What are the Different Knife Parts and Their Functions?

Photo of different kinds of Dalstrong knives

The blade, the knife handle, the bolster, the heel, spine, tang, edge, and tip – all these are parts of the average kitchen knife. How do they work with each other to make your food the best it can be?

1. Why It's Important to Understand How Your Knife Works

Most of us have taken our knives for granted, considering them just pointy things that we keep in our kitchen to cut stuff. But if you're anything like me, your appreciation for these handy kitchen tools has driven you to learn more and more about them. Like did you know that the intricacies of these hand tools, from their blade blanks to the handle scales, can make a massive difference in your culinary adventure?

Picture this: You’ve spent an entire day fishing out on the water. The sun, the breeze, and finally, the ultimate reward - a beautiful fish ready to be prepped for dinner. You’re about to use one of your prized fillet knives, only to realize it’s as blunt as a butter knife. "Oh snap, now what?" you ponder. Do you risk a butchered fillet job or call it quits?

If you were acquainted with your knife parts, particularly the type of blade material (be it carbon steel or the much sought-after Damascus steel), you'd know about its edge retention, how often it needs sharpening, and the best sharpening tools to get it back to razor-sharp status. Instead of a fishy fiasco, you'd have a perfect filet on your plate in no time.

Safety first

Understanding your knife goes beyond just its sharpness. Knowing the ins-and-outs of its design, such as the pivot barrels or the thumb stud of a folding knife, can make a difference in how safely you handle it. A knife that opens and closes smoothly, thanks to well-maintained stop pins and detent balls, reduces the risk of accidental slips or cuts. A well-gripped knife, with handle materials like the high-end ultrex g10 by norplex or ultrex suretouch, provides better control, ensuring you won’t have any unexpected trips to the emergency room.

Maintenance and longevity

We invest in tools, often spending a good chunk on high-quality knives, be it for kitchen tasks or outdoor adventures. Understanding the different knife parts helps in their maintenance. Recognizing when your blade is due for a sharpening, or when your pocket clip needs tightening on your folding knife, ensures your tool lasts longer and performs at its best. 

With regular maintenance, bolstered by knowledge, you won’t need to replace your knives frequently, making it cost-effective in the long run.

Confidence in every slice

Lastly, there's a sense of confidence and mastery when you truly understand the tools you're working with. Knowing the difference between your Bowie knives, your hunting blades, and even the nuances of a green river blade can elevate your skills, be it in the kitchen, on a hunting trip, or just everyday tasks. It’s not just about cutting, it’s about crafting an experience.

Diving deep into the world of knife parts isn't just for the pros or enthusiasts. It’s for everyone who wishes to use their tools efficiently, safely, and confidently. The next time you pick up that knife, remember: it's not just a piece of sharpened metal. It's a meticulously crafted tool, waiting to be understood and mastered.

Read about the best way to store your knives, here.

2. A Breakdown of the Different Knife Parts and Their Function

Photo of three knives from the Dalstrong Valhalla Series.

Okay, we're all familiar with that feeling of creeping dread as you're starting to learn a bunch of new terms you're completely unfamiliar with. But don't worry; we'll simplify the blade babble for you, breaking it down by kitchen knives and pocket knives, as there are various types of knives (down to folding knives and their use as defense tools) and each has its unique components and nuances.

Kitchen knives


The main event. While the blade might seem straightforward, it has its intricacies. The knife edge is the working part of the blade and does the primary cutting. Depending on the knife's purpose, you’ll find various blade shapes like dagger blade, hunting blades, or the classic green river blade. 

The spine is the blade's top, a thicker portion that gives the knife its weight and strength. The tang is the blade's extension into the handle, which can either be a full tang (extends fully into the handle) or a partial tang.

The material of the blade plays a massive role in its functionality. While carbon steel is renowned for its sharpness, Damascus steel is well known for its unique patterns and excellent edge retention.



The blade's broadest part, the heel assists in cutting through hard food items, acting as a fulcrum point when chopping.


This thick junction between the handle and blade serves two purposes - balance and safety. It ensures that your hand doesn’t slip onto the blade while working.

Kitchen knives can also have unique features, such as granton edges (those little dimples on the blade) that prevent food from sticking, or full bolsters that extend to the knife's heel, giving extra weight and balance.

Knife's handle:

The handle's design is crucial for a comfortable and safe grip. While some swear by the classic feel of stabilized wood or the rustic charm of buffalo horn, others might prefer the luxury and iridescence of mother of pearl. 

The handle often features rivets, metal pins used to secure the handle to the tang. Some custom knife handles can even be emblazoned with your favorite person's name!

Pocket knives

A pocket knife or folding knife isn't just a mini-version of its kitchen counterpart. These versatile tools have unique components catering to their folding nature and portability.

Pivot barrels and detent balls:

These might sound like parts of a pinball machine, but they're essential for a folding knife. Pivot barrels and pivot screws allow automatic knives to rotate smoothly around its axis, while detent balls keep the knife securely closed, preventing any surprise openings in your pocket.

