Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Sep 24, 2009 07:07 AM

Paring knife (curve edge or straight edge).

Hi guys,

This is my second post. I was thinking about getting a boning knife to accommodate my all-purpose knife, but now I am considering a paring knife first. I think one of you guys talked me into it. My question is about traditional curve edge and straight edge. In case, I am being confusing. Here are two examples:
Curve edge:

Straight edge:

The way I see is that the curve edge is better is most occasions because the user can cut in at various angle while the curvature accommodates it, whereas the user need to be more exact when he/she is using a straight edge. However, the straight edge is better for peeling a flat skin off fruits or vegetables for food prep. For example, only a straight-edge knife can do this:

Of course, I am not going to cut a huge daikon with a paring knife, but you get my point. Is there any advantage of a straight edge paring knife? Anyone here actually prefer a straight edge paring knife? If so, can you name at least one reason?

Thanks for your time.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I really like this paring knife. Carbon steel clad with stainless, so you have to wash and dry more promptly than with stainless. It holds a great edge. It appears to be backordered right now.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Satiated

      That looks like a great knife, Satiated. Tempting, to add it to my collection.

      1. re: Normandie

        Satiated and Normandie,

        Thanks, but I am wondering what you think of the two designs. The curve or the straight edge? By the way, Normandie. There is a promotional Shun parring knife on Amazon. It is $40, but unfornately no picture. I am guess it is the straight edge -- based on its product name. Go to Type "Shun Promotional knife". Of course, the Steel one is cheaper as well. Same blade just different handle.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I have both of them. I almost always go for the straight back. The only time I go for the other is when whatever I am doing may cause me to jab myself. And when you jab yourself with a pointy shun knife it never goes any deeper than the bone.

          Or at least not a lot.

          An example of this is cutting a couple of bushels of San Marzano tomatoes in half. I hold my finger at one end, thumb at the other and pass the knife in the triangle between. Just asking to be 'attacked with a pointed stick' .

          When I read the title I thought you meant...

          1. re: Paulustrious


            Oh no, I don't mean the bird peak paring. I meant the normal curve parer like a little French chef's knife. So you would prefer the straight blade parer over the mini-French chef's parer, right? And the reason is that you think the straight blade one is safer? Thanks.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              No - I explained myself badly. The curved one is safer. But it just doesn't feel right to me. I have a fairly complete set of shuns - nine knives in total. The two I use the most are the 3.5" paring and the 8" cooks knife. The others tend to make guest appearances.

              I was in Ikea the other day and they had an 8" damascus VG-10 knife at $80 CAN. It felt good/balanced to me and looked very similar to a shun.


              1. re: Paulustrious


                Got it. You like straight one because it is more nature to you. Thanks. Oh that Ikea knife looks nice. I guess you can always get another chef knife. Thanks.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Okay, the set the record straight: Normally the regular curved parer is called a "spear point" and the straight edge is called "sheep's foot".

                1. re: paulsfinest

                  Setting the record even straighter - we are two different Pauls. I only mention that as PF is relatively new poster. Thanks for the info - I had never heard that distinction.

                  Welcome here. I hope you remain to contribute as you may know a little more about knives than most of us.

                  Probably all of us.

                  1. re: Paulustrious

                    Thanks "Other Paul". Well, I just pick up things along the way... experience, customers, books... everyone has opinions and preferences (and budgets) :-)

                    1. re: Paulustrious

                      Oh, and the scimitar-shaped paring knife is of course called a "peeling knife".

                      1. re: paulsfinest

                        You two Pauls are hurting my head. Since I first posted that OP, I have learnt the names for these different paring knives.

        2. I guess if I were only going to have one, I'd pick the curved edge, probably 4" long. I think that makes a good all-purpose paring knife. I agree with your reasoning about the curved edge.

          In real life, I have four paring knives. One is useless (someone bought it for me when I was starting out; one of the cheaper, mass-market Henckel's lines and I don't know why I didn't get rid of it years ago. Nothing like the better Henckel's).

          Then I have a cheap, grocery-store special which has actually turned out to be a pretty good parer through the years. It probably cost me less than five bucks at the time. I just mention this because if you know what to look for, you can find useful, long-lived inexpensive knives.

          My favorites are a small Sabatier carbon steel straight edge. It's blade is 2.75" long, and it's easily honed. Love this thing; looks closet to this guy:

          And then about a year ago, I got a Kuhn Rikon nonstick paring knife. This is a great knife, too (so far), and has the curved edge. Now, I haven't had it long enough to know how the blade will hold up, but it does respond well to the steel. My only caveat would be that the handle can be slippery if you handling anything fatty or oily. My wooden handles are better for that. But I get *a lot* of use out of this inexpensive little knife.

          So, again, if you're going to start with one, I'd go for the curved blade and then put a straight-edge on my wish list. JMO. And, while I have do have some pricier knives, in general, I've found that price doesn't correspond in every case to quality, usefulness and durability in cutlery.

          37 Replies
          1. re: Normandie


            Sorry about not reading this reply. Yes, I agree that price sometime completely do not corresponding to functional. My $35 Dexter-Russell Chinese chef's cleaver has served me well, and I bet the more expensive $70-90 Henckels or Wusthof will not do much better. I have not decided to buy Shun yet, though I am certainly considering the possibility. I was considering Henckel and Wusthof, but I don't like the fact that their full bolster sticks out so much. I don't think I can sharp my knives like that... .

            I used those two web links to illustrate the two paring designs: curve and straight, and wanted to get some input. If I have to go with one, I would probably go for curve, but I am pretty ignorant, so I wanted some input. I think you are correct. I should get the more all-purpused curved paring knife and I can/may think about the more specific straight paring knife in the future. Thanks.

