Whether you’re an aspiring chef, a weekend kitchen warrior, or simply someone who is looking to elevate their skills in the kitchen, understanding the difference between a single bevel vs a double bevel knife is important.
When it comes to kitchen blades, the ‘bevel’ is arguably THE most important feature, impacting everything from performance to use cases.
Ask any chef in any kitchen what they consider to be the most important feature of their knives, and you’ll get a unanimous answer: the edge and its level of sharpness.
And with good reason.
Sharp blades with a bevel that’s tailored to specific types of use enable a chef to get tasks done faster (and safer). A properly beveled blade for the task at hand will glide through slices with an effortless motion, reducing hand and wrist fatigue, and resulting in cleaner, more precise cuts.
But what is a bevel?
And, why is the type of bevel so important?
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at this critical feature of your blades, answering these questions and more, while highlighting the key differences between a single bevel knife and a double bevel knife.
The Difference Between a Single Bevel Knife and a Double Bevel Knife: Quick Facts
- Single bevel knives have a sharpened blade angle on only one side of the blade
- Double bevel knives have a sharpened angle on both sides of the blade
- Single bevel knives are common with European and Western-style kitchen knives
- Double bevel knives are common with Japanese and Japanese styled kitchen knives
- Single beveled knives form a chisel-shaped edge
- Double beveled knives form a v-shaped edge
- Knives may also have a double-layered (compound) bevel or convex-shaped bevel
Examples of Knife Types Using a Single or Double Bevel
Single Bevel Knife:
- Deba (chopper/cleaver) – perfect for butcher work and cleaving meats
- Usuba and Kamagata Usuba (Vegetable knives) – ideal for vegetable preparation
- Shobu and Takohiki (slicer) – perfect for sashimi and deli meats
Double Bevel Knife:
- Nakiri (Japanese vegetable knife)
- Santoku (multipurpose utility knife)
- Gyuto (Chef’s knife)
- Sujihiki (slicer)
Understanding Knives Bevels
The bevel is one of the most prominent differences between traditional Japanese or Japanese-inspired knives, and their Western counterparts.
While Western and European blades tend to be sharpened on either side of the edge, creating a V-shaped wedge, Japanese styled blades are usually sharpened on a single side, creating a chisel-like shape.
Each style of blade edge has it’s own unique benefits and may be better suited to one type of kitchen task, food items, or cooking style than the other.
But first, let’s take a closer look at what a bevel actually is…
What is a Bevel?
Every blade has an edge that is sharpened. Knives can either have a single or double-sided edge that is ground down and sharpened at an angle of varying degrees. Usually, the smaller the angle, the sharper the knife.
A bevel refers to the surface area of the blade’s edge that has been ground down and shaped to form either a v-wedge with a sharpened angle that is equal on both sides, or a chiseled blade edge that is sharpened on a single side.
Although difficult to determine without close inspection, if you look down the blade from handle to tip, you should notice a slight incline or angle on one or either sides of the blade’s edge. This is the bevel.
If a bevel is apparent on both sides, this is referred to as a Double Bevel. If only one side is beveled, this is referred to as a Single Bevel.
The bevel of a knife may run the full length of the blade, or begin towards the middle or upper part of the edge.
What is the Difference Between a Bevel and an Edge?
There is often a lot of confusion when discussing a bevel vs an edge of a knife blade. The edge is the part of the blade that extends from the blade heel all the way to the tip. It is the part of the blade that is sharpened and is represented by the very peak of the bevel that comes into contact with food items.
By contrast, the bevel is the ground down angle leading up to the sharp edge on one (single bevel knife) or both (double bevel knife) sides of the blade.
Single Bevel Knife – an overview
A single bevel knife, as mentioned, has an angled edge on only one side of the blade, while the other (flat) side is often concave. This edge may vary in the actual angle and size, but is usually thin and delicate. While sharper, the petite edge may require more frequent sharpening and may be more prone to damage if used on hard surfaces or food items.
