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Boning Knife- essential or not?

When I look at those lists about what's essential in a kitchen, they'll always stress the importance of the chef knife and paring knife. And, more often than not, that same list will also include the boning knife.

Since I don't have a boning knife, I'm curious what I'm mising by not having one and whether or not I should get one.

What can the boning knife do that a chef's knife or paring cannot do, or at least, do it better than those other options?

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  1. a boning knife has a longer, thinner, more slender blade than either of the other two. It's highly maneuverable when (surprise!) boning larger cuts of meat, as it's somewhat more flexible and follows the bone.

    I love mine -- I actually have 2 Wusthof boning knives, and actually use them for all kinds of things *other* than boning.

    Chef's and paring are essentials, like a steering wheel and an engine -- boning knives and such are nice options to have, like air conditioning -- it doesn't change how you get there, just makes it a little more enjoyable along the way.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      I agree with sunshine.A boning knife is great to have,but not absolutely essential in a home kitchen unless you're butchering a lot of poultry or meat.

    2. If you don't know whether you need it... you don't need it.

      I have a sort of specialized boning knife for breaking down chicken. I can do this with my chef knife, but my boning knife is more agile and also can go through a lot more chicken without any damage to the edge. I don't do all that much boning of larger cuts of meat, but it is nice to have one when I want to take the bone out of a whole pork shoulder without dismantling the meat.

      Not all boning knives are flexible, btw - many are very stiff, but just more narrow and maneuverable than, say, a chefs knife. If the knife is very flexible, often we're actually talking about a filet knife, which is especially useful for fish.

      Some people find themselves reaching for boning knives or utility knives for all sorts of things that don't involve boning. I do find one handy for mangoes myself. It's nice for those rare occasions when you're cutting up in the air and your paring knife isn't long enough. Generally speaking though, you'll learn better technique and eventually be faster by using a chefs knife (or another knife with a heel, like a santoku) when you're cutting things without bones on a cutting board.

      76 Replies
      1. re: cowboyardee

        So, is your specialized boning knife different from the other boning knives on the market? Will a boning knife like this work to break down chickens? http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-4751...

        I don't really see myself breaking down primal cuts of meat, but I do break down chickens by myself so I might get a boning knife just for that. However, wouldn't a chef's knife still be better because the heftier size and rigid knife work better when you've got to cut the chicken up into pieces like those spots between the body and the wing?

        Or, if these boning boning knives are better for fish that's something that appeals to me too. But, I thought the fish fillet knives were different than boning with a more schmitar shape and longer length than boning knives.

        1. re: hobbess

          The knife you link to will work for breaking down chicken. It will also be good for fileting small fish (I would choose a longer knife for fileting medium sized fish, and large fish are a whole other story). It won't do quite as well at breaking down really big cuts of meat, but should do just fine for the types of thing a home cook who doesn't butcher his own animals might deal with. If you're not cutting through chicken bones but rather separating pieces at the joints, for most people a narrower knife is a little easier to use and more precise. That said, plenty of people break down chickens with their chef knives - I did it for years. You'll can even find youtube videos of Martin Yan breaking down a chicken in, like, 8 seconds with a huge unweildy-looking Chinese cleaver. OTOH If you're looking to cut through chicken bones, a flexible boning knife is far from ideal.

          My specialized boning knife for chicken is actually a Japanese design called a honesuki. It's very stiff, very narrow at the tip, and can still cut right through a chicken's back if I need it to with no real worries. It's a great design, but that doesn't mean you have to drop lots of money on one - I have one because I'm a knife nerd.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            My knife skills are probably closer to Pepe Le Pew than Jacques Pepin so I'm probably not breaking down a chicken correctly, but it always seems like I need to give the chicken a good whack when I try to separate it at the joints. That's why I was kind of wondering why a boning knife would be better for chicken when I thought you'd need the power and heft of something like a chef's knife.

