Table knife

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Table knives with bone or ivory handle. The maker's legend is stamped on the blade

A table knife is an item of cutlery, part of a table setting. Table knives are typically of moderate sharpness only, designed to cut only prepared and cooked food. They are usually made of stainless steel and may be ornate, often having handles of bone, wood or (less commonly now) ivory.

The distinguishing feature of a table knife is a blunt or rounded end. The origin of this, and thus of the table knife itself, is attributed by tradition to Cardinal Richelieu around 1637, reputedly to cure dinner guests of the unsavoury habit of picking their teeth with their knife-points.[1]

Later, in 1669, King Louis XIV of France banned pointed knives in the street and at his table, insisting on blunt tips, in order to reduce violence.[2][3]

In any table setting, the knife will typically be the piece to bear the maker's stamp, on the blade. The English city of Sheffield is noted for its cutlery manufactury and many knives bear the city's name in addition to the maker's.

Most table knives require a fork to stabilise foods during cutting. Rocker knives, however, do not.[4]


  1. ^ Long, Tony (13 May 2008). "May 13, 1637: Cardinal Richelieu Makes His Point". Retrieved 15 July 2010. 
  2. ^ Patrick, Bethanne Kelly; John Thompson, Henry Petroski (2009). An Uncommon History of Common Things. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic. ISBN 1-4262-0420-5. Retrieved 7 October 2013. "isbn13=978-1-4262-0420-3" 
  3. ^ Emma Hern; Will Glazebrook, Mike Beckett (2005). "Reducing knife crime". BMJ Editorial. doi:10.1136/bmj.330.7502.1221. 
  4. ^ Pat Barr... et al. (1981). Glorya Hale, ed. The Source Book for the Disabled: An Illustrated Guide to Easier and More Independent Living for Physically Disabled People, Their Families and Friends. London: Bantam Books. pp. 235–7. ISBN 0553137530. Retrieved 7 October 2013.