Techniques

Parts of the Knife and Knife Care

PARTS OF THE KNIFE

(Because you have to cut your Fluffernutter like a professional)

Point: The very end of the blade that is used for piercing.

Tip: The point of the blade, and the forward quarter of the blade.

Edge: The sharp side of the blade that does all the work.

Spine: The top of the blade, opposite the edge.

Heel: The rear of the blade, closest to the hand.

Bolster: Found only on forged knives, this thick band of steel between the blade and the handle aids in balance, and protects against slipping.

Blade: Everything but the handle.

Tang: The part of the blade that runs into the handle. A tang that runs the entire length of the handle (full tang) is generally better balanced that a partial tang.

Handle: The grip of the knife, which can be made of wood or plastic. Full tang knives often leave the tang visible, with handles sandwiched on either side, held together with rivets.

UPKEEP

Knives should be sharpened frequently. If you use them for a living, sharpen them every day. A steel, the metal rod that chefs flamboyantly run their knives across, is not a sharpener. It is meant to rub off steel and food particles that accumulate. Actual sharpening requires a stone.

There are several sharpening stones available, both wet, dry. Find one with at least 2 different grades of coarseness.

Hold the knife with the edge against the stone at a 45˚angle, then run the blade along the stone from tip to shaft in one sweeping motion. (You can run the blade in the opposite direction, but pick one direction and stick with it.) Repeat on each side of the edge 5 or 6 times. Do this on each stone, starting with the roughest, and ending with the finest. Wipe the knife off before you use it.

BUYING KNIVES

Knives are very personal tools. If you are planning on spending big bucks on one, do your homework. There are zillions to choose from.

Stamped knives are the cheap-o’s. The blades are cut like cookies from a sheet of steel. Forged knives are costlier, but are generally considered worth the price. They are sturdy and better balanced. I prefer forged knives with a visible full tang.

When buying knives, I am not averse to bringing a carrot to the knife store for a test drive. Who cares if the knife guy thinks I’m weird? If I’m plopping down a couple hundred bucks, I get to be weird all I want!

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