How to Buy a Knife

Learn the basics to make the best decision.
Related To:

A good knife is a worthwhile investment. If you buy a quality one and take care of it, you will have it for a lifetime. A good knife will pay for itself over time. Cooking will be much more enjoyable, so you'll spend less money on restaurants and takeout. A good knife is also safer, so you'll spend less on bandages.

Before you buy knives, learn their anatomy. Knives are made up of four parts: the blade, the handle, the bolster, and the tang.

The blade can be made of stainless steel, carbon steel, high-carbon steel or ceramic. Metal blades can either be stamped (pressed out of metal) or forged (molded under high heat). Forged knives are heftier and tend to last longer, though stamped blades are useful for lighter work like filleting.

  • Stainless steel knives are inexpensive, but cannot be sharpened once they lose their edge.

  • Carbon steel knives hold their edges remarkably well, require careful cleaning and drying, and will eventually discolor, turning black over time. There's nothing bad about the discoloration; it's a matter of preference.

  • High-carbon steel gives you the sharpen-ability of carbon steel without the discoloration. Most professional knives are made of this material.

  • Ceramic knives stay sharp the longest but can break easily.
     

The handle can be made of wood, plastic, rubber or metal. Though wood can be beautiful, the other materials are more durable. The handle can either be riveted to the blade or molded around it. Riveted ones are believed to be the strongest, but the most important thing about a handle is that it feels good in your hand and you feel comfortable holding it.

The bolster is the thick ridge between the blade and the handle. It's standard on forged knives and rare on stamped knives. It's usually ground down towards the bottom to make sharpening easier.

The tang is the part of the blade that extends into the handle. "Full-tang" knives are made out of one piece of metal that extends all the way back to the handle. This is the heftiest and priciest option, but the tang shouldn't be a deciding factor unless you plan on regularly using the knife for heavy-duty chopping (say, bones).

Next Up

21 Smarter Summer Desserts

What’s summer without fabulous desserts? All these delicious treats have 400 calories or under per serving.

Rice Pudding, Lightened Up

I was never a rice pudding fan until a few years ago when my middle daughter starting requesting it daily. Since then I’ve been experimenting with a few variations of this classic to help lighten up the creamy calories while still maintaining its delicious flavor.

Healthy Recipe Essentials: Fruit Crisp

If you’re a fruit crisp virgin, try baking this dessert classic using fresh seasonal fruit. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to get started and some fun combinations to try.

Frozen Desserts for Dad’s Day — Weekend Cookout

In honor of Father's Day, treat dad to an extra-special frozen dessert at your weekend cookout with easy recipes from Food Network chefs.

Decadent Halloween Desserts to Make at Home

Check out Food Network’s top-five Halloween desserts to find sweet tooth-satisfying recipes ideal for family-friendly indulgences and fright night bashes alike.

5 New Red Velvet Treats

Inspired by this beloved flavor, the chefs in our Food Network Kitchen came up with five all-new red velvet recipes that are perfect for Valentine’s Day — or any day, really.

7 Days of Healthy Desserts

If you stick with a combination of fresh, whole-food ingredients and sensible portions, it's okay to indulge in a post-dinner sweet each night of the week.

Latest Stories