Sharpen Up

The Anatomy of a Chef’s Knife

updated May 1, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Just how well do you know the parts of your chef’s knife? There may be variations between material, size, and weight that set these common knives apart, but whether it costs $20 or $200, all chef’s knives have the same basic parts and construction. From the point to the butt and everything in between, take a walk through the anatomy of your chef’s knife.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)


Most commonly used for piercing and scoring, the point is the portion of the blade where the tip and the spine meet.


The blade is the main body of the knife that includes the point, tip, edge, spine, and heel. The size, shape, and material of the blade are the most defining characteristics of the knife.


The tip of the knife, which includes the point, is typically considered to be the first third of the edge. This portion of the blade is used for slicing and delicate cutting.


The edge, or belly, is the sharp portion of the blade that runs from the point to the end of the heel.


Located in the rear of the blade, the heel is the widest part of the knife’s edge. It’s the strongest part of the blade, and ideal for cutting hard ingredients, like carrots and winter squash.


Opposite the edge, the spine is the thickest part of the blade. The thickness of the spine will vary from knife to knife, and affects the strength of the edge and the overall stability of the blade.


Varying in shape, weight, and material, the handle is the portion of the knife that extends from the bolster to the butt.


Adding to the stability of the knife by counter-balancing the blade and handle, the bolster is the area between the blade and the handle.


Rivets are the metal rounds you see on the handle of the knife. They secure the tang to the handle, and should lie flush with the surface of the handle.


This is where your knife’s strength, stability, and balance comes from. The tang is the metal part of the blade that extends into the handle. Depending on the knife, the tang can extend partway trough the handle (a partial tang) or to the end of the handle (a full tang).


The butt is the back end of the knife handle.