            I have not considered a carbon steel parer, but I had considered a carbon steel Chinese cleaver. Then I figured it is too much work to take care of it. Yes, it is harder and can hold an edge better, but I am not sure if it is worth all the time to maintain it.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Chemical, no problem re missing the post first time through; it's certainly happened to me a few times. ;-)

              Your post pointed out that what's true for much cooking equipment is true for cutlery. Each person will have his or her own priorities. I prefer knives with bolsters, because, honestly, I'm a little clumsy. I feel that my hand is a little better protected. I also like the weight it adds and, in particular, I think my Wusthof at least needs that additional weight. I have a Trident Classic slicer (6"), and it's great. But their blades seem thin and light to me; I think it needs the bolster. But your point is important, too. The thing is, I don't sharpen my own knives. If I try, I wreck 'em. :-D So I take them to my butcher, and in between times manage to use the steel effectively enough. But you do sharpen your own, and so your design needs are different.

              The cleaver in the carbon steel might need more TLC, true. The little c.s. parer is pretty low maintenance. The blade seems quite soft to me. Honing is pretty much all I have to do with that knife. Different story with a Sabatier 6" chef's knife I have; I think because it's more blade. I love, love, love the balance of that knife, but I have a hard time keeping it sharp, even though carbon steel is supposed to be excellent in that way. ????? I don't know; I can't explain it. And some people have a problem with the appearance of c.s. knives after they've been in use. I don't care about that, but it is a legitimate factor for those who do.

              I think since you just want to get one paring knife at a time that you'll be pleased that you went with the curved edge. Whereas, as I said, the little straight Sabatier does what it's meant to do beautifully, it really is for "little" or delicate work. My longer, curved Kuhn Rikon is versatile. I can do the "little" stuff by adjusting my grip to use the point, but I can also slice carrots or dice a shallot or cut up a cooked chicken breast and all sorts of things with it.

              1. re: Normandie


                You must be you because you use a lot of abbreviations which I don't understand (just kidding). Honestly though, what is "TLC"?

                Carbon steel knives does not guarantee to be harder and sharper, but it has that option. Most people go for carbon steel knives for that reason alone. Stainless steel has chromium added to it, so it is stain-less, but chromium makes stainless steel softer. In other words, stainless steel has to play catch up with carbon steel.

                I don't know how hard is your knife because I don't know its exact model, but you can probably find out. A hard knife can take a sharper edge for a longer time, but it is weaker and prone to chipping. Now, there is another important factor in this knives thing.... Cutting boards. I hope you are not using glass or marble or anything hard as your cutting board.

                Actually, I am learning to sharp my knives -- trying to turn it into my hobbit. Just bought a diamond whetstone and a duo surface waterstone. My sharpening stones thus far cost more than my knife set, which does not make a lot of economic sense. However, I am upgrading my knife set, so I can justified my sharpening stones expense. Ok, actually I knew I am going to upgrade my knife set, so I bought the waterstone.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                "but I don't like the fact that their full bolster sticks out so much. I don't think I can sharp my knives like that... "

                Why would you want to sharpen the bolster on any knife? Sorry that just doesn't make a lot of sense. The bolster on the Wusthof classic makes it strong. Perfect for those who like to whack things with a cleaver! ;)
                Besides Wusthof offers lines other than the classic with out that style of bolster (Le Cordon Bleu). One thing you may want to consider is that shun is a laminated VG10. Not the greatest steel by a long shot. If you are going to spend this kind of $$ on a Japanese knife there are FAR FAR better choices.
                BTW I wouldn't suggest Henkels to any one. That product is no longer what it used to be.
                If i have to pick one it would be a straight blade but IMO this is little more than personal preference.

                1. re: Fritter

                  I would be interested in which knives are available at the same price point as the shuns and why you think them better. I can't have a realistic opinion as I've never had any knives better than these.

                  1. re: Paulustrious

                    Paulustrious there are really a plethora of Japanese knives that fit the bill. What will set some of the others apart is the type of steel used. I'd take INOX over VG10 any day. Even Cromova 18 used by Global is a more desireable steel than VG10 (IMO). Add the knife linked upthread to this list.



                    1. re: Fritter

                      Why the hate on vg10? There's nothing wrong with vg10 and many excellent knives are made with that steel. Hattori's FH for example. It's not my favorite steel, but its nice mixture for a kitchen knife in terms of its edge taking, edge holding, and stainless properties. I'm sort of at a loss as to why you think Global's steel is superior. And INOX just means stainless. All sorts of crap is marked INOX.

                      I do agree though that there are better Japanese knives than Shuns in the same price range.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        That was the question I was asking. Can you tell me examples of brands that are IYO better? I haven't got the time to research a page of 200 different knives. I used to be very much involved in metal processing and worked for a short while for British Aerospace heat treatment department. The primary requirements there were stress relief, case hardening and fatigue prevention, not entirely the same as for a knife.

                        BTW, I had the same reaction to INOXydable but then noticed that one of Fritter's links pointed at something called YSS INOX. My searches through the web showed no scientific comparison of the materials. (hardness index, young's modulus, density, elasticity limits, etc)

                        The steel on my shun knives appears to hold a good edge through a sizable batch of veg and a few strokes with a softish steel works well. There is no visible tarnishing or pitting on the edge of blade so I am impressed with the stainless quality. I can find no evidence at the moment of any stainless steel out-performing VG10 in terms of my requirements.

