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How to Compare Kitchen Knives

by Nikki Jardin

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Kitchen knives

A quality knife will hold its edge without excessive sharpening and be durable enough to handle the everyday work that takes place in your kitchen. With so many varieties and brands of cutlery to choose from, finding kitchen knives that will fit your style requires a few considerations. When you're shopping for knives, look carefully at each type that interests you, whether you're considering individual knives or block sets. Once you've chosen your perfect knife, keeping it clean and sharp will extend its life.

Comparing Kitchen Knives:

  1. Note the length of the blade. One of the more common kitchen knives is the 8-inch chef's knife, but blades typically range in size from 6 to 12 inches. Longer blades can feel cumbersome to some cooks, though a knife with a short blade may not hold up to a diversity of use.

  2. Compare the different types of metal. Knives are commonly made with four kinds of metal: carbon steel, stainless steel, high-carbon stainless steel and titanium. Carbon steel is extremely durable and holds its edge well, though it needs to be cared for properly to keep from rusting. Stainless steel is most commonly used due to its low maintenance and durability. High-carbon steel is a combination of the two former metals. Titanium weighs the least of the metals.

  3. Examine the handles on several knives. Knife handles are usually made of stainless steel, wood, plastic or composite. Composite handles are styled like wood but made by compiling wood pieces and laminating them. The handle choice is a personal preference, but remember that you cannot put a knife with a solid wood handle in the dishwasher.

  4. Note the weight of the knife. Knives that are made with lighter metals, such as titanium, will weigh less, which may work better for some people. Weight can also impact the balance of your cutlery. A well-balanced knife will feel better in your hand and will be easier to work with.

  5. Look at the length of the tang. The tang is the section of the knife where the handle encases the blade. Some knives have a full tang, where the entire length of the steel is covered by the handle. Other knives have a partial tang in which the steel extends into only half of the handle's length. The length of a knife's tang will affect the balance and weight of the knife.

  6. Get the best value for your money. Quality kitchen knives do not have to cost a small fortune, but keep in mind that buying at the lowest price can cost more in the long run. If the materials aren't sound, you could end up constantly sharpening your knives and soon replacing them.

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