What Is A Table Knife Used For?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 03/29/21 •  5 min read

Table knives, as the name implies, are specifically designed to be used on the dining table. Compared to its razor-sharp cousins in the kitchen, these table-top cutleries are rounded off at the edge and have a curved instead of a pointy tip.

Sharpened tools have been used by mankind for thousands of years for the most fundamental task: to hunt. It took a thousand more years for humans to use blades on the table for fine dining.

While some historians say that table knives have been used for a gathering for Charles V in 1500s Italy, many credit another head of the Catholic church – Cardinal Richelieu – for making this cutlery a must-have for formal dining.

It is said that he was so repulsed by his guests using dining daggers as toothpicks, he told his servants to round off the tip instead. Louis the XIV would follow suit, trying to curb violence at his banquets.

Here’s more interesting info about the table knife

What is it?

Well, chances are, you already know what a table knife is.

In case you don’t know (be honest!), it is generally considered a cutlery item that comes together with spoons and forks.

It has a blunt end and is usually of moderate sharpness.

It is usually a part of a table setting, designed for prepared and/or cooked food.

It is usually made with stainless steel with high chromium content, which is perfect for everyday use.

Since it has a very shiny surface, it may have scratches due to normal wear and tear.

The material used can withstand wet conditions due to its resistance to corrosion, making it easy to clean even in a dishwasher.

It has normally the same length as the tablespoon.

It is usually bundled in a set that includes a tablespoon, fork, and teaspoon – that all have a matching handle.

Some also call this the dinner knife.

Different Kinds of Table Knives

Sometimes, when you search for “table knives” on the internet, you can come across different types of table knives that don’t look similar to each other.

Even though it is designed as cutlery, there are different table knives for different purposes.

The general table knife is designed with the likeness and the same style of a regular all-purpose kitchen knife, and usually with a rounded edge and slight sharpness.

This is the knife that we usually see in a table setting, which we use for slicing cooked meat or bread.

A butter knife is also a popular kind, usually used with (no other than) butter.

Though not to be taken literally, it can also be used to help spread anything! It is great for jams or even for creating plate designs.

This is considered to be the smallest of all knives and has a more elongated shape compared to a typical knife.

Some also use the dinner knife for spreading butter.

Another kind is the Dessert Knife.

This is usually smaller.

And it is used with desserts such as cakes or for fruits.

It is usually paired with a dessert spoon and/or a dessert fork.

It is shorter than the general table knife.

Some models have a rounded tip, while some have a pointed tip that can be used for slicing hard desserts.

A steak knife is another popular one, which probably is the sharpest of all.

It is used to slice meat, especially those that are cooked rare.

Flat-bladed steak knives can be sharpened easily, while some steak knives have serrated blades which may need professionals to sharpen them.

Whatever kind you choose to buy, make sure you have considered the handle too.

Since the blade is not of the top concern on this, buying it should be comfortable to use while eating.

Some table knives have a handle that is too thin, making it hard to use while on the dinner table.

Where to Buy

As mentioned, this one is easy to find, as it is a part of a dining table set.

Retailers and cutlery manufacturers usually bundle it along with other dining utensils, to have matching pieces on the table.

You may find one from a supermarket, department store, and even from a household kitchen supply store.

As easy as finding it on brick-and-mortar stores, it is also very easy to find one on the internet.

Just make sure that if you want to buy the matching one for the other cutlery you own, it has the same model and design.

You may check the manufacturer’s website as well to see if the one you are buying comes from the same model line.

Online marketplaces make this kind of cutlery easier to find.

Maintenance Tips

Since it is not required to be too sharp, it does not generally need sharpening.

However, be careful with those with serrated edges, it may need special tools in order to be sharpened.

The only one that would need sharpening is the steak knife.

It uses the same blade as other regular kitchen knives.

Cleaning is a breeze with this kind.

You may use a sponge and a dishwashing liquid, or just drop them in the dishwasher! The usual material used is stainless steel and has a very low chance of having rust or corrosion.


While some do not see the need for table knives, it is important to cutlery in assembling a table setting.

It should be bought by considering the other cutlery it goes with, where it should all have a uniform design.

That’s why it is recommended to buy them in one go, and could also be the reason why cutlery manufacturers sell them in one set.

This knife is not focused on the blade, as it does not need to be very sharp.

It is still a great addition to any dining table, even if you only use it on special occasions.

It can make any simple table setting look fancier!


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.