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The Different Types of Knives That Are Used as Tools

Oct 24, 2007
Knives were one of the first kinds of tools developed by early humans and although they are most commonly thought of as weapons they are still used as tools. Take a look at this guide to the most commonly used tool-knives.

Retractable Blade Utility Knife

This is a general-use tool designed to cut materials such as drywall, cardboard boxes, laminates and plastic. The blade retracts into the body of the knife for safer operation and storage.

Some models have up to 3 different blade positions for different cutting depths. Higher-end models have rubber grips and ergonomic designs for better gripping.

The handle generally unscrews or swivels open to permit blade changes. Many models have extra blade storage in the handle and some models have spring-loaded blades that automatically retract when the knife is released.

Fixed Blade Utility Knife

The blade on these knives locks between the halves of the knife to provide more blade stability than retractable models. The handle generally unscrews or swivels open to permit blade changes. As with retractable knives, higher-end models have rubber grips and ergonomic designs for better gripping. Unlike retractable knives, these knives accept larger or special-purpose blades that can't retract into the handle.

Snap Blade Knife

The blade sections snap off (generally between 8 and 13 per blade) without having to open the tool to change blades. They are generally used for cutting light- and medium-duty materials such as wallpaper, rubber, vinyl and leather, or materials with adhesive backing that will stick to the blade and prevent sharp, accurate cutting.

Carpet Knife

Carpet knives are designed for trimming and cutting carpet and other flooring materials. Their angular design provides easier access to hard-to-reach places. Many models feature retractable blades and blade storage in handle.

The Precision Knife

This is a pencil-sized tool used for precision cutting of lightweight materials, such as paper or poster board. It is also called a hobby knife or X-Acto knife. It is equipped with ultra-sharp blades made from surgical steel and the blades come in a variety of sizes and in triangle and curved shapes. These knives contain a built-in chuck to hold and secure the blades. Some models feature blade storage in the handle.

Cooking Knives

Cooking knives comes in many shapes and sizes and are designed for specific tasks. Selecting the knife you need depends on your culinary experience, the style of cooking you prefer and how much money you wish to spend. Here is a list of the common types of knives and the basic purpose behind their design:

Boning Knife: It has a 4-5" blade and is a flexible knife for separating meat from the bone. This knife is more efficient for this purpose than a rigid knife

Bread Knife: With a 9" blade these knives have sharp, scalloped blades that "bite" the bread without squashing the loaf.

Chef's Knife: Sporting a 4-12" blade, these versatile knives serve a variety of purposes but are particularly suited to chopping and dicing. When buying a chef's knife you should select a blade length that is comfortable for you.

Cleaver: With a strong 6" blade the cleaver chops through bones and joints. You can even use the flat side of the cleaver to crush peppercorns and other spices.

Fish Filet: It has a 7" blade. This thin, long blade has great flexibility and is perfectly suited for filleting fish. It is a superior tool.

Ham Slicer: With a 10" blade it has been specifically designed for slicing through the unique texture of a ham.

Oriental Cleaver: It has a 7" blade and it's called a "cleaver" but it's really a fine chopper and dicer of vegetables, herbs, meats and fruits. It is not to be used to chop bones.

Paring Knife: It has a 3-4" blade and is the most commonly used knife in the kitchen. It is used primarily for hand-held tasks when control is essential. Variations of this knife include the Bird's Beak which is designed for peeling small round fruits and vegetables.

Salmon Slicer: It has a 12" blade. This long thin and exceptionally flexible blade is designed for slicing smoked salmon.

Slicer/Carver: An 8-10" blade that is used for carving paper-thin slices of meats, fruits and vegetables. The pointed tip cuts around bones or pieces of melon.

Steak Knife: With a 5" blade this sharp knife cuts through thick steaks and chops. It is designed to be an integral part of any place setting

Tomato/Bagel Knife: This serrated knife has a 5" blade and is great for cutting something that's soft on the inside and tough on the outside, like a tomato or a bagel!

Utility Knife: With a 6" blade it is a cross between a paring and chef's knife. This all-purpose knife is designed for a variety of everyday tasks

There you have it. These are the most common knives that we use as tools in our everyday life.
About the Author
Ann Knapp writes for Safecutters, Inc., distributor of the Klever Kutter and Klever Koncept, two of the safest utility knives available. Klever Kutter virtually eliminates the risk of workplace injuries, while the permanently shielded blade protects packaged products. It has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security for safe air transport. For more information about Safecutters products, visit SafeCutters.
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