Global Differences Between Knives

Much of what determines which knife best suits you comes down to personal preference. If you are on your feet, chopping and dicing for hours on end, you may prefer a lightweight knife that facilitates quick movements. If you use your knife less frequently, but require more power, a heavier knife might suit you. The world of knives is vast - and, while much comes down to the differences between individual bladesmiths, knives can be broadly divided into three categories based on major features: Japanese, European/German, and Mixed.

Japanese knives were originally developed to perfectly cut the less fibrous vegetables and seafood that are cornerstones of the traditional Asian diet. As such, Japanese knives tend to be lightweight, with a focus on sharpness. Descended from samurai swords, Japanese blades are generally made from metals with a high Rockwell (a technical term referring to hardness), meaning their sharpness is unparalleled and can be held for longer. They often feature a blade with a small bevel (angle), allowing for incredibly precise cuts. With light bodies and sharp blades, Japanese knives are designed for technical accuracy and extended use.

German blades, however, were designed to deal with the heavier vegetables and meat common in the European diet. Their blades tend to be much less precisely sharp than their Japanese brethren, using metals with a lower Rockwell and a higher bevel. While this decreases the blade’s sharpness and requires frequent sharpening, it makes the blades less likely to chip and rust. Additionally, German handles and blades are generally heavy, allowing for the chef to use the knife’s weight to push through whatever needs to be cut, breaking apart problematic ingredients.

Globalization has allowed for the development of ‘Mixed’ knives that pair different aspects of knives together - for instance, a Mixed knife might feature a heavy German handle with a sharp Japanese blade. Our showroom features a wide variety of Japanese, German, and Mixed knives for you to test out - because, with so many knives to choose from, the best way to find one right for you is to hold it yourself!

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  • Olivia Hayse