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Optimal length for chef's knife?

What length do you most prefer? What length is most common/useful?

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  1. I think this is based on personal preference.

    My chef knife is 10" and my favorite blade is a 11.5" yanagi. Others I know prefer a 6" or a middle-of-road 8"

    1 Reply
    1. re: wattacetti

      my chef's knife used to be 9" until I dropped it on the tile floor and broke the tip....Took it to the excellent knife shop here in my town and they put a new point on it....so now it's probably the only 8-1/2" chef's knife in captivity.....

    2. I have a 10", a 9", and several 8" chef knives. I prefer the 8 " knives for most uses. I still occasionally use the 10" knife but also find myself using a Chinese cleave for say, winter squash.

      1. I bet 8" is most common. But I most enjoy my 10" Messermeister. I remember Sara Moulton, a very small woman, likewise wielding such a knife most of the time in her shows.

        Despite the larger size, the tip is really good for small work (like routing out an eye in a potato), it's unbeatable for mincing garlic, and the greater length is handy for larger tasks (like slicing a flank steak, halving a melon, etc. I can't really remember a time when I felt the knife was too large for anything, except paring operations, like peeling an apple.

        But as everyone will say, you need a knife that feels good in your hand. This is not one of those things to do over mail order, if you can avoid it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bada Bing

          I met Sara Moulton, she is tiny! And yes, she does use a large knife.

          My 10" is great for all sorts of stuff.

          At home I find myself using my Global GS-58 more than anything, and it's tiny. I even use it to breakdown chicken with it, but often wish I was using something bigger.

        2. Personal preference mainly. Though anything super short (like 5 inches) starts getting pretty limited in terms of things it can't cut easily.

          I personally prefer Japanese chef knives, and with those I like both 240 and 270 mm blades (about 9.5 inches and 10.6 inches respectively). Most of these Japanese knives are so light and nimble that a 9.5 inch gyuto is as easy to control as an 8 inch Western chef knife.

          Longer knives are more versatile (can cut bigger things & more things at the same time; they also make better slicers and work better for bread) but need more space and are harder to control. That 240 to 270 mm range feels right to me.

          1. My favorite is a 10" carbon steel Sabatier, my trusty companion for several decades now. But my wife, who has very small hands, finds it too big for comfort and prefers her little six-incher.

            1. Handle several knives....buy the one that "feels" good/comfortable in your hand.


              1 Reply
              1. re: Uncle Bob

                actually, I think that's the best advice...I use Wusthof knifes exclusively because I love the way they feel in my hand. Henckel knifes just don't "fit". When I need a new knife, though, I make a beeline for the Wusthof counter -- but I still spend several minutes fiddling with the knives, holding them in several different grips (because some knives you use a couple of different ways), and just feeling how they feel in my hand.

                I won't buy it if it doesn't feel like an extension of my own hand.

              2. I think which length is most useful depends on several things, including size of the hand using it. I started with a Henckels 8 inch. I found by chance a 10 inch Henckels/Zwilling Twin 4 star II at a very good price, and I bought it and had Mr. Sueatmo give it to me for Christmas. I truly love using the knife. I would never go back to an 8 inch. And, the more I use it, the better I like it.

                1. My 10" chef's knife is the one I love best. It scares some people, but it feels balanced and does a beautiful job of whatever I need it to do.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: linengirl

                    Exactly--it feels balanced in your hand. It is comfortable! You pick it up every day and use it with pleasure. As do I. I love chopping veggies. I'm not fast, but I get better every time I use it. A wonderful tool is wonderful. Yes!

                  2. May depend on the task but as long as you can tolerate. Bigger is better.

                    1. To answer the original question, I'd say 8 inches. I used to work in a kitchen store, and the knife we sold FAR more than any other was an 8in chef knife. Most people prefer this -- now whether this is simply from what they've been told or not, I'm not sure.

                      Honestly, I think, for me, the answer lies in what kind of blade. With a german style chef's I find anything less than 8in. somewhat useless, with a gyuto, something with a little less curve, I'd go for 240-270mm, but a 210 is fun to use. With my current go-to knife, a 220mm Chinese Cleaver (well.. it's japanese) I find it does anything I could ever want a 270mm chef's knife to do, although shorter by 20-50mm. I do think has a lot to do with my cutting style, and the curve of the blade, a large flat section (depending on the profile into which that curve is "built") the more "useable" knife edge there is. Again this is personal opinion, and I wonder how many people feel the same?