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The petty, or utility knife is a smaller general-purpose tool that’s used for a variety of kitchen tasks – and it’s so versatile, it’s one that can quickly become your go-to choice for daily tasks.
Deft, with a thin, agile blade, their compact size makes them wonderfully nimble and easy to maneuver. This agility makes then useful for carving, mincing, peeling, and slicing a variety of fruits, herbs, and vegetables and for delicate tasks such as creating an intricate garnish.
The Best Best Petty and Kitchen Utility Knives
- Bottom Line Up Front: Our Top Three Recommendations
- What to Look For
- Reviews of Our Favorite Petty and Utility Kitchen Knives
- Enso HD Hammered Damascus Petty Knife
- Yoshihiro Aus-10 Steel Petty/Utility Knife with Saya Cover
- Tojiro DP Petty/Utility Knife
- Misono UX10 Petty Knife
- Shun Kanso Utility Knfie
- Norisada Hammered Damascus Petty
- Wusthof Classic Asian Utility Knife
- Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional “S” Utility
- Mercer Culinary Renaissance Utility
- Japanese Vs. European Steel
- The Final Slice
Bottom Line Up Front: Our Top 3 Recommendations
We spent over $1000 gathering up and testing those models which we felt we could recommend to our readers. We wanted to select one each with a western “yo” handle and a traditional “wa” handle as some folks prefer one or the other. And then we wanted one additional “budget” recommendation.
That being said, we could heartily recommend any of the models that we tested. Differences come down to fit and finish choice and the choice of alloys that have been used. Without further ado, here are our top three choices:
Best Petty Knife With a Western Style Handle: Enso HD Hammered Damascus
Made with a beautiful hammered blade for both aesthetics and to promote food release, this Enso HD also features and etched Damascus layers over the top of super sharp full-tang VG10 steel blade. The handle is western in design with some Japanese influence. Rather than being flat, it’s rounded and fitted with black canvas micarta scales for a for a comfortable grip and durability. The polished stainless end cap further adds to the beauty and strength of this finely crafted blade.
Best Petty Knife With a Japanese Wa Style Handle: Yoshihiro AUS-10 Steel
For those that love the octagonal handles of traditional Japanese kitchen knives, this offering from Yoshihiro is a great choice. The blase is crafted from AUS-10 stainless steel meaning that it is strong and retains its edge without being too brittle. And it’s easier to sharpen than many other stainless alloys. The Wa handle is made of rosewood and locks into your hand and provides great indexing so you know exactly where you are cutting.
Best Economical Petty Knife: Tojiro DP
Tojiro has long been a great resource for low cost but high quality Japanese kitchen knives. Their petty/utility knife offering is no exception. Crafted of VG10 stainless steel with no additional cladding or finishes, this this blade offers the same performance as other offerings but without the cost of extra finishing work. The handle is made up a durable and utilitarian black reinforced laminated wood material. A great choice for those that want above average usability without the flair.
What to Look For
In Japanese cutlery, the traditional petty blade has a single-grind cutting edge, but many of today’s manufacturers also produce them with a V-grind, or double bevel edge – which makes them suitable for either left or right-handed use.
Similar in application to a Western utility knife, the blade length ranges from 3.5-8 inches, with a height at the heel of 1-1.5 inches. And the longer the blade is the better it will be for board work, but the extra length does make it less nimble for hand-held work.
With many of the Japanese petties, models still have the traditional round, hexagon, or D-shaped ‘wa’ handles. On others, the handle has been hybridized with a Western style, or ‘yo’ handle – ergonomically contoured for comfort, often with a bolster, and riveted to a full tang for extra strength and stability.
Ideal for boning small cuts of meat or poultry, garnishes, mincing herbs or mirepoix, peeling fruit, trimming veggies, or slicing salad ingredients, they can also be used to intricately carve or stylize foods for elegant presentations or garnishes, and for bigger tasks such as meal preparation.
In-Depth Reviews of Our Favorite Petty and Utility Knives
1. Enso HD Hammered Damascus Petty
The Enso HD hammered Damascus petty knife is a beautiful tool of superb balance and agility that features excellent cutting performance and a traditional wa-shaped handle.
