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I understand that a western style of blade is meant to fix the point and chop behind it while a santoku is intended to slice with.

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I also find the width somewhat useful for carrying cropped ingredients around. But what is the main purpose of the blade vastness? Why not skinny(following image but curved)?

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The wide and long blades of western and santoku can BOTH be used for both slicing and chopping. The main difference between the two of them is the tip.

Slim/skinny blades enable them to slide through the foodstuff with reduced drag and greater mobility for turning within a foodstuff (eg. breaking down a carcass, or filleting a fish).

On the other hand, wide blades provide greater stability and balance required for safe fast and precise processing of foods using chopping and slicing techniques.

Both of these can be evidenced by trying to fillet a fish or breaking down a cow, and by chopping food. If one tries to fillet a fish with a chef knife then they should notice considerably more drag preventing fast and efficient processing, conversely if one tries to quickly slice a large food item with a filleting knife then they will find the food catching as the knife is repeatedly raised in quick succession with each slice, and lack of consistency with the precision of slice thickness.

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  • So why is the wide blade (irrespective of type) style the “de facto standard”? Your posts have a lot of good information, but I’d like to encourage you to read the questions carefully, focus on first and foremost answering the question, adding additional details only when the core question is answered. Sorry for nudging you, but I think your contributions could be really valuable if you follow the guidelines in How to Answer a bit more consistently.
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 11:26
  • Let me see if I understand correctly. "A significant advantage of wide knifes is that by keeping the fingers of the not-knife-holding hand in contact with the side of the blade significantly increases safety; this is not possible with a skinny blade."
    – Vorac
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 3:14
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    @Vorac, the safety aspect you mention is an advantage of the technique when fast slicing. If you watch videos of asians handling chopping knives (which are also designed with wide blades) you will note that they can work quite fast and do not use the same holding technique as used in European cookery.
    – Mr Shane
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 8:03
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There are a few advantages:

  1. A wider knife makes it easier to have more curve at the tip, which is important for a style of chopping in which you rock the blade back and forth quickly
  2. The weight of the material helps to cut through things when you blade is sufficiently sharp— you lift the blade, then guide it down, rather than trying to forcibly push it down (which is more dangerous if it slips)
  3. It moves where the center of balance is
  4. It allows for a knife to have a longer life, as you’re removing a little bit of it very time it’s sharpened

Obviously, you can have a more saber-like design, and still have the curve, but without the weight of the blade, it’s more difficult to chop. And you can add more weight at the bolster to keep it from getting too tip-heavy.

But if you have a store that sells knives near you, ask to try out a ‘carving knife’. It’s shaped similarly to a chef’s knife, but lacks the height. If you’re mostly slicing and not chopping, you may prefer it.

(Note that some people sometimes call slicers carving knives, but those have a perfectly straight blade, and are typically rounded at the tip)

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  • regarding some points.. 2. this is a contributing benefit only with heavier knives, such as forged thick vs stamped thin. 4. this is not why wider knives are designed wide, it is simply a side benefit, otherwise all blades would be made wide.
    – Mr Shane
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 15:00
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    Another thing is that the width of the blade is what makes it possible to guide the knife with your knuckles when chopping. It's the main reason I dislike using small knives.
    – PLPeeters
    Commented Dec 23, 2021 at 21:15

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