KNIFE JARGON DEFINED
- Belly/sweep - The curve given to the blade edge.
- Bolster - Two pieces of metal that sandwich the blade providing balance for the knife, acting as a barrier between the blade and handle, and increasing stiffness required for flexible knives to reduce the chance of handle separation.
- Burr - A burr (or wire edge) forms on the edge of a blade when it is sharpened. It's a very thin sliver of metal formed on during sharpening. When you achieve the apex or the perfect V you then begin to fold over the steel creating the burr.
- Butt - The end of the handle.
- Choil - This can either be a choil or finger-choil. A finger-choil is a rounded cut away in the handle to increase comfort and grip. A choil is a small nick in the blade just before the heel for aesthetics or to allow easier sharpening of the blade on a stone
- Edge - The sharp cutting edge of the blade.
- Fixed blade - A blade that runs into the handle without the ability to fold.
- Folding blade - A blade that retracts into the handle for safe compact storage. Folding blades are not as strong as fixed blades.
- Forging - To make or shape metal object by heating.
- Grind - The way the blade has been profiled depending on its purpose. In cross section a blades 'grind' can be seen, as illustrated below.
- Grinding - The process of removing metal from the blade. The initial stage of sharpening a knife is done by grinding the edge on a whetstone stone.
- Handle scales - The wooden or composite slabs that sandwich the blade creating the handle.
- Heel - The part of the blade before the handle begins. Usually the thickest part of the blade.
- Hilt - Another name for a handle, usually belonging to a sword.
- Hone/honing - Honing is very fine sharpening of a blade edge, after grinding has been done, greater sharpness can be achieved by honing the edge on a very fine stone or a sharpening steel.
- Jimping - small notches cut into the handle end of the spine to increase grip on the forefinger.
- Lanyard - A piece of chord used to hand the knife or secure it whilst in use.
- Lanyard hole - A hole in the butt of the handle through which the lanyard passes.
- Strike plate - A protective plate at the top of a sharpening steel handle to reduce the chance of injury.
- Point - the end of the blade designed to pierce.
- Primary bevel/grind - The first stage of profiling to give the blade its shape.
- Rivet/pin - Metal rods that secure the handle to the blade.
- Spine - the top side of the blade, usually the thickest part of the blades profile. This dictates the flex and strength of a blade.
- Stock removal - The process of removing material from a work-piece.
- Swedge - A bevel on the back of the blade.
- Secondary bevel/grind - The second step in profiling the blade, usually the final step. This is ground at an increased angle to produce the cutting edge.
- Tang - The part of the blade that protrudes into the handle. 'Full tang' refers to the blade running through the full length of the handle, 'Half tang' blades only protrude partially into the handle. The full tang method is stronger than the half tang.
- Tip - the thin end of the blade usually used in delicate work.
- Whetstone - A fine grained stone used for sharpening cutting tools. Usually used with lubricant - water or oil, which also act as a coolant if the stone is powered.
KNIFE TYPES AND THEIR USES
- Bread - For cutting bread and sawing through the crust using their serrated edge.
- Bush - A sturdy all round outdoor knife, usually short with a thick blade for heavy use. Great for camp-site cooking, whittling, meat preparation etc.
- Chef (western chef) - A large all round kitchen knife that excels at chopping and slicing. The continuous curve of the edge allow an efficient rocking motion. Their sharp point is useful for delicate work and piercing.
- Cleaver - A heavy blade that uses its heft and momentum to force through tough ingredients. Smaller cleavers can be used for more delicate slicing and chopping and are not limited to only heavy work.
- Demi-lune - A blade specifically for chopping herbs fast and in bulk. The rocking motion is very efficient and effective and will turn a big pile of leaves into perfectly sized slivers in seconds.
- Folding - The blade stows away in the handle of he knife by folding about a pin. These make a handy pocket knife that can be carried on ones person.
- Santoku - A general purpose Japanese knife design with a flatter belly than a western chefs knife giving it a more linear cutting edge but allows less rocking action.
- Kiridashi - A small Japanese knife design with a chisel grind and a sharp point. These are useful utility knives, great for workshops and craft where accuracy is important.
TYPES OF STEEL
- Carbon steel - An alloy of iron and approximately 1% carbon. Most carbon steel chef's knives are simple carbon iron alloys without exotic additions such as chrome or vanadium. Carbon steel blades are both easier to sharpen than ordinary stainless steel and usually hold an edge longer, but are vulnerable to staining. Some professional cooks swear by knives of carbon steel because of their sharpness. Over time, a carbon-steel knife will normally acquire a dark patina, and can rust or corrode if not cared for properly by cleaning and lubricating the blade after use.
- Stainless steel - An alloy of iron, approximately 10-15% of chromium, nickel or molybdenum, with only a small amount of carbon. Lower grades of stainless steel cannot take as sharp an edge as good-quality high-carbon steels, but are resistant to corrosion. Higher grade and 'exotic' stainless steels are extremely sharp with excellent edge retention but are very hard to sharpen.
- Laminated steel - A laminated knife tries to use the best of each material by creating a layered sandwich of different materials - for instance, using a softer-but-tough steel as the backing material, and a sharper/harder - but more brittle - steel as the edge material.