            1. re: hobbess

              I was cutting up chickens long before I got a chef's OR a boning knife. If you cut through the gristle, it's easy. Also, give those joints a good pull before cutting, bending them the wrong way so that things are much looser before you apply the knife.

              1. re: hobbess

                If you're positioned right in the joint, you don't need much pressure at all, really.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  Watch the master in action...

                  www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAekQ5fzfGM

                  1. re: petek

                    Very nice.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I know eh! He barely uses his knives at all. :)

                      1. re: petek

                        As cowboy has commended that Martin Yan can breakdown a chicken in 18-19 seconds with a Chinese cleaver, I wanted to add that Martin Yan mostly do so with his bare hands than the knife. Now, Jacques Pepin really deboned a chicken according the official definition in that video. Martin break down a chicken, but many people also call that deboning. Nevertheless, the point is that it is not uncommon for people to use the knife to make the initial opening cuts and then finish with bare hands:

                        http://youtu.be/OnM3yhyN8Rs

                        I think it really depends how you want to breakdown or debone a chicken. I have much to learn in this.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          We all have much to learn from these master chefs.Pepin is my favorite to watch.He makes everything he does look so effortless.

                          1. re: petek

                            "He makes everything he does look so effortless"

                            Yep, yep. He has this very calm demeanor.

                            1. re: petek

                              Watching Pepin cook gives me the same warm fuzzy feeling that truly believing in Santa Claus once did when I was a little boy.

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                cowboy: are you saying that you don't believe in Santa anymore? :D

                                BTW have you had a chance to test drive Chems CarboNext yet? I'm anxiously waiting for you and Eiron to report back to us,when you have a chance.

                                1. re: petek

                                  Not yet
                                  Could be this week.

                                  1. re: petek

                                    Are you waiting for their reviews to decide to you want to purchase a CarboNext knife?

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      I thought a CarboNext knife must be for cutting cake. Or pasta.

                                      1. re: Jay F

                                        :) Why?

                                        My guess for the name CarboNext is probably rooted in the idea of Next generation Carbon steel knife.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Probably in reference to Carbohydrates, just a hunch I think of carbs everytime I read this thread

                                          1. re: Dave5440

                                            :) If only CarboNext has the same effects as "Low Carbohydrates (Weight Lost)" knife, then JCK will sell a lot of the knives. A lot, a lot, a lot.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              It wouldn't help me that's for sure , I think I'm the only person who can run 5k a day for a month, eat what my wife puts in front on me and gain 12lbs. I'm going back to my food. Have you tried tracking your wanatonabe? Mine only shows to where it lands before leaving Japan

                                              1. re: Dave5440

                                                Dave,

                                                "Mine only shows to where it lands before leaving Japan"

                                                Really? I ordered mine quiet a bit after you, I think. Watanabe Shinichi sent out the knife just yesterday afternoon which is two-week after I ordered mine. I tracked the knife based on the tracking number and it is still in Japan, but it has already been dispatched from EMS Tokyo International Branch. Look like it is moving very fast and efficient in the last 24 hour.

                                                'Mine only shows to where it lands before leaving Japan"

                                                You don't think it get stuck at the Canadian border, do you?

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  The tracking shows it's still IN Japan as of june 24, but I'm thinking the tracking ends as it leaves the country, And I'm sure it'll get hung up as it transfers to canadian snail mail

                                                  1. re: Dave5440

                                                    "And I'm sure it'll get hung up as it transfers to canadian snail mail"

                                                    Yeah, that may has something to do with it especially because the recent mail service boycott. I am sure you will get it, let's just hope sooner than later. I will be looking forward to see photos or reviews of your deba bocho. :D

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      I'm hoping sooner as well, had a bunch of fish on fri to clean so I used my gyuto, which does work very well as it's still a single bevel and if you hold it at the right angle it just slides over the rib bones and leaves a nice clean fillet.

                                                      1. re: Dave5440

                                                        That's right. You are left with one or two knives after the airport incident, right? You really need that deba too. What about the lost knives, has anyone from the airline called you?

