What everybody who cooks should know about knives

Ask a professional chef what he considers his most important working tools and he’s likely to answer, “My knives.”
Knives to a chef are like brushes to an artist. He creates masterpieces with them. One or another is used in preparing just about every recipe. And the oldest looking are probably his most cherished.

The great value of professional knives is their ability to perform common, everyday tasks exceptionally and consistently well.

This article will help you to understand the difference between today’s shiny so-called “super blades” and the no-nonsense knives that chefs use.

J.A. Henckels offers the choice of molded handle knives (Twinstar “Plus”, Five Star, Four Star) or traditional look full tang knives (Professional “S”). Molded handle knives by nature can not have a full tang as the handle has to close the gap and form a seamless bond around the tang and bolster. All J.A. Henckels molded handle knives therefore have a full rat-tail tang. All handles are flush with the bolster.

Knives made for cutting

Professional knives are completely functional. They do one thing extremely well: they cut. No designer can take credit for their simple beauty. Their size, their shape, the way they feel in your hand, the way they’re made, all evolved from centuries of trial, error and old world craftsmanship.

You don’t have to be a chef to appreciate their utility or to recognize their quality. The tell-tale marks are obvious when you know what to look for.

J.A Henckels uses an exclusive process in the manufacturing of its quality knives-SCT (Sintermetal Component Technology). This revolutionary method marries craftsmanship, engineering and technology, allowing Henckels to use the optimum steel alloy for the three distinct parts of the knife. (The blade, the bolster, and the tang.) J.A. Henckels received a U.S patent on SCT, other patents are pending.


How to recognize a fine knife

1. It has a look of authority. Simple Heavy duty. Functional.
2. The blade tapers evenly from the handle to the tip, and from the back of the edge to the cutting edge.
3. The steel has a satiny grain rather than a mirror polish. This indicates finishing in the fine old German tradition.
4. It should also bolster for added weight and balance, it also is an important safety feature as it protects your fingers from slipping onto the edge.
5. The heavy steel of the blade extends into the handle where it is either triple riveted to NOVODUR or permanently bonded to molded polypropylene.
6. The feel is hefty, yet the balance is perfect. These together with the blade’s sharpness add safety by reducing strain and fatigue.
7. If you see the famous TWIN mark of Henckels on the blade, then you know that the knife meets every standard listed above.

Getting the most out of a knife

If you could look at the cutting edge of a professional knife under a microscope, you’d see what looks like tiny saw teeth. These are what give “bite” to the cutting action. But with use and abuse (like throwing your knives in a drawer), they tend to bend. Maintaining an edge is a simple matter of orthodontics-straightening the teeth. The best tool for this is a sharpening steel. It resets rather than files the edge. In fact, any sharpener that visibly removes metal should be avoided.

Using a sharpening steel before every use is good practice. When, after years of cutting, this no longer restores the edge, it’s time to have your knife professionally reground. Your butcher can tell where to get this done.

Certain food stains can stain even the most stainless of steels. So it’s good practice to wipe a knife after every use. Lay the blade on a flat surface, wipe one side, then the other. This is safer than washing a knife in a sink where suds hide the blade. Or in a dishwasher where the edge can bang against other cutlery, silverware, or china.

The proper way to hold a chef’s knife is as follows. Grip the knife so that the back of the blade is firmly held between your thumb and forefinger, and the other fingers are wrapped around the handle.



You’ll find that this gives you much better control and leverage than simply gripping the knife by the handle alone. Also, if you’re doing a lot of chopping or mincing, you’ll find that centering your grip over the balance point of the knife in this manner is much less tiring.

Take good care of professional knives and they will serve you long and well. In fact, you can look forward to the day when your great-grandchildren will cherish them as much as you do.

All Henckels have a laser controlled edge. All Henckels are also guaranteed against defects in material and/or craftsmanship.

How to use a sharpening steel

It might take some practice in the beginning but sharpening a knife with a sharpening steel basically is easy to do. Hold sharpening steel point down on table or cutting board. Angle between blade and steel should be approximately 20 degrees. Pull knife down and across sharpening steel, in a slight arc. Repeat on the other side of the cutting edge.


Note: speed is not of essence; it is most important to maintain the angle of 20 degrees and to sharpen the full length of the cutting edge.