Types: Commercial cutlery comes in many different styles, the two most common being forged and stamped. Kitchen knives and other specialized cutlery include chef's, paring, boning, slicing, bread, seafood, carving and butcher's knives as well as cleavers. Because operators can use them to perform a variety of tasks, chef's knives are the most common knives found in a kitchen. On the smaller end of the spectrum is the paring knife.
Capacities: Knives come in an assortment of lengths, widths, shapes and sizes. Butcher's and chef's knives range between 6 and 12 inches in length; paring knives are shorter, averaging between 3 and 4 inches; and slicing knives are longer, usually between 8 and 14 inches.
Manufacturing Method: Blade materials include high-carbon stainless steel, stainless steel, Damascus steel and ceramic. The biggest distinction in manufacturing style for commercial cutlery is between stamped and forged blades. A forged blade starts as a steel blank, or piece of steel, heated in the forge. The maker then pounds the steel with a hammer or machinery into the rough shape of a knife. The forged knife is heated again, and more hammering follows. Several cycles of heating, cooling and hammering all serve to temper the steel and make the forged knife strong and difficult to break. Stamped knives are created by passing a steel sheet under a hydraulic press. The press cuts the desired shape out of the metal, similar to how a cookie cutter cuts shapes in dough.
Standard Features: Kitchen knives have smooth, wavy or serrated blade edges, depending on their cutting tasks; and blades may be straight, curved, stiff, heavy, flexible or semi-flexible. Some knives are available with narrow, wide, duo-edged or serrated blades. Handle materials range from plain wood to rosewood, nylon and various forms of plastic.
Maintenance Requirements: Operators should wash knives by hand to help keep edges sharp and store them in a manner that prevents contact with hard objects that can dull their edges. To prevent injuries to users, knives must be sharpened regularly with a steel sharpener, motorized sharpener or honing stone.
Food Safety and Sanitation Essentials: Knives today should be NSF-approved for food safety. More commercial kitchens are getting away from using wooden handle knives, as, even with precautions in manufacturing and use, they can harbor food-borne bacteria.