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Whether you’re butchering and packaging wild game or sorting through some freshly picked herbs and vegetables from your garden, having a finely crafted, sharp knife at hand is a must. Yes, it’s true—you can get any number of different knives without spending a lot of money, but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. A knife that feels like it was built for your hand, with an edge that’s easy to hone and sharpen, can make all the difference in the world when you’re slicing, mincing, carving, spreading, or taking the fight to a box someone double-taped shut.

But with so many different styles, designs, and materials, it’s sometimes hard to know which one is suited best for the tasks you most often tackle in your kitchen. Here are three blade designs that can help you work through most common cuts of meats, vegetables, and other fare, and a shortlist of features you should look for the next time you need to add a blade to your collection. Get a knife that’s strong, stays sharp, and is easy to handle and you’ll instantly increase efficiency in what just might be your favorite room in your home.

Boning Knife

Full-tang knives are much stronger than half-tang knives because the metal of a full-tang knife extends from the tip of the blade to the butt of the handle. Dalstrong

A knife is only as strong as its weakest point, and the most common place a blade can fail is in the tang. The tang is the part of a knife that extends into the handle. A half-tang means the blade stops and connects to the top of the handle. A full tang means the metal extends into the handle—sometimes you can see it sandwiched between two parts of a handle secured with rivets, and sometimes the handle surrounds it. The point is a half-tang knife isn’t as strong as a full tang because there’s a connection introduced between the blade and the handle, whereas wrapping your hand around the handle also means you’re grasping the most rigid part of the blade (the base) and you can apply more pressure with of a full-tang knife.

Cleaver

Designed after traditional butcher cleavers, this Dalstrong model is dense and sharp enough to work through the toughest cuts. Dalstrong

It might sound contradictory, but using a dull knife is more dangerous than using a sharp knife. When the edge of a dull knife can’t slice through whatever you’re cutting, you apply more pressure. Eventually, you can apply so much pressure the knife eventually works through but is moving so fast and with so much force, it’s a danger to whatever might be in its path. That’s why when you’re cutting large, thick, or possibly frozen meats or vegetables, it’s best to use a blade that’s not only sharp but carries enough backbone to work its way through just about anything.

Paring Knife

You use a paring knife for more tasks than you realize, which is why it’s critical to own one that holds its edge long after you sharpen it. Dalstrong

You might not realize it, but a paring knife could be the most important (and used) blade in your kitchen. It’s handy for slicing pieces of fruit, peeling a vegetable, or chopping and mincing herbs and small ingredients. However, eventually, it will need sharpening. That’s why it’s important to shop for a knife blade made with quality materials. Carbon and stainless steel are a good place to start because the materials are strong and rustproof, they hold an edge well, and are easy to hone. But as knife-building technology has improved over the years, so has the variety of resilient, proprietary metal-blends manufacturers have at their disposal. If you’re looking for a reliable, sharp blade to do everything from carving an apple to skinning thin slivers of cheese from a block to pair with summer sausage and crackers, this is what you want in your hand.

This article is sponsored by Dalstrong. Fieldandstream.com may receive compensation for purchases made through product links.

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