The anatomy of a knife: From the knife tip to the belly and bolster

Ever wondered about the anatomy of a knife? Whether you are a home cook or a chef-in-training, it is helpful to know the lingo. It certainly helps when you shop for knives!


The bit where the tip and spine meet is known as the point, and used primarily for piercing and scoring.


Useful for delicate cutting, fast chopping for slicing of larger items. It can also serve as an anchor during mincing.

Cutting Edge

The edge takes care of the bulk of the cutting and slicing. It can be ground to different profiles for various purposes. Hollow grinds are extra sharp but delicate, while an asymmetric grind, where the blade is sharpened on one side, can be used only in the right or left hand.


The part that comes just after the tip tends to be more curved in Western chef’s knives. Ideal for chopping vegetables.


Given its position near the rear of the blade, this is where you can exert the most force on. A sharp and strong heel allows you to cut through tough meat and vegetables.


The bolster adds weight and balance to a knife, and is a feature more commonly found on forged knives than stamped ones. Some even have a guard that keeps the hand from slipping forward. While a useful feature, it can make sharpening and honing the whole blade more difficult.


The unsharpened part that runs into the handle. The best knives have a full tang, meaning it runs through the entirety of the handle, offering more balance and durability. Japanese knives tend to have hidden tangs, where the tang is inserted into a hole drilled through the centre of the handle so no part of it can be seen.


Knives often consist of two scales that cover the tang, some of which are fastened with rivets for added security, and this is the part you’ll be holding. These can be made from wood, plastic, metal and even exotic materials, but look for something that feels comfortable and solid.


The end of the handle is sometimes indexed to serve as a reference point for the best grip position. Bigger knives can have metal-covered butts for increased stability and durability, but may prove too heavy for some.


This story was first published on The Peak.