Whether you’re a home cook or somewhat of an amateur chef amongst people you know, you may be aware of the fact that your kitchen equipment can make a world of difference with your cooking. This general rule applies to everything – ingredients, utensils, tools, you name it. Here, however, we’re going to be talking about the two broadest categories of knives – and how the simple difference in chiseling angles can affect your food.
Have you ever wondered how to get the best out of your kitchen knives? Well first, you will have to tell the difference between the two basic knife categories, and then take it from there. Knives may be either single beveled or double beveled, which in turn have their own specific uses. With this short guide to getting to know your knife better, you do not have to look further in order to optimize your knife for use.
What Is A Knife Bevel?
In simple terms, a bevel is an angle that slants towards the sharp edge of the knife.
Again, you may be aware of the highly specialized uses for different bevels and thickness levels in knives. For instance, thicker knives are used to cut large pieces of meat and chop vegetables roughly. They’re more based on the power that goes into them, rather than any of the bladework itself. A thinner blade is more precise and is used to cut tinier cuts of food or slicing instead. It is highly unwise to exchange the utilities of the two: and this is where the importance of the knife bevel comes in.
Depending on your type of bevel, your knife can be optimized for different functions. Some bevels allow for thinner edges, while some are used in thick and sturdy knives instead. Here’s what the differences between the two main bevel types can look like.
What Is The Difference Between A Single And Double Bevel?
There’s one simple, fundamental difference between a single and a double bevel knife. The single bevel knife is a highly specialized knife that is chiseled from one end ONLY. You definitely do not want to mess around with this one! Most chefs need to undergo training in order to correctly use this knife.
The double bevel knife, on the other hand, is a more common one that you might notice in any Western household. If you have a standard set of knives lying around your kitchen, that’s probably a double bevel knife. These are chiseled from both ends so that the sharp edge is right in the middle of the beveled surfaces.
Single Bevel Knives
This wonder knife, as we mentioned before, is a highly specialised tool that can only be mastered with years of training. It is mostly used in Asian cuisine – or any sort of food that requires cuts with extreme precision, really. The edges of these knives are extremely sharp, which can make them useful for very specific purposes. You may find many single beveled knifeoptions if you cruise a little in the sea of traditional Japanese knives.
Slicing sashimi and daikon into paper-thin slices is what this knife is best used for. Double-bevel knives rarely allow for such unbroken and smooth cuts. The sharpness of the edge comes from the angled chiseling as well as the subtly concave side of the knife. The concavity of the knife allows for small amounts of air to enter, so that friction can be decreased and you’re greeted with the most seamless experience in using this knife. Yes, physics is what makes this knife so high-quality!
Since this knife is so specialised, it is imperative that you use it correctly. This is why you can get single bevel knives custom-made from your nearest bladesmith. Custom knives will usually come to you at a steeper cost than store-bought, but if you’re confident in your single bevel knife skills, it’s a small price to pay.
Since this is a single bevel knife, it’s a reminder to only sharpen one side of the knife when you decide to do so. The angle at which the knife is chiseled and then sharpened comes up to be around 15 – 17 degrees with single bevel knives. This angle should be kept in mind while sharpening, though it’s a rather simple process to do so. People that are used to it, can sharpen their knives just fine even with a whetstone or sharpening/honing steel. While for the less experienced, an electric knife sharpener might be necessary to maintain their knife in top condition.
Grab your whetstone and set a wet towel under the counter you’re going to be using. An important part of the sharpening process in single bevel knives is demarcating where the shinogi line is. You see the main, large bevel that runs all the way from the middle of your knife to the edge? That’s the shinogi line. You have to set your knife against the shinogi line on your whetstone and begin sharpening, applying pressure to the very edge.
