Knife Bevel Explained: Single vs Double & Sharpening Tips
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Have you ever taken a close look at your kitchen knives? If you have, you MAY have noticed a slight angle or incline on either one or both sides of the blade. That’s what we call a knife bevel!
A knife bevel refers to the sloped or angled surface on a knife blade. This bevel is the part of the blade that meets with the cutting edge, which sharpens the knife and makes it more effective. Knives are either sharpened on a single side (single bevel) or both sides (double bevel).
Let’s talk about what exactly that means, the different types, and how bevels are achieved.
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In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What is a knife bevel?
- 2 Types of knife bevels
- 3 Japanese single or double bevel knives
- 4 What’s the difference between a single and double bevel knife?
- 5 Knife bevel vs angle
- 6 Is bevel and edge the same thing?
- 7 How is the bevel created?
- 8 FAQs
- 9 Conclusion
What is a knife bevel?
A knife bevel refers to the sloped or angled surface on a knife blade.
This bevel is the part of the blade that meets with the cutting edge, which sharpens the knife and makes it more effective.
The angle of the bevel can vary widely depending on the type of knife, with larger angles used for a stronger, thicker cutting edge and smaller angles for a sharper, thinner edge.
Basically, a knife bevel is the surface that’s been ground to form the knife’s edge.
It can be ground to a variety of different angles, and the smaller the angle, the sharper the knife.
The angle of the bevel can also influence how well the blade retains its edge, as certain angles can help to keep a sharpness over time.
Knife bevel is the angle of a knife blade from the edge to the spine.
Bevel angles vary depending on the type of knife and its intended use but are typically 14-22 degrees for kitchen knives.
There are single bevel and double bevel knives.
A single bevel is sharpened on one side of the blade only, while a double bevel has an edge that is sharpened on both sides of the blade.
Not all blades are created equal, so it’s important to understand which type of knife works best for each task.
Generally, larger blades have wider bevels, while smaller blades can have more acute ones.
The bevel helps cut food and other materials, as it creates a sharp, clean edge.
It is important to maintain the correct bevel angle for safety and efficiency when cutting with a knife.
Sharpening or honing tools can help keep your knives at the optimal bevel angle for the best results.
Types of knife bevels
Single bevel and double bevel knives are two different types of knives, and they both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Single bevel knives are designed with one sharpened side, while double bevel knives have two sharpened sides.
Single bevel knives are great for precision cuts, but they can be tricky to use since they require more skill.
On the other hand, double bevel knives are much easier to use since they have two sharpened sides, so they’re perfect for beginners.
However, double bevel knives don’t offer the same precision as single bevel knives.
This section goes over both and explains the differences.
A single bevel knife, also known as a chisel-ground knife, is sharpened on one side of the blade only.
This type of blade is common for Japanese kitchen knives and is used for precision cuts.
These two knives are razor-sharp and extremely precise.
I’ve reviewed my top favorite gyuto chef’s knives here if you’d like to add one to your collection
Where did the single bevel knife come from?
It’s a bit of a mystery, but most believe it originated in Japan.
It’s been used by some of the world’s most renowned chefs and culinary experts for centuries.
A single bevel knife is a type of knife with one sharp angle on the edge.
Instead of two grinds like most knives, it has one continuous incline/angle.
It’s also known as a chisel grind because it has the same geometry as a wood chisel.
Single bevel knives can be either left-handed or right-handed, with the bevel angle usually between 8 to 15 degrees.
So if you’re a right-handed chef, you’ll use a right-hand bevel knife, and if you’re left-handed, you’ll use the opposite.
Generally, right-handed users will find it easier to use a single bevel knife unless it’s specifically designed for lefties (like this special selection of left-handed Japanese knives).
As mentioned, single bevel knives typically have an angle of 8-15 degrees (compared to 14-22 of double-bevel) and can be more delicate to handle than a double bevel knife.
They are often used for slicing sushi and vegetables, as well as intricate tasks like carving and filleting.
Single bevel knives require more skill and technique than double bevel knives, so it is important to understand the angle of the bevel to ensure it is accurate for the type of food you are cutting.
Single bevel knives can also require special sharpening stones and honing tools to maintain the optimal angle of the bevel.
The Japanese have been using single bevel knives for centuries, believing they can create a perfect edge in one stroke.