What are Single Bevel Knives Used For?
- Creating fine delicate slices
- Making paper-thin strips out of hard vegetables (such as carrots or radishes)
- Sharpness makes them ideal for small, precise cuts
- Perfect for filleting fish or for preparing sushi
- Great for deboning chicken
Most common with Japanese and Japanese styled bladed, a single bevel has several benefits and uses for which it reigns superior. Among the most notable differences between a single bevel knife and a double bevel is the level of sharpness. Single bevel knives are known for their unparalleled sharpness. With only one side needing to be sharpened, it is possible to achieve a thinner, sharper angle.
Unbeatable Precision and Delicate Cuts
It’s superior sharpness makes the single bevel knife the better choice for incredibly precise slicing, cuts or dicing (such as with Japanese sushi). This edge also improves a chef’s ability to create unbroken, seamless wafer-like cuts that may be difficult to achieve with a double beveled blade.
If you’ve ever wondered how chefs are able to achieve such delicate paper-thin cuts or long thin strips without the food item breaking, the single bevel is your answer.
Managing Food Items
With a single bevel knife, a chef can easily divert food away from one side, which can be especially useful when attempting to make a consistent cut. Additionally, the lack of a bevel on the opposing side often reduces the chance of any food sticking to that side of the blade.
Common use cases include those for working with fish or radishes. In other cases, large vegetables may need to be broken apart for use. Although a double bevel may get the job done, a chisel-shaped bevel is the more ideal solution for ‘splitting’ food items in half.
Sharpening Considerations for a Single Bevel Knife
The ideal sharpening angle for a single bevel knife is generally at a 15-17 degree angle. At this angle, you can achieve a superiorly sharp, fine edge ideal for cutting delicate foods and making razor-thin slices.
Because there is only a single bevel to contend with, sharpening not only takes less time, but is arguably easier since you don’t have to worry about establishing an equal bevel on two opposing sides.
Double Bevel Knife – an overview
While the single bevel is more commonplace in professional kitchens and with chefs who deal with complex dishes and delicate cuts, the double bevel knife is a regular among novice chefs and home cooks.
What are Double Bevel Knives Used For?
- Separating meat from bones
- Splicing, dicing, chopping and julienne cuts
- Removal of fat from meat cuts
- General all-purpose cuts
Thick and Durable Edge
Double bevel knives have a few advantages when compared to single bevel blades. First, they have a thicker, sturdier edge, making them ideal for working on hard surfaces and foods that don’t require a high level of precision.
Easier to Master
Double bevel knives are considerably easier to master and are good for novice and professional chefs alike. They are a great all-around knife to have that is similar to most blades many ‘at home’ cooks are already accustomed to.
A Great Generalist
A double bevel knife is a versatile blade, capable of handling a wide range of tasks around the kitchen. In any situation where anything but ultra-thin slices, long unbroken cuts or delicate tasks are needed, the double bevel is usable.
Sharpening Considerations for a Double Bevel Knife
With a double bevel knife, each bevel (side) is sharpened equally. In most cases, you’ll want to aim for between a 20-30 degree angle on each bevel. As a general rule of thumb, bevels reaching around 30 degrees or higher are typically best suited for blades intended for cutting dense meats, thick vegetables, or chopping.
Final Thoughts About Single Vs Double Bevel Knives
Most Japanese and Japanese inspired knives use a single bevel design, offering incredible precision, unparalleled sharpness, and delicate cuts. On the opposite side of the spectrum, European and Western styled blades employ a thicker, sturdier double bevel and is perfect for dealing with tougher cuts and as a great all-purpose blade when precision takes a backseat to efficiency.
Choosing the right blade for the task at hand can be difficult, but we hope this guide helped you better understand when a single bevel knife vs a double bevel knife might be the most appropriate option.
If there is one thing all chefs can agree on, it’s that the right blade can make cooking a joy and produce a better finished product.