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          Nope , no call, one e-mail 12 days after 5 phone calls and 3 e-mails. Oddly my posts on their facebook page keep getting removed, not sure why, haha I kid I know why

                                                          1. re: Dave5440

                                                            Sorry to hear about the super slow response from the airline.

                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                              What can you do, next time i'll go to target buy a 20$ knife and leave it in the timeshare, and my knives will stay at home, by the way I found my furi santoku in the trailer, so I have 2 again!!

                                                              1. re: Dave5440

                                                                Just to "rub it in", my tracking number shows my Watanabe Nakiri has arrived in New York.

                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                  AARRRRRGGGGG, so your number followed overseas, that was the answer I was looking for, mine is still in Japan then, or canada poops isn't updating anything,which is likely the case as i haven.t recieved a paystub in 5 weeks

                                                                  1. re: Dave5440

                                                                    "which is likely the case as i haven.t recieved a paystub in 5 weeks"
                                                                    Direct deposit is the only way to go.... :D

                                                                    1. re: petek

                                                                      I have direct deposit , my money is there but no record of hrs, deductions. And my knife came today, woohoo

                                                                      1. re: Dave5440

                                                                        Woot! Nice score guy! Just saw your quick review that you just started.
                                                                        Enjoy..

                                                                    2. re: Dave5440

                                                                      Maybe you can send Mr. Watanabe Shinichi an email about the situation. Now, there is not much Shinichi can really do, but he does speak Japanese and he can call the EMS office and at least ask if the package is still stuck in Japan or has it been shipped oversea. I think this is something which the EMS can readily answer for you (or him).

                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                        I'm not sure if it is custom in Japan to say last name first? But Shinichi is his first name.

                                                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                                                          Yeah, it is custom to put the family name (last name) in the front according to traditional Japanese. This is same for Chinese and Koreans.

                                                                          "Japanese names (日本人の氏名, nihonjin no shimei?) in modern times usually consist of a family name (surname), followed by a given name. "

                                                                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese...

                                                                          Did you say your knife came in today? The Watanabe knife, right? Congratulation. Let's us know how it goes. Write a review if you can. My knife also technically came in today too, but I wasn't at home, so the postman took the package back. I will go to the postal office tomorrow to pick mine up . (I tried to do it today, but they say it has to be tomorrow). So it seems, again, it only took 3 days from Japan to my local postal office.

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            Finally, I picked up my Watanabe nakiri knife today morning and inspected in at work (couldn't wait to get home). There is something I like and something ok. For example, the fit and finish is not great, but acceptable. I will write a review and take some photos when I get home. So far, so good.

                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                              Looking forward to it.

                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                Yes looking forward to hearing all about it.

                                                  2. re: Dave5440

                                                    I forgot to throw my 2cents in on the boning knife , while they are not neccesary to have , once you have one and use it , you will find it indispensible

                                                2. re: Dave5440

                                                  Ding ding ding for Dave.

                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                    Yeah ME!

                              2. re: petek

                                I saw Pepin do this on one of his TV shows several years ago (before YouTube) and have done this to a couple of chickens and three small turkeys. Deboning a bird is not as easy as he makes it look but it was not as difficult as I thought it would be. The cutting and scraping of the leg bones is the most tedious. The key to stuffing a boneless bird is to not overstuff it so the stuffing is falling out.

                              3. re: cowboyardee

                                +1

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  I've watched youtube videos before of people breaking down chickens before, but I still have issues with breaking down chicken because I'm still not exactly sure where that gristle or the specific area I'm supposed to cut through for all those joints.

                                  They're showing it on tape, but at the same time, not really getting in closer to exactly show what/where they're cutting. With all these food porn shows, I don't know why we never get a 'money shot' where they zoom in close specifically to show you where that gristle is.

                                  Ideally, it'd be best if I had somebody to show it to me in person. I think its one of those things that once you get it, you smack yourself on the head about how simple it is.

