What Are Boning Knives Used for and How to Use Them Properly?

Posted by Tara Hohenberger on

What is a Boning Knife used for?

A boning knife is a knife used to separate meat or muscle from bone and connective tissue. Boning knives have a very specific function in the kitchen, and they do that task extremely well. Boning knives are a staple of professional chefs and serious cooks and we would recommend them to anyone who cooks meat and poultry on a regular bases.

Choosing the Right Knife

To choose the right knife, it’s important to consider the type of meat you will be working with. Boning knives don’t vary a lot in size, but choose a knife that can comfortably work through the cut of meat.

Determine your grip preference. Do you prefer a traditional handle or Japanese wa handle.

Types of Knives


Some western style boning knives have a thin pointed and curved blade that can bend and twist. Flexible boning knife. Some people like them because they tend to be inexpensive and can maneuver around bones.


Japanese boning knives, whether made from stainless or carbon steel have no flexibility and their usefulness comes from their unique blade geometry.

The best boning knife is the one that works best for you. Our top seller, for its great price point and toughness is the Chubo Inox Honesuki.

What Makes Japanese Boning Knives Different?

Japanese boning knives, also known as honesuki knives, are specially designed for breaking down and deboning chicken and other poultry . They differ from traditional Western-style boning knives in several key ways:

Blade Design

  • Honesuki - A triangular blade with a pointed tip, thick spine a very sharp blade edge, can go through soft joints.

  • Garasuki - Similar in shape to a honesuki but a bit larger. Good for larger cuts of meat including pork or beef.

  • Hankotsu — a small straight blade that extends directly from the handle. Designed to be used to debone hanging cuts of meat.

  • Kogatana meaning ‘small sword’ a small utility blade similar to a paring knife that is useful in a number of tasks like cleaning bones, removing tendons, sinew, ligaments and other connective tissue.

  • Slicer/Sujihiki - a knife with a long thin blade, ranging in length from 9-11” that functions like a fillet knife or carving knife. A key component of a knife set, this Japanese slicing knife’s narrow blade is razor sharp and great for filleting fish and other precise cuts.

Blade Material

Japanese knives are made in a variety of different steels. From damascus to stainless steel to high carbon. The best choice of steel depends a lot on the user how hard they are on their knives, the choice of cutting board and their attitude towards maintenance. In general, high quality Japanese knife blades stay sharp longer and return to sharpness easily when sharpened on a whetstone.


Our collections feature two styles of knife handle. Either a traditional western handle or an ergonomic Japanese wa style handle. Which style you choose is really a personal preference, but high quality wood handles can be sanitized easily.

Practical Uses

  • Removing bones from meat and fish
  • Trimming fat and gristle
  • Separating meat from joints
  • Cutting meat into smaller pieces

Caring for Boning Knives

General Maintenance

All knives should be cleaned well with soap and water. Dry your knives immediately and store in a safe and secure location. Never put high quality knives in the dishwasher. Avoid cutting through large bones and frozen ingredients.

Knife Sharpening

Although honing can help to align a blade’s edge, all kitchen knives whether a petty knife, santoku knife, chefs knife or cleaver need to be sharpened on a whetstone to restore the cutting edge. Visit our blog for sharpening resources.

When to Replace

It’s not often that high quality kitchen knives need to be replaced, but the signs to look out for are excessive wear from sharpening. Sharpening removes metal and at some point, the amount of blade remaining can be insufficient. If you notice your blade has become too narrow, or it no longer stays sharp for a long time or stops responds to sharpening it might be time to consider buying a replacement.


With their stiff blade and sharp point, Japanese boning knives are the ideal choice for deboning poultry and meat. If you are serious about cutlery and work with meat often, adding a Japanese boning knife to your knife block or tool kit is a wise choice.

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