When it comes to knives, no one shoe fits all. As a result, there are literally hundreds of different types designed for different purposes. From professional chef’s knives, to work knives, to survival essentials, it is important to know which ones are fit for purpose. Using the wrong knife may not only be ineffective, it could also cause damage to the knife itself and even be dangerous.
Whilst kitchen knives are intended solely for cutting through various food types, outdoor knives can be used for a far wider range of purposes. They may be utilised to pry things open, cut branches or wood, dig holes, or even kill and gut prey, which is why they tend to be much more heavy-duty. They usually have a wider angle along the edge and sturdier handles which have more grip.
Whatever type you go for, when selecting a knife quality really does count. By opting for high-carbon steel knives you can be sure to maintain a rust and stain-free finish with a blade that can be sharpened time and time again. A sharp and precise edge is useful in any knife in order for it to function properly.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the main knife types and their uses.
Common Kitchen Knives
When it comes to kitchen knives, there is a seemingly endless array on offer. However, there are a few staple knife-types that every respectable kitchen should have in the drawer, as listed here:
- Utility Knife – A utility knife is the perfect option for every day use. These versatile knives can be used for anything from trimming fat to chopping fruit and vegetables, making them one of the most useful additions you can make to your kitchen.
- Paring Knife – For more delicate jobs, a paring knife is smaller in size and capable of making precise cuts. These are great for cutting up your veggies.
- Bread Knife – No home is complete without a decent bread knife. Their long, serrated blades are the only thing capable of cutting the perfect slice, and they can also be utilised for other tasks such as slicing cakes, meats and seafood.
- Butter Knife – Once you’ve sliced up that bread, you’ll want to butter it. The smooth edge of a butter knife allows it to glide through and spread without affecting the surface of the bread.
- Carving Knife – When a Sunday roast or Christmas dinner comes around, the carving knife is king. These are perfect for cutting thin slices from cooked whole chickens or hams. They can also be useful for cutting large fruits such as watermelons.
- Steak Knife – If you enjoy a good steak from time to time, then be sure to have some decent steak knives in your cutlery drawer. These come with a serrated edge that allows you to tackle a steak with ease.
Specialist Kitchen Knives
If you’re a professional chef, or just fancy yourself as a bit of an Anthony Bourdain, then you may want to invest in some more specialist knives in your kitchen. Here’s a list of those which are most commonly used:
- Boning Knife – If you’re a meat eater, then a boning knife is an essential tool. These can be used to cut up chops or whole chickens, making them the perfect companion for carnivores.
- Butcher’s Knife – Another meaty contender, these knives are essential for professional butchering work and can be used to break down larger cuts of meat with precision.
- Meat Cleaver – If you’re really serious about your meats, then a meat cleaver should be on the cards. These are large, heavy-duty knives capable of tackling tough jobs, including cutting through bone.
- Bird’s Beak Paring Knife – With their curved blade, these knives can be utilised for precision cutting, such as creating elaborate garnishes. They are also often utilised to peel fruits and vegetables that are round in shape.
- Cheese Knife – For all you cheese lovers out there, a cheese knife is the perfect companion, with multiple features designed to cut cheeses without them sticking. Cheese knives also come with a rounded tip to allow for spreading.
- Fish Knife – When fish is on the menu, the thin and flexible blade of a fish knife is the best way to remove the skin with care. These can also be used for the delicate task of cutting raw fish.
- Vegetable Cleaver – In a professional kitchen, there’s plenty of chopping to be done, and more often than not a paring knife just won’t cut it. Enter the vegetable cleaver: this heavy-duty knife is perfect for chopping, slicing and dicing large volumes of vegetables in a hurry.
Essential Outdoor Knives
When it comes to completing work around the house or in the garden, there are some knives which are essential to keep tucked away in your toolbox. Here’s a list of the most useful work knives to keep in the house:
- Multitools – These are a one-stop-shop when it comes to home repairs. Combining a multitude of tools into one, multitools include knives, screwdrivers, pliers, and more all into one handy utensil.
- Utility Knife – These sharp knives come with a refillable and retractable blade and are useful for making precise cuts through a whole range of materials, such as lino, carpet, plastic and fabric.
- Pen-Knife – Pen-knives or pocket-knives are always useful to have on hand due to their foldable, compact size and diverse functionality. They often include not only knives but bottle openers, screwdrivers and scissors too.
Specialist Outdoor Knives
If you’re planning an extreme outdoor adventure or work in a field which requires knives, then you might need something a little more fit for purpose. Here’s a list of some of the most popular specialist knives out there:
- Electrician Knife – These insulated knives look like an extreme version of a pen-knife and are designed especially for electrical work as they protect against electric shocks.
- Hunting Knife – If hunting is your sport, then you’re sure to need a decent hunting knife. These heavy-duty knives often come with gut hooks for ease of gutting your catch.
- Machete – These are useful for larger-scale tasks such as cutting branches or retrieving fruit from trees.
- Diver Knife – These knives are designed specifically for use under water. They have a sturdy handle with plenty of grip so that you can hold them tight even in the depths of the deep blue.
- Survival Knife – Survival knives come with a whole range of functions and are perfect if you’re venturing out into the wilderness. Many of them come complete with fire starters, flashlights, and whistles for attracting attention.
Can Any of Them Be Cross-Purpose?
Generally speaking, kitchen knives and outdoor knives are worlds apart. They tend to be used for wildly different purposes, which means they are very different in design. However, pen-knives can be useful in both settings, although it’s unlikely that you’d opt for that in lieu of a proper kitchen knife!
Meat cleavers are probably the only knife heavy-duty enough to handle outdoor tasks. Whilst many outdoor knives can be used for rough food preparation when camping, their place is usually not in the kitchen. You could take kitchen knives on a camping trip for use in food preparation, but a multi-purpose survival knife or pen-knife is a far more useful tool to have on hand.