What is a Chef's Knife?

A chef’s knife is is a common multipurpose knife you’ll find in almost every kitchen in the western world. It can be used for a great variety of tasks (cutting, slicing, dicing, mincing, chopping, etc.)
A typical chef’s knife has a blade measuring 7-8 inches in length though they can also come in shorter or longer sizes ranging anywhere from 6 (very short) even up to 12 inches (extremely large). It has a slightly curved cutting edge and a pointy tip. The blade is usually around 1.5 to 2 inches wide,
Unlike other special-purpose knives, the chef’s knife design allows you to handle a wide range of ingredients. It has a broad and thick blade, strong enough to cut through some of the toughest ingredients. Its shape also ensures it can be guided safely close to the knuckles. This allows for finely chopping herbs and finely slicing meat. Its slightly curved blade is also perfectly suited for slicing in one single, fluid motion.


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Western Classic Chef’s Knife (67-layer Damascus)

The iconic bestseller in 2021 and 2022 – Western Classic Damascus Chef’s Knife is back!

After being stocked out for a long time in the US, we finally have it back in our collection. Available for immediate shipping from the USA, this beautiful high-quality kitchen knife is ready and waiting for you to add it to your premium knife collection.

Modern Style Chef’s Knife (73-layer Damascus)

The S&J Modern Western Style 8-inch Damascus Chef’s Knife is a premium model now also made available in the US market.

The core is made from the highest grade VG-10 steel and has all the features you would expect from a high-quality Damascus chef’s knife. Currently, we have it available at discounted promotional price.

Chef's Knife Definition - Characteristics and Features

The Damascus chef’s knife with its intricate patterns is a work of art.
Contrary to popular belief, Damascus steel is not a unique variety of steel, but rather a term that refers to the intricate production process used to create it. This process involves fusing a core steel billet with layers of steel plates on each side and then hammering and folding the mixture multiple times in a forging process.
The resulting blade exhibits a distinctive Damascus steel pattern that is both visually striking and highly durable. In addition to its striking appearance, the Damascus chef’s knife features a specific blade shape and other design elements that make it a standout tool in the kitchen.
This is the type of blade that you can use for the preparation of any food or ingredient and it can be used in a variety of ways:
  • Precisely slicing through meats for perfect presentation
  • Quickly and evenly dicing vegetables for soups and stews
  • Finely mincing herbs for flavorful seasoning
  • Efficiently chopping nuts for baking or garnishes
  • Beautifully slicing and cutting fruit for fruit platters or pies
  • Easily crushing garlic for aromatic sauces and marinades
  • Skillfully filleting fish for delicate dishes or sushi
Whatever the task at hand – or better said, the task at the blade – you can almost certainly accomplish it well with a quality-made Damascus chef’s knife.

Design features

  1. Blade Length: A chef’s knife typically has a blade around 8 inches long, with models ranging anywhere from 6 to 12 inches in size.
  2. Blade Shape: The blade of a chef’s knife is usually slightly curved, with a pointed tip and a wide base that tapers towards the edge. There are generally two versions – a German and a French version of a chef’s knife, which are slightly different in design.
  3. Blade material: The blades can be made from stainless steel, carbon steel, or Damascus steel. The best common steels for the blade core are for example VG-10 or AUS-10.
  4. Blade Width: The blade of a chef’s knife is usually around 1.5 inches wide, or even wider, allowing for ample surface area for cutting tasks.
  5. Blade Thickness: Chef’s knives can have blades that vary in thickness, with thicker blades providing more stability and heft for tougher cutting tasks, and thinner blades allowing for more precise slicing.
  6. Handle Design and Material: Chef’s knife handles normally have a typical classic western design, however, other versions can be found. They can be made from a variety of materials, such as wood, plastic, metal, G10, or micarta.
  7. Weight: Chef’s knives are usually a bit heavier, because of their size and purpose. Smaller models will be lighter and big models can be quite heavy. Of course, weight also depends on the material.
  8. Balance: Good quality chef’s knives are well-balanced in the middle at the bolster. The blade and handle should both contribute evenly to the overall weight of the knife.
  9. Blade Edge: The edge of a chef’s knife can be more straight (French design) or slightly curved (German design). Based on the steel material the blades can be sharpened to varying degrees of sharpness, commonly at around 12-15 degrees angle.

Damascus Steel Patterns

Damascus steel is a type of steel characterized by its unique pattern and strength. There are many different types of Damascus steel patterns that you can find on chef’s knives, each with its own distinct look and style. Here are some of the most common patterns:
  • Twist Pattern features twisted steel bars that create a spiral design.
  • Raindrop Pattern looks like raindrops on the surface of the steel.
  • Feather Pattern resembles the delicate feather of a bird.
  • Ladder Pattern features a series of parallel lines running across the blade.
  • Fire Pattern looks like flames dancing across the steel.
  • Rose Pattern resembles the petals of a rose.
  • Wave Pattern features a wavy design that looks like water.
  • Basket Weave Pattern looks like a woven basket, with crisscrossing lines creating a textured effect.
These are just a few examples and each pattern is unique, based on the technology of production. The patterns are created through a process of folding and forging different layers of steel together, creating a unique and durable blade that is both functional and beautiful.