                        1. re: Paulustrious

                          Asking for better brands than shun classic opens up a can of worms. As I said, I don't think there's anything wrong with vg10. There are 'better' stainless steels but they involve some tradeoffs and they typically cost more, sometimes much more. And while there are knives that I prefer in Shun's price range, the distinguishing factors are generally their geometry and not their steels.

                          But anyway, in terms of steel, powdered steels will generally hold an edge longer and also take a more acute edge than vg10. As powdered steels go, the most common is sg2 (blazens and shun elites, for example). Then there's zdp-189 and cowry x which are both said to be very high performing. Also very pricey. Akifusa uses srs-15 powder steel (probably similar to sg2) and is competitively priced. Also of note is mc66 - marketed by henckels and often rumored to actually be one of the aforementioned powdered steels. These tend to be both very hard and very abrasion-resistant, which translates to very work-intensive to sharpen.

                          There is SKD steel, a japanese tool steel used by yoshikane. I have not had an opportunity to mess with any SKD steel, so I don't know its properties, but I have read and heard nothing but rave reviews about it. It seems to be nicer than vg 10 for a slightly higher price.

                          YSS means "yasugi special steel" - it's made in the yasugi factory in Japan. I don't know its actual makeup, but Tadatsuna uses it. It's similar to 19c27, at least in effect. That means that it will take an exceptionally fine and sharp edge for a stainless, and it is not quite as hard or hard to sharpen as powdered steels. But its edge retention doesn't seem to be any better than vg-10 (tadatsuna also puts an absurdly acute edge on their knives, so a head to head comparison is difficult). Also pricier.

                          Misono's UX10 knives are a bit of a mystery, but it's rumored that the steel is 13c26, which is not particularly better than vg10. Might take a slightly better edge, but also with a little more sharpening effort. I dunno. On the other hand the knife looks gorgeous and feels great. Also pricier than shun classics.

                          As for knives that are comparably priced or cheaper - tojiro DP doesn't publicize the steel it uses. Some sort of Swedish Inox. In practice though, it performs very similarly to vg10. I think it sharpens up a bit nicer, but for the most part the difference is negligible. It's also a bit cheaper than a shun. But the major reason I prefer it is that I like the straighter edge and its geometry (thinness and taper). I feel it performs more nimbly, but if you're big on rocking when you chop, you probably won't agree.

                          Even cheaper, togiharu molybdenum are also supposed to be nice. The steel is probably inferior to vg10 (though not much), but again i prefer the shape. I haven't messed with these personally though.

                          Lastly, I should mention that my favorite go-to knife for a while has been a Hiromoto in aogami super steel. It's stainless clad with a carbon core - not stainless. With use, the edge quickly forms a patina that provides some resistance to rust. There is are marked improvements in edge retention and especially edge taking over vg10. And the price is competitive. I love that knife.

                          Most of what I just wrote doesn't apply to paring knives though, for one simple reason - most of the makers I just listed don't make paring knives. Sorry if that was what you were looking for.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            I think it is time for me to retire back into my shell.

                            Thank you for that articulate and informative post.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              "As for knives that are comparably priced or cheaper - tojiro DP doesn't publicize the steel it uses. Some sort of Swedish Inox"

                              I was under the impression that they used some blend of Cobalt.

                              " I should mention that my favorite go-to knife for a while has been a Hiromoto in aogami super steel"

                              If this is the same line you mention a Pairing knife is available for the same price as the Shun. While I have not ordered from Chef knives to go I have heard nothing but good things about their service.


                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                The previous 2 posts reminded me why I loved my material science classes.

                            2. re: cowboyardee

                              "Why the hate on vg10?"

                              Hate may be a bit over stated as I have a few knives of solid VG10. However I find VG10 chips fairly easy and does not hold an edge well compared to other Japanese steels. I agree that it does take an edge easily. My Globals stay sharper longer however Cromova 18 can be a RPITA to sharpen. I have abused my Globals for years and have never had them chip.

                              " INOX just means stainless."

                              For me that's a bit of a yes and a bit of a no. INOX is indeed just a type of SS but there is a base recipe for the alloy to be considered INOX. VG10 is a SS and AFAIK is not INOX. AUS-10 is a type of INOX.
                              You can find several makers that utilize INOX with better edge retention and chip resistance than Shuns VG10. Suisin and Ikkanshi come to mind.
                              I think it's worth noting that while VG10 is pretty much all equal no matter what knife maker uses it what is NOT equal is the heat treatment each knife maker applies to the steel. IMO a Shun is no comparison for a Hattori or a Masamoto even though both are made out of VG10.
                              I was simply trying to illustrate that there are far better values than Shun in the same price range.

                              1. re: Fritter

                                I use 'hate' pretty casually.

                                I don't disagree with much of what you just said. I personally sort of like globals, but I think the main reason they hold an edge reasonably well is that they come with a convex edge. In my experience, globals don't hold their edges as well once they're ground down to a v bevel by a few good sharpenings (of course you could preserve the convex edge, but most people don't).

                                But I'm not aware of any criteria a steel has to meet to be considered inox besides that for stainless. It's become a popular advertising term for Japanese knives made out of (usually) Swedish stainless steel, and these are generally very nice knives, but I've definitely seen other things marked inox - a crappy WWII replica pocket knife my father-in-law has, pans that I don't believe would sharpen well, various fixtures for things like diving boards.

                                These are too.
                                I haven't used them, but I doubt they'd be something special.

                                As you said, there are some fantastic knives advertised only as 'inox.' The Suisin honyaki inox comes to mind, but that is actually the 19c27 steel i mentioned briefly in my long post. There are many others. It's just that looking for the word 'inox' is probably not the best way to pick a knife.

