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Aug 24, 2012 04:47 PM

Boning and filet knives

I don't have the need for them often, but when I do, I am very glad that our cheap-o knife set provided one or the other--I don't really know which--some look nearly identical. I use it to skin fish or cut the meat away from a chicken or trim fat from ribs. I have no intention of deboning a fish, ever.

So based upon what I use this long, skinny & sharp knife for, how should I go about upgrading? Of the two categories, what shape or length or whatever would be good to test out?


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  1. <So based upon what I use this long, skinny & sharp knife for, how should I go about upgrading?>

    What is your budget?

    For chicken, a honesuki (Japanese verison of boning knife) is good. It should work for trimming fat from ribs, but I won't use it to skin a fish. I haven't tried, but it does not seem to be ideal. I got a aogami honesuki because I debone chicken more than anything else.

    It is definitely better than my Dexter Russell boning knife, but is is also much more expensive. (~$15 vs $150)

    1. l have used the Russell boning knife forever, as one of their models have a bolster to protect you from slipping onto the blade, l love it.
      If you are interested when l am home l will give you the model number, just respond here.
      OTOH whatever Chemicalkinetics says is always spot on.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

        Wow, I am totally flattened. Thanks. My Dexter Russell boning knife is this one:

        It has a very small finger guard, which I am not sure if it really helps.

        Now, this one has a real finger guard, but I am sure the appearance would turn a lot of people away.

        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          +1 on Chem's input.

          I have had a number of long skinny sharp knives, and this, by some margin, is The Daddy:

          Possibly a little too flexible for some meaty work though, and in a perfect world it would be cheaper.

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            My knife is a 1378 Dexter boning knife with a 3/4 " bolster attached to the wooden handle where it meets the blade.
            The blade is @ 1/2 " deep at the middle.
            It does not wiggle.

          2. One of the most popular boning knives around is the Victorinox Forschner boning knife. Its what you will see in most pro kitchens and it is fantastic for breaking down proteins. Best part? Its only $20.
            I own a moritaka honesuki and a wusthof boning knife, but my victorinox definitely gets the most use.

            16 Replies
              1. re: twyst

                The one I was considering is the Victorinox Swiss Classic 6" boning knife: . I am assuming that I can also use it to skin a fish fillet. But I was confused because the shape resembles their utility knife: and not their other boning knife: .

                I wanted to stay under $50 for one knife that can perform the two tasks of boning and skinning a fillet.

                1. re: E_M

                  Your first link description is correct. Some may call that a filet knife. You can use it for fish.

                  Sur La Table basically made several mistakes.

                  Your second link has the wrong description. The photo is of a boning knife, not an utility knife. However, the product number on the page is 7.7203.15G which is in fact an utility knife:



                  Your third link is incorrect as well. The photo is of an utility knife, but the product number belongs to a boning knife:



                  I have no idea what you will get if you buy from Sur La Table online. I don't know if they will go by the photo or the product number.

                  That being said and all, one can use an utility knife to debone.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    No wonder us consumers are confused. Thanks much for your clarification.

                  2. re: E_M

                    Whoa! That website (Sur La Table) is expensive! Save your money!

                    Here's you're boning knife for $17.42 shipped:


                    This is the exact boning knife Cook's Illustrated rated number one in their most recent ratings of boning knives. It's the Victorinox 6-inch Straight Boning Knife: Flexible. The model number you want to make sure you get is 40513.

                    1. re: 1POINT21GW

                      Yep... that Victorinox boning knife is only about $20 on Amazon. That is the one I use and I have a very expensive set of Henckle pro-S knives. I like the rough handle on the Victorinox. Boning is pretty slimey work. I want a handle that won't slip.

                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                        I cannot agree more. I also use this knife to trim a whole brisket of its excess fat and it too is a very slimy job, but my hands never slip one bit with the handle on this wonderful knife.

                    2. re: E_M

                      I just wanted to add some things to think about. With a filet knife, it’s nice to have one that’s couple of inches longer than the width of fish as it allows you to wiggle the blade back and forth while skinning the fish. A 6” blade will come up short for larger than pan-size fish. Plus, many find skinning a fish easier with a flexible blade. With a boning knife, I use a stiff, 6” petty / utility knife.

                      For a single knife for both boning and filet tasks, I’d look for 8”, semi-flexible blade like this….

                      1. re: JavaBean

                        If I'm not mistaken a Boning Knife is not intended to cut through bones but used to portion meat from bones. Fish work usually requires to remove heads and bones (steaking and filleting).

                        I agree with the longer blade length. I have a Vivtorinox 8 in Filet Knife and a 8 in Forschner Breaking knife and sometimes feel that is too small. A 10 inch is probably more ideal for bigger fish (15+ lbs).

                        A fillet knife is not ideal to cut heads off.

                        I prefer the Breaking Knife for bigger fish like salmon, ling cod, halibut etc. It is stiffer and stronger than a Filet Knife which makes it easy to cut heads off and cut through bones (steak and fillet).

                        1. re: bbqJohn

                          Sorry if my post was confusing, but yes. A boning knife (or in my case a petty) is what I use to de-bone / separate the meat from the bone of poultry and meats. For going through bones (splitting chickens in half or quarters), I use a western chef’s knife or med weight asian cleaver.

                          My fillet knife has a thin and very flexible blade. It’s good for skinning and filleting fish, but way too whippy to cut through the spine of larger sized fish. My fish monger uses some sort of breaking/butchering/scimitar knife for steaking and decapitating.

                    3. re: twyst

                      Twyst. Can you elaborate why you prefer the Vic over the moritaka?

                      1. re: JavaBean

                        Shape. If I was strictly breaking down poultry Id probably use the honesuki a lot more, but the vic is just so versatile that I use it for almost all my protein tasks. I can go from breaking down a tenderloin to frenching a rack of lamb to deboning a chicken to breaking down a salmon all without having to break out a different knife for each task.

                        1. re: twyst

                          Is it thin enough to easily remove fish skin?

                          1. re: E_M

                            If I broke down a ton of fish Id get a specialized knife for it. To break down a salmon or two per day, its fine.

                            1. re: twyst

                              So I should be good with one a week. :) Nice. Thanks.