Knife Shapes and Use

Understanding Kitchen Knives:
A Guide to Shapes, Uses, and Which Knives to Have

Get to know the different types of kitchen knives and what they are used for in our kitchen knife guide.

Learning about the different shapes, sizes, and uses of knives is the first step to mastering your knife skills. You may be familiar with common kitchen knives such as a chef knife, paring knife, carving knife, or utility knife, but did you know that each knife has its own unique shape and design for its intended use? Kitchen knives are essential tools in any kitchen and understanding the right kitchen knives to have can make a huge difference in your cooking. Whether you need to chop, slice, carve, or fillet, we have a knife for the job.


3" Paring Knife

A small all-purpose knife ideal for peeling (or “paring”) smaller fruits and vegetables, and other small precision work, such as deseeding peppers, deveining shrimp, and hulling strawberries. 

Because it is often used on smaller items and requires more control, our paring has a unique handle shape to be gripped and rolled around in the palm of your hand. The pointed tip allows for fine precision work, and the heel of the blade is angled and set forward for greater clearance.


3" Bird’s Beak Knife

A small curved knife for slicing soft fruits, peeling skins or blemishes from a variety of fruits and vegetables, and cutting decorative garnishes such as rosettes in radishes or fluted mushrooms.

Our bird’s beak has a concave edge profile that enables a controlled peeling style motion, to keep the tip forward and product on the edge of the knife without slipping.  

6" Utility Knife

A versatile everyday knife, ideal for peeling, chopping, and fine slicing. Smaller than a chef knife, it’s great for switching between different sized fruits and vegetables, achieving more control and precision, and working in tight spaces.

Our utility is the perfect companion to a chef knife and our second most popular shape. The blade’s length and thinness are ideal for gaining greater control when working with small to medium-sized products, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, and cheeses. Make it your go-to when a chef feels excessive and a paring insufficient. 


7", 8.5", & 10" Chef Knife

A workhorse and must-have knife, designed to perform well at many different kitchen tasks, rather than excelling at any one in particular. 

Our chef knives are center-weighted, balance thinness and precision with durability and strength, and have both Japanese and Western appeal. The ultimate all-purpose knife and our most popular, if you only have one knife in your kitchen, make it a chef. The blade’s gentle curve along the edge from heel to tip serves a variety of uses and cutting techniques, so you can rock and chop, push and pull, or slice and dice.

Chef Knife Sizes
7" -  A 7” chef knife may be preferable for those who feel more comfortable with a slightly smaller blade or those with limited kitchen/counter space.

8.5" - Our most popular size chef knife, the 8.5” blade length is a size most people are familiar with whether they use Western or Japanese style chef knives. The length of the blade can handle larger projects, as easily as it can be used for everyday cutting.

10" - The 10" Chef Knife is best for large scale projects and those who prefer using a longer blade. 

7" Nakiri

A Japanese-style knife used for chopping vegetables. Its straight blade edge and squared-off tip make it well-suited to cutting all the way to the cutting board without the need for a horizontal pull or push. 

The thinner edge of our nakiri excels at precise, straight vegetable cuts. Despite its resemblance to a cleaver, it’s not intended for butchery or going through bones. 


7.5" Chopper

Rough chopping, slicing meat, or accurate vegetable cuts, this knife will get you through it all. With a 2.5" blade height, this knife is excellent for large projects. 

If our 8.5" Chef knife is the "workhorse," our 7.5" Chopper is the "bull." This knife has the thinness and balance of a chef knife to accomplish any job but with added blade height, which helps with straight and accurate cuts. The 27.5-degree drop-point is not only visually appealing; it is fantastic for precision work at the tip. 


10" Slicer

A long, straight, and narrow blade ideal for slicing proteins in one long fluid motion with little restriction.

Our slicer has minimal flexibility and a small heel to keep the blade straight for flat and even cuts of protein. While great year-round, many people associate the slicer with the holidays when carving and serving proteins such as pork, fish, turkey, and beef. 


6" Hankotsu

Traditionally used to butcher whole animals, it’s an impeccable choice for segmenting proteins and breaking joints.

Our interpretation of the Japanese butcher knife is excellent for whole animal butchery, especially deboning and trimming. Its 50/50 chisel-grind blade bevel cuts protein away from the bone with high accuracy, and the handle’s emphasized hook provides a more secure grip for finer control. It’s designed for traditional downward/standard and reverse/dagger grips, with a clean and sleek profile to feel like a natural extension of your arm.


6" Honesuki

A Japanese-style boning knife traditionally used for poultry, superb at deboning and cutting through soft joints. 

While maintaining a traditionally stiff and triangular shape, our honesuki has a wider and taller profile that provides knuckle clearance from the tip to the heel of the blade. Its drop-point is ideal for going through joints, and like our hankotsu, its 50/50 chisel-grind bevel cuts protein away from the bone with high accuracy.


6" Boning Knife

Whether for whole animal butchery or trimming fats, a boning knife is a butcher’s best friend. With a sharp point and a narrow blade, it’s great for breaking down and cleaning poultry, meat, and fish.

We make boning knives in two distinct shapes – straight and curved. Although either can be an excellent tool for any protein, our straight boning knife is ideal for working with poultry and beef, while our curved boning knife is better suited to fish. 

8.75" Fillet Knife

A specialty knife for skinning, cutting, and removing bones from fish. 

Fish is a very delicate protein with hard and sharp bones. To best handle this combination, our fillet’s blade is our most flexible and is thin and narrow toward the tip to glide through the fish’s protein easily, while its thicker heel aids in pushing through harder and denser bones, such as the neck and fins.


5.5", 7" & 8.5" Cleavers

A classic, characterized by its distinctive thick blade used to break down meat.

Inspired by antique cleavers, ours are tough and heavy to get you through any serious butcher job, and are primarily intended for segmenting larger cuts of meat. 

9" Bread Knife

A long, straight, and serrated blade perfect for slicing bread with soft or hard crust and cakes without crushing or compressing the interior.

Steak Knives

We put the features of the best kitchen knives into making the best steak knives for your table. A quality set of steak knives can truly elevate a meal.

Crafted with premium steel, our steak knives feature a convex edge for prolonged edge retention, even when cutting on harder surfaces like ceramic dinnerware. All Town Cutler steak knives have non-serrated edges, ensuring a cleaner cut that doesn't tear at your meat. Each set of our handmade steak knives comes in a custom walnut box with a strong magnetic closure.