Complete Buying Guide to the Best Kitchen Knives


At Owenhouse, we carry a wide variety of kitchen knives for all of your different cooking needs. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to know where to start! Our handy guide of Owenhouse Ace Hardware kitchen knives will help narrow down your options by learning what you need to create your favorite meals. Learn what to look for in a knife, its most common purpose and our list of favorites!

The most common types of kitchen knives and their use

Whether you’re cutting a loaf of bread or a tomato, using the right knife can make all the difference in the outcome of your meal. Knives are made of different metals with different shapes and lengths. Some knives can be used for many different types of food but others have very specific jobs. They can vary widely in price and some need to be sent in to the manufacturer to be sharpened. First, you want to think about your needs, do you eat a lot of meat or vegetables? Are you often making loaves of bread that need to be sliced? 

Utility Knife

Utility Knives are also called “sandwich knives” because they are the perfect knife to slice a sandwich. An all-around kitchen knife that is available with a serrated or straight blade. They are typically 4-7 inches in length and used for slicing meat, dinner rolls, bagels, herbs, and chopping vegetables. While they are used for a wide variety of things, they aren’t the best at cutting large loaves of bread or mincing small vegetables. When shopping for a utility knife you want to look at what it’s made of (stainless steel is a good option), is it comfortable to handle, is it corrosion resistant and dishwasher safe? Can it be sharpened at home? Owenhouse Ace carries many different brands of utility knives for you to choose from.

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Chef’s Knife

Another knife that is very versatile and multi-purpose is the Chef’s knife. Chef’s knives have a broad, sharp blade and are 6-14 inches in length. They are used for cutting meat, dicing vegetables, slicing herbs, and chopping nuts. Similar to the utility knife, chef’s knives are not meant to slice bread or mince vegetables. Having a nice balance and even weight distribution to your chef’s knife is important. It will provide effortless cutting and carving for any type of meal.

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Paring Knife

A paring knife is a small, short-bladed knife that is perfect for intricate cutting, peeling, mincing, and dicing. The blades on a paring knife are simple, sharp, and precise. Typically only 3.5-4 inches in length, a paring knife is easy to handle and not as intimidating as other knives. Peeling and cutting small fruit and vegetables, deseeding fruits, cutting herbs and garlic are great uses for a paring knife. Larger vegetables, like spaghetti or acorn squash, don’t handle a paring knife well. Better to use a butcher knife for those meals!

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Santoku Knife

The word santoku can mean “multi-purpose.” It is a great all-around chef’s knife. They range in length from 5-8 inches with a flat edge and a blade that curves in at an angle. It can handle cutting meat, fish, and vegetables. The santoku knife is comfortable slicing, chopping, and dicing. The design is shorter, lighter, thinner, and more hardened steel than a traditional Western chef’s knife. Although far from Japan, a Bozeman kitchen would be well equipped with a santoku knife. 

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Bread Knife

Everyone’s favorite, the bread knife! You’ve probably tried to slice bread without a bread knife before. Impossible! The serrated blade of the bread knife is perfect for evenly slicing soft bread. Bread knives are usually between 6-10 inches in length and have an offset handle to ensure the cook’s knuckles will not touch the cutting surface when the blade has cut through the bread.

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Kitchen Scissors/Shears

Kitchen shears are scissors that are specially designed for the kitchen. Some are made for cutting poultry or fish and some are used for cutting herbs. Kitchen shears are often used for a variety of kitchen needs, from cutting to cracking nuts and opening bottles. A handy feature many shears have is they come apart in the middle for easy, dishwasher safe cleaning. No kitchen is complete without a pair of kitchen shears!

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Boning Knife

With a sharp point and narrow blade, boning knives have a very specific purpose. They are used to remove bones of poultry, meat, and fish. They are typically 5-6.5 inches in length and come with a straight or angled blade. They can be stiff or flexible. Stiff knives are better for boning beef and pork while flexible boning knives are preferred for poultry and fish.

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Cleaver Knife

The cleaver knife, otherwise known as the “Butcher knife” is a thick, heavy-set knife with a sharply beveled edge. Butcher knives have softer, tougher steel with a thick blade because hard steel or the thin blade could fracture while cutting thick meat and bone. Butcher knives are typically 6-12 inches in length and used to split beef, pork, chicken and other meats from the bone. They are also great for chopping thicker vegetables like squash.

