Boning Knife vs Fillet Knife: Everything You Need To Know

Whether you’re a fisherman or cook, chances are that you’re up to speed with the difference between boning knife and fillet knife debate. The two knives bear a close resemblance. They are thin, sharp and small.

In fact, they are in some cases used for similar tasks. But look closer – there are quite a number of differences between the two as we will find out in this comparison.

What are the Difference Between a Boning Knife and a Fillet knife?

Difference In Usage

Boning knives, just as their name suggests, are mainly used for separating meat from bones. They are thin enough to penetrate thick chunks of meat yet stiff enough for swift cuts. Filleting knives, on the other hand, are designed to separate meat from the skin.

As such, they are quite thin because of the level of accuracy needed to make intricate cuts. Boning knives may be used for this task as well but they tend to be a little rigid and therefore, the quality of the cut made is normally below par.

Likewise, filleting knives can be used to separate meat from bones but only small bones such as fish bones. As you can see, although the two knives can be used interchangeably in some cases, each has its optimal area of functionality. It is worth noting that there are some all-purpose knives designed to do both the filleting and boning jobs.

Difference In Design

Boning knives are designed to work on tough meat and bones. We are talking about beef, pork and the likes. The nature of this job makes it important to have the blade much stronger.

Therefore, boning knives are stiff but thin and sharp. This is unlike filleting knives which are quite flexible and a little thinner, blade-wise. As you might expect, filleting knives are meant for working on tender meat. So if you’re planning to work on chicken, salmon, tuna and so forth, then a filleting knife will be your best bet.

Difference In The Curve

If you look keenly, you’ll notice a glaring difference between the blades of the two. Boning knives are usually straight all the way to the end. No fancy curves. Almost similar to a normal knife but only slightly thinner and long which is just what is needed to maneuver through layers of flesh.

Unlike a normal kitchen knife, though, the boning knife is more flexible and its tip is very sharp. Of course, a sharp tip is important for piercing meat with ease. The filleting