Pocket clip:

The pocket clip ensures that knives like the Benchmade Bugout or the Spyderco Paramilitary are easily accessible. A good pocket clip keeps your folding knife anchored, preventing it from sinking into pocket abysses or getting lost.

Stop pins and thumb stud:

Stop pins act as a buffer, ensuring the blade doesn't over-rotate when opened. The thumb stud, on the other hand, is that tiny protrusion on the blade, assisting in one-handed opening without fumbling.

Lock mechanism:

Ever wondered how your folding knife stays open? That’s thanks to the lock mechanism. There are several types, like liner locks or frame locks, ensuring your knife stays in place during use.

Other features:

From handle fasteners that keep everything tight and right to spacer material that provides balance, every component plays a role. Handle bolts, handle material, and handle scales (the outer part of the handle) ensure your folding knife is both functional and eye-catching.

Whether you're wielding a kitchen knife to conquer dinner or flicking open a pocket knife for everyday tasks, knowing your blade's ins and outs makes you more informed and safer. 

3. Essential Kitchen Knives in Your Kitchen

In the culinary world, a chef’s knife collection is akin to an artist's brush set. Each one paints a different stroke, turning every meal preparation into a symphony of flavors. Let's dive deep into the essential knives that every kitchen should boast of:

Chef’s knives

Your very best friend. Truly the backbone of any kitchen. With a design that's balanced for weight and size, chef's knives are your go-to for a plethora of tasks – from mincing garlic to dicing onions, chopping herbs to slicing meat. Its versatility is unmatched, and whether you're a seasoned chef or an amateur cook, this knife will surely be the one you reach for most often.

Paring knives

These petite powerhouses are like your precision artists. Their small blade is perfect for tasks requiring finesse, such as peeling fruits, hulling strawberries, or intricately decorating pastries. Their nimble design ensures those small, tricky tasks are accomplished with ease.

Bread knives

The unsung hero of the breakfast table. With its serrated edges, this knife dances through crusty loaves, ensuring the soft, airy insides remain untouched. Say goodbye to squashed bread and hello to perfect slices, whether for that morning toast or sandwich.

Santoku knives

The epitome of versatility. Originating from Japan, the Santoku knife is often seen as the Eastern counterpart to the Western chef’s knife. Its name translates to "three uses", highlighting its prowess in slicing, dicing, and mincing. The blade features little indentations, preventing food from sticking, making your prep work even more efficient.


These mean business. With a hefty build, it's ideal for chopping larger items and especially for going through bones. If you've ever wanted to feel like a professional chef in a bustling kitchen, wielding a cleaver and breaking down a chicken will surely do the trick.

Now, while these are the staples, there are other knives that deserve a special mention, enhancing the versatility of your kitchen arsenal:

Carving tools

Essential when the holiday season rolls around. These long, thin blades ensure that your roast dinner or ham is sliced with precision, maintaining the juiciness and flavor locked within each slice. No more embarrassing carving mishaps at the family gathering!

Kitchen cutlery

The generalists of the knife world. These can range from the chef's knife, an all-rounder, to utility knives that fill the gaps in between. Ideal for an array of tasks, they're the reliable workhorses of any kitchen.

Fishing knives

Perfect for seafood aficionados. Designed specifically to fillet, they smoothly glide through fish, preserving the delicate meat inside. A must-have if you're a fan of fresh catches.

Bowie knives

While their roots are in the frontier days, they've carved a niche in BBQ settings. Their design is optimal for slicing larger cuts of meat, making them a favorite at any cookout.

ESEE Knives

The heavy-duty partners. Although more known for survival tasks, their rugged build is useful in the kitchen, especially when dealing with hardy veggies or bones.

4. Dalstrong Tools You Need

1. Chef's Knife 8" | Shogun Series ELITE

Chef's Knife 8" | Shogun Series ELITE

This is the ultimate tool for chefs of every level, from budding cooks to seasoned professionals. This Chef's Knife is a culmination of Japanese precision and craftsmanship, with a 66-layer Damascus blade mounted on a Japanese Super Steel Core. Whether you're executing a fine dice or a swift chop, this knife guarantees an unparalleled cutting experience.


  • The Aus10V Japanese Super Steel core and 66-layer Tsunami Rose Damascus blade pattern ensure the knife is razor-sharp, strong, and incredibly beautiful.
  • Thanks to the Dalstrong D3 Sharpening and a hardness rating of 62+ HRC, it will keep its edge with fewer sharpening sessions.
  • Designed with user safety in mind, the knife boasts a tapered bolster for a secure pinch grip and finger protection, ensuring your fingers stay well away from the blade.
  • Its military-grade G10 handle not only provides a non-slip grip but also stands resilient against heat, cold, and moisture, keeping up with the dangers of a bustling kitchen.


  • The premium nature of its materials and craftsmanship means it might come at a higher price point compared to regular kitchen knives.
  • The intricate design and details, while ensuring superior performance, might require a bit more care and attention to maintain its pristine condition.