A forged cutting core of VG10 steel, a high-carbon stainless alloy, brings favorable traits such as outstanding sharpness and extended edge retention. And 36 layers of Damascus cladding overlay and support the core, adding qualities such as corrosion, rust, and stain resistance plus a distinctive, flowing pattern above the cutting edge.
Blades are then hand-hammered and polished for a tsuchime finish that adds rustic aesthetics while improving food-release properties by reducing drag and friction.
The blade is double-beveled in a tight 12 degrees for an exquisitely fine cutting edge that’s suitable for both right or left-handed use.
A handle of black, canvas micarta has a traditional wa shape and gives the look and feel of wood, but without any shrinkage or cracking. Made of pressed canvas and resin, micarta is well known for its easy care and long-lasting durability.
And with a Western touch, it’s attached to the full tang with three stainless steel rivets and finished with a seamless bolster and end cap for lively balance, strength, and stability.
The Enso has the following dimensions:
- Blade length is 4.75 inches
- Overall length is 9.25 inches
- It measures 1 inch at the heel
- And it weighs just 2.6 ounces
Handcrafted in Seki City, Japan (a city famous for knife makers – large and small), the Enso comes with a lifetime warranty to be free of defects in materials or workmanship. Also available in a 6-inch size.
This petty knife has rustic charm, it’s light and deft to use, and it has a superior cutting edge you’ll love for nuanced hand or board work.
Constructed of high-quality components, the first-rate steel and comfortable handle are matched by the skillful fit and finish that makes this tool suitable for the home or commercial kitchen. A sweet blend of the best of Eastern and Western features.
2. Yoshihiro Petty Utility with Saya Cover
For something with traditional appeal, the Yoshihiro 6-inch petty utility knife features a lovely handcrafted wa handle of natural shitan wood, a blade of high-carbon stainless steel, and a protective saya cover.
Made from AUS10 stainless steel, this middle-range alloy is a popular choice for its many beneficial qualities – it’s easily sharpened, durable, rust and stain resistant, has good edge retention, and it’s usually more modestly priced than some of the exotic alloys.
The cutting edge is V-ground in a tight 11 degrees per side for precision cutting, and without a bolster, the entire cutting edge is accessible for sharpening.
Complementing the blade is an octagonal wa handle of rich shitan (zhitan) rosewood, finished with an end cap and handle bolster of ebony for extra toughness and durable longevity. Comfortable and well-balanced, the shape makes is suitable for left or right-handed users.
And a protective wooden saya is also included. Made of magnolia wood, the sheath provides complete protection for the blade and adds an attractive presentation detail.
The Yoshiro specs are:
- Blade length is 6 inches
- Overall length measures 11 inches
- Heel height is approximately 1.25 inches
- Weight is 3.2 ounces
Exceptionally thin and light, the small, nimble Yoshiro boasts excellent sharpness and edge retention making it suitable for small jobs requiring dexterity, or larger peeling and slicing tasks.
Perfect for cooks who enjoy using a thin, razor-sharp blade or those who enjoy the traditional Eastern aesthetics and construction.
3. Tojiro DP Petty/Utility
Tojiro is well-known for quality blades made of top-notch steel at affordable prices. And the DP 6-inch petty knife continues the tradition with its superb sharp edge, agile performance, and comfortable Western handle.
Crafted from VG10 stainless steel, the forged core is masterfully processed for extreme sharpness, long-lasting edge retention, and easy maintenance – and, it’s durable enough to handle the serious workloads found in professional kitchens.
The hard core is overlaid with 13 layers of a softer chrome/steel alloy that makes sharpening easier, adds corrosion, rust, and stain resistance, and stabilizes blade integrity. And the cutting edge is ground in a double bevel for right or left-handed use.
An ergonomic handle is engineered for a comfortable grip and is constructed of reinforced laminated material, or eco-wood. Made from recycled wood that’s pressed with resin, eco-wood has less cracking, shrinkage, and warping than standard wood and outstanding durability – plus, it’s environmentally friendly as well.
It’s securely anchored to a full tang with three stainless steel rivets that gives stability, and along with the smooth bolster transition, aids dexterity.
The Tojiro DP has the following specs:
- A blade of 5.9 inches
- 10.25 inches overall length
- Heel height is approximately 1.25 inches
- It weighs 3.4 ounces
Made in Japan, it comes with Tojiro’s lifetime warranty to be free of defects in materials and workmanship.