Only proceed with this if you’re experienced in sharpening knives. If you’re a complete novice, you may end up damaging the knife instead! Single bevel knives from local manufacturers are more susceptible to damage, even at petty tasks. It is therefore highly recommended that you get these from a reputable brand. We’ve put together round-ups of our favorite collections across top brands that you can find below:
- Cangshan Knives Reviews
- Wusthof Knives Reviews
- Kamikoto Knives Reviews
- Dalstrong Knives Reviews
- Yoshihiro Knives Reviews
Double Bevel Knives
Since double bevel knives are much more common in the Western kitchen, these can be used for a variety of purposes. They, indeed, are more versatile than single bevel knives. Rough chopping, cutting into cubes – all of these functions can be performed with double bevel knives. These knives can be used in any form of cooking that requires regular chopping, so you don’t need special skills for this one.
Double bevel knives, as the name suggests, are chiseled from both ends in an almost equal ratio. This induces power cutting and ensures that all your force is situated at a broad point of the knife only. While this makes for rough and jagged cuts, it can cleanly cut through most food. If you’re a cooking amateur, then you will have no trouble handling this knife at all – its very design is made for ease of access and convenience.
They’re significantly less sharp than single bevel knives, so if you’re trying to finely filet a piece of fish, prepare yourself for a slight disappointment. While all cuts may be possible with these, there’s no guarantee for precision here.
Since these knives need to be sharpened on both ends, sharpening for double bevel knives tends to be a more difficult process. Both of the ends need to be sharpened equally at a 50/50 ratio, so it is important to maintain a constant angle. But what angle should you maintain?
It is usually recommended for double bevel knives to be sharpened at an angle of anywhere between 11 – 22 degrees. Starting here, you can slowly work your way down to the very edge of the bevel and get that neat, sharp finish. It also depends a lot on the kind of usage you’re planning to get out of it – if you’re looking to cut through particularly thick cuts of meat, you need to sharpen your blade to a finer point (and at a higher angle, like 30 degrees). If you’re looking to slice through food, it’s best if you sharpen it at lower angles to get some amount of precision out of it. Just grab your gritstones and get sharpening – it’s super easy once you get the hang of it. Also, you should learn the difference between honing and sharpening as you don’t always have to sharpen the blades and could very well get away with honing it.
What Is A Knife Edge?
The knife-edge can be referred to as the sharpest part of the knife. This is the part that you actually apply to your food in order to cut it. Lots of people think that sharpening a knife is all about sharpening the edge, but that’s actually untrue. In fact, all the components of a knife come together in order to make your knife the best it can be. Many types of bevels contribute to many edges – for instance, you can have serrated, chisel, granton edges – all of which h ave their own functions. Not all knife edges look the same!
What Is The Difference Between An Edge And A Bevel?
It’s easy to misunderstand these components of the knife as interchangeable. The bevel is different from the edge of a knife in that it is not the part that does the cutting – that’s the edge. The bevel leads up to the edge instead. It is the part of the knife that is sharpened at various angles in order for the edge to shine through. The edge really comes down to how small the angles of the bevels are – if very small, then the edge is going to be that much sharper and vice versa.
Verdict | Should You Buy A Single Or A Double Bevel Knife?
As for whether you should invest in a single vs double bevel knife – this is a decision that rests solely upon you and your skillset. We highly advise you to get yourself a double bevel knife if you’re not in it for the long run. Double bevel knives can be durable and are substantially cheaper on your pocket than single bevel knives. They’re also what you might find in an average household, which is a testament to the fact that it gets the job done efficiently. Single bevel knives are often made to be what an expert would call a ‘santoku knife’ while a double beveled knife is known as ‘gyuto’. While both are prevalent for their specific set of functionalities, they are different in a lot of aspects. To be able to choose one, you should first learn their differences.
However, if you’re looking for a high-investment-high-return situation and are either dedicated to learning the art of single bevel knives or are already proficient in the same, we highly recommend you to get the single bevel knife. Not only do these knives give you the finest cuts of food, but they also make an extremely noticeable difference in the way you present your food. Trust us, you’ll see the difference there.
So whether you plan to get the single or double bevel knife, you’re investing in an instrument that will serve you well based on your needs. After all, the knife chooses the chef too – so choose wisely!