What Is A Petty Knife Used For?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 04/09/21 •  5 min read

Considered to be a modern-style Japanese blade, the Petty knife is akin to the Western utility or paring knives in size and responsibility. Measuring three to five inches in blade length, this is used for delicate cutting and slicing for which the longer Gyuto or Santoku is too big.

When the Japanese opened their borders to foreigners, particularly those from the West, a huge cultural shift started to happen. This is quite apparent in their cuisine and in the way they prepared food.

Aside from the creation of Gyuto which is the Western-style Chef’s knife, other knife designs came about. One of these was the Petty knife.

Adapted from the utility knife and, more specifically, the French ‘couteau d’office’, the Petty was named as such possibly because of the French word ‘petite’ which means ‘small’.

Is this a great option or should you just stick with the smaller blades in your kitchen block?

Read on to find out…

Is it a multi-purpose knife?

If you want an all-in-one solution for all of your cutting, chopping, slicing, shaping, and peeling needs, then this is a must-have tool for your kitchen.

If you are not fond of keeping a lot of different knives in your kitchen, then you should save your money and spend it on a petty knife for a mind-blowing experience.

Distinguishing features & uses

The size, structure, appearance, and sharpness of the blade are just very perfect that can help you in the precise cutting of all kinds of foodstuff including fruit, vegetables, herbs, meat, and even garnishes.

Moreover, toughness, resistance to breakage, edge quality, and the ease of sharpening are some other distinguishing features.

Well, if you are still confused about when and where to use it, then there is no use keeping this knife in your kitchen.

The right understanding of the usage and the basic knowledge of when you should use it is mandatory because with this knife you no longer need any other cutting and slicing tool in your kitchen.

If you love to cook, you will come across a lot of cutting tasks such as the need to cut apples, beef steaks, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, bread, buns, and other things that consist of meat and cleaving bones.

The good news is that you can use them to cut all the above-mentioned things and even the other food items that are not mentioned in this list.

What is its usual blade length?

These cutters have narrow blades that range in size from 120mm to 180 mm.

This length is ideal for precise cutting and chopping purposes.

Vs putty knife

Here it is worth mentioning that you should never confuse yourself with the petty knife and the putty knife.

There is a big difference in the blade sizes as well.

Putty knives are larger and have a blade that is a few inches long.

On the other hand, petty knives have a blade length of not more than 180 mm.

According to the Wikipedia:

A putty knife is a specialized tool used when glazing single glazed windows, to work putty around the edges of each pane of glass.

An experienced glazer will apply the putty by hand, and then smooth it with the knife.

Modern insulated glazing may use other ways of securing the glass to the window frame.

Now you can understand that you do not use putty knives in the kitchen, while the petty knives are the true kitchen knives that you are perfectly designed for food preparation.

They are even regarded as the “Japanese kitchen knives”, and are purely used for cooking purposes.

Vs paring knife

Paring knives are also the small multi-purposes cutters that are must-have tools for the home cooks.

Some people confuse these two types, but the fact is they both are different.

Petty knives are larger and provide more grip and balance.

However, any one of them in your kitchen is enough and you should not be spending money on buying both for your kitchen.

Here you might be wondering, why do people confuse these two as the same

In the Japanese language, the word “petty” is used for the “multi-purpose” tools.

This word is basically derived from the French word “Petie”.

So, it is due to this reason people confuse these with paring knives because paring knives are also multi-purpose as well.

However, we can make everything simple,

The petty knives that are smaller than the standard sizes and have a blade length of 50 mm to 100 mm can be regarded as paring knives.

Simple as that.

Final Verdict

Nowadays, petty knives are available in several varieties and blade lengths.

They can be double-bladed, but commonly only one side of them is sharpened.

The compactness of them makes them highly precise tools for sharp cutting and slicing.

If you have ever used these knives before, do a quick comment right now and share your experiences with us.

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.