What Makes A Good Chef's Knife? | Jonas Blade

What Makes A Good Chef’s Knife?

There are plenty of details to factor in when considering what makes a good chef knife. As a professional knife maker or blade smith, I have spent more than a decade tuning the details of my own signature chef knife. Tucked away in rural New Hampshire, I have developed a design that is a unique blend of French, German, and Japanese style knives. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that make these knives so special.

The Fit

You have to be able to hold it comfortably, and when you’re holding it comfortably, the edge must present in a natural and ergonomic way. There is a surprising degree of subtlety and nuance that defines this relationship, and it is something that some knife makers and blade smiths tend to miss.

The Shape

The shape of the edge is also absolutely critical in a good chef knife; the curvature of the edge as it falls away from the point toward the heel plays an enormous role in the cutting motion and ergonomics of the knife. The overall “belly” or curve of the edge will determine how the knife rocks, which feeds into how fast you can run the knife in a rocking cut as well as how large a food item you can comfortably accommodate under the edge. 

The Position

The position of the heel is equally important; if the heel is too prominent or is preceded by too large a flat, the knife will clunk down at the end of a rocking cut and knock jarringly against the cutting board. If on the other hand the heel is too rounded, the cutting motion may feel indistinct. If the heel is too tall, cutting with the knife will fatigue your upper arm and shoulder. Too short and your wrist will bend more than it needs to, causing the tip of the blade to walk laterally while cutting.

The Cuisine

When thinking about a good chef knife, it is also important to consider what type of cuisine you’ll cook, and therefore what type of cutting you’ll need to do. Here in New Hampshire, much of the cuisine is simpler American fare, while a knife heading for California wine country might need to be comfortable with the type(s) of work required by a more international cuisine. My signature chef knife is designed for a good balance of versatility, comfort, and looks. 

The Looks

Looks are of course another thing to bear in mind when you are thinking about a chef knife. A good looking knife won’t necessarily cut any better—though one could I think reasonably argue that a knife that looks badly out of proportion will also likely feel badly out of proportion—but when you are passionate about the food you cook, every aspect can be a way to elevate the experience. A good chef knife does not have to be damascus steel. A damascus steel chef knife does not have to be fancy or overly complicated. In my opinion clean, simple lines can speak just as loudly as they need to of elegance and purpose. 

Above all else, when you think about a good chef knife, whether it is handmade or commercially mass produced, find a knife that looks and feels right to you. The knife is a tool, and the best tools will feel like a natural extension of your will. Inquire with Jonas Blade to find one that works!

About The Author

Zack Jonas was born and raised in Massachusetts in the 1980’s and is still a New Englander today. With his growing love for art over the years, he took an introductory bladesmithing class at MASSart. It was there that he learned one of his most valuable lessons, which is that everyone has some insight worth learning. Today, he is a full-time bladesmith and feels incredibly fortunate to have found his calling.