                                  1. re: hobbess

                                    you're absolutely right, hobbess -- I managed it the first time by bending every joint backward until it popped, then I could see/feel the gap where the knife went. Those first few chickens were pretty gnarly-looking, but it's a pretty short learning curve.

                                    Now I can usually manage the joints on the first cut -- once in a while I miss, but it's just a matter of learning where the joints are.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      As Jack Ubaldi, (owner of Florence Prime Meat Market NYC,restaurateur, butcher, teacher and author) once said, "Cutting a chicken is easy, once you learn that all chickens are made exactly the same".
                                      If you can find his book, now out of print, JACK UBALDI'S MEAT BOOK, it is an excellent and entertaining guide to butchering along with his favorite recipes.
                                      I took a course of Jack's and he was a truly good person; Jack passed away in 2001, he was 90 years young!

                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                        Not only are all chickens the same, for the most part, all bipeds are the same (taking obvious liberties). I learned a lot in a commercial kitchen from breaking down chickens that I applied directly to a Human Anatomy class!

                                    2. re: hobbess

                                      "not exactly sure where that gristle or the specific area I'm supposed to cut through "

                                      Many people have different definition of deboning chicken. Some people refer deboning as in removal of bones while keeping the chicken relatively intact. Others refer deboning as the same as dejointing/breaking down a chicken and producing the chicken pieces we see in supermarkets: chicken fillets, wings, thighs...etc.

                                      Here is a nice youtube video on deboning chicken by Jacques Pepin with many close-up camera shots (a video introduced by Petek):

                                      http://youtu.be/kAekQ5fzfGM

                                      It is useful is to avoid over-using the knife. Many of the steps are really about popping the joints and tearing the chicken by hands. Pepin mentioned that in his video above.

                                      I am sure you have seen Martin Yan's videos on breaking down a chicken. He does those videos so quick that it is difficult to actually learn from the videos. However,one thing you will see is that he did not make a lot of actual knife cuts. Half of the time, he used the knife to tear and pull the chicken.

                                      http://youtu.be/V37Pc45P4HA

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Nothing against Pepin and Yan, but one problem with that way of breaking down a chicken is it removes the tenderloin from the breast. I usually leave the tenderloin on - it's the juiciest, most tender part of a boneless breast.

                                        This is the best video I could find of breaking down a chicken more or less the way I do it (most of the time):
                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHUvns...
                                        There are some pretty decent shots showing you exactly where to cut. I also like the care he takes in leaving the oysters attached to the thigh.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          You are right. I actually do not tear the chicken up like Pepin and Yan. I use my boning knife a lot more and my tenderlions are not attached to the carcass. Nevertheless, I do pop the joints before cutting through them. I found it difficult to cut a joint without dislocating them. I have trouble watching that video now. I will watch it later.

                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                            Just watche the video. Yes, I cut very much like him. Some differences: I make the breast cuts before the thigh cuts. I pop the joints before cutting through them.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              The Matin Yan video is showing off his knife skills(not bad :p),Pepin is de-boning a chicken for ballotine,not sure why he removes the tender,and the last video that cowboy posted is probably the way most people(including myself) break down a chicken.There's a big difference between boning out and breaking down a chicken.

                                              1. re: petek

                                                "There's a big difference between boning out and breaking down a chicken."

                                                Agree. Pepin deboned the chicken in the video. Martin broke down a chicken, but many people refer that as deboning (which is not technically correct). There is a difference between those two. Nevertheless, I wanted to point out that there are actually a lot of "joint popping/dislocating" and "tissue tearing" in either cases.

                                                Yeah, aside from the joint dislocation, I cut much more like that person from cowboy's video.