2. Slicing & Carving Knife 12" | Shogun Series ELITE

Slicing & Carving Knife 12" | Shogun Series ELITE | Dalstrong

When it comes to slicing mastery, this incredible 12-incher is an absolute standout. From briskets and hams to cakes and large fruits, this knife promises clean, uniform slices in one swift motion. Its long, precision-honed blade, coupled with the impeccable Dalstrong Tsunami Rose’ pattern, will not only elicit envious murmurs from your visitors but also assures unmatched sharpness.


  • Crafted with a razor-sharp AUS-10V Japanese super steel core, ensuring each slice is clean, precise, and retains all the juicy goodness.
  • The knife’s 67-layered Damascus blade looks amazing and works great.
  • Thanks to the Rockhollow divots, the blade encounters minimal friction, ensuring no food sticks and eases the slicing process.
  • The military-grade G10 handle is resilient to heat, cold, and moisture, means it's durable and also looks fantastic.


  • The knife's 12-inch length might be intimidating or unwieldy for those unfamiliar with larger knives.
  • With its specific design tailored for slicing and carving, it might not be as versatile as other general-purpose knives in a kitchen setting.

3. Meat Cleaver 9" with Stand | Obliterator | Gladiator Series R | NSF Certified

Meat Cleaver 9" with Stand | Obliterator | Gladiator Series R | NSF Certified | Dalstrong

There's a reason they call it the "Obliterator." This is a powerful, powerful tool, a 9" behemoth has a single mission: to tear through any culinary challenge it faces. Made from premium high-carbon 7cr17mov Steel and boasting a formidable weight of 2.9lbs, this cleaver is designed for both strength and precision. Its medieval weapon-inspired design is complemented by an ultra-sharp blade and a sturdy G10 handle.


  • Forged from premium high-carbon 7CR17MOV Steel, it promises durability and strength for any culinary task.
  • Despite its formidable size, the blade is precisely hand-sharpened to 16-18° per side, ensuring a sharp, efficient chop every time.
  • The ergonomically designed G10 handle offers a firm, comfortable grip, allowing for seamless maneuverability.
  • Not only functional, its menacing shape combined with the elegant acacia wood stand makes it a surefire conversation starter in any kitchen setting.


  • Given its hefty weight of 2.9lbs, it might be a bit challenging for some users to handle, especially for long periods of time. 
  • If you're looking for a cleaver that is a little more versatile, check out this cleaver-chef's knife hybrid.

4. Flexible Fillet Knife 7" | Gladiator Series | NSF Certified

Flexible Fillet Knife 7" | Gladiator Series | NSF Certified | Dalstrong

Whether you're dealing with fish or poultry, this knife's design ensures every cut is a breeze. Its flexible and ultra maneuverable blade feels like an extension of your arm, promising efficiency and satisfaction with each use.


  • Precision forged from high carbon German Steel, ensuring a blade that's sharp, durable, and wear-resistant.
  • The flexible 1.5mm spine allows for precise and delicate filleting tasks, letting you navigate around bones with ease.
  • Comes equipped with a BPA free PerfectFit sheath and a travel case, giving you versatile storage and portability options.
  • The ergonomic and ambidextrous G10 handle gives you an unmatched grip, ensuring the knife feels secure and comfortable in hand.


  • The specific design and flexibility might make it less suited for other general kitchen tasks.
  • While the blade is stain-resistant, it still requires proper cleaning to maintain its polished look.

5. Santoku Knife 7" | Valhalla Series

Santoku Knife 7" | Valhalla Series | Dalstrong

For the modern-day kitchen warrior. Embodying the "three virtues" of slicing, dicing, and mincing, this blade is a force to be reckoned with. Whether you're dealing with vegetables, fish, or meat, its high-carbon 5-layer steel promises precise cuts and undeniable durability. And thanks to its celestial resin handle that's both eye-catching and robust, it’s clear this knife is ready to conquer any culinary challenge.


  • Made of 5-layer stainless steel, the blade boasts a 60+ Rockwell Hardness, guaranteeing longevity and sharpness.
  • With an edge hand-sharpened to 8-12° per side, precision in every cut is a given.
  • The celestial resin handle, combined with stabilized wood, ensures a comfortable and durable grip during prolonged use.
  • The included Valhalla-embossed leather sheath not only offers protection but adds a touch of warrior-worthy flair.


  • Due to the mixing process of resin, some might find variations in handle color.
  • While the knife has a versatile design, the specialized blade angle may require periodic sharpening to maintain peak performance.

5. Frequently Asked Questions

What are the parts of a knife?

From the blade blanks to the handle bolts, pivot barrels to the pocket clip, knives are more than just a handle and edge blades. They're complex tools, much like a mini transformer, but without the voiceover.

What are the 4 points of a knife?

The four points of a knife are typically, the tip, edge, heel, and spine.


Written by Jorge Farah
Born on the coast of Colombia and based in Buenos Aires, Jorge is a cooking enthusiast and kitchenware obsessive with a tremendous amount of opinions.

What are the Different Knife Parts and Their Functions?

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