These knives have three main parts:
- The shinogi – the flat surface of the knife that runs along the blade
- The urasuki – the concave surface located on the back of the blade
- The uraoshi – the thin rim surrounding the urasuki
A double bevel knife is a type of knife that has a sharp edge on both sides of the blade, forming a V-shaped bevel on each side.
This is in contrast to a single bevel knife, which has a flat side on one side of the blade and a bevel on the other.
Double bevel knives are commonly used in Western-style cooking and are often referred to as “chef’s knives” or “cook’s knives.”
They are versatile knives that can be used for a variety of tasks, such as chopping, slicing, and dicing.
So, this type of double-edged blade is more common for western-style kitchen knives and is used for general-purpose cutting.
The double bevel design allows the knife to cut smoothly through food with less resistance, making it easier to use and less tiring for the user.
It also allows for more precise control when cutting, as the user can choose which side of the blade to use based on the angle of the cut.
Double bevel knives come in a range of sizes, from small paring knives to large chef’s knives, and are typically made from high-quality steel that is both strong and durable.
Double bevel knives typically have an angle of 14-22 degrees on each side and can be easier to handle than a single bevel knife.
They are often used for chopping and slicing meats, fruits, and vegetables.
Additionally, double bevel knives are easier to sharpen but can still require honing tools and techniques to ensure the angle of the bevel is accurate.
Both right and left-handed users can use a double-bevel knife easily.
Japanese single or double bevel knives
If you spot a bevel on both sides of the knife, then it’s a double bevel knife.
If you only see one side with a bevel, then it’s a single bevel knife. Easy peasy!
There are both single bevel and double bevel Japanese knives, and they have different purposes in the kitchen.
A knife with a double bevel, often known as a double-edged blade, has a bevel on both sides.
Particularly in Western-style knives like French and German ones, these knives are the most prevalent.
The gyuto knife, sujihiki knife, and honesuki knife are only a few examples of the numerous double-edged knives that the Japanese have.
The traditional Japanese knives are usually single bevel, but there are many modern double bevel versions these days to cater to Western consumers too.
When discussing double-edged knives, it is often assumed that the angle of the blade on each side is equal to one another (i.e., if one side is ground to 11 degrees, the other side is likewise ground to 11 degrees, making a total angle of 22 degrees).
Japanese knives are typically sharpened to about 8 degrees on both sides and have a somewhat narrower angle than other standard western blades.
Single-edged blade is the term used to describe knives that are only sharpened on one side.
In reality, though, we’ve discovered that traditional Asian blades with bevels on both sides are far more common than single-bevel knives among those offered in the United States.
However, in Japan, the single bevel blade is more popular and preferred for its superior sharpness and precision!
Most chefs must master new knife skills and procedures in order to use a single-bevel blade.
If you are left-handed, it can also include buying a blade specifically for you so you can wield the knife properly.
A single-edged blade can create smaller slices, especially with vegetables, provided you know how to use it properly, which is fantastic for sushi chefs.
What’s the difference between a single and double bevel knife?
Here’s the breakdown of the single bevel blade:
- If you’re looking for a knife that’s a one-trick pony, a single bevel knife is for you! It’s like a unicycle – it only has one wheel, but it still gets the job done.
- The angle of a single bevel knife is formed on one side only, so it’s like a chisel edge. It’s a popular choice for Japanese knives, like the Santoku Genten.
Here’s the breakdown of the double bevel blade:
- Double bevel knives are like two-wheelers – they have two angles, so they can do more than one thing.
- Most European knives are double-beveled, which means both sides of the blade have an angle. You can get a variety of edge styles, like a V-shape, compound (double-layered V edge), and convex shapes.
- Double bevel knives are like Swiss Army knives – they can do it all!
Knife bevel vs angle
Knife bevel and angle are two important aspects of a knife that can make a big difference in the performance of the blade.
The bevel is the part of the blade that is ground down to create the cutting edge. The angle of the bevel determines how sharp the blade will be.
When it comes to knives, the bevel, and angle can make all the difference. A knife with a shallow bevel angle will have a sharper edge, but it won’t be as durable.
On the other hand, a knife with a steeper bevel angle will have a more durable edge, but it won’t be as sharp.
So if you want a sharp knife that will last, you’ll want to find a balance between the two.
