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Knife Shapes and Uses You Need to Know
From aspiring cooks to award-winning chefs, knives are a mandatory stable for the preparation of virtually any dish you can dream up. From slicing and dicing to mincing and carving, a high-quality knife set can transform a laborious task into an enjoyable time spent making meals with love and care.
Ranking among the most common types of knives found in kitchens, are the capable and moderately sized 7-inch and 8.5-inch knives.
In this guide we’ll explore the various knife shapes and uses, giving you a better perspective on what each knife is best used for, and which types of knives you need in your culinary tool chest.
As a chef of any skill or caliber, you need the best tools to get the job done safely, efficiently and with a level of precision even a rocket scientist would be proud of. At Vertoku Knives we put our hearts and souls into the engineering and production of superiorly forged Japanese style chef’s knives and knife sets designed to perform and inspire.
Let’s take a closer look at how to properly use 7-inch and 8.5-inch knives.
7-Inch Knives: an overview
Clocking in at 7”, knives that fall within this size range often include the ‘workhorse of the kitchen’, better known as the Chef’s knife. Moderate in size, high in capability, a 7-inch chef knife is a suitable companion for the preparation of virtually any dish.
At 7-inches, the knife is big enough to handle large or unwieldy food items such as large melons, sturdy enough to tackle tough meats, and yet nimble enough to handle delicate detail work or precise cuts.
Types of Knives Most Commonly 7-Inches in Size:
- Chef’s knife (French Knife), in both straight or serrated edges
- Santoku chef’s knife
- A variety of meat cleavers
- Boning knife
8.5-Inch Knives: an overview
It might be cliché, but in some cases, size really does matter. When 7” of cold hard Japanese steel just won’t ‘cut it’, cooks turn to 8.5 inch knives for a little extra oomph.
You might be surprised to learn that a mere 1.5 inches can make a world of difference, but it does…especially in the kitchen.
8.5 inch knives are the often preferred size for preparing larger food items such as succulent roasts or braising cuts.
The most common types of knives made in this size include:
- Chef’s knives
- Carving knives
7-Inch and 8.5-Inch Knives: Uses by Type
Available in both 7-inch and 8.5 inch sizes, a chef knife of any size is arguably the most versatile tool a chef has, capable of handling a myriad of tasks with ease.
How Long Are Chef’s Knives?
Chef’s knives can range from between 6-14 inches. However, those in the 7-8.5” range are the most common among cooks of all calibers.
What Are Chef’s Knives Used For?
Chef’s knives are ideal for a broad range of kitchen tasks including:
- Cutting meat
- Dicing fruit and vegetables
- Disjointing cuts
- Chopping nuts
- And more…
What Shouldn’t You Use a Chef Knife for?
Chef’s knives are not generally ideal for:
- Slicing bread
- Carving dense or large meats
- Cleaving meat bones
- Handling small food items
- Tasks requiring delicacy and precision
The utility knife is a well-rounded knife, shorter than a chef’s knife but longer than a pairing knife. With options including both straight edge as well as serrated, these knives are perfect for preparing basic meals and are often referenced as “sandwich knives”.
How Long Are Utility Knives?
Utility knives generally range in length from between 4-7”.
What Are Utility Knives Used For?
Utility knives are ideal for a broad range of kitchen tasks including:
- Slicing bread, buns and bagels
- Chopping small fruit and veggies
- Slicing herbs
- Slicing thin meats
- Basic kitchen tasks
What Shouldn’t You Use a Utility Knife for?
Utility knives are not generally ideal for:
- Slicing bread loafs
- Cleaving meat from bones
- Delicate tasks requiring precision
The name of this knife gives away its intended purpose: exclusive use for cutting vegetables.
How Long Are Vegetable Knives?
Vegetable knives range in length from between 5 to 7-inches
What Are Vegetable Knives Used For?
- Vegetable preparation
- Cutting, slicing, chopping and dicing
What Shouldn’t You Use a Vegetable Knife for?
- Slicing pieces of bread
- Cleaving or cutting meat
Cleaver (i.e. ‘Butcher’s Knife)
Known as a ‘butcher’s knife’, the cleaver is a specialized knife sporting a thick, heavy blade with a beveled edge, and is the ideal tool for meat preparation.
How Long is a Cleaver?
Cleavers are usually between 6-12” in length.
What is a Cleaver Used For?
- Splitting meat from the bone
- Splitting overly large vegetables (such as large melons)
What Shouldn’t You Use a Cleaver for?
- Preparation of boneless meats
- Small dishes
- Pastry or bakery items
- Slicing vegetables
In many ways, the ‘slicing knife’ is similar to carving knives. The blade is traditionally both long and thin, culminating in a pointed or round tip.
How Long Are Slicing Knives?
The standard length of a slicing knife generally ranges from between 8-14 inches.
What Are Slicing Knives Used For?
- Thin cuts of meat
- Carving and slicing
- Preparation of fruit and vegetables
What Shouldn’t You Use a Slicing Knife for?
- Tasks requiring small precise cuts (i.e. peeling or mincing)
- Cleaving meat bones
Knife Shapes and Uses – the right tool for the job
Now that you know what knives are available in the 7-inch and 8.5” range, its time to find the right tool for your next adventure in the kitchen. Use this guide to help you find the perfect blade based on both size and needs, and as always, make sure to invest in a high-quality knife that will help you get the most out of each meal prep.