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  Really, I didn't know that. if they are ground to a convex, then should Global knife less sharp in a way because the angle at the very edge is larger than if it was flat ground or hallow ground. I do agree that a convex edge will hold very long.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Yeah, you would think. In my experience though, a new global seems to cut as well as a new or fresh-sharpened shun. I think the edge grind may be a bit more acute to compensate, but I'm not positive.

                                    The convex edge is, however, at least part of the reason they're such a hassle to sharpen. The steel is already strangely abrasion-resistant, and on top of that you have people trying to grind a flat bevel into an edge they didn't know was convex.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee


                                      What about the webpage I found? You probably missed it. It is just below this post. It states the opposite. It claims Global is the one who grinds its knives flat and others grind theirs (double) bevel -- similar to convex. Let's me cut and paste:

                                      "...Global knives are sharpened or ground on both sides of the blade like western style knives. However, their edges are ground straight to a point rather than beveled resulting in a dramatically sharper knife which stays sharper longer."

                                  2. re: cowboyardee


                                    Following up. This page confuses me because it states the opposite that you just mentioned. It states that Global knives are flat ground (picture on left), whereas other knives are grind to a double bevel (picture on right), which is more similar to a convex ground.


                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      That link refers to Global's lack of a distinguishable bevel. The flat side of the knife blends into the edge itself.

                                      Here is another link from the Yoshikin/Global site.

                                      Halfway down the page, you'll see a diagram showing the convex edge. It's not a very dramatic convex-ness (?) on the actual knife itself. Hope that clears things up.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee


                                        Thanks. Well, if the page your referred to is correct. Then the page I saw is confusing if not outright misleading.


                                        Anyway, the diagram you referred is very helpful. Convex but the edge start at the higher point. Interesting.

                                    2. re: cowboyardee

                                      " It's just that looking for the word 'inox' is probably not the best way to pick a knife"

                                      I completely agree. As I noted I was only trying to illustrate that there are better choices than Shun in that price range. Especially when you consider the prices on many of their lines above the classic. Hattori and Masamoto both make stellar products in VG10 but like you this is generally just not my first choice of steel. I think we always have to put that in context of what knife we are talking about. I just picked up one of these (Scroll to the WA Gyuto at the bottom on the page);


                                      Now it's certainly not an Hattori or a Suisin but for $137 including freight from Seki to my doorstep in a few days it's an understatement to say I'm thrilled with this little gem. I just can't drop four bills on every blade I buy.

                                      "I'm not aware of any criteria a steel has to meet to be considered inox besides that for stainless"

                                      I freely admit I'm pulling this off a search but several sites seem to agree on the definition of INOX;
                                      "Any of a family of alloy steels usually containing 10–30% chromium".
                                      IMO how each knife maker works these alloys is just as key in edge retention as the alloy itself as long as we are talking about alloys that priced with in the reach of mere mortals.
                                      It's interesting you note the Suisin Honyaki is 19c27. I know their Western style knives get billed as AUS-10 and some tout that as being superior to standard INOX.
                                      I have a love/hate relationship with my Globals. They are not for every one but speaking strictly of the steel I can't not think of a single negative aspect of Cromova 18.
                                      BTW what is your sharpening rotine for the Hiromoto? Those look very appealing. Which one are you using?

                                      1. re: Fritter

                                        Fritter, I'm not even sure that we disagree on the matter anymore, but I have to point out that the definition you gave of INOX is essentially the same as the definition of stainless - both are defined by their chromium content and I can't find any cited meaningful differences between the two. I might just be misunderstanding you. Small matter. Your assessment of what matters for knife steel is right on AFAIK.

                                        That Kagayaki looks very, very nice. Is it thin/thick/medium for a gyuto? I hope to hear a little while down the road what you think of it's edge retention and how you like sharpening it. I suspect those might get popular in a little while if the price stays close to where it is.

                                        I haven't used or sharpened AUS 10 steel as far as I know. I know suisin sells knives in that steel for a little bit less than they do their 19c27 or 'inox' honyaki. And I know that 19c27 is seriously good stuff. So probably AUS-10 is better than some inox and worse than other inox. Would like a chance to mess around with it though.

                                        As for the hiromoto - I use a hiromoto AS 240mm gyuto. I sharpen it when it gets really the slightest bit dull. For my uses, that's something like every month or two. I have pretty high standards for sharpness with that knife though - its 'dull' is about as sharp as a brand new shun. I hand sharpen on waterstones and maintain it with a strop occasionally. It really only needs a touch up on high grit to get it back into shape if you maintain it well, but I'm slowly taking the angle down so I thin it a little bit with a medium grit stone each time I sharpen. I'm probably at about 20-22 degrees included now and it hasn't given me the slightest sign that it's too thin, so I'll keep going. You could certainly use an edgepro on this knife if that's your preference (though you wouldn't be able to take the edge past 20 degrees included). The edge is asymmetrical (about 70-30), but that's not a problem to maintain or change as you see fit.

                                        One warning though - the hiromoto AS 'paring' knife you noted earlier on the 'chef's knife to go' site is actually a petty. If you get it, you may find it rather long for a paring knife - 4.72 inches. Excellent knife as long as that's what you want.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          "That Kagayaki looks very, very nice. Is it thin/thick/medium for a gyuto?

