So, you’re looking at upgrading your knife set or thinking about buying your first real knives and wondering what are the parts of the knife you need to know about.

It may feel like a pedantic exercise learning all the different parts of the knife, but once you know them, you will be better able to take instructions on how to use the knife. Additionally, knowing the anatomy of a knife will help you understand the various innovations and pieces of technology that have gone into bringing the knife to your kitchen counter.

The Basics

Hopefully you already know this, but it bears repeating: the two main parts of the knife are the handle and the blade. The handle is the part you hold and it is designed for maximum comfort and safety. Similarly, the blade is the part you cut with and it is designed so as to retain its sharpness and continue to chop, pare, and slice whatever is on your chopping board.

By learning about these different parts and the different inputs that go into them, you will have a better idea on what to do when you need to maintain them.

The Handle

There are five main parts of the knife handle: the tang, handle, butt, bolster, and knifeguard. The tang is the only part you probably won’t have noticed before. It is the metal piece extended from the blade into the handle, and is what keeps the whole knife together.

The handle is the part your hand holds onto, and it is necessary that it is ergonomically designed for long and comfortable use. And at the tip of the handle, you have the butt, which isn’t used for anything per say, but is helpful to be able to identify.

The bolster is the raised area between the knife and the handle. It looks like a collar of sorts on the knife and its main function is to add extra weight to the area between the chef’s hand and the blade, so as to improve the strength and balance of the tool.

Finally, you have the finger guard, which is directly connected to the bolster and protects the hand of the user from being cut by the knife. It helps the balance and strength of the blade, much like the bolster, but is also integral in making sure the user doesn’t accidentally slip their hands across the blade.

The Blade

To the untrained eye, the blade is just the blade. There are no parts to it and it is all one and the same. But there is quite a bit of variation on the blade on how it may be used. The key parts to know are the heel, spine, blade, tip, and point.

Most blades tend to taper from the heel (part closest to the handle) to the tip (farthest part from the handle). Depending on what you are cutting, you would use these different parts of the knife accordingly. The heel would be used for rougher cuts, where more force is required, and the tip would be used for fine cutting and dicing.

The spine or back of the blade opposes the cutting edge and is the thickest portion of the blade as well. It doesn’t serve a purpose aside from increasing the stability of the blade. Finally, the point is used for piercing and is (naturally) located at the very tip of the blade.