Deft, agile, and seriously sharp, the Tojiro DP is perfect for smaller chopping duties on a board or delicate hand-held work.
It also boasts high quality fit and finish, with smooth surfaces, a nicely transitioned bolster, and a durable cutting edge – top-notch value for daily household or professional workloads.
4. Misono UX10 Petty
Misono is another Japanese brand that’s expanded into the Western market. And their petty knife is a hybrid that features an asymmetrically ground cutting edge of stain resistant steel for a superbly sharp and nimble tool.
The forged blade and tang are crafted from an alloy called UX10. Hard, resistant to oxidation, stains, and wear, it’s also durable and keeps a sharp edge better than most softer steels. It is not completely stainless should you abuse it and leave food stuck on it for hours. But you get an easier to sharpen blade with superb edge retention that “feels” more like a carbon blade on water stones and in use.
Tough and resilient, it has a keen, precision edge ground to a 70/30 break favoring right-handed users, which allows for a finer cutting edge that ones with a 50/50 grind.
A contoured handle of sturdy black pakkawood provides slip-free comfort and is attached to the full tang with three stainless steel rivets for enhanced stability and strength. Pakkawood is a water-resistant wood/resin composite commonly used for its outstanding toughness and resistance to stains and wear.
And a unique nickel silver bolster balances out the weight of blade and handle for comfortable maneuverability.
The Misono dimensions are as follows:
- The blade length is 6 inches
- Overall length is 11.5 inches
- Heel height is 1.25 inches
- It weighs only 2.8 ounces
Made in Japan, it comes with Misono’s lifetime warranty to be free of defects in materials or workmanship. The asymmetrical grind favors right hand users. This means the grind is flatter on the left and more acute on the right. This can be changed to standard grind or even reversed by somebody with a set of water stones and knowledgeable on knife sharpening techniques.
Lightweight, deft, and with a long-wearing edge, the Misono petty adds convenience for peeling, slicing, or any delicate work as well as light chopping duties.
The steel provides a hard and sharp cutting edge, but also has superb stain resistance and is also easy to re-sharpen. Well-suited for professional or home use.
5. Shun Kanso Utility
In a stripped-down profile, the 6-inch Shun Kanso utility knife features high-grade Japanese steel in a minimalist design – Kanso being the principle of simplicity, anything considered non-essential has been eliminated.
The blade and tang are forged from a single piece of AUS10A steel – a high-carbon, vanadium stainless alloy known for its hardness, tensile strength, and toughness.
With a fine grain, the sharp edge has been hand ground in a double bevel to 16 degrees for precise left or right-handed work.
The handle scales are crafted of tagayasan, or iron sword wood – chosen for its density, durability, and warm beauty. Skillfully angled, it provides the natural contours needed to accommodate a chef’s pinch grip for perfectly controlled cutting.
Attached to the full tang with two stainless steel rivets, the tang and handle are well-balanced for stability and deft hand-control. And in a further nod to simplicity, the clean profile is bolster-less.
The matte, heritage blade finish helps to hide scratches and lends a rustic look that ages beautifully.
The Shun’s measurements are as follows:
- Blade length is 6 inches
- Overall length is 10.25 inches
- Heel height is close to 1.5 inches
- Weight is 2.75 ounces
Made in Japan, it comes with Shun’s lifetime warranty to be free of defects in materials and workmanship.
Shun also offers free sharpening for as long as you own the knife. And they recommended hand-washing with warm, sudsy water and prompt drying with a clean, soft towel.
Sleek and lean, the multi-purpose Shun Kanso has a light, deft feel that’s easily controlled. And with the sharp, tough blade, it’s a natural a stylizing garnishes as well as chopping, peeling, and slicing.
Minimal in design, it delivers effective, efficient performance without the bells and whistles.
6. Norisada Hammered Damascus Petty with Saya Cover
Norisada is another brand that utilizes the best of Japanese techniques combined with Western features for beautiful, highly efficient tools. Like this 5-inch petty knife with its hammered, Damascus blade, handsome mahogany handle, and protective saya cover.
Forged from a billet of stainless VG10, its many outstanding characteristics include ease of sharpening, edge retention, sharpness, and decent toughness for a high-carbon steel.