                                          2.2 mm so pretty darn thin. I freakin love it. This just might be the one that changes my mind about VG10. The price is a steal. Here's a link to a thread on another forum about that knife;


                                          BTW I just noticed that Hiromoto AS Wa Sujihiki. I need to keep my CC put away. That one is calling me! LOL

                            3. re: Fritter


                              Ha ha, I don't plan on sharpening the bolster, which is the problem. If only I can sharp it... I plan on sharpening the edge and a full bolster will get in the way. Look at this knife, you tell me how it won't be a problem sharpening the heel:
                              The bolster comment is not for the cleaver, rather for the paring knife, as most Wusthof cleavers lack a bolster (there is one exception, I think)

                              Even if I can get to the heel, as I sharpen the knife, the edge will recede over time and now you have a bolster literally sticking out of the new edge. Now you can no longer cut all the way down, not to talk about how horrible it looks.

                              Le Cordon Bleu sounds very French. I am boycotting anything with a French name on it :) (Just a joke).

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                "Even if I can get to the heel, as I sharpen the knife, the edge will recede over time and now you have a bolster literally sticking out of the new edge."

                                Nonsense. The Wusthofs I currently use use have seen steady use in a professional kitchen for the last 13 years. The only way you could get a knife to the point of deteration as you suggest is to put them on a grinder weekly and even then it would take many years to be an issue. The bolster does not get in the way of sharpening. If that were the case then no one would use them and Wusthof is the vast majority of professional kitchens. I rarely see a Shun at work. You have an area about 2-3 mm at the heel that you can not sharpen. The upside of that is strength. Not an issue in a pairing knife but a major factor in a boning knife or a Chef's knife as you show in your link.
                                As always you need to match the tool to the job and the user.

                                "Le Cordon Bleu sounds very French. I am boycotting anything with a French name on it :) "

                                Too chez! LOL

                                1. re: Fritter

                                  I have certainly seen people sharpener an inch off their knives in a short time. Like this dude,

                                  Now, that dude is gungho and I will never do that, but I will certainly take some edge off. Even Wusthof now admits the full bolster is an issue, which is why they reduce the bolster in Le Cordon Bleu, Ikon, Ikon classic lines. The whole bolster stengthen the knife makes no sense to me, and it certainly does not protect your hand. If bolster strengthen a knife, then the non-bolster knives must be weakand I have never heard the non-bolster Japanese knives being weak. If it really is that important, why don't they put a bolster on a meat cleaver which is the most strength demanding of all. In term of bolster protecting your hand? Absolutely nonsense. It literally makes no sense from a science point of view: maybe in some mythical ways. The only time you will slip your hand is when you cut foward with a exceeding force and suddenly ram hit into a hard surface like a cutting board. In that case, your knife suddenly stops, but your hand keeps moving forward due to momentum (like why people can fly out of a car in an accident). This is when you move your hand into the blade and get really bad cut. What will stop the slip is the heel of the knife, not the bolster. If the heel extend out a lot like a French chef's or a Chinese chef's, then it will be difficult to slip onto the blade. Try imagine you holding a Chinese chef's cleaver, and now try to imagine how you can slip your hand all the way to the cutting edge. You cannot, even though 99% of Chinese chef's cleaver has no bolster. However, when the knife has very shallow or no heel, you can easily cut yourself, like this tomato slicer:
                                  Now the following slicer is a safer, but not because there is a bolster, but because the extended heel:

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    "Even Wusthof now admits the full bolster is an issue, which is why they reduce the bolster in Le Cordon Bleu"

                                    I dissagre completely.
                                    They are just different series. Wusthof makes and sells a ton of classics. If you don't like Wusthof you don't need a reason but what you are suggesting is simply not based on fact.

                                    "I have never heard the non-bolster Japanese knives being weak"

                                    If you haven't heard of a Japanese knife breaking than you haven't been looking very hard. This almost always comes from miss-use but it certainly happens. A Japanese knife and a German knife are different tools with different uses. They do not mutually exclude one another. At least not in my tool box.
                                    For hard use the bolster offers strength. Again not an issue in a pairing knife but a major factor in a boning knife or a Chefs knife that will be used as an all around tool. I could snap a WA gyuto made of VG10 like a twig by miss-using it. Try that with a Wusthof. ;)
                                    The bolster absolutely protects your hand on a boning knife. You are not going to be pinch gripping as you cut through flesh.
                                    In regards to bolsters on cleavers the majority of cleavers like the Dexter are vegetable cleavers. They are not designed to be whacking away at meat or bone. Meat cleavers often either have a bolster or a VERY thick VERY heavy blade.
                                    Any one that grinds that much off a knife will destroy it in short order. It makes no difference what the country of manufacture is or the brand.
                                    In either event best of luck with what ever you chose.

                                    1. re: Fritter


                                      I know they are making classic, but they are expanding to small bolsters for their new series. That is the trend. I am not talking about if they still sell classic, but rather where the company is projecting. Even their own marketing statements hint that, as Twin Profection Knives:
                                      "The soft transition to the bolster lends this knife its unmistakable character; full cutting edge to the heel. "

                                      Let's put it this way, I see Henckels and Wusthof making their bolsters smaller. I don't see the Japanese are going to add or make bolster larger.

                                      If a Japanese knife break because of tensile strength nor because of bolster. Japanese knife are harder and therefore often weaker in tensile strength.

                                      This isn't about pinch gripping. You can warp your entire hand around a Chinese vegetable cleaver or a French chef's and will still have a hard time slipping your hand all the way to the edge. People slip their hand forward not downward. It is simply about having something to stop your hand sliding forward. And frankly, you need a "height difference" to stop your hand moving forward when it slips, so it is the heel that will stop your hand.

