting beans, and other similar tasks.

Bird's Beak Paring Knife

Bird's beak or curved paring knives, also referred to as tourne knives, feature a downward arching blade that makes peeling round fruit and garnishing a breeze.

Sheep's Foot Paring Knife

Sheep's foot paring knives feature a rounded tip with a straight edge. These knives are perfect for chopping and julienning fruits and vegetables on a cutting board.

Petty Knife

Petty Knife

Comparable to a utility knife, the petty knife's thin, light construction allows for ultimate precision while dicing, slicing, or cutting small items, particularly softer fruits and vegetables.

Santoku Knife

Santoku Knife

A Santoku knife is an all purpose knife best suited for slicing, dicing, and mincing. This knife can be used for the same functions as a chef knife.

Sashimi Knife

Sashimi Knife

Equivalent to a western slicer, the Sashimi knife is perfect for everyday slicing and for cutting large pieces of fish.

Slicing Knife

Meat Slicing Knife

The meat slicing knife features a long, straight blade that's designed for slicing cooked meats, sushi, and sashimi, as well as, breaking down large fish. Slicers are generally longer than a carving knife and often feature a Granton Edge and a round blunt tip. Ham slicers feature a narrower, more flexible blade that makes cutting cold meat more efficient. A slicer should be long enough to permit smooth slicing action.

Usuba Knife

Usuba Knife

This knife is designed to quickly slice produce paper-thin, especially vegetables without hard seeds. Try a produce knife for similar peeling and cutting tasks.

Utility Knife

Utility Knife

Utility knives often have a scalloped edge, and can be considered a cross between a paring knife and a slicing knife. A sharp utility knife is very efficient for slicing softer fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes or squash. Utility knives are also great for cutting large melon rings, cutting heads of lettuce into wedges, preparing cabbage for shredding, and halving citrus fruits.

Knife Care and Sharpening

Dull knives are the single most common cause of commercial kitchen injuries. Because properly sharpened knives cut more easily than dull ones, workers can complete their tasks more quickly. Additionally, the product being cut can be returned to temperature-controlled storage more quickly for increased food safety!

Here are some quick tips for maintaining cutlery:

  • Regularly wash knives with warm, soapy water and dry them thoroughly.
  • Hone knives regularly with a sharpening steel.
  • Keep knives sharpened with one of our knife sharpeners.

Although commercial sharpening services are available, with some basic sharpening knowledge and help from our "how-to" sharpening article, you can save a lot of money by sharpening your own knives!

Save By Sharpening Your Own Knives! - Savings Calculator

Hiring a Knife Sharpening Service
Purchasing an Electric Knife Sharpener
Savings in First Year

Transportation and Knife Storage

Knife bags provide a convenient way for storing and transporting your knives. While primarily used for knives, our knife cases and knife rolls can be used for other essential kitchen tools like turners, spoons, whisks, and more. Many of our cases and rolls also feature additional pockets and holders for business cards, pens, IDs, and other various items. There are few differences between the styles, so choosing between the two comes down to general preference and which bag can accommodate all of your knives and tools.

Knife Case

Knife Cases – feature a hard lining that holds its shape when the case is folded or closed. This lining can be water-resistant which can be great for added protection.

Knife Rolls – do not have a lining under the canvas exterior. When rolled up, they take the shape of whatever knives or tools are inside, meaning a knife roll can take up less space than a case.

Subscribe now for great deals and industry tips! Sign up for our mailing list to have weekly discounts and industry knowledge sent right to your inbox.

From Our

At WebstaurantStore we love sharing our fun! Check out some of our weekly Instagram posts! We might even have a recipe or two to share!

View Posts
Display, merchandise, and serve a delicious variety of ice cream flavors with this Avantco ice cream dipping cabinet! Holding up to 12 ice cream tubs at a time, the unit is perfect for ice cream shops, candy stores, dessert bars, and cafeterias. The frozen storage space beneath the display even provides a convenient place for holding up to 8 tubs of back-up flavors, making it a convenient unit for businesses with limited space. Incorporate delicious beef recipes into your menu with this Knauss Foods 6 Ib. classic dried beef deli knuckle. It's ideal for crafting specialty sandwiches and subs or for putting together a tasty party tray with meats and cheeses. Simply cut it into a fine slice and spread softened cream cheese, worcestershire, scallions, and pepper on one side, then roll it up to create a tasty appetizer that's easy to grab and delicious to snack on. This beef accents any of your dishes with a mildly salty, yet beefy and smoky flavor profile that's especially delicious.â € Create signature cookies, easy pie crust designs, or fondant shapes for your bakery, restaurant, or cafe with this Ateco pineapple plunger cutter. Made of high-impact, food-grade plastic, this plunger cutter is perfect for daily use at your bakery. It's great for cutting, embossing, and pressing out fondant and gum paste decorations. Featuring a whimsical pineapple shape, this cutter ensures consistency of size while shortening preparation time. Fire up the grill and test your skills with these grilling techniques.
Food Service Resources

Tips, guides, & advice

Explore Resources
  • Visa
  • Discover
  • American Express
  • MasterCard
  • Paypal