When shopping for kitchen knives, you’ll notice brands using the terms single-bevel and double-bevel.
The main difference is that single-bevel knives are sharpened on one side of the blade, and double-bevel are sharpened on both sides.
Double-bevel knives are more versatile and easier to use, but single-bevel knives are sharper and better for thinner, more intricate cuts.
That’s the high-level distinction, but there’s more to know before deciding which to buy.
So, if you’re confused about which type of knife to buy, or wondering if you need both, keep reading.
Use the links below to navigate the article:
- Single-Bevel vs. Double-Bevel Knives: Comparison Chart
- Difference 1: Sharpness
- Difference 2: Uses
- Difference 3: How to Sharpen
- Difference 4: Durability
- Difference 5: Versatility
- Difference 6: Accessibility
- Difference 7: Handedness
- Difference 8: Skill
- Difference 9: Style
- Difference 10: Price
- Bottom Line: Is a Single-Bevel or Double-Bevel Knife Better?
The chart below provides a quick side-by-side comparison of single vs. double-bevel knives.
|Uses||Primarily used to slice fish and vegetables thinly||For slicing, dicing, and chopping a variety of foods|
|Sharpness||12-15° on one side of the blade||12-20° on both sides, 24-40° total|
|Ease of Sharpening||Difficult||Easy|
|Durability||Prone to chip and dull||Thick, durable edge|
|Versatility||Limited functionality||Wide functionality|
|Accessibility||Less available||Widely available|
|Handedness||Left or right-hand specific||No hand bias|
|Skill Level||Mid to High||Low to Mid|
Difference 1: Sharpness
One of the most notable differences between single- and double-bevel knives is their sharpness. In short, single-bevel knives are significantly sharper than double-bevel knives.
Since single-bevel knives are only sharpened on one side, the edge can be incredibly thin and sharp. The edge angle of single-bevel knives ranges between 10-17°, but most are between 12-15°.
Double-bevel knives are typically sharpened to a 12-15° per side (total angle of 24-30°). Some have even high angles. For example, meat cleavers are usually sharpened to a 20-25° angle per side.
The table below compares the edge angles of popular single and double-bevel knives.
|Shun Dual Core||Single||16°|
|Zwilling Professional||Double||15° (per side)|
|Messermeister Meridian Elite||Double||15° (per side)|
|Made In Chef’s Knife||Double||12.5° (per side)|
Difference 2: Uses
Since single-bevel knives have incredibly sharp edges, they’re best for thin, delicate cuts. You would choose a single-bevel knife to slice fish or to cut very thin slices of meat. While perfect for precise cuts, single-bevel knives aren’t the most efficient choice for standard food chopping.
Double-bevel knives are used for most other food preparation. Whether you need to chop, cut, or dice vegetables or thick cuts of meat, a double-bevel knife is the best choice. You can make thin slices, although the results won’t be as precise as a single-bevel knife.
Difference 3: How to Sharpen
Sharpening a double-bevel knife is a more straightforward process than doing so with a single-bevel blade.
To sharpen a double-bevel knife, begin with a coarse whetstone and sweep one side of the blade back and forth, releasing pressure on the back sweep. Then repeat the process on the other side. You could also use an electric or pull-through sharpener for a double-bevel blade.
When sharpening a single-bevel blade, the process is different for each side. You’ll need at least two whetstones, one coarse and one smooth.
Start with the beveled side of the blade. Make smooth sweeps along the whetstone, releasing your pressure on the backward sweep. Some people find it helpful to color the beveled part of the blade to see where you’ve treated the steel.
Once you’ve completed the beveled side, you can focus on the flat side. Lay the blade flat on the fine whetstone, then gently push the blade away from you in smooth sweeps.
Difference 4: Durability
Single-bevel knives are thin, which allows the edge to be extremely sharp. However, the thinness of the blade also makes it more delicate.
A single-bevel blade won’t hold up as long as a double-bevel knife. Single-bevel knives dull more quickly, require more frequent sharpening, and have a higher chance of chipping and breaking.
Double-bevel blades are more durable and less prone to chipping. But their thicker edges and (usually) softer steel mean they’re not as sharp as single-bevel blades.
Difference 5: Versatility
If you’re looking for a versatile kitchen knife, a double-bevel option is the best option. You can do almost anything with a double-bevel knife, from butchering meat and slicing cheese to dicing vegetables and mincing herbs.
While sharp and precise, a single-bevel blade isn’t for your everyday cooking needs. These blades are primarily used by professional chefs and those who prepare traditional Japanese cuisine such as sashimi, decorative knifework (i.e., julienned carrots or paired and peeled daikon), or other cuts of fish used in sushi rolls.