In a nutshell, the bevel and angle of a knife are like a balancing act.
You want a sharp edge that won’t dull too quickly, and that’s where the bevel and angle come in.
A shallow bevel angle will give you a sharper edge, but it won’t last as long.
A steeper angle will give you a longer-lasting edge, but it won’t be as sharp. It’s up to you to decide which one is right for you.
Is bevel and edge the same thing?
No, bevel and edge are not the same thing.
The terms “bevel” and “edge” are related, but they do not mean the same thing.
The edge of a knife refers to the sharp cutting surface that runs along the length of the blade. It is the part of the blade that actually makes contact with the material being cut.
The bevel, on the other hand, is the angled surface that forms the edge. It is the part of the blade that has been ground or sharpened to create the cutting edge.
The bevel can be flat or have a complex shape, and it can be ground on one or both sides of the blade.
In other words, the bevel is the sloping surface that leads to the edge, while the edge is the part of the blade that actually does the cutting.
The bevel is an important aspect of a knife’s performance and can affect its sharpness, durability, and ease of use.
An edge is the sharpest part of a knife that slices into ingredients. It’s located on the bottom of the knife, from the heel to the tip.
A bevel is the angle leading to the edge. It’s the part of the knife that’s ground to form the edge. So, while they’re related, they’re not the same.
Put simply, an edge is the sharp bit of the knife, and a bevel is the angle that leads to the edge. It’s like a ramp that takes you to the edge.
So, if you want to get the most out of your knife, you need to pay attention to both the edge and the bevel.
How is the bevel created?
Creating a knife bevel involves grinding the blade’s edge to create the desired angle and shape.
The bevel is typically created using a grinding wheel, which is a rotating abrasive disc or belt that removes metal from the blade.
The knife smith will start by shaping the blade’s profile and then move on to grinding the bevels.
The angle of the bevel will depend on the intended use of the knife and the preferences of the knife smith or customer.
Let’s take a 70/30 bevel as an example:
To create the 70/30 bevel, the knife smith will typically start by grinding the 70% angle on one side of the blade.
This is done by holding the blade against the grinding wheel at the desired angle and carefully moving it back and forth until the bevel is even and symmetrical.
Once the 70% bevel is complete, the knife smith will switch to the opposite side of the blade and grind the 30% bevel.
This is usually done at a steeper angle to create a more acute edge.
After the bevels are created, the knifesmith will typically move on to honing and polishing the blade to create a sharp, smooth cutting edge.
This can involve using a series of finer abrasive materials, such as whetstones, to refine the edge and remove any burrs or rough spots.
Overall, creating a knife bevel requires a combination of skill, experience, and precision, and it can take many hours of work to create a high-quality blade with a well-crafted bevel.
Besides an sharp angle, every knife also has a particular finish for durability and esthetics
What is a 70/30 knife bevel?
A 70/30 knife bevel is an asymmetric sharpening technique that gives your blade an edge like no other.
The 70/30 knife bevel refers to a specific type of blade edge that has two different angles on each side of the blade.
The term “70/30” refers to the ratio of the angles on each side, with one side having a 70% angle and the other side having a 30% angle.
The 70% angle is typically found on the side of the blade that is used for cutting, while the 30% angle is on the opposite side of the blade.
This design creates a sharper cutting edge on one side of the blade, which can help to make slicing and chopping easier and more efficient.
This type of bevel is commonly found on Japanese-style knives, such as santoku or nakiri knives.
It is also sometimes used on Western-style chef knives, although a 50/50 bevel (where both sides have the same angle) is more common for those types of knives.
What is a 50/50 bevel on a knife?
A 50/50 bevel on a knife is when the sharpened edge is an even 50/50 “V” shape.
This means that the angle on each side of the blade is equal, so it’s symmetrical.
It’s a popular choice for those looking for a sharp edge that’s easy to maintain. Plus, it looks pretty cool!
You can get 50/50 bevels at different angles, like 12 degrees or 20 degrees, depending on what you’re looking for.
So if you’re looking for a sharp edge that’s easy to maintain and looks great, a 50/50 bevel is the way to go!
How to bevel a knife?
Beveling a knife is a great way to give it a professional, sharp edge. It’s a simple process that anyone can do with the right tools and a bit of patience.
