A chef’s knife is a type of general knife used in the kitchen. It is also known as a cook’s knife and can be used for a range of cutting techniques. There are two primary types of chef’s knives; these are the French chef’s knife and the German chef’s knife.
The French style of chef’s knife has a straight cutting edge blade that curves as it reaches the pointed tip, whereas the German chef’s knife has a more gradually curving blade. The chef’s knife is considered an essential kitchen tool for western chefs. Here we’ll go into the common sizes you see in chef’s knives.
What Do You Use a Chef’s Knife For?
The chef’s knife was originally invented to carry out the purpose of disjointing beef and slicing it up into smaller pieces. Today, however, the chef’s knife is considered the ultimate multi-purpose knife for preparing food because it can be used for so many things.
The curving edge of the blade means that it can be rocked backward and forwards against a cutting board to finely chop vegetables such as onions and carrots. It can also be used to crush herbs and spices, slice fruit, or cut meat and fish.
There are three knives that are thought to be crucial for food preparation; these are the chef’s knife, the paring knife, and a serrated knife. Other types of knives are nice to have, but they are really a luxury because these three knives can be used for any job you would need to carry out in the kitchen.
Of these three knives, the chef’s knife is the most essential, so if you only buy one knife, then this is the one it should be.
Chef’s Knife Sizes
When the size of a knife is referred to, this is a measurement of the length of the blade, rather than the entire length of the utensil that would also include the handle. For example, if you find a knife that is described as an 8-inch knife, this means that it has an 8-inch long blade.
When it comes to chef’s knives, the blade length can vary from 6 inches to 14 inches, but the most common sizes are 6 inches, 8 inches, and 10 inches. The standard blade width on a chef’s knife is 1.5 inches.
Six-inch chef’s knives are ideal for people who measure less than 5 feet and 4 inches in height. A smaller blade on a knife makes the knife easier to handle, but you do lose out on blade space if you choose a knife size that is too small for you.
This size of knife is the smallest length of chef’s knife you will find, and it is also typically the most inexpensive simply because it uses less material to make.
This is the most common length of a chef’s knife because it is a medium size that will work well for a range of people. If you are shorter in height, then you will likely still be able to use an 8-inch knife without finding it too cumbersome, and if you are very tall, then an 8-inch knife won’t be too awkward to maneuver.
If you are a professional chef or you live alone or have your own specific set of knives you use, then you should get a chef’s knife specifically to work with the size of your body for the best fit.
However, if you are buying a chef’s knife for your family to use, and therefore the knife will get used by various people of different sizes, then an 8-inch knife offers the best compromise for everyone.
If you are buying the knife for your own use, then an 8-inch knife is a good option for anyone with a height of between 5 feet 5 inches and 6 feet. The ideal body height to suit an 8-inch chef’s knife is 5 feet and 9 inches.
A 10-inch chef’s knife is good for people who have a height of over 6 feet and 1 inch. If you are a little smaller than this, then you should be able to use a 10-inch knife without too much difficulty; however, if you are considerably smaller than this, you will find a 10-inch knife awkward and potentially dangerous to use.
The Best Chef’s Knife Size
The best size of chef’s knife for you depends on the size of your body. The easiest way to figure out the length of a knife somebody should have without getting up close, and personal to them is to use a height guide.
This is a good option if you are buying a chef’s knife for a gift and you don’t want to ruin the surprise. If the recipient of your knife is 5 foot 4 inches or smaller, then you should buy them a 6-inch chef’s knife. If they are 6 foot 1 inch or taller, then you should get them a 10-inch chef’s knife.
For anyone with a height between these two measurements, choose an 8-inch chef’s knife. If you are buying a chef’s knife for a couple, or a family, choose an 8-inch knife as this will suit most people.
If you are buying a chef’s knife for yourself, then the most accurate way to measure the best size is to take a measurement of your forearm. If you are buying your knife online, use a tape measure or ruler to measure the distance of your forearm from your elbow crease to your wrist and compare it to the length listed on the knife’s size specifications.
The distance from elbow crease to wrist should be around the same length as the knife’s blade. If you are in a store and buying a chef’s knife that you can pick up and try out, hold the knife carefully against your forearm with the tip of the blade at your elbow crease and the heel of the blade at your wrist.
You should try to find a chef’s knife that is the same length as your forearm. If you have measured your forearm and find, for example, which is 6 inches, then you should get a 6-inch chef’s knife.
If your forearm measurement is between sizes, for example, if it is 9 inches long and you can only find chef’s knives measuring 8 or 10 inches, then you should round down to the nearest number. In this instance, with a forearm measurement of 9 inches, the 8-inch chef’s knife would be best.
Chef’s Knife Heel Size
The heel of the knife is the underneath part that sits between the blade edge and the handle. The measurement of this part of the knife is important because it can affect how you use the knife.
When you wrap your fingers around the handle to use the knife, the size of the heel will dictate how much space your fingers have between the knife and the cutting board. If your heel is too small for the size of your fingers, then your fingers will get crushed under the handle, or you won’t be able to get close enough to the cutting board to cut effectively.
Knives that are designed for smaller hands, for example, 6-inch chef’s knives, will have a smaller heel as they typically don’t need as much clearance for knuckles.
This is another reason why it is important to buy the right size of chef’s knife for your body, because if someone with large hands tries to use a 6-inch chef’s knife designed for small hands, then they will find that their knuckles keep hitting the cutting board with the up and down motion of chopping.