                                      Bolster does not protect you in a boning knife. Look at this boning knife.
                                      If you slip, you hand will run pass the bolster, it is the extend heel that will stop your hand from slipping forward (hopefully). If this knife has no heel, the hand will simply slips onto the edge -- bolstered or not.

                                      No, I wasn't refering vegetable cleavers. Many meat cleavers have no bolster, like these:

                                      I don't think I said I have imtimate knowledge about brands, but I know some basic physic and science and as it turns out that "bolster protects your hand" is not true. It is not about I look for a reason not to like Wusthof. I like it just fine and get one. It is simply about bolster does not protect your hands.

                                      I think it is fine to disagree, but I think you are trying to make it a bit too personal by stating something like "I wonder if you have such imtimate knowledge of sharpening and brands... why do you need to ask such simple questions. I think I know the reason." Is that really help your argument, come on.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        "I am not talking about if they still sell classic, but rather where the company is projecting"

                                        Again your way off base and presenting nothing more than conjecture. Wusthof has or is ending the LCB series but not the classic. Clearly that says plenty about where they are going with their product and puts your theory to rest quite nicely. Simply because another one of their lines offers a different profile does not "hint" or imply in any way that the other series is less desireable. The series you mention is way below the Classic. Again if you don't like Wusthof you certainly don't have to justify it.

                                        "Any knife with the blade heel lower than the handle has just as much protection for your fingers as a bolstered knife"

                                        That's more than just a bit self contradictory isn't it? In either event it's clear to me at this juncture that your knowledge certainly exceeds the impression you gave. Quite obviously you do not need help picking a knife. I had my suspicions earlier but thanks for confirmation. I'll leave a little link for others. While I don't suggest it as an absolute I think it will give others a clear picture that what you are suggesting is subject to considerable debate if not just incorrect.





                                        1. re: Fritter


                                          There is no contradiction in that statement: "Any knife with the blade heel lower than the handle has just as much protection for your fingers as a bolstered knife" What it is saying is that if the blade heel is lower than the handle, the heel will stop your hand moving forward with or without the bolster there.

                                          What do you mean Twin Profection Knives is way below Classic? It is not cheaper that is for sure.

                                          Your second link has a great photo.
                                          Look at the bloster. It is at the same level as the handle -- smooth transition. If your hand slips on the handle, it will slip on the bloster and it will be up to the blade heel to catch your hand. I know it is a common belief that a bolster protect your finger, but it is not true. You can try it at home. If you grap a chef's knife (for example) and carefully stab the cutting board and pretend your hand slip forward, you will realize that it is the blade heel that will stop you hand going foward.

                                          In some of your links, they states the bolster adds weight and force, those are true. I don't think I will disagree a bolster adds mass (m) and therefore more momentum (m x v) and more force (m x a). That is just straight common sense.

                                          If you really want to talk about the bolster saving finger, you can explain it in details. Statements like these does not help. "In either event it's clear to me at this juncture that your knowledge certainly exceeds the impression you gave. Quite obviously you do not need help picking a knife. I had my suspicions earlier but thanks for confirmation. "

                                          I was asking about the advantages of a straight blade paring knife, which obviously I got a lot of help from others here and I was listening on that matter. Just because I have an belief on bolster, does not mean I do not need help in understanding a straight blade paring knife.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            I think the point is that if you are knowledgeable enough about the subject to argue about minutiae then clearly you are capable of picking a pairing knife.
                                            Read the link you posted;
                                            "In addition to balancing the knife, the bolster also helps keeps your fingers from slipping while you work, thus preventing hand fatigue and blisters"

                                            Seems pretty straight forward to me. The bolster does protect you. At least that is the belief of the vast majority. No one ever said if you miss-use a knife you can't cut your self.
                                            Some like this style of knife. Others do not. In either event Wusthof has never "admidtted", insinuated or suggested that the bolster or heel are a problem. Thats a fact.

                                            "There is no contradiction in that statement: "Any knife with the blade heel lower than the handle has just as much protection for your fingers as a bolstered knife" .

                                            Yes of course there is as it clearly states that the heel offers no **more** protection than the bolster. Thus it also states or implies that a bolster does offer protection, which is contrary to your argument.

                                            "I wonder if you have such imtimate knowledge of sharpening and brands... why do you need to ask such simple questions. I think I know the reason"

                                            Lost me there. Try again?

                                            1. re: Fritter


                                              No. I think I know what I want to ask. I said I was leaning toward the typical curve edge paring knife, but I don't know about the advantages of a straight edge paring, which I don't. I am pretty sure I wanted opinions on that. I think you are confused. That is your link, not mine. You first posted that link. Anyway, that statement indicates the bolster keep my finger from slipping, but how?. I know some people like bolster. I also said there are advantages of the added weight in my earlier responses. Give a little mass, more momentum, more force ... I am arguing it does not prevent your hand moving forward. If you think it is a pretty straightforward idea, maybe you can tell me how it stops my hand moving forward from a stubbing? I have told you how the heel prevents your hand from moving to the blade by acting as an obstacle between your hand and the edge. Wusthof launched three lines with reduced bolster size.

                                              I don't think you read Chard Ward correctly. If you read the entire section, I am sure you won't come away with the idea that he is arguing for a bolster. He said "bolster is not a finger guard", "The bolster does not prevent your hand form slipping forward onto the blade", "A chef's knife does not need a bolster.."

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                "I think it is fine to disagree, but I think you are trying to make it a bit too personal by stating something like "I wonder if you have such imtimate knowledge of sharpening and brands... why do you need to ask such simple questions. I think I know the reason."