German vs French Type of Chef's Knife

There are many dimensions, materials, and grip designs of modern chef’s knives. However, small differences in the shape of the blades make them fall either under the category of French or German type of blades.


What makes the main difference is the shape of the blade:

  • French-style knives have a more straight edge and curve up only at the tip.
  • German-style knife has an evenly curved blade from the heel to the tip of the blade.

Both types are referred to as Western types of chef’s knives.

The design of the grip is not crucial for defining either of the two types. The style can vary. However, both German and French chef’s knives are full-tang knives with riveted grips commonly made from wood, micarta, or G-10 material.

A Japanese parallel is a well-known Santoku knife, which is an Eastern type of Chef’s knife.

Users Guide - How to use a Chef's Knife?

Safety and Maintenance Instructions

  1. Choose the right size knife: A chef’s knife typically ranges from 6 to 14 inches in length. A longer knife is good for larger cuts of meat, while a shorter knife is better for more precise tasks like mincing herbs. Choose a size that feels comfortable in your hand and meets your needs in the kitchen. For a first time buyer we recommend getting a 8-9 inch blade.
  2. Hold the knife properly: Grip the handle with your dominant hand, using the “pinch grip” where your thumb and forefinger hold the blade near the base. Your other fingers should wrap around the handle. This grip allows for better control and precision in your cuts.
  3. Use the right cutting technique: The most effective way to use a chef’s knife is to use a “rocking” motion, where you move the blade up and down as you slice through the food. This allows for more control and precision in your cuts.
  4. Cut on a cutting board: It’s important to use a stable cutting surface to prevent the knife from slipping and to protect your countertops. A wooden or plastic cutting board is a good choice.
  5. Keep the blade sharp: A sharp blade is safer and more effective than a dull one. Use a sharpening stone or a honing rod to keep your knife sharp, and be sure to sharpen it regularly.
  6. Store the knife properly: When not in use, store your chef’s knife in a knife block or on a magnetic knife strip to keep it within easy reach and to prevent it from getting damaged.
  7. Practice good knife safety: Always cut away from your body and keep your fingers away from the blade. Use a firm grip on the handle and be sure to keep the blade sharp to reduce the risk of accidents.

By following these tips, you can use your chef’s knife with confidence and efficiency in the kitchen.

5 Common Cutting Techniques With a Chef's Knife

  1. Push or Pull-Slice: This technique is used to make thin, even slices of meat, vegetables, and other ingredients. To slice, hold the ingredient with your non-dominant hand and push/pull the knife slowly to slice through the ingredient.
  2. Chop: This technique is used to chop vegetables and other ingredients into small, bite-sized pieces. Hold the ingredient with your non-dominant hand and use a rocking motion with the knife to chop through the ingredient. The tip of the knife should stay on the cutting board while the heel of the knife rises and falls.
  3. Dice: This technique is used to cut ingredients into small, uniform cubes. Begin by chopping the ingredient into small pieces with the chopping technique. Then, use a rocking motion to cut the small pieces into cubes.
  4. Mince: This technique is used to finely chop ingredients like garlic, ginger, and herbs. Hold the ingredient with your non-dominant hand and use a rocking motion with the knife to finely chop the ingredient. Similar to dicing, keep the tip of the knife on the cutting board while the heel of the knife rises and falls.
  5. Julienne-cut: This technique is used to cut vegetables and other ingredients into thin, matchstick-like strips. Begin by slicing the ingredient into thin, even slices with the slice technique. Then, stack the slices and use a rocking motion to cut them into thin strips.

Holding a Chef's Knife - What is a Pinch Grip?

The way that a chef’s knife is usually held is by using the so-called pinch grip. This means you should not hold a knife with the whole hand by its handle, but you use your thumb and index finger to hold the blade of the knife at its top, close to the handle.
While pinch-grip is the best way to hold a chef’s knife for almost all cutting techniques, it is crucial when cutting with the heel of the blade.
Cutting with the heel of the knife is used when you want to make an incision to a certain depth. By holding the fingers a desired distance from the blade at the heel you can control the depth to which the blade cuts.
By carefully leading the blade along the processing ingredient you can make a precisely controlled cut or slice that doesn’t go too deep. For example, you could use a heel cut to make incisions on the skin of the orange, so you can peel it without cutting through the core of the fruit.
The tip of the knife is normally used for specific tasks such as de-boning or fine-cutting smaller ingredients such as herbs or garlic.

Buyer's Guide to Chef's Knives - What to Look For?

Before you go out and buy a chef’s knife, you should inform yourself what to look for when purchasing such a knife.

