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The Anatomy of a Chef's Knife

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Chef's Knife: The Handle
Chef's Knife Handle

Chef's Knife: The Handle

Photo © Danilo Alfaro

Chef's Knife Handle

Unless you're very unlucky, the part of a chef's knife you'll have the most contact with is the handle. So you'll want to make sure it's comfortable and fits your hand. It shouldn't feel slippery or cause you to have to grip excessively hard.

Chef's knife handles have traditionally been made of wood, but wooden handles present certain problems. For one, because wood is porous, knife handles made of wood can harbor bacteria that cause food-related illness. Many local health departments prohibit the use of wooden-handled knives in commercial foodservice.

Bacteria can also grow in the tiny cracks where the wood joins the steel or around the rivets. Wooden handles don't fare well in the dishwasher, either, though to be fair, you shouldn't be running your knife through the dishwasher in the first place. Still, even soaking a knife can cause its wooden handle to warp or crack.

For these reasons, knives with plastic or rubber handles (as pictured above) are increasingly popular. Additionally, some handles are made from a composite material consisting of wood that has been treated with plastic resin. That gives them the traditional appearance of wood, which many people find appealing, while avoiding the sanitation concerns associated with wooden handles. Next page >>
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