Sharpen Your Skills: A Beginner’s Guide to Knife Basics for Safe and Efficient Cooking

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Unless you purchase all of your produce and proteins pre chopped, not much scratch cooking can be done without the use of a knife – they are the quintessential kitchen tool.

With good technique and properly maintained equipment you can be unstoppable in the kitchen.


While learning the parts of the knife might seem a bit tedious it is imperative to the care of your knife! The cutting edge and the point are the most fragile and the most dangerous parts of your knife. It can also help orient your hand to where it should sit on the handle!

  • HANDLE (SCALES) – Sometimes made of two pieces attached to the side of the tang (scales). Sometimes it is one piece. Can also be straight or ergonomic, made from a variety of materials such as wood, resin, plastic etc.)
  • HANDLE FASTENER – holds the handle in place
  • BOLSTER – Not all knives have bolsters but the bolster is the point where the handle and blade balance. It protects your fingers from the blade and adds comfort.
  • SPINE – the back of the blade is opposite of the edge. It is the thickest piece of the blade and is dull.
  • POINT – the very tip of your knife and the thinnest piece of metal.
  • EDGE – This is the sharp part of your knife, the cutting edge
  • TANG – This is the piece of metal in the handle. It continues out to become the blade. A full tang knife is ideal because it provides the most stability and balance.
  • BUTT – The end of the knife. Sometimes this is curved. Sometimes this is straight.


You can walk into any store from King Soopers to Sur La Table to Kohls and find a kitchen knife for sale. Individual knives. Knife blocks. Flat plastic trays of colorful ceramic knives. The sheer number of options would overwhelm anyone. With proper care, most of them will serve you well, but sometimes they can be full of a lot of extra fluff.

So, what knives do you actually need?
  1. Chef’s Knife This is your main knife used for breaking down proteins, fruits, and vegetables. It comes in several sizes but 6″, 8″, 10″ are all standard. I recommend at least an 8″ but preferably a 10″ knife because it can break down even the toughest of vegetables (think winter squash or beets!) with less wrestling than with a 6″ blade. It might feel a sword at first, but you will quickly get used to it!
  2. Paring Knife OR Utility Knife – Trimming the tops off strawberries, slicing grapes or tomatoes, cheese etc. This knife is a work horse in the kitchen!
  3. Serrated Knife – I will not advocate for very many one hit wonder kitchen tools but a serrated knife makes the cut. There is nothing worse than heating up fancy bread and crushing it with a standard chefs knife… don’t get me wrong, even bad bread, is good bread. BUT a serrated knife gives you the perfect slice every time!
  4. Honing Rod/Steel – While not a knife a steel is an essential tool in your knife kit Keeping your straight bladed knives honed is crucial between sharpening’s. (Article about the difference between honing and sharpening coming soon.)



Dull knives are DANGEROUS! The harder you have to force your knife through a vegetable means more time for it to slip and harm you!

Article on how to hone and sharpen your knives and what the difference is is coming soon!


Friends don’t let friends wash their knives in the dishwasher!

Your precious knives can get jostled and chipped. Not to mention the detergent and high pressure water is often too abrasive and can cause erosion or rust.

On the other hand washing knives in a sink of soapy water should be avoided as well. Bubbles or mirky water impedes your view meaning you could reach in and grab the blade by accident. Always wash each knife individually while the others sit on the side of the sink!


Knives loose in a utensil drawer pose an unecessary risk to you and your knives! Remember, your cutting edge and point are fragile and getting tossed around in the drawer will cause chips and breakages. Not to mention who wants to reach into a buried knife

Keep your knives in a knife block, magnetic wall rack, or if you have to keep them loose in a drawer use a magnetic cover to keep your fingers and blades safe!


Your knives are important! Buy good quality, take care of them, and they will last you a lifetime! Which means you can cook what you crave. Whenever you want it. At home.

We love to see and hear about your adventures in the kitchen! Please leave a comment or tag me on Instagram with @TheFryFarmette and #TheFryFarmette so we can cheer you on!

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