The mindless purchase of inferior goods eventually leads to more frustration and thus wasted money. If you pay attention to a few small things, you can make sure already at the purchase that you will enjoy your knife for a long time.

The Handle (Grip) Materials

First, consider the handle of the knife. The materials used here already play an important role when it comes to how efficiently you can work with the knife and how long it will last.

Often either wood, plastic, or composite materials are used for the handle of cooking knives.

Pay attention to the use of high-quality materials. Pakka wood, Rosewood, Dalbergia, and Ebony are a golden standard for wooden grips while Micarta and G-10 are favorable composite materials.

The handle should be made in one piece with no chipping or cracks.

Ergonomics of the Grip and the Blade

There are many designs of handles and blades. Most modern kitchen knives are designed in a way they can be comfortably held and used for a longer period of time.

The handle should be ergonomically shaped. The ergonomics of the grip brings the following advantages:

  • The handle feels comfortable in hand. If you grab the knife firmly with your hand, your hand does not hurt. It optimally adapts to the contour of your palm.
  • The knife is pleasant to use in the long term. Even if you use the knife persistently, no signs of fatigue occur in your hand.

Knife Weight, Length and Balance

  • The weight of the knife plays a significant role and should not be underestimated. The blade should not be too heavy, but also not too light. It should be just right.
  • The length and height of the blade should be tailored to your needs. This means that the knife is suitable in length and width to allow the desired ingredient to be cut. But it also should fit well into your hand. While big knives fit well in big hands, people with small hands should instead resort to smaller kitchen knives.
  • Knife balance is extremely important, especially with larger knives (such as Chef’s knives). It is desired that the central balance is at the bolster. This means that if you hold a knife on your finger at the place where the blade connects to the handle, the knife won’t tip and will stay level. A proper balance ensures good guidance and comfortable cutting and slicing.

Aesthetics and Finish Processing

Finally, you should pay attention to the processing of the handle and blade. The entire knife must appear as one piece. There must be no grooves or holes. When cutting food, leftovers can stick inside, which can cause mold and harmful bacteria to develop.

Besides, you should carefully examine the blade of the knife.

For easy maintenance and hygienic reasons, the knife should have a glossy surface, regardless if it is stainless steel, Damascus, or hammered steel. This indicates that the chef’s knife was not only honed but also polished. A glossy finish ensures that the blade is optimally protected against rust and moisture damage.

Materials and Steel Types

The materials play a significant role in buying the right knife. The handle and the blade should only be made of high-quality, durable materials. The quality of the materials used determines how long you will enjoy the chosen chef’s knife.

The preferred steel hardness for a beginner should reach levels at around 60 HRC. The most popular and widely used steels for kitchen chef knives are nowadays VG-10, AUS-10, and 10Cr15CoMoV.

Blades made from these types of steel are hard but not brittle and can be ground to a razor-sharp finish.

Price Ranges of Chef's Knives

The prices of chef’s knives vary and have a wide range.

Depending on the production process, type of steel and materials, design features, and brand, the upper range custom-made chef’s knives can reach prices even up to $5.000. On the other hand you can get cheap stainless steel stamped knives in just about any store for even as low as $20. Of course, there is a big difference in quality between these two price ranges.

The significant advantage of Damascus steel chef’s knives is that you can nowadays get very decent kitchen knives at reasonable prices already in a $100 range.

Pros and Cons of a Multi-purpose Chef's Knife vs Special-Purpose Knives

Anyone who wants to put together his kitchen equipment or upgrade it stands in front of a decision whether he should get one or more chef’s knives, or will rely only on individual special knives.

The advantage of having a of chef’s knife is its universal application. The same knife can be used for different ingredients and applications, making a change of tools unnecessary. This can be a considerable relief, especially after a stressful working day. Also, chef’s knives are available in different lengths and widths so that everyone will find the right knife for their hands and their needs. Besides, they do not have to be expensive – the chef’s knives are already available at an affordable price and are, therefore, easy on the budget.

However, the chef’s knife as a universal tool can also be a disadvantage. A knife that is used for different ingredients wears out faster. Not only that, the various structures can attack the cutting surfaces, but the blade is also used more frequently. With that in mind, cheap models require more intensive care because they become dull faster and must be re-sharpened more regularly.


  • Versatility: A multi-purpose chef’s knife is designed to perform a wide range of tasks and cutting techniques. It can handle almost any food item, from vegetables and fruits to meat and fish.
  • Cost-effective: Buying a single multi-purpose chef’s knife is more cost-effective than purchasing a set of several specialized knives.
  • Time-saving: Since a multi-purpose chef’s knife can handle various kitchen tasks, you don’t have to spend time switching between different knives. It can save time and improve efficiency in the kitchen.
  • Space-saving: Owning a single multi-purpose chef’s knife can help save space in your kitchen, as you don’t need to store several different knives.


  • Limited precision: A multi-purpose chef’s knife is not as handy for some specific tasks as specialized knives. For example, it can not replace a de-boning or a bread knife at the same level of precision.