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Brian Dougherty

Design for a boning knife

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I could use a bit of advice from people who cook for a living. 

One of my more recent interests has been charcuterie, and I find myself disassembling a pork shoulder on a pretty regular basis.  Getting around the funky little bone in them is a bit of a challenge.  Currently the best knives I have in the kitchen (from a cutting perspective) are a 4" paring knife, and a 10" gyuto.  Neither of these are great at cleaning up around the bone, or removing silver skin.

I'd like to make a boning knife, but having never used one, I don't really know what is best for that sort of application.  I have loads of 0.075" thick 15N20 at my disposal, so I was thinking about using it to make something similar to this 6" Victorinox in profile.  I would expect to put a pretty good deal of distal taper into this and temper it a bit high to make it pretty flexible.

So, my questions is: "Is this the right approach for a knife to break down a pork shoulder?"  There seems to be two camps out there.  Some boning knives are stiff, and others are flexible.  It also seems like people divide tasks up into making delicate cuts on things like fish, or rough work on beef and pork.  The latter makes me think I need to make a stiffer knife, but my experience with the paring knife doesn't agree with that.

This is probably one of those ask 5 people and get 6 answers sort of thing.  Maybe I just need to make both knives :)  Anyway, thanks in advance for your opinions!40015.jpgPicture liberated from Victorinox website

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If you have the right touch a fish fillet knife seems to work well. As long as you can visualize the bone and what you can't see. 

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Brian, I think you might have almost answered your own question.

4 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

The latter makes me think I need to make a stiffer knife, but my experience with the paring knife doesn't agree with that.

So what is it about the paring knife that you like? My guess is the short, thin blade to get into the tight spots, but you know better than I what you like. What is it about the paring knife that you would change or what makes it not do something well?

Kitchen knives are heavily dependent upon personal taste and how the person uses them, holds them, cuts forward and/or backward etc.

I have more than a couple of sharp objects in the knife drawer and I use different ones for different functions. Believe it or not, the knife I use to cut pork loin into chops gets used because it is the right width to create the perfect thickness of chop. Lay it on its side, stand it up and cut. Perfect chop thickness every time. 

If it were up to me, I would leave a bunch of meat on the bone for making soup stock and use what ever knife got the job done with those limits. I sort of rambled off there a bit...….

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9 hours ago, Joshua States said:

So what is it about the paring knife that you like? My guess is the short, thin blade to get into the tight spots, but you know better than I what you like. What is it about the paring knife that you would change or what makes it not do something well?

I've been thinking about exactly that over the evening.  The narrow blade of the paring knife relative to the Gyuto is an advantage, but that shouldn't be news to anybody.

The things I don't like about the paring knife are:

1. It's too short.  This is an easy one to fix :)

2. It tends to catch on the bone when I am carving around the inside curves.  (The pork shoulder blade has a concave surface)  At first I associated this with it being too stiff.  However, the more I think about it, maybe the blade is still a bit too wide.

The paring knife is one of these:  It's probably about 3/4" at the heel.

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I think a long floppy knife would be problematic, but I also think it needs to be more flexible than the paring knife, (Which is very stiff)

I don't fish anymore, but I have an old fillet knife stashed away somewhere.  If I can get an edge on it, I may try it per Vern's suggestion to get another data point.

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