Anyone who cares about cooking and food preparation owns at least one full-tang knife.
Ask that friend of yours who took up culinary arts in college. Also, try asking your aunt or uncle who brings the best-tasting meal during a family holiday gathering. Do you perhaps know a professional chef or a staff cook? Ask them if they use or at least own full-tang kitchen knives.
They'll tell you they do.
But what do full tangs have that makes them a reliable kitchen cutting tool? More importantly, why should you care? And if you haven't checked your kitchen whether you have one, what brand should you buy?
Here are the things you should know about the glorious full tang.
Full Tang Things: The Stuff You Should Know
A knife has a full tang when the steel extends down the bottom of the handle. Full-tang knives are often cut from a thick metal sheet and then shaped accordingly by patterning the point profile, blade spine, bolster, and handle to the metal sheet to create the blade and handle material.
What's up with the full tang anyway?
You might be wondering what the full tang rave is all about.
Knife enthusiasts are partial to it for a lot of reasons.
- Strain-resistance — Because the full tang extends down to the handle, it has more resistance against strain. For example, you can't bend the knife by placing the pointed edge on a wooden chopping block and applying force; it won't break or bend that easily.
- Balance — A substantial piece of metal is also in between the knife's handle scales. This additional weight placed on your palms evens out the weight of the longer upper half of the knife (the blade), giving the knife a balanced feel.
- Requires less applied force — The slightly heavy handle offers additional support on the downward or rocking motion of the knife. As a result, your hands won't have to apply as much force when you slice, chop, or cut.
- Longevity of use — Having handles falling off the blade is always possible over time, especially with partial-tang knives. When this happens, you can either stick the handle scale to the partial metal tang that holds it or throw your knife away. That wouldn't be an issue with full-tang knives. You would still get a sturdy handle even if the scales decay or break.
How do you identify a full tang?
Whether you're shopping at a physical store or online, you can check certain telltale features to identify a full tang. Here are the things to check.
- Check the spine of the knife. It should run from tip to base of the knife's handle and then back. Three-rivet handles are usually a sign of a full-tang knife.
- If you're going for partial or hidden tang, check the online descriptions and reviews of a particular knife whether they have any mention of the tang profile.
- A neat trick you can use when shopping is to hold the knife's neck up to a light source and have the light shine on the handle scale (this only applies to light-colored handles). A partial tang would look like there's a piece of something stuck on the upper part of the handle.
- Compare the weights of knives. Usually, the ones that are heavy on the handle are full-tang knives.
In Focus: Wusthof Classic Kitchen Knives Series’ 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
We're focusing on the Wusthof Classic, the epitome of the best full-tang chef’s knife. It is made with high-quality materials that undergo a 40-step process.
Hundreds of knife craftsmen are passionate about keeping the Wusthof brand's top-notch quality, making it their responsibility to uphold the Wusthof reputation and the prestige of Solingen-made knives.
Let's dive right into the parts of this 8-inch chef’s knife.
- Visible tang — The visible full tang in between the handle scale is a mark of integrity. Wusthof wants you to see what you get. The knife is also thick and thus durable.
- Triple rivet — The rivets on the top, middle, and bottom side of the tang give a stable hold on the handle scales, a fitting choice given that the scales don't connect—they're placed on either side of the strong tang.
- Thick bolster — The thickness of the bolster evens out any weight imbalances on the Wusthof knife. It also serves as an additional strength feature, especially for smashing garlic before mincing it, chopping up large-boned meat, or tenderizing hard flesh. In addition, the thick bolster prevents the knife from breaking into two.
- Full flat grind — Food items in the kitchen tend to be small in size and relatively softer. Wusthof, thus, made the correct choice of profiling their chef's knife to a full flat grind. This grind makes cutting and slicing food items such as tomatoes or raw meat seamless and smooth, ensuring the blade leaves the remnants where it should be after slicing or cutting.
- Drop point — This full-tang chef’s knife's drop-point profile will help budding cooks or professionals poke through complicated kitchen knife tasks such as removing bones, deseeding fruits, and cleaning meat. Thus, it is a great choice for a cutting tool meant for food preparation and cooking.
- German steel blade — The reputable German steel comes from a material with a technical name of X50CrMoV15, with a carbon composition of 50 percent with chromium and molybdenum composition (aka chromoly) of 15 and 8 percent, respectively. Chromoly makes the steel durable with a favorable tensile strength.
- Polyoxymethylene (POM) — The material for Wusthof's handle scale is made of tough polymer plastic known to resist abrasion, with a glossy surface making the handle aesthetic pop out. The POM also has a high-strength quality. As a result, the scales will not crack or break when dropped or smashed.
- Solingen-made — The City of Blades, Solingen, has consistently brought high-quality forged blades to the world. Wusthof is one of the many competitive Solingen brands, painstakingly ensuring every Wusthof blade is crafted with the weight of the Solingen reputation.
- Chipping-resistant — The choice of 58 Rockwell hardness scale is an optimum hardness level that balances edge retention without it being too brittle to be prone to edge chipping.
- Retains edge longer — The flat grind profile, the Rockwell hardness, and the blade material all work together to provide a fine edge that can retain its sharpness for a long time without having to run it through a sharpener. On the other hand, you should only run the sharp edge on food items.
- Balanced weight — The thick bolster and the full tang balance out the knife's weight. The handle has equal weight distribution from the tip to the bottom, making it easy to execute straight slices. It also has enough heaviness to assist in a downward motion for chopping activities.
- All-arounder — The Wusthof chef's knife is suitable for chopping, mincing, and cutting. You can also use it on many food ingredients such as cabbage, fruits, herbs, meat, and vegetables.
Highs and lows
- The brand is reputable and known to produce high-quality knives.
- Durable and suitable for lifetime use
- You can use it for a wide range of kitchen knife functions.
- It's quite expensive for a knife.
- High-carbon steel is susceptible to rusting.
Verdict: Wusthof Is the Full Tang for the Long Haul
Kitchen households must have at least one full-tang cook's knife, and your kitchen shouldn't be an exception. Consider full-tang cook knives a type of insurance, the type of knife that would remain sturdy and reliable after all other cutting tools have worn out.
A true full tang you can use for the long haul—we can say that about Wusthof's classic 8-inch cooking knife. Granted that it is a pricey product, it's a one-and-done purchase of a premium-quality, full-tang cutting tool that could withstand long years of heavy use.