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What to look for at a kitchen knife choil

Spine taper and profile taper (Double bevel)

The Choil of a kitchen knife can tell you a lot, but at the same time, it does not mean a lot without considering everything else. The Choil can tell you about the knife’s grind and how thick the knife is behind the edge. It tells you how the knife will perform, and it tells you if the geometry is good or if it can use some work. Looking at the knife choil gives you a lot of information that you can investigate further.

Yu Kurosaki, Shibata Takayuki, Makoto Kurosaki knife choil
Yu Kurosaki, Shibata Takayuki, Makoto Kurosaki knife choil

How to look at the kitchen knife, Choil?

The first thing we look at is the knife-edge and how it transitions into the bevel.

How does the cutting edge transition into the bevel? (Kotai Kitchen)
How does the cutting edge transition into the bevel? (Kotai Kitchen)

After that, we look at how thick or thin the knife is behind the cutting edge.

How thick is the choil after the cutting edge (Kotai Kitchen)
How thick is the choil after the cutting edge (Kotai Kitchen)

It is sometimes hard to see what kind of grind the knife has by just looking at the Choil. Therefore we rotate the knife and look at the Choil from a side point of view to see the grind.

Side point of view from a knife choil perspective (Makoto Kurosaki)
Side point of view from a knife choil perspective (Makoto Kurosaki)

Different Choils

Now that you understand how we look at the Choil let’s explain it with some examples. In this example, you see that the left Choil is thinner and the right one is thicker. However, as I said before, it is sometimes hard to see what grind they use. If you look at the left knife, you see that this is a flat grind. The right knife is a Hollow grind. There is no abrupt visible cutting edge at the Choil on both knives, so we can say that both Choils are good.

Takayuki Shibata (left), Yu Kurosaki (right) Choil

Makoto Kurosaki vs Kotai Kitchen Choil

You can see that the Choil on the left has no abrupt visible cutting edge in this example. But on the right, you can see an abrupt finish. The right Choil is also thick behind the sharpened edge. It requires more investigation before we can judge if the knife will perform as we expected or not.

Makoto Kurosaki (left) vs Kotai Kitchen Choil (right)
Makoto Kurosaki (left) vs Kotai Kitchen Choil (right)

An abrupt finish and a thick grind behind the sharpened edge usually indicate a knife that can wedge or tear some food while cutting. 

The left will have no wedging right blade has an abrupt cutting edge that can wedge and tear certain types of food
The left will have no wedging right blade has an abrupt cutting edge that can wedge and tear certain types of food

Further investigation

It requires more investigation before we can confirm our finding by looking at the Choil. You can do that by cutting food and also looking at the other aspects of a knife.

Go through dense food like a carrot to confirm your evaluation of the choil
Go through dense food like a carrot to confirm your evaluation of the choil
If it splits or you hear a tear/cracking, or if the carrot is not smooth there is a wedging and tearing effect.

The knife style, spine taper, and profile taper play a significant role in determining if the knife needs some thinning behind the edge. 

Knife style Gyuto (left) Chinese Vegetable Cleaver (right)
Knife style Gyuto (left) Chinese Vegetable Cleaver (right)
Nice spine taper
Profile Taper (Primary grind)

Does it need some thinning?

By looking at the knife profile, we can determine that it has a Gyuto profile. And therefore, I expect a distal spine taper.

Gyuto Profile but sold as a Kiritsuke Chef's knife
Gyuto Profile but sold as a Kiritsuke Chef’s knife

However, the spine taper is not present, which is not a big deal as they can still have a nice profile taper.

No distal spine staper
No distal spine staper

In this case, the profile taper is consistent throughout the blade length.

consistent profile across the blade before the slanted spine
consistent profile across the blade before the slanted spine

So the wedging effect is pretty much across the entire knife just before the slanted front. If we take the Makoto knife, we can see a spine taper, including a very lovely profile taper. It is getting thinner and thinner.

Lovely distal spine taper
Gradual thinning of the profile

So, in this case, we can say that the Kotai Kitchen knife can use some thinning.   

Conclusion: Kotai Knife can use some gradual thinning
Conclusion: Kotai Knife can use some gradual thinning

Knife style has a significant role in evaluating the Choil.

The knife style is a significant factor that we need to consider before we can judge a knife choil. In this example, you can see a knife that has an abrupt finish, and it is very thick behind the edge.

Bone Cleaver Choil
Bone Cleaver Choil

But I still consider this a good Choil because it is a Bone cleaver. Compared to this dual-purpose Cleaver, you can see an inconsistent Choil, which is not good.

Dual Purpose Cleaver with inconsistent geometry.

And if we look at this Chinese Vegetable Cleaver, you can see a nice choil with a lovely profile taper. 

Vegetable Cleaver Choil
Front view Profile Taper, despite having no spine taper the front is thinner than the heel.

Knives used in this video/article:

🛒 S H O P

Shi Ba Zi Zuo F208-2
Official Shi Ba Zi Zuo Amazon store
Amazon Version F208-1 (9 inches)
8inch version F208-2 (my Recommendation)

🛒S H O P:

Dengjia Vegetable Cleaver TM-9080
Dengjia Official AliExpress Store

🛒S H O P:
Dengjia BZ4401 Bone Cleaver: (185mm*)
Manufacturer Dengjia Official Store

🛒S H O P:
NA & EU: AliExpress Official Dengjia Store:
Dengjia JCD-904 (185mm)

NA: Dengjia Amazon Store
NA & EU: Manufacturer Dengjia Official Store on AliExpress

🛒S H O P:
Leshan (Tiejiangshijia) Dual-purpose Cleaver

🛒S H O P:

NA: Kotai Kitchen
EU: Kotai Kitchen

🛒S H O P:
Retailers: Shibata’s official retailer’s list
Makoto Kurosaki
Yu Kurosaki

N O T E S:
All knives shown are for reference only.

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ChefPanko

Hi, I'm ChefPanko, I have worked for multiple restaurants and have decided to share my experience with you guys. I will share recipes and techniques that I have learned, taken, and improved from the French, Japanese restaurants that I have worked for. I will also explore other cuisines with you guys.

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