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One of the first knives I was ever given was a Wusthof 7-inch Santoku. Over my years of use, I've never put much thought into the cut-outs along the side of the blade (which appear to be variously referred to as "hollows", "scallops", or a "Granton edge") which many santoku-style knives seem to feature. Just to be clear, I'm talking about the oval indentations, evenly spaced down the side of the knife face, as prominently shown on this similar model:

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I idly noticed these the other day and started a bit of research into their function, but what I found wasn't exactly definitive. Some sources make them sound like quite an advantage:

...it's the enhanced slicing ability - without shredding, ease of cutting and better food release that makes this particular knife design so popular with professional chefs and home cooks alike.

I question this, as I never noticed any of the professional chefs I've worked with in the past using a scalloped-sided blade, and I personally have never noticed a significant performance difference between my santoku and other knives of similar thickness. Likewise, there seems to be some debate about whether this feature is actually effective for its stated purpose. Many users seem to think that there's no real difference.

So, my main question: has anyone conducted a comparison of scalloped vs. non-scalloped knife designs? Was there any significant difference?

In addition, some follow-on questions that an ideal answer could address:

  • What's the principle that these cut-outs supposedly work on? In other words, if they work: why?
  • Does the prominence of the cut-outs matter? They're fairly subtle and shallow on my Wusthof, but are they more effective if deeper/more prominent, like on this knife?
  • Is there a particular method that makes the best use of these cut-outs? For example, do they have more effect when using a slicing motion across the food, as opposed to a chopping motion straight down to the board?

EDIT: Let me clarify, I'm not asking about general knife preferences here. There are tons of other answers on this site related to what to look for in a knife, and I'm experienced enough to know what I like, and what works well. But, if I were faced with a choice between two knives, identical in every way except that only one had scallops, could I anticipate any noticeable difference in their performance?

merged by rumtscho Dec 30 '15 at 20:39

This question was merged with Are fluted knives a gimmick? because it is an exact duplicate of that question.

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