                                                While I may indeed suggest that your knowledge appears to exceed my initial impression I believe you have taken liberties with my words.
                                                You seem to have a need to extrapolate meanings that are not there. You appear to have done this with not only with my post but with Wusthof marketing (which was totally incorrect). You have also miss-construed a statement from Chad Ward as he clearly states that the heel offers as much protection as the bolster.
                                                Does any of this really help make your point?
                                                Like you I do not agree 100% with Chad Ward. However I do think his book is a good read for those who want to learn about sharpening.
                                                Again if you take a kitchen knife and stab a cutting board with it as you suggested up thread you just might cut your self. Bolster or not. Drive your car into a brick wall and the safety belt just might not save you either. You can abuse just about any thing to the point where you may hurt yourself if you try or are negligent in the intended use of the product.
                                                The bottom line here is that the bolster itself does not get in the way of sharpening the edge. The heel curves which prevents a few MM's of the edge from being sharpened at the heel.
                                                In the example you gave in this link:


                                                The heel is preventing the full edge from being sharpened.
                                                Not the bolster. That my friend is the crux of the biscuit.
                                                Your words:

                                                "I plan on sharpening the edge and a full bolster will get in the way".

                                                My stance is that is simply incorrect.
                                                Either way it's nice to see another knife nut however I see no need to manipulate statements from others. As you suggest there is nothing wrong with disagreement and if your view is different than mine I have no problem respecting that with out justification. Some simply do not like a brand or style, Nothing wrong with that at all. :)

                                                1. re: Fritter


                                                  Thank you for your kind responses. It is possible that I took my speculation on Wusthof new marketing strategy a step too much. Obviously, I am not in their meeting room. So, instead of saying Wusthof sees a full bolster as a problem. I should have said Wusthof see the smaller bolster as a beneficial market where it can expand faster. I think it is pretty safe to say that Wusthof won't have tried to expand in a sub-market where it thinks is saturated?

                                                  As for Chad Ward book though, I have to respectfully disagree still. It appears if the entire section is taken into context he is saying a typical bolster offers little protection. Afterall, his section is titled: "Bolster BS". Anyway, I don't see how a smooth bolster can stop my hand moving forward. Now, if a bolster actually is uneven and stick out like a guard of a hunting knife or a sword, then I understand:
                                                  but I was talking about the kind of full bolster from Wusthof and Henckels which is entirely leveled with the handle and whatever stick out it is because of the heel

                                                  Of course, it is possible to say a bolster help balance the a knife (for some people) and therefore make you less tired and therefore safer, and that is fine. But I think the marketing statement of "a bolster protects your hand" is a bit too much. Look, a car seat belt physically stops you from moving in an accident, right? That is how I like to think of a blade heel. It literally blocks your hand moving forward. Now, one can say a car which offers air conditioning gives you comfort and so you are less fatigue and more concentrated, so you can drive safer. So I guess you can say air condition in a car keeps you safer. However, I think a short condense phrase like "air condition saves you from car accidents" is a bit weird. I might as well say drinking water regularly prevents me from cutting my hand.

                                                  Fritter. Sorry about getting in the wrong start. I do appreciate your help and I do want to learn. I understand you believe the bolster can help save fingers. May I ask at least one question, so I won't be as confused. Did you mean a bolster directly save fingers like a seat belt during an accident? Or did you mean the comfort from a bolster save fingers like air conditioning or soft leather seat in a car? I think I can see the latter one, but if you believe it is the former. Can you walk me through a bit? It is not a challenge. I simply have no one sits down and explains to me step by step. Is the bolster to prevent an accident from a stubbing or maybe a different kind of accident? Maybe there is another kind of accident which I have not considered. If so, please let me know what accidents you are refering.

                                                  Before I really confuse you. I should say that I do like Wusthof -- really (only ok with Henckels). I like with heavier knives and softer steel which is easily sharpen and can take a bit more beating. I heard Japanese knives are a pain to sharp because of the >60 Rockwell C hardness. Of course, my problem is that the tradition Wusthof full bolster get in my way (don't get upset, just my belief). Wusthof does offer the Ikon with smaller bolster which I would like to buy, but there is a big jump in price from Classic to Ikon, especially blackwood Ikons: a blackwood Ikron Chef's knife is $230 on and a classic chef's knife is $90. Ikon knives cost more than many Japanese knives (on average), which swings me back to some Japanese knives. Maybe I should been more clear on that. It isn't just performance I am considering, price makes a huge difference in my case.


                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    If you are interested in Wusthof with out the Bolster you really should consider looking for the LCB line. Since they appear to be on close out they are a very good price right now if you can find them in stock.
                                                    Here's a link to a company that has a few left although I have never ordered from them.


                                                    1. re: Fritter


                                                      I am looking at them (LCB) now. I was hoping to get them through, but they only have a few knives there and the one offered there are not the I need. Yeah, I have been looking at curleryandmore. I hear good things about CutleryAndMore. Thanks.

                                      2. re: Fritter

                                        Just find this. I do not 100% agree with Chard Ward all the time, but we happen to agree about the bolster.

                                        In his book (An Edge in the Kitchen), he wrote:
                                        “Contrary to the marketing brochures and the oh-so helpful display down at the Towel’n’Such, the bolster is not a finger guard. Any knife with the blade heel lower than the handle has just as much protection for your fingers as a bolstered knife. The bolster does not prevent your hand from slipping forward onto the blade – the difference between the blade height and handle onto the blade does that. Term butcher use is “stubbing.” That’s when the tip of your knife hits something hard, forcing it to a sudden stop and causing your hand to slide forward onto the blade. You can cut yourself bady this way. ....…. The chef’s knife though, has a blade significantly taller than the handle. Stubbing is nearly impossible. A chef’s knife does not need a bolster, especially not the one that extends down to the heel. That style of bolster will either keep you from using the full length of your knife’s edge or lead to premature death of your knife….”

                                        Now, I don’t have time to read though what premature death he is talking about, but I know bolster cannot protect your finger, that is just based on simple physic. Your hand slips and starts moving forward toward the blade. How to stop it? You need an obstacle to stop it, a height difference. And what will that be? The heel.

                                        In a car accident, the seat belt will stop me from flying out of the windshleld because it will stop me from moving forward. The leather seat won't. We don't need to know how to build an entire car to know this, and I don't think I need to know a lot to know a bolster does not stop my hand from moving onto the blade during stubbing.

                          2. I wouldn't spend loads on a pairing knife. I have a little Chroma Porsche one, and it does me fine. Really need to sharpen it though...

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Soop

                              Scoop. Thank you for your response. Though my original point is not about buying a Shun paring knife vs a Wusthof paring knife vs Chroma... , it was about curve edge paring knives vs straight edge paring knives.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I know :) I don't have much to say in response to your question, but I though I'd add that in case it was useful :)

                                People always seem to add letters to my name - I've been called soup, snoop and scoop >__< No worries though!

                                1. re: Soop

                                  I like to nickname people. It is my hobbit. A good, inexpensive and healthy hobbit. Better than gambling and getting drunk.

                            2. IMO $60 on a pairing knife is a little over the top. I'm amazed at the debates we see where some will rail on infinately about spending an extra $50 for a quality Chefs knife.
                              In response the the curve Vs straight edge the answer for me is BOTH! But then I don't spend $60 on a pairing knife.

                              1. Spend $4-$5 and get a Victorinox paring knife.

                                On a Princess Cruise ship kitchen tour the head chef said all the chefs on the ship carry a Victorinox paring knife. They use them to make those intricate vegetable and fruit carvings.
                                When I returned from my cruise I went to a restaurant supply place and found Victorinox paring knives for $3.50 each. You'll find them at fancy kitchens stores like Sur La Table and they probably charge $6 for them.

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: monku

                                  I am talking about curve vs straight edge paring knives, but I guess I get your and Fritter's point. Buy a cheap paring knives, so I can afford two instead of only one expensive parer, right?

                                  Anyway, I do hear a lot about Victorinox paring knives and Victorinox boning knives. Something about Victorinox is the one of the best stamp knife out there.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    I figure if it's good enough for a professional, it's good enough for me.
                                    I've seen them at many restaurant supply stores and even at the Costco Business Center.
                                    Until I read your post I never even heard of a straight edge paring knife.

                                    1. re: monku


                                      Thanks. Yep. I agree. Victorinox has some nice feedbacks from people. Sounds like you are suggesting a curve edge paring knife. Thanks.

                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      "Buy a cheap paring knives, so I can afford two instead of only one expensive parer, right?"

                                      No. The Victorinox pairing knife is the mother of all bargains in the knife world. They are razor sharp. You won't see me pushing cheap knives. This one just happens to inexpensive. Many consider the MAC Pro to be the "best" stamped knife that is widely available.

                                    3. re: monku

                                      I have 6 of the Victronoix item #: 40508 paring knives and I love them. They sharpen to a razors edge easily with a few swipes of a steel, the textured handle doesn't slip when your hands are wet and they last forever. Some people like the sheep's foot blade shape but its not my first choice.

                                      You can spend much more but I don't see the point, unless you are trying to impress someone.

                                      1. re: Kelli2006

                                        Thanks Kelli. Like I told a few others, I have heard very good things about them and especially about their handles are very slip-proof -- good traction. I tried holding it one. It is pretty good.

                                        Impressing ladies always help....

                                        Sorry, just talking to myself out loud.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          the Victronoix/Forschner knives are ubiquitous in a commercial setting and its because they are sharp, inexpensive and bulletproof. Ive done unspeakable things to mine when I'm in a hurry and the worst that has ever happened is that the very tip of the blade broke off when I tried to use it as an ice pick. I had a friend regrind the tip and I'm still using it 3 years later.

                                          I love the little plastic sheaths that they come in for storing them in a drawer.

                                          1. re: Kelli2006


                                            It is a bit off topic, but I heard similar statements from others. Why do you have 6 paring knives? Are they for different functions or they are just very handy. I do hear a lot of people talk about the blade tip breaking off (for all sort of knives), but I guess that make sense, since we often use the tip of the knife to pick something and it just snap there. I think I may get one or two paring knife, and I think with your and many others' suggeestion, I will get a Victronix first. Thanks.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              The Forschner knives are commonly sold in shrink wrap packs of 6 at restaurant supply stores for 20-$25. I have other specialty knives for garnishing but I don't count them as paring knives.

                                              I bought a forged paring knife once but I don't like it nearly as much as the Forschners because the blade is so stiff, and the handle is slick.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                Just wanted to add to the chorus of people recommending that you get a few Victorinox paring knives and skip the $60 Shun. One reason to have multiple knives is that you can use one to cut one ingredient, and another to cut something else without cross-contamination, then when you're done you just throw them all in the dishwasher. Also, if anyone else is cooking with you it is inevitable that both of you will need to use a paring knife simultaneously.

                                                1. re: Buckethead

                                                  That is what I thought too. Sounds like a great strategy. I will get two paring knives for now. I may get one Victorinox and another affordable one just to try around. Thanx.

                                                  Thanks for the advices.