Kitchen Knives Set – Part 1: Thoughts and Design

So, this is my next big-ish project, I have decided to make a basic set of kitchen knives – three knives and honing steel. I am not entirely sure about how useful honing steel is with knives from N690, but I have used it on my mother’s knives and it seems to work. It does not appear to hurt. If this small set works out OK, I will make more in the future and perhaps add some specialized knives along the way, but this basic set is meant for casual cooks like myself (and indeed most of my friends), who do not need a special blade for every task and will be probably very content with one knife for 90% of work.

And because this time I am preparing perhaps for more future projects, I have made templates in photoshop, printed them out, and laminated them in transparent foil for future use.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The grid is metric, with the smallest scale being 1 mm.

The “meat” knife is a de-facto universal knife, one that I expect to take care of that 90% of work. Medium-sized blade with a round tip, ergonomic handle for firm grip, suitable for slicing protein as well as fine-dicing herbs and vegetables. And for remaining tasks, there is a small peeling knife with a sharp tip for piercing and a relatively straight blade for scratching-peeling, and a big chef knife for tackling difficult cabbage and for those occasions when cutting a lot of big-ish vegetables or huge chunks of whatever is necessary.

The chef knife has holes along the blade edge, which should help with reducing the sticking of whatever is being cut to the blade. It is easier to make than hollow grind or S-grind and it does work too. The handle is ergonomic as well but it is formed with a focus on two main uses of such a big blade. The thicker butt with a hook end prevents the knife from flying out of the hand when chopping, and the thin front with a lot of space for fingers allows for a choked-up grip with the index finger and thumb on the blade for fine slicing and dicing with a rocking motion.

All these designs should work as expected since they are based on knives that I have already made in the past. Of these, the least tested is the chef knife, but I still do not expect any trouble. I won’t follow the designs exactly, they are just approximations and I expect to tune them up a bit during the work. Any thoughts and remarks on the designs are welcome, as well as any suggestions for further additions to the set ( I am thinking about fish-knife and cheese-knife).

However, I will definitively introduce one new and relatively original feature right now. One that I have not seen used by another knifemaker (which does not mean nobody does it, I just did not see it done). As you can see, there are four-five holes for pins in each tang, which might seem a bit excessive and dorky-looking. That is because I need more pins – two will be wooden and two will be metallic. And they will not be visible. That is, the knives are designed as full-width tang, but the pins won’t appear on the outside of the handles. I have tested this idea on one broken blade and it seems to work perfectly OK for a kitchen knife that won’t get hit with a mallet or hammer too much. Or at all, as things should be.

So stay tuned for the following articles with a full write-up of my manufacturing process for this project. I am decently far already given that I only could work three days this week. And because a video was requested, I am filming (almost) all work as well. But I make no promises there – a future video is, at this time, uncertain and might or might not happen.


  1. amts says

    Very cool. Have you thought about a potential price for the set? Just wondering if it might be in my budget.

  2. kestrel says

    Holes in the blade?! Wow, that’s something I’ve never seen before! But you’ve done that before and it makes things stick to the blade less? If so that is really interesting! I sometimes use that “stickiness” to the blade to swipe pieces of what I’m chopping into the bowl or pan or whatever, by wiping the knife along the edge of the bowl. But if they did not stick at all that would be really great.

    I do use a steel but I also use a sharpening stone. I am more inclined to use the stone because it’s what I’m used to. But a nice steel definitely is a nice touch to a knife set.

  3. says

    @amts, I cannot tell you the exact price, because I do not know how much time I will spend with the project yet. I can estimate the knives somewhat, but not the stropping steel and the wooden stand that I intend to make for the set. I can tell you that it will probably be a three-digit number in €.

    @kestrel, bad writing on my side. I did not make a knife with holes in the blade, but we do have a knife with holes in the blade and I have made a knife with this general blade and handle shape. And the holes do not reduce sticking to complete zero, they just make un-sticking things easier. Dakotagreasemonkey has described the theoretical background to this under one of my older knife-related posts where I wrote about our holey knife -click-
    True honing steel does not replace whetstone, it does have a different function -- it only burnishes and straightens the edge. It does not remove enough material to sharpen a dull blade, it can also be polished so that it does not remove any material at all. It can be used frequently and it does not wear the blade down in any noticeable way. It does increase the intervals between the need for abrasive sharpening with whetstones and it can be used to remove the burr from sharpening with a whetstone (although stropping is better for that). Walter Sorrels talks about using honing steel in this video -click-
    What is today often sold as “honing steel” -- ceramics rods or rods coated with diamond particles -- are often not honing steels but de-facto big-ass files and they remove a lot of material. They can replace whetstones completely, but they also wear down the blade very quickly. On the abomination scale of knife maintenance, they are less abominable than many cheapo knife sharpeners that scrape the edge with carbide disks, but still pretty bad if you want the knife to endure for long.

  4. kestrel says

    Thanks Charly -- I had missed that post when it first came out and it’s pretty interesting. Just spent some nice time reading it.

  5. Jazzlet says

    Looks like a good practical mix of blades.

    I’ve seen holey knives sold as cheese knives, never used one, but the principal seems sound enough.

  6. says

    @Jazzlet, cheese knives are the most common use of holey blades, I will probably design and make a cheese knife at some point too, because I need one. Holes in cheese knives are much bigger than these, to reduce friction as much as possible.

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