                                                "Pepin is de-boning a chicken for ballotine"

                                                I always feel like he is making a chicken pillow...... debong the chicke and then stuff some thing in it and sleep on it. :P Soft and squishy (just kidding)

                                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                " I pop the joints before cutting through them."
                                                I'm kind of suprised by this, I've never even heard it suggested, but from experince once you cut the skin I can usually see the joint, but if I'm in a hurry I just slice through in the area it should be, If I'm off the knife just goes through the bone anyway, and I am looking forward to choppin chicken very soon.

                                                1. re: Dave5440

                                                  I don't do it any more -- but it's a good way to get a feel for *where* the joints are when you're first learning to break down a chicken. If the joint has already been separated, then it's easier to concentrate on the *location* of that joint.

                                              3. re: cowboyardee

                                                That is one of the best videos for being able to follow along , that is pretty much the way I do it too, except I leave the wing tip on , and don't separate the thigh.What do you guys do with the carcass?

                                                1. re: Dave5440

                                                  Save them up and make chicken stock..duh :-D

                                                  1. re: petek

                                                    Where do you "save them up"? I usually start the stock as soon as I'm done cutting it up.

                                                    1. re: Dave5440

                                                      I save them in the freezer.Nothing wrong with starting a stock right away though.

                                                      1. re: petek

                                                        Like Dave, I just start making stock right away from the deboning/breaking up process.

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          The more bones you have,the richer the stock........

                                                          1. re: petek

                                                            And our friend Dave is going to break-up / debone his next chicken with the deba knife. :) That will be interesting to read about the ability of a deba for breaking up a chicken. I have never tried it.

                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                              Dave's deba will go through chickens like butta

                                                            2. re: petek

                                                              Are you guys all using a pressure cooker, or just making traditional stock out of the carcass of a single chicken?

                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                I don't own a pressure cooker so I wait until I have at least 3 or 4 carcasses(+wing tips and other bones) before I start making stock.

                                                                1. re: petek

                                                                  I just use a stock pot, but after the meal is done I throw the bones/wing tips from the leftovers into the pot too, simmer till I'm done for the night, fridge till next evening, skim fat off (put in on dogs food) then simmer till bed again, then it's filtered&frozen.

                                                                2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  I use a cast iron Dutch Oven. I don't have a pressure cooker.

                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                    You struck me as the type to have a pressure cooker. If you make a lot of stock, it's a worthwhile purchase.

                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                      :P What type of a person is a pressure cooker owner? I don't make stock that much. I will say maybe at most once a month. Now, I do make soup much more often, but not stock.

                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                        For one, the kind of person who is an expert on nearly all things cookware-related.

                                                                        Making soup is a little different, though there are plenty of soups where a PC can be used to good effect. Not trying to goad you into buying one, just a little surprised is all.

                                                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                      My father has and uses a pressure cooker--therefore I do not

                                                                      1. re: Dave5440

                                                                        "My father has and uses a pressure cooker--therefore I do not"

                                                                        That is an interesting logic. I take it that his cooking does not fit your taste. :)

                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                          It actually has roots in that we are so polar opposite in absolutly everything that by age 10 he questioned my mother as to if I really was his, and his cooking is ordering my mother to "make me something" but when she got sick he had to attempt feeding himself , hence the pressure cooker and every other gaget made to cook for you. Chop an onion-out comes the 'mini chopper deluxe" 30 seconds liquified onion, close enough.

                                                                          1. re: Dave5440

                                                                            Tough stuff man. Get him a "slap chop" or maybe "quick chop":

                                                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eS4UJ...

                                                                            G4 has its root in reviewing video games. I didn't even know they started to review cookware

                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                              tough , not really, you might have guessed my family ties aren't all that tight, slap chop. I might have threatened him with that

                                      2. You already have several good explanations here. A boning knife is a very handy knife if you like to debone a whole chicken or to remove bones from meat. Now, as cowboyardee said, there are two kind of boning knife -- the stiff one and the flexible one. A stiff one is just called a boning knife. A flexible one is sometime called a fillet knife and it is particularly more useful for fish. Both knives are narrow which allow them to make tight turn in a cut.