To get started, you’ll need a grinding wheel or whetstone and a bevel sharpening jig (I’ve reviewed some quality sharpening jigs here).
Start by clamping the knife in the jig, then adjust the angle of the wheel to match the angle of the bevel you want to create.
Once the angle is set, slowly move the blade against the wheel or stone until you’ve achieved the desired shape.
Finally, use a honing stone to sharpen the edge, and you’re done!
Beveling a knife isn’t hard, but it does take some practice to get it just right.
So don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it perfect the first time. With a bit of practice, you’ll be a pro in no time!
What is the best bevel angle for a knife?
The best bevel angle for a knife will depend on several factors, including the type of knife, the intended use of the knife, and the personal preferences of the user.
However, some general guidelines can help in selecting an appropriate bevel angle.
For most Western-style chef knives, a bevel angle of around 20 degrees is common.
This angle is a good balance between sharpness and durability and can work well for a variety of cutting tasks.
For Japanese-style knives, a lower bevel angle of around 15 degrees or less is often used.
This creates a sharper, more acute edge well-suited to tasks requiring precision and control, such as slicing vegetables or preparing sushi.
For heavier-duty knives, such as cleavers or choppers, a higher bevel angle of 25 degrees or more can be used.
This creates a thicker, more durable edge that can withstand the stresses of chopping and hacking.
Ultimately, the best bevel angle for a knife will depend on the individual user’s needs and preferences.
It can be helpful to try out different knives with different bevel angles to see what feels most comfortable and effective for your specific tasks.
20-degree angle: good middle ground
Finding the perfect bevel angle for your knife can be tricky, but don’t worry – a 20-degree angle is a great place to start.
This angle is sharp enough to get the job done but not so sharp that it’ll be easily damaged.
Plus, it works for most knives, so you don’t have to worry about getting it wrong.
If you’re looking for something a bit sharper, you can always go lower – just keep in mind that the lower the angle, the more delicate the edge will be.
So if you’re looking for something that can stand up to a lot of wear and tear, you may want to stick with the 20-degree angle.
Is single or double bevel knife better?
When it comes to knives, it’s all about personal preference.
Single-bevel knives are sharper and better for thinner, more intricate cuts, but double-bevel knives are more versatile and easier to use.
So if you’re looking for a knife that can do it all, double-bevel is the way to go.
But if you’re looking for something that can make precise, delicate cuts, a single-bevel knife is the perfect choice.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which one is best for your needs.
Looking into making decorative Japanese garnishing carvings (mukimono)? Single bevel is the way to go
Is a common chef’s knife single beveled?
No, a common chef’s knife is not single-beveled.
Most kitchen knives have a double bevel, which means the blade has two angles that meet in the middle.
This creates a V-shaped edge that is sharp and easy to control.
Chef’s knives are traditionally double bevel, meaning that both sides of the blade have a bevel that slopes towards the cutting edge.
There are several reasons why this design is popular for chef’s knives:
- Versatility: A double bevel allows the knife to be used for a variety of cutting tasks. It can be used for chopping, slicing, and mincing with equal ease, making it a versatile tool in the kitchen.
- Balance: A double bevel helps to balance the knife and distribute the weight evenly across the blade. This can make the knife feel more comfortable and well-balanced in hand, reducing fatigue during extended use.
- Ease of use: With a double bevel, the cutting edge is located in the center of the blade, making it easier to use for both right-handed and left-handed users.
- Sharpening: A double bevel can be easier to sharpen than a single bevel, as the bevels can be sharpened symmetrically and evenly on both sides of the blade.
Overall, a double bevel is a popular design choice for chef’s knives because it offers a good balance of versatility, balance, ease of use, and sharpening.
It is a reliable and effective choice for many different types of cutting tasks in the kitchen.
Single bevel knives, on the other hand, have just one angle on the edge, making them much sharper and more precise.
So if you’re looking for a knife that can make precise cuts and slices, a single bevel knife is the way to go.
Now that you know that bevel angles often vary depending on the type of knife and what you’re supposed to USE it for, you can make a better decision if you’re looking for a new one.
It’s also essential to understand the angle of the bevel and maintain it properly with sharpening or honing tools so you can go on cutting with ease.
Sharpening Japanese knives is an art and not something learned overnight
Check out our new cookbook
Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.
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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.