What Makes a Good Knife?

by Dane Williams on November 03, 2020

What Makes a Good Knife?

Well, what are you using your knife for?

There really is no 'one good answer' to this question, but I'll let you know a bit about kitchen knives, because that's what we sell!

When you make a knife you are balancing five aspects:

  • Hardness is the ability of a blade to resist stress through the application of force and is measured in the Rockwell C scale (HRC).
  • Toughness is how your knife resists damage, such as chips, when you chop through matter. Unfortunately, the harder a steel, the less tough it is.
  • Wear resistance is the steel's ability to withstand abrasive and adhesive wear. When you cut through matter your knife interacts with it; if you cut something hard it abrades the softer material, while adhesive wear occurs when materials cling to your blade. Harder steels are generally more wear resistant. 
  • Corrosion resistance is how your knife avoids rust. Higher resistance in this area can often involve reduced sharpness of your knife edge. 
  • Edge retention is how long your blade will remain sharp through use. Generally a softer metal will lose its edge quicker, but is easier to resharpen, while a harder metal will hold its edge longer, but is more difficult to sharpen. 

Knife Materials

People have made knives out of almost anything: bone and rock all the way through to cigarette butt filters

The most common material for kitchen knives are carbon, tool or stainless steels. 

At Kind Knives we use VG10, D2 and 14N20. Feel free to check out the performance of these steels. 

If you really want to dig a bit deeper into the world of knife steel, then I recommend you check out this site's Knife Steel Composition Chart

How are Knives Made?

This is all about forging or stamping. 

A forged knife, simply put, is where a single piece of metal is beaten in order to strengthen it and is then ground into shape. A stamped knife is cut from a sheet of metal, so it can be weaker depending on the metal used, but is often quite cheaper to produce. 

Have a look for yourself on the pros and cons of how knives are made.

Shape & anatomy of a knife

Have a look at the image below and then let's go over the parts of a knife in a bit more detail:

Kind Knives parts of a knife

The shape of a knives blade will indicate it's role. A curved blade is intended for a cutting by rocking action, while a straight blade is designed to slice through your food prep.  

Chef's knives are measured in inches, longer blades simply cut through more food making your life easier....a large sharp knife is your kitchen friend! 

The heel of a knife is located at the rear of the blade, and is a point of strength. Use this section of your knife to chop through hard foods; longer blades will also have more leverage, meaning that the heel of these knives will have more cutting force. 

A knife's bolster is the meeting point between the blade and the handle, but only in knives that have been forged from steel. This is because steel is hammered out into the blade and becomes narrow, but the original thickness of the steel is shown by the bolster. This has a benefit of balancing your blade, as well as preventing your fingers from slipping while you cut. If a knife does not have a bolster, it is likely machine stamped rather then forged. Kind knives offered both hand forged and stamped knives!

A tang provides strength to your blade by running down the handle. As you chop your way through your food prep, this reinforcement prevents your blade from breaking; as such, a full tang is strong, but also heavier. All Kind Knives are full tang, but to check out this site for the other varieties which exist. 

Rivets simply hold the handle to the metal of your knife and generally only exist in full tang blades. 

Ok, I hoped this help explain what goes into your knives!