Carving knives and their sharpening angles
In addition to standard kitchen knives, a number of tools necessary for large, industrial-scale production is also used for cutting meat. These include: butcher, kitchen hatchet-chopper, boning knives, and knives for trimming. Besides, the fillet knife certainly applies to carving knives – another article is devoted to this topic.
A large role in cutting meat is performed primarily by a butcher's knife. This is a special type of axe designed for chopping meat, meat bones and separating animal body parts from the carcass. Butchers can have a variety of blade shapes, but most often it is wide and has a long cutting edge. The blades of meat axes have a strongly curved shape - this facilitates the process of splitting bones. To capture a large area, meat axes have an elongated blade. The main purpose of such an axe is primarily the destruction of bones, which in their properties differ significantly from even the densest wood. Bone, unlike wood, has brittle-plastic properties, so initially it is destroyed only in the immediate area of impact. Then, under the influence of the wedging action of the axe, as a result of the complete use of the plastic reserves of the bone, a rupture crack is formed, which spreads over the entire thickness of the bone.
Conventionally, such hatchets can be divided into two types: cleaver and chopper. They differ most often in size, the chopper is a more maneuverable knife and has a smaller size, the cleaver is a functional continuation of the butcher's axe, but with a different geometry and weight.
A cleaver is a small, heavy knife with a wide blade. The cleaver in its design resembles a hybrid of an axe and a knife, and is a transitional tool from a knife to an axe. The average overall length is 25-30 cm, but it can have dimensions of 50 cm or more. The standard length of the blade is within 20 cm. Usually the weight ranges from 1.5 to 3 kg, depending on the size and construction materials. The blade width is about 8-12 cm. The standard sharpening angle of such blade is about 45°. The blade can have either straight or convex edge. The spine on such a knife is usually straight, without expansion as on an axe. In the upper part, the tip often has a hole for hanging the tool on a hook. By design, this is most often a full tang – a single piece of metal on which the handle pads are attached, made of wood or other materials.
The chopper has a thick and wide blade with a length of 15-18 cm. This is a massive knife designed for heavy tasks such as chopping bones or frozen meat. Its weight helps to apply more force needed for chopping meat. Such a knife almost always has a thick reduction and a total sharpening angle of about 45-60 degrees. The chopper is slightly smaller than the cleaver in size, weight, and blade length. It is used in most professional cuisines of the world, but it has gained the greatest use in Chinese cuisine and Southeast Asian cuisine. Cooks there not only cut meat with such a knife, but also use it as a spatula, skimmer and other kitchen tools.
A boning knife is a tool for separating meat from bones, tendons, and connective tissue, and preparing it for cooking. This knife requires a high degree of maneuverability of the blade in the hands of the cook. It has to go around the bones, cut the meat across and along the fiber, and separate the skin, pelt, and fat from the soft tissues.
It has a special shape: a rather narrow and thin blade, no more than 3 mm thick, with bevels from the spine and the blade raised up towards the handle. It must have a guard to protect the hand and a blade no longer than 20 cm. Such a knife usually has an average reduction and sharpening angle of about 25-30 degrees. Boning knives usually have a quite soft steel. The handle of the boning knife should be ergonomic so that the cook's hand does not get tired and has an anti-slip surface so as not to slip out of the hand.
Large companies, where meat is cut on an industrial scale, use many varieties of boning knives. Among them: knives for skinning, knives for skinning the legs and separating the heads, knives for gutting, knives for boning the dorsal part, and others.
The trimming knife is designed to separate veins, tendons, and cartilage from meat. Its geometry is somewhat different from the boning knife with a more straight blade relative to the handle and a larger blade width. It is intended for the final stage of cutting meat carcass or preparing a piece of meat for cooking: cutting off veins and tendons, cutting meat into smaller pieces and dividing it by grades, stripping off the film, cartilage, and small bones left after boning. This knife is usually used in meat processing enterprises, markets, meat outlets, and the restaurant business. The sharpening angle of this knife is usually 30 degrees.