Our Ultimate
Knife Guide

Whether you are looking for a new set of knives, or just want to cherry-pick a specific blade to fill a gap in your collection, the sheer amount of choice out there can be overwhelming.

In this guide, we've broken down all the confusing knife jargon so you can make informed choices as to which knife is right for you and your kitchen.

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ultimate knife guide

Getting the right knife for the job

As with any kitchen task, having the right tool for the job makes it a lot easier and a lot more fun. Cycle through the list of knives below to see how each one is best used.

Cleaver

With its large, rectangular blade, this is the ultimate kitchen tool for cutting through boned joints.

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cleaver knife

Filleting

Flexible but with a straight cutting edge, this slim-bladed knife is perfect for filleting meat and fish cleanly.

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filleting knife

Boning

It's the less flexible blade that makes all the difference, allowing you to closely follow the curve of the fish's backbone.

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boning knife

Chef's / Cook's

Features a tapered point, broad blade and deep heel that gives you plenty of space between the handle and the board for speedy chopping.

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chefs knife

Bread

Traditionally a long scalloped edge that cuts through the crust yet doesn't tear the soft bread inside.

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bread knife

Slicing

The long blade makes this knife great for slicing cooked meat, and the sharp point is perfect for separating meat from the bone.

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slicing knife

Santoku

Translating as 'three ways', this knife is ideal for slicing, dicing and chopping. The 'hollow' in the blade stops food from sticking when cutting.

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santoku knife

Utility

Slightly bigger than a paring knife, it's best for carving or slicing cooked meats and soft cheese.

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utility knife

Paring

Perfect for intricate, fiddly jobs that are best done in the hand, such as peeling or de-seeding peppers.

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paring knife

All-Purpose

From peeling fruit or vegetables to slicing and chopping, this versatile little kitchen all-rounder is ideal for a variety of jobs.

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all-purpose knife

How to sharpen your knives

The saying "a sharp knife is a safe knife" really is true. A knife with a dull blade is more likely to slip off food, rather than cut through it, and regular sharpening is imperative to keep your knives at their optimum performance level.

So you can just pop to the shop and buy any old knife sharpener, right? Wrong. It's important to know what type of knives you have, Asian-style or European, and to buy the appropriate sharpener, because using the wrong sharpener can cause more damage than not sharpening at all.

Honing vs Sharpening

We hear these words bandied around, but what do they mean in the world of knives? And what's the difference? Sharpening does just what it says on the tin: it sharpens the blade, but you don't want to over-sharpen your knives as small amounts of the metal are taken away each time you sharpen them, wearing the blades down. Honing is slightly different, as it doesn't strip your knife of any metal, but simply realigns and straightens the edge of the blade.

If your knives were desperately in need of some TLC, you would first sharpen and then hone them. Ideally, you want to sharpen your knives every 2 weeks, perhaps more if they get a lot of use - little and often is the key, 3 swipes will do - but you can hone them more often than that to keep them in tip-top condition.

knife sharpener

Professional

Professional-grade sharpening tools like the Lakeland 10" Fine Sharpening Steel and the Lakeland Whetstone Sharpener are great if you like to sharpen and hone your knives the traditional way - but it's important that you know what you are doing, as you need to get the angle right to keep the shape of the knife or it will lose its effectiveness. We therefore recommend this style of sharpener for confident and professional cooks.

Basic

Most standard knife sharpeners are designed to sharpen European-style knives, but it's best to check the box before buying. Making sharpening simple through shape and design - as you simply run your blade through the mechanism - many have both a sharpening and a honing tool built in.

Ceramic wheel sharpeners

Most ceramic wheel sharpeners come with a water reservoir, like the Global Knife Sharpener, which keeps the blade cool and increases the efficiency of the sharpener.

All rounder

You can find handy and versatile sharpeners that cater for all of your sharpening needs, like our International Knife Sharpener, which has two sets of sharpeners and honing rods, one for Asian-style blades and one for European blades.

Top tips

Always remember to check if the sharpener is suitable for both serrated and straight-edged blades as some will damage serrated knives.

