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What is a Carving Knife?

A Kaminsky
A Kaminsky

A carving knife is a larger knife with a keen edge, used to carve slices of meat from roasts, hams or poultry. It is an instrument of antiquity, having its origins in the earliest metal-working attempts by man. And since that age, man has looked for a way to make a sharper, stronger, more durable knife.

Carving knives usually have a straight edge, rather than a serrated one, and is generally 8 to 15 inches (21 to 38 centimeters) long. The blade is a bit shorter and wider than a slicing knife, although they are longer than a regular kitchen knife. A carving knife has a much thinner blade than a kitchen knife, which also enables it to cut thin slices of meat.

A carving knife.
A carving knife.

Like all knives, a carving knife may be made of several kinds of materials. The most expensive knives are high carbon stainless steel. These knives are durable and hold an edge well. A forged high-carbon blade will serve for many years, if cared for properly.

The first step in properly carving anything is to sharpen, or hone the knife blade. This may be done on a stone, or on a steel. A sharp knife will help cut more tender slices. It is also safer than a dull knife. The cook should also allow the meat to “rest” for 30 minutes or so after removing it from the oven. This will help the juices redistribute through the meat, resulting in a more tender slice.

Most people find it easier to stand while using a carving knife, and the carver should slice most meats across the grain, anchoring the meat firmly with a good carving fork. Ideally, the meat slices should be 1/4 to 1/2-inch (6-12 millimeters) thick, for the best results.

A good carving knife can cost upwards of $100 U.S. Dollars (USD) for a high-carbon, forged steel blade. Good, cheaper knives are available, but the shopper should always look for a knife with good balance, and that has the tang, or metal, at least halfway down the handle, which should be held together with rivets.

Discussion Comments


@ Alchemy- The carving knife sets from Shun are next to non as far as craftsmanship, but the style may not be for everyone. If you are looking for a more contemporary look I would recommend purchasing a Global, Konosuke, or Henckels Morimoto knife. These knives range from the mid $100s for the Globals knives to the $450 plus range for the Morimoto knives. You will get excellent value for the money from these knives, and they are superior for knives in their price range.


@ Alchemy- The best carving knife bar none is the Shun knife and fork set. The way I see it, people who live in nice homes buy Wusthof knives because they have heard of the brand and it is expensive, but the true chef own Shun. Wusthof knives are quality knives, but they have trouble holding an edge. A Wusthof carving knife has a very wide bolster, thus giving the knives a very wide blade angle (from spine to edge back to spine). This leads to a knife that dulls easily.

Shuns on the other hand are made from strong yet flexible Damascus steel, and they hold a razor sharp edge. Shun knives also come with ergonomic, non-slip D handles, made with a wood handle wrapped around a full tang, accompanied by a metal handle head. The Damascus steel also adds an aesthetic quality that is distinct to the Shun. You can buy a beautiful box carving knife and fork set for about three hundred dollars that comes in a velvet lined bamboo box. Truly, this knife cuts well, and looks as good as the feast.


What is the best carving knife for the money? I do not mind spending the money, but I want a knife that will carve the perfect bird, hold an edge, and looks nice presented on a formal dining table.

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    • A carving knife.
      By: picsfive
      A carving knife.