The hard core is covered with 32 layers of Damascus cladding that envelops and protects the core with corrosion, rust, and stain resistant alloys and leaves a unique, layered pattern along the cutting edge.
The finish is then hand-hammered – adding an appealing artistry as well as small dimples that create air pockets, reducing friction and preventing foods from sticking. And a V-grind cutting edge makes it suitable for left and right-handed use. A Japanese Kanji maker’s mark is engraved into the blade.
The premium Western-style handle is hand crafted from natural mahogany and features a lightly contoured shape for ergonomic comfort. It’s attached to the bolstered full tang with three stainless steel rivets for noticeable stability, strength, and balance. Fit and finish is impeccable.
The included saya cover is also made of mahogany and provides complete blade protection – and also makes an impressive presentation for gift giving!
Weight and measurements of the Norisada are as follows:
- Blade length is 5.25 inches
- The overall length is 11 inches
- Heel height is 1.5 inches
- It weighs only 2.5 ounces
Made in Japan, it comes with a lifetime warranty to be free of material or workmanship defects.
The Norisada petty knife is lightweight with an easy maneuverability that makes it a pleasure for intricate hand work or light chopping duties for the professional or home chef.
Sharp, deft, and with attractive visual appeal, this handsome knife will get plenty of use – and the included mahogany saya cover adds a warm touch of Eastern elegance.
This one would rank higher in our listing (it’s one of our favorites) but it’s not always available as it’s imported in limited quantities to the US and is not always available.
7. Wusthof Classic Asian Utility
Heading west, the Classic series is one of Wusthof’s best-selling lines, and their 4.5-inch Asian utility knife is a nimble and sturdy all-purpose tool for the kitchen.
Forged from a single billet of high-carbon, German X50CrMoV15 steel, the Classic features outstanding rust and stain resistance plus a fine grain for durability, ease of sharpening, and edge retention.
Wusthof uses proprietary, leading-edge technology known as PTec (Precision Edge Technology) to precision-grind a computer controlled double-bevel cutting edge to 14 degrees for long-lasting sharpness.
An engineered handle is made of POM (Polyoxymethylene), a )highly durable thermoplastic that resists fading and discoloration. Contoured for fatigue-free comfort, it’s triple-riveted to the full tang for outstanding control and longevity.
And the weighted bolster adds beautiful balance for ease of use and a comfortable heft.
The Classic’s dimensions are:
- Blade length is 4.5 inches
- Overall length is 9.5 inches
- Heel height is 1 inch
- It weighs 3.2 ounces
Made in Germany, it comes with the Wusthof lifetime warranty to be free of material and workmanship defects.
Reliably crafted of top-quality materials, Wusthof’s Classic utility knife is sturdy and comfortable, and is wonderfully adroit at light chopping, slicing, and precision, hand-held work.
Tough and durable with long-lasting sharpness, it’s well suited for heavy workloads in the home or commercial environment.
8. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional “S” Utility
For European craftsmanship, Zwilling’s 6-inch utility knife from their Professional “S” series features their proprietary high-carbon, no-stain German steel and renowned attention to detail.
Forged from a single billet using Zwilling’s Sigmaforge process, the steel is ice-hardened for excellent hardness and toughness and produces a sharp, resilient cutting edge.
Precision V-ground with a laser-controlled edge to produce a perfect 15 degree cutting angle, the Professional blade displays expert sharpness, edge retention, and fast, easy sharpening.
The tough ABS handle is for chosen for its hard-wearing properties and is ergonomically shaped for comfort and non-slip safety. The handle scales are securely attached to the full tang with three stainless steel rivets, and the solid bolster balances and provides finger protection as well.
The Professional “S” measures as follows:
- Blade length is 6 inches
- Overall length is 11.25 inches
- Heel height is 1.5 inches
- Weight is just under 6 ounces
Made in Germany, it comes with Zwilling’s lifetime warranty to be free of defects in materials and workmanship.
Designed to meet the demands of professional chefs, the Zwilling Professional “S” utility knife is artfully crafted with first-rate materials to perform intricate detail work or light duties on a cutting board.
Quick to sharpen and easy to maintain, it handles heavy workloads like a charm.
9. Mercer Culinary Renaissance Utility
Mercer also produces a worthy Western-version utility knife in their 5-inch Renaissance model – their higher-end series well-known for its first-rate fit and finish.
Precision crafted of one-piece forged construction, the steel is a high-carbon German alloy, X50CrMoV15, that provides an easily sharpened edge and gives outstanding protection against corrosion, discoloration, and rust.
Formulated for long-lasting resilience under heavy work loads, the cutting edge is precisely taper-ground to a 15-degree angle for extra stability, easier honing, and long-lasting sharpness.
A smoothly rounded spine makes for a comfortable pinch-grip, and the shallow bolster gives access to the entire blade for easy sharpening and honing.
A handle of Delrin, a stable, non-fading thermoplastic, is ergonomically designed for fatigue-free comfort and is firmly triple-riveted to the full tang – which adds balance, strength, and stability.
Dimensions for the Renaissance are:
- A 6-inch blade length
- Overall length is 11.25 inches
- Heel height is 1 inch
- It weighs 4 ounces
Made in Taiwan, it comes with Mercer’s lifetime warranty to be free of defects in materials or workmanship.
NSF certified for professional use, Mercer recommends washing with warm, soapy water and drying with a soft, clean cloth.
The Mercer Renaissance provides a sharp blade with a comfortable heft and well-balanced feel that makes it a natural at hand peeling, delicate stylizing work, or slicing duties on a board.
With an attention to detail many professionals love, the solid construction and top-quality materials belie the affordable price. Great value in an economy model.
Japanese Vs. European Steel
When purchasing a knife, it’s helpful to understand the types of steel used so you can choose ones that will meet your expectations.
Traditionally, Japanese steels have a high carbon content which is processed to an extreme hardness of 62-63HRC. The hard steel can then be ground to unparalleled razor-sharpness and is also easy to re-sharpen.
The drawbacks with high carbon steel are that it requires plenty of care and maintenance.
It oxidizes easily and will form a natural, dark patina – appealing to some eyes, ‘dirty’ to others.
And, the extreme hardness makes the steel brittle, with chips and breakage along a fine cutting edge common occurrences.
To address these issues, many manufacturers now use alloys that add characteristics of corrosion, rust, and stain resistance as well as toughness and durability.
For cutlery grade stainless steel, chromium is the main element added for stain protection with 13 percent content needed to be classified inox (stainless) – from the French inoxydable (inoxidizable).
European alloys usually have a lower carbon content than Japanese steels, but greater levels of chromium. This makes a softer steel that can’t achieve the same levels of sharpness – but, it has better edge resilience, toughness, and excellent stain resistance.
Some of the common stainless alloys found in our review are:
AUS10 – A middle-range Japanese alloy with extra molybdenum (Mo) and vanadium (V) to improve strength and resilience better than basic stainless steel. Easy to sharpen and rust resistant, it can be hardened 58-61HRC.
VG10 – A top-notch Japanese stainless steel, it has a full 15 percent Chromium (Cr) for excellent oxidation, stain, and wear resistance and additional Cobalt (Co) means it can be forged at higher temperatures. Very hard and resistant to wear, it keeps a clean, sharp edge longer than other alloys and can be hardened to 58-62HRC.
UX10 – Another Japanese steel, it has similar properties as VG-10 but without the cobalt. Softer than VG-10, it produces a sharp but durable cutting edge, is easy to sharpen, and has first-rate oxidation and stain resistance. 59-60HRC.
X50CrMoV15 – This is the most popular stainless alloy used by German manufacturers. It has 15 percent chromium and small amounts of molybdenum and vanadium for improved edge structure and durability. A good steel for daily or high-volume work, it has excellent oxidation, rust, and stain resistance and a long-lasting edge. Hardness usually ranges from 56-59HRC.
The Final Slice
Small, deft, and agile, once you have a petty/utility knife in your arsenal, it will quickly become the first tool you grab onto for daily cutting tasks.
Lightweight and nimble, they can be comfortably be used for extended periods of hand-held work without fatigue. And they’re great to quickly chop, mince, or chop fruit, herbs, veggies and other foods when you don’t want to pull out your chef’s knife.
And as you can see, there’s a model suitable for every cook! Shoot us a line in the comments below if you have any thoughts or questions about petty or utility knives. If you’re interested in learning more about Japanese knives, read our complete buying guide for more details and info.
Photos by Mike Quinn, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Lorna Kring
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.