If your knives are a particular brand, such as Robert Welch Signature or Global, your best bet is to buy the same branded sharpener as it will be tailor-made to match the angle of the blades.

How to store your knives

It's always best to hand-wash them and dry them straightaway.

Stainless steel blades are rust-resistant but not rustproof, so if they are regularly left in the dishwasher overnight, they can develop 'spots'. To remove rust spots, use a small dab of Maas Metal Polish and wipe until the rust has gone - you'll be amazed at how quickly it disappears!

Once you're done, give your knife a wash in warm soapy water and voila, your knife will look as good as new. Likewise, if you chop foods with a high acidic content like limes or lemons, it's best to rinse the blade as soon as possible to prevent damage.

High carbon knives are more prone to rust spots, so be sure to take extra care with them, drying them thoroughly before storing them away.

Cutting & chopping

When it comes to cutting and chopping like a professional chef, using the right knife is only half the story. The other vital piece of kitchen kit you'll need is a stylish, hard-wearing and non-slip chopping board to work on.

lakeland chopping board

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Knife techniques

Once equipped with a good quality set of kitchen knives, you're ready to tackle a whole host of new culinary challenges. And by learning a few basic knife techniques, you'll soon be chopping, carving, shredding and filleting with confidence.

Julienne & brunoise

Julienne & brunoise

Julienne & brunoise

Chiffonade & shredding

Julienne & brunoise

How to bone meat

Julienne & brunoise

How to fillet fish

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What's in a blade?

There's a lot more to a knife than meets the eye...

Stainless Steel

Keenly priced knives are usually made from low carbon stainless steel and as a result need more sharpening than other blades to maintain their cutting edge. Click here to see our full range.

Carbon Steel

More expensive than stainless steel knives, carbon steel knives have a higher carbon make-up and this means that it is easier to keep the blade sharp. Click here to see our full range.

Ceramic

Exceptionally hard yet incredibly lightweight, ceramic blades retain their edge for much longer than stainless steel and glide through whatever you are slicing. It is important to take extra care with ceramic knives as they can be prone to chipping, making sharpening them trickier.

Titanium

With the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal, titanium is combined with other materials such as diamond, silver or ceramic to create a knife that is extremely lightweight yet durable.

Let's bust that jargon!

You often see these terms on different knife sets, but without knowing what they mean, it just makes the buying process even more confusing. This jargon-busting guide will help you to make a more informed decision.

Ice Hardening

Ice hardening is a process where the steel is cryogenically frozen after it is forged. This process changes the molecular structure of the steel, resulting in a much harder metal that stays sharper for longer.

Japanese Steel

Japanese steel is famous for its quality and sharpness and the knives typically have a thinner blade - but don't let that fool you into thinking it's weak, oh no. Most Japanese steel goes through the ice hardening process, making it incredibly hard and durable. The thinness of the blade gives the knives an impeccably sharp finish, making cooking prep a breeze, but it's important to note that they must therefore be handled with extra care and caution. Knives made from Japanese steel are also low maintenance, the blade retaining its sharpness for longer, requiring only occasional sharpening.

German steel

German steel has long been considered to be of a high quality, chosen by many manufacturers for its superior strength. You will find a German steel knife thick, sturdy and reliable, which is why they are found in many professional kitchens. It is important to look after German steel knives with regular sharpening to keep them at their optimum performance level.

Taper grinding

A taper-ground edge gives knives a professional-quality finish that's super-sharp and easy to maintain.

Rockwell hardness

You may have seen Rockwell Hardness Rating or HR written on a knife set and wondered what the random numbers next to it meant. Materials are tested by being hit with a diamond to see how large the indentation left is - simply put, the smaller the indentation, the harder the material and the higher the HR number. A higher HR number denotes a harder, better quality steel, however, looking for the highest number isn't always best. Blades with a very high rating (70 or above) will be more brittle and difficult to maintain, while a low HR blade (below 50) will need a lot more sharpening to keep it efficient, so you are best looking for something in the middle, between 50 and 60.