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Box Cutting Knife

Not a typical kitchen knife although very useful in the home! Box cutting knives consist of a retractable razor blade in a thin metal or plastic sheath. With all the packages delivered to homes these days, a box cutter is a great addition to your junk drawer!

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What to look out for when buying a knife:

There are a few main things you want to consider when buying a knife or a set of knives for your kitchen. What the knife’s intended use is, the cost of the knife, who will use the knife, what materials the knife is made of, and the sharpness and weight of the knife. Depending on how often you use your knives, knowing if the knife is dishwasher safe and can be sharpened at home are also beneficial things to look for. 

The knife’s intended use

So, you have decided your current knives just aren’t cutting it and you’d like to purchase a new set of kitchen knives. Make a shortlist of the types of food you typically cook. Are you a big meat eater or do you eat mostly vegetables? Do you often buy loaves of bread or bagels that need slicing? How often do you cook? Will you need to wash the knife frequently? Check out the different types of knives from above after you’ve made your list to start narrowing them down.

The cost of the knife

At Owenhouse ACE Hardware, we have a wide variety of brands and prices for the home cook looking for a new knife. You can find great knives under $50 and full knife sets over $99. Most appreciate a knife they can clean easily in the dishwasher and sharpen at home. Ask our knowledgeable Bozeman knife associates if you’re not sure which ones fulfill these traits.

Who’s using the knife

Seems like a silly question, but who will use the knife is a great thing to consider. Do your kids help you cook? Will they be in the kitchen while you’re preparing meals often? Are you mostly a frozen food/microwave person? Or, are you the kind of person that has never missed an episode of the Great British Baking Show or Food Network Challenge? Your friends call you the best cook they know? Sounds like you should treat yourself to some high-quality knives that will last you a long time! 

Construction and the materials of the knife

Knives are mostly made of two main materials, stainless steel or carbon steel. The benefits of carbon steel are that it is tougher, harder, and sharper than stainless steel. Stainless steel, however, is resistant to corrosion and rust whereas carbon steel is much more fragile. It’s likely to chip if dropped and rusts and stains easily.

Sharpness and weight of the knife

Knives naturally become dull over time, so it is very important to keep them sharp. Getting your knives sharpened once a year at minimum is a good rule of thumb. When a knife gets dull, it’s more likely to cause an injury as the cook will need to exert more pressure while using the knife. The weight of a knife varies from blade to blade depending on where the knife is made. German knives tend to be heavier and Japanese knives significantly lighter.

Our favorite brands of knives

There are many different brands to choose from when you’re shopping Owenhouse ACE Hardware kitchen knives. Three of our favorite brands are Zwilling Henckels, Shun, and Wusthof. 

Zwilling Knives: 

The Zwilling logo was first registered in 1731 making it one of the oldest trademarks in the world! There are multiple lines of Zwilling knives. You can find the Primo, Definition, and Stainless Steel lines at Owenhouse ACE Hardware.

Here are few of the different types of Zwilling knives that Owenhouse ACE Hardware carries:

  • Santoku Knife
  • Paring Knife
  • Utility Knife
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Carving Knife
  • Bread Knife

Shun Knives

Shun brand knives are part of the Japanese Kai Group from Seki, Japan. In 2008, Kai celebrated its 100th anniversary! Kai’s quality and perfection are based on the Japanese Samuari’s tradition and culture. Shun knives are currently made in Seki and distributed to over 30 countries. Similar to Zwilling knives, there are many different collections of Shun Knives to choose from. 

Here are few of the different types of Shun knives that Owenhouse ACE Hardware carries:

  • Paring Knife
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Boning Knife
  • Slicer Knife
  • Bread Knife

Wusthof Knives

Finally, Wusthof is one of the leading manufacturers of chef’s knives. Based in Solingen, Germany, Wusthof knives have been family owned for 7 generations. They currently have 10 different collections you can choose from, their Classic and Grand Prix series has been recognized as top-rated knife series by Consumer Reports. 

Here are few of the different types of Wusthof knives that Owenhouse ACE Hardware carries:

  • Paring Knife
  • Steak Knives
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Slicer Knife
  • Utility Knife


With so many options and brands out there, it’s a good idea to make a quick list of what you will use your knife for, what type of cook will be using the knife and what qualities are important to you. Take your list to either of our Bozeman Owenhouse ACE Hardware’s and a helpful, knowledgeable associate will help you pick out what’s best! We’ve been doing it since 1897!

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