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May 31, 2012 11:22 PM

Is a Petty Knife Uniquely Useful?

I have read about petty knives and have seen them, but I don't own one and have never used one. Obviously, a petty knife is useful as a knife, but what is its strength or speciality compared to the typical shorter paring knife or a similar size utility knife? I have definitely heard of many of you vouch for a honesuki over a boning for poultry, and I understood this feeling after I acquired and used a honesuki. However, I don't recall many comments on the petty knives.

I just found out that a new batch of Kagayaki Aogami knives has arrived to JCK.

I have been waiting for them to stock up. I was going to get another Santoku, but may consider getting a petty knife instead. Thanks for your guidance and thoughtful inputs.

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  1. I like to use a petty during service at work. I use a 150mm, its big enough to do more things than a paring knife, but not so big that its in my way when space is at a premium during service like a gyuto would be.

    7 Replies
    1. re: twyst


      Thanks for your reply especially at this late hour. I understand that a petty is usually longer than a paring. What about the utility knife then? Do you find any major difference in using a petty knife vs an utility knife? Utility knife is fairly unpopular.

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I think they are pretty much one in the same. Petty knives tend to be lighter and thinner in my experience, but they are pretty much used for the same things. Its basically a chefs knife vs gyuto type situation assuming you aren't talking about serrated utility.

        1. re: twyst

          Appreciate your help, twyst.

          <assuming you aren't talking about serrated utility.>

          Nope. I was thinking the regular utility knives.

        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I'm really enjoying my 150mm Tojiro Shirogami. Use it for dicing onions or tomatoes and other similar task. It so light weight.

          Took it to the beach last week while staying with family. Sliced up 2 bags of onions for caramelized onions. It was nimble enough to peel the onions in hand and then slice them up in short order. I would have felt uncomfortable peeling onions with a big gyuto which would be fine for the slicing

          I have a German utility knive but it's heavier and never as sharp so rarely gets used

          1. re: scubadoo97

            Thanks scubadoo. You have help me so much in the past. I have not decided, but it seems both twyst and you have the 150 mm. Can I ask why did you pick the 150 mm, and not the 120 mm? If I have to buy one, then I may get the 150 mm, but that is because I have a few paring knives, and no utility knife.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              120 just seemed too small to be as useful as I was looking for. I looked at my German utility knife as a guide which has a similar blade length as the 150 petty and just felt 120 was too small.

              I seem to be picking up this knife for a lot of tasks from boning chickens to cleaning larger cuts of meat as well as vegetable prep. It's size makes it a good knife for precision cuts. And as I mentioned it travels well.

              I went with the Shirogami because I have had such good results with my gyuto and you can't beat the price at CKTG so it was easy to experiment with a new knife and not feel bad if I ended up not using it a lot.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Can I ask why did you pick the 150 mm, and not the 120 mm?

                I prefer the longer blade length b/c I use it more with a cutting board than free hand. And I’m comfortable enough to palm the blade for times when I need a shorter blade.

        3. I've sharpened a couple, but don't own one.

          It's one of those knives that, as you know, I don't go out of my way to recommend to home cooks - mainly for reasons that don't apply to you (most home cooks aren't knife nuts and should focus on getting one or two good knives for their money; reliance on utility knives can serve as an excuse not to learn to use a chefs knife well). But a lot of pro cooks who are also into J knives seem to like em and keep em in their kits and find em useful.

          They seem to be especially nice for some specific jobs like trimming silverskin. But, like all utility knives, you'll find little jobs for one if you're inclined to use it. I'd probably get one before a second santoku (or probably even a first one), but as you also know, I'm not a santoku guy. I prefer a petty to a western utility knife for many of the same reasons I prefer a gyuto to a western chefs knife, and also the fact that a petty has a bit of a heel.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cowboyardee

            <the fact that a petty has a bit of a heel.>

            I already have a few paring knives, but no utility knife. I do really like the idea of a knife heel, which should make it a bit better for using on a cutting board. I will think about it. I suppose I don't have to get another santoku. I could get a Kayayaki Aogami Wa Gyuto. I like both Santoku and Gyuto, but there may be one touch reason to go for a Gyuto. My current Santoku is CarboNext which technically is a carbon steel knife. My current Gyuto is a Tojiro VG-10 stainless steel knife. So maybe a Aogami Gyuto with Wa handle will give a good deal of contrast. Of course, a petty knife would be really unique. Thanks. I will have to think about.... but not think so much that the stock went out away again. Last time I thought so much that Kayayaki Aogami went out of stock.

          2. Hi, A petty is the Japanese version of a European utility / sandwich knife. The difference between them is the same as the difference between a Japanese Gyuto and European chef’s knife. I use a Japanese petty for things that are overkill for a Gyuto...small meals, fruits, and a lot of misc. detail tasks. For me, its’ main advantage over a shorter pairing knife is it’s long enough for cutting against a cutting board, yet short enough to do the aerial / free hand cuts of a paring knife. Note, I don’t do those ubber delicate, precise decorative garnishing that pros do.
            I use a European one, primarily as a boning knife to avoid the sharpening headache of the boning knife’ extended finger guard. Eventually, I’d like to replace it with a honesuki.

            1. Oh Mighty Chem,

              As you may remember, I bought the Shun 6" utility to use as my 150mm petty. I love the fit/feel of the D handle, the damascus pattern, & the VG-10 steel. As others have said, it's a more "small-precision" knife than the taller santoku & longer gyuto. It is thinner & lighter, so that, by default, makes it more "nimble."

              I like the knife a lot, but I don't use it as much as I thought I would. However, my wife uses it more than any other knife we have!

              Considering that you (only?) have the CarboNext santoku, I would say go for BOTH the JCK wa santoku AND 150mm petty. The cost for both is only a little bit more than that of the gyuto, & after using your CN santoku I think you'll feel a big difference between the two. Adding the petty now will also be a huge departure from your other knives & will give you a new experience.

              (Admittedly, I've never handled the Tojiro, but what I've read tells me that it's probably closer to the JCK than your CN.)

              Then you can get the gyuto on your next shopping spree! :-D

              1 Reply
              1. re: Eiron

                <I like the knife a lot, but I don't use it as much as I thought I would. However, my wife uses it more than any other knife we have! >

                Hmm... that will be a problem for me.... I don't have a wife. :P

                <The cost for both is only a little bit more than that of the gyuto>

                Yeah, I notice the JCK Aogami Gyuto is quiet expensive comparing to the counterpart Santoku. I guess every brands and companies are different. Some companies have their santoku at the same price point as their gyuto/chef's knife. I guess not the JCK Aogami series.

              2. It looks like a small santoku to me. In the Western world, that would be a utility knife. Whether unpopular or not, I use my utility knife often to cut a sandwich in half. It cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $10. When I make a sandwich it won't cut in two, I'll go shopping for one of those expensive Japanese Damascus knives.