                                        I like the fact that I use my boning knife for tougher tasks. By using my boning for deboning meat, I don't have to worry about chipping my Chef (gyuto) knife.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          I'm thinking that for a casual user, for occasionally deboning a fish or for the occasional leg of lamb, the longer, flexible knife would do the job for me. Is that what you think?

                                          1. re: DPGood

                                            I would recommend something like this.It's a little spendy,but it's a good knife.A bit of flex,nice pointy tip and it's SS so not much maintenance required,except for sharpening.

                                            www.chefknivestogo.com/kabokn61.html

                                            This site also has other" boner" options if you don't like the Kasumi.

                                            1. re: petek

                                              A long time ago, when I was looking for a stiff boning knife, your fellow Canadian Paulfinest suggested this knife:

                                              http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000...

                                              It is a boning knife within the Wusthof Butcher knife series. (Amazon description is incorrect to call it Gourmet). Here is a website from Wusthof. It offers stiff boning knives and flexible fillet knives.

                                              http://www.wusthof.com/desktopdefault...

                                              As fo me, I have a fairly inexpensive stiff boning knife from Dexter-Russell. I think I got it for $15-16.

                                            2. re: DPGood

                                              DPGood,

                                              The flexible fillet knife should be great for fish especially for removing the skin. I would think a stiff boning knife is better for a leg of lamb just because I think of a leg of lamb as a tougher and denser meat to cut. There are different level of "flexibility" among the boning knife, so you may not want the really flexible one for a leg of lamb.

                                              1. re: DPGood

                                                I think I got it. Thanks for your replies. I'm always impressed by your posts, based on knowledge, experience, and a love of good knives.

                                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                My boning knife is a Henkels Twin Pro. It is flexible and it called a boning knife, and it does not resemble a Japanese filet knife at all. It is narrower at the tip and has a distinct change in shape of blade near the bolster. Not sure what you might be referring to as a filet knife except the Japanese models. Do you have a picture?

                                                1. re: RGC1982

                                                  Hey RGC,

                                                  The stiff ones are always called boning knives. Some of the flexible ones are called fillet knives, but not all are. Fillet knives are not Japanese. In fact, I don't know many Japanese knives are flexible like an European fillet knife. Youtube has a very short video which illustrates the flexibility of a fillet knife:
                                                  http://youtu.be/163SlDY3IxI

                                                  This is a fillet knife from Dexter-Russell:
                                                  http://www.dexter1818.com/Item_Detail...

                                                  This is a fillet knife from Victorinox/Forscher:
                                                  http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-Cutl...

                                                  This is a fillet knife from the Wusthof Ikon series:
                                                  http://www.amazon.com/Wusthof-Classic...

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Nope, mine is similar but definitely has a different shape.

                                                    Here is a picture:

                                                    http://www.cooking.com/products/shpro...

                                                    They call it a boning knife. I am sure I could filet a fish with it pretty well,
                                                    though :

                                                    )

                                                    Maybe both terms are in use? It seems like the ones you showed in your some of your links had a curved spine, or is that just how it looks in the picture?

                                                    1. re: RGC1982

                                                      RGC,

                                                      I think both terms are used. I don't know if there is an official difference between a fillet knife and a flexible boning knife. Yes, one of the images I showed above has a curved spine. It is popular among the fish fillet knife. Here is a list of the boning knife offered by Dexter-Russell. You can see the stiff blades, the flexible blades, the semi-flexible blades, the board blades, the narrow blades, the straight blades and the curved blades:

                                                      http://www.dexter-russell.com/2008/Se...

                                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      My former global boning knife was very flexible
                                                      http://www.global-knife.com/products/...

                                                2. that's why I said "somewhat more flexible" -- my Wusthofs have a little give to the blade, but nothing like the knife I use for slicing off paper-thing slices of dry-cured hams.

                                                  1. I do have a boning knife and use it primarily on larger pieces of meat. It is useless on small items (e.g. quail) but it offers additional control on the big pieces. However of all the knives I have, it is probably the least used blade.

                                                    Is it a necessity? Well, I don't break down whole pigs or beef primals every day, so probably not. Are you missing out by not having one? Do you break down whole pigs or beef primals every day?

                                                    1. YOu knew you were going to get a lot of different opinions here, right? I did without one very happily until I got one 15 years ago. I did a little boning before that using a sharp paring knife, and that was fine. But I didn't have a middle-sized knife between the paring knife and the chef's. I find I use it quite a lot for general work that takes more length than the paring knife and more finesse than the long, broad chef's knife. Boning is probably the least frequent activity for it. My three dessert island knives are the paring, the chef's and the boning knife.

                                                      1. I pretty much agree with everything stated above.

                                                        My feeling is as such. A chef's knife and paring knife are at opposite ends of the scale and can do everything. It's nice to have a median knife though. When a chef's is too big and a paring is too small.

                                                        If you get it, I think you'll like having it.

                                                        DT

                                                        1. I think a decent cook needs 4 knives: a chef's knife (I like an 8" knife), a boning knife, a paring knife and a serrated bread knife. I also like to have a 9" slicer. That being said, I have way more knives than that mostly because I like knives, but I did not pay retail for most of them.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                            Absolutely the bread knife...would be my fourth desert island knife. (Also good for slicing tomatoes if your other knives are just a tad dull.)

                                                          2. I used to break down between 15 and 25 chickens every day, and I used a pretty basic 8" chef's knife. I've used a boning knife, but I can do just about everything with a chef's knife that I can with a boning knife, so it's not something I think I need.

                                                            In my kitchen, I make do with three knives for almost all my cutting: the 8" chef's knife, a 3" paring knife, and a Chinese cleaver. I have a lot of other knives, but I'm always reaching for one of these three.

                                                            1. To me the boning knife especially when dealing with deboning poultry is the perfect choice. It has that up close and personal feel that seems to work in concert with your hands. More nimble than a chef's or a utility and stronger than a paring. I prefer a stiff blade for poultry and meat.

                                                              1. I find that any knife, within reason, will adequately 8 cut a chicken. For more involved or heavier boned cutting, I prefer a stiff boning knife.

                                                                As depicted in the attached clip, you can readily see why a stiff or rigid blade boning knife is better suited for the removal of a Grouper "throat" or breast than a more flexible one or an unwieldy chef's knife. The technique shown here gives you very tasty Grouper, or any large fish, that is usually thrown away by most amatuer cooks/fishermen.

                                                                http://www.ehow.com/video_2335953_cut...

                                                                1. I have a boning knife. It came with my super wonderful husband who hunted bunnies at one time. Not terribly expensive, a Rapalla. Almost 40 years it is still a great knife. Gets lots of use and sharpening. i sell knives and am exposed to lots of boning knives. I still reach for the Rapalla.

                                                                  1. We have several Chicago Cutlery Walnut boni g knives, a Wustof classic boning knife (a thrift store find for $1.80) and recently this Wenger:

                                                                    http://www.wengerna.com/swibo--boning...

                                                                    (another thrift store purchase for a buck).

                                                                    1. In my house, the boning knife is the booby trap. The one my wife uses to chop vegetables, ostensibly because "the smaller blade is easier to control" but really because she is secretly trying to get me to die of a heart attack so she can claim the life insurance money! Fortunately she never did lose a finger but a pretty bad cut finally convinced her that maybe I was onto something with my constant warnings that it was the wrong tool for the job.

                                                                      I don't do a lot of bone removal, but it is handy for breaking down mangoes...my paring knife is just a little bit too short to go all the way through most mangoes, and the boning knife is much easier to maneuver along the pit than my chef knife.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jzerocsk

                                                                        If I'm going to be making my own lamb skewers, then I definitely need a boning knife for that, right?

                                                                        1. re: hobbess

                                                                          If you are cutting the cubes from a bone in cut, I would agree.