Difference 6: Accessibility
Single-bevel knives are less common, and you can’t usually pick one up at your local department store like you can with a double-bevel knife. In most cases, you’ll need to order one online without the chance to handle the knife before making a purchase or travel to a specialty Japanese knife store.
Difference 7: Handedness
A double-bevel knife creates a uniform slice with both sides of the blade, so it doesn’t matter if you’re right- or left-handed.
However, handedness does matter if you opt for a single-bevel blade. While single-bevel blades are available in right- and left-handed varieties, left-handed knives are harder to find.
Difference 8: Skill
A double-bevel knife is equally sharp on both sides and cuts straight, so it’s much easier to master.
A single-bevel blade will take a little more practice to use well. Single-bevel blades tend to drag to one side instead of cutting straight through. You’ll need to learn to adjust your technique to achieve straight, precise cuts.
Difference 9: Style
Single-bevel knives are traditionally used for preparing Japanese cuisine. Therefore, most single-bevel knives are Japanese-style knives.
Double-bevel knives can be Western-style — sometimes referred to as German-style — or Japanese-style.
What’s the difference between Japanese and Western knives?
Western-style knives are often forged, full tang, heavier, and feature a bolster. They’re made with softer steel, which increases durability and makes the blade chip-resistant. Western-style knives are great for heavier work, such as deboning meat or cutting through the thick rind of a pumpkin.
Japanese-style knives are usually thinner, sharper, and more lightweight. The steel is harder, which resists edge-dulling, but the blades are more brittle and prone to chips and cracks. These knives are better for slicing fish and softer meats and vegetables.
There are three types of single-bevel Japanese-style knives:
- Yanagiba: Used to slice sashimi.
- Deba: Used for fish.
- Usuba: To cut vegetables
Santoku is another type of Japanese-style knife, and although there are some single-bevel santokus (for example, Kamikoto), most are double-bevel.
Almost every other type of knife is double-bevel. That includes chef’s knives, paring knives, utility knives, butcher knives, bread knives, and cleavers.
Difference 10: Price
High-quality knives are expensive, although the price varies between brands and collections.
Generally, single-bevel knives are more expensive, and the brands are typically higher-end. A broader range of brands manufacture double-bevel blades at various price points.
You can see a more detailed comparison of single vs. double-bevel knife prices in the chart below.
|Dalstrong Deba Knife (Single-Bevel)||Amazon|
|Dalstrong Yanagiba (Single-Bevel)||Amazon|
|Yoshihiro Shiroko Yanagiba (Single-Bevel)||Amazon|
|Shun Dual Core Yanagiba (Single-Bevel)||Amazon|
|Mercer Culinary Asian Collection Deba Knife (Single-Bevel)||Amazon|
|Victorinox Fibrox Chef's Knife (Double-Bevel)||Amazon|
|Henckels Classic Chef Knife (Double-Bevel)||Amazon|
|Miyabi Chef's Knife (Double-Bevel)||Amazon|
|Dalstrong Chef Knife (Double-Bevel)||Amazon|
|Global Chef's Knife (Double-Bevel)||Amazon|
Bottom Line: Is a Single-Bevel or Double-Bevel Knife Better?
Now that you know the key differences between single and double-bevel knives, the questions are:
Which type should you buy? Do you need both?
Before I give you my recommendation, let’s quickly recap.
Uses: You can use a double-bevel knife for just any cutting task. However, a single-bevel knife will be the better option if you need to make very precise or thin cuts.
Skill level: A single-handed blade will take practice to use with precision, while a double-bevel blade is much easier to master.
Durability and care: Single-bevel knives are more prone to chipping and require specialized care to maintain their sharp edge. Double-bevel knives hold up to use better and are more straightforward to sharpen and maintain.
Accessibility: Single-bevel blades are harder to find than double-bevel blades. Also, you’ll need to find a right or left-handed knife to accommodate your handedness, and left-handed single-bevel knives can be difficult to find.
Price: You can find double-bevel blades just about everywhere at a variety of price points. Most single-bevel knives are made by higher-end manufacturers and are more costly in general.
Bottom line — unless you are a professional chef or have a real passion for cooking or Japanese food, a double-bevel knife is the better choice. Double-bevel knives are more versatile, durable, and easier to work with and maintain.
If you’re unsure which brand to buy, check out my guide to the best kitchen knife brands. My top picks are:
- Santoku Knife vs. Chef’s Knife: 6 Key Differences
- 6-Inch vs. 8-Inch Chef’s Knife: Which Size Is Right for You?
- Santoku vs. Gyuto Knives: What’s the Difference?
- Forged vs. Stamped Kitchen Knives: What’s the Difference?
- Nakiri vs. Santoku Knives: What’s the Difference?
- Shun Kitchen Knives Review: Are They Worth It?
- Shun vs. Kamikoto: Which Knives Are Better?
- Best Kitchen Knives NOT Made in China: The Definitive Guide