Finding Good Knives: Everything You Need To Know - Rhineland Cutlery

Finding Good Knives: Everything You Need To Know


Good Knives vs. Bad Knives: How to Know the Difference

Table of Contents

The Importance of a Quality Knife

a) Safety

b) Precision

c) Less Wastage

What Makes a Good Knife?

a) Examine Blade Thickness

b) Material It’s Made of

c). Blade material

i. Stainless Steel

ii. Carbon Stainless Steel

iii. Ceramic blades

d). Production

Knife Sharpness Tests

a) Onion Test

b) Paper Test

c) Tomato

So, What Makes a Kitchen Knife Good?

Good Knives vs. Bad Knives: How to Know the Difference

If you enjoy cooking and take it seriously, you know the significance of choosing goood knives. In addition to choosing one for the appropriate use, quality is a very important factor. An effective and durable knife is one of the most important aspects of any cooking experience.

Good Knives are so central to cooking that professional chefs are adamant about having reliable sets, storing them properly and maintaining a healthy blade. It’s more than just another tool in the kitchen; knives are a crucial part of creating meals that a chef or family cook can take pride in.

But what makes a kitchen knife good and how can we tell it apart from poorly made one?

By the time you are done reading this article, you should feel more confident about knife shopping and should indeed come across some excellent choices.

The Importance of Good Knives

Before determining the difference between “good” and “bad” knives, it’s important to acknowledge the impact of a knife’s quality. We mentioned professionals who take pride in maintaining their cutlery to the highest standards, but what is the big deal outside of the professional culinary world?


The first factor to consider is always safety. Although sharp knives are typically considered to be the most dangerous, dull knives are more of a threat when in use during cooking. An attribute of good knives, which we will explore later, is sharpness of the blade. Often, mishaps occur when a dull knife slips off whatever you are trying to cut. With your fingers in the way, the knife can easily cause a cut or more serious injury.


Quality knives ensure you get the precise cut you need for your ingredients. A blade and handle you can rely on equate to a consistent motion that will deliver the results you desire. A knife of poor quality can fall apart, move during cuts and be a total inconvenience or danger. Check out some excellent options here.

–Less Wastage

While your skills matter here, the knife you use matters as well. Sharpness and grip are two knife qualities that ensure less spills on the floor or food bits going places you didn’t intend.

A knife that tends to dull quickly smashes food instead of cutting through it. In the case of fruits and vegetables, you might end up throwing the smashed bits away. A knife with a good grip ensures you deliver the right amount of pressure to avoid smudging food.

What Makes Good Knives?

You can tell a lot about the quality of a knife just by looking at it. Here are some of the things to look at to help you determine what kind of product you are purchasing.

–Examine Blade Thickness

In some cases, how thick a blade is speaks to whether or not it will break or snap. However, thicker blades typically make less accurate cuts.Thinner blades, on the other hand, are perfect for slicing and getting through the most common foods, fruits and vegetables.

The best knife, in this case, is one with a fortified and durable blade that comes to a fine, thin point at its edge.

–Material Its Made of

Knives are made of stainless steel, carbon steel, alloy steel, cobalt, titanium, and tool steel. However, high carbon stainless steel is often preferred for chef’s knives. This is often because high carbon stainless steel knives are sturdy, offer good retention, and are easy to maintain.

Knife handles are made of fiberglass, carbon fiber, aluminum, and stainless steel. There are synthetic materials, as well.

While most materials used today will give you a reasonably good knife, ensure that the handle provides a good grip for your safety and ease of use. See some knife holding guidelines here.

There are several blade materials in the market, each with its own unique features. Here are the most common ones.

Stainless Steel

Stainless is a popular option owing to its corrosion resistance abilities and durability.
This alloy is typically made of nickel, iron, carbon, molybdenum, and chromium.

Note that while stainless steel offers excellent resistance against rust, it does indeed get rusty in certain environments.

Carbon Steel Blades

Carbon steel blades are much easier to sharpen than stainless steel ones. However, they do not have chromium as a component, which makes them more susceptible to rusting. Carbon steel also discolors easily, making it less preferred for high quality, premium knives.

Ceramic blades

While this material is not used to make knives as much as stainless steel, ceramic knives have some excellent qualities.

These knives have a tough blade, can maintain sharpness for significantly longer durations, and they are completely resistant to corrosion.


There are two main knife production methods; forged and stamped. Forged knives are made of a single bar of heated steel, shaped into a blade.

Stamped blades, on the other hand, are cut from large sheets of steel. They are then heat-treated and honed. Forged knives are typically heavier than stamped ones.

Knife Sharpness Tests

It’s essential to get a significantly sharp knife. Knowing when to sharpen your knife also prevents you from damaging the blade. Once a knife passes most of the tests above, a sharpness test comes next.

Here are the three tests you can conduct.

–Paper Test

This is one of the most common tests to determine sharpness. To utilize this method, hold a sheet of paper (copy or printer paper is best) at the top with one hand. You want to keep it a safe distance from your fingers and attempt to cut through the paper with the knife in your other hand. Attempt to cut stripes at a 45-degree angle.

A sharp knife should cut through the paper easily, not tear it. An exceptionally sharp knife will cut without any back and forth drawing motion. If there is an uneven and jagged tear, that blade is dull and could use some honing.

–Onion Test

Another popular and simple way of testing the sharpness of a blade is by pressing it against an onion peel. Without much pressure, a sharp blade will cut into the peel. A dull knife will not.

–Tomato Test

Try cutting a thin slice off a tomato with your knife. Unlike onions, most tomatoes are softer and can be squashed easily. If the knife cuts through without deforming or flattening it, then you have a very sharp blade. If force must be applied to get a slice, that blade is dull and can cause injury or harm when being used.

So, What Makes a Kitchen Knife Good?

As you can see from the above, there is no short answer to this question. A good kitchen knife is determined by the materials it is made of, how it is produced and these factors ultimately affect how durable it is. Bad knives are dull, break easily, can cause injury and ruin a masterpiece of cuts and slices while cooking.

However, the basics lie in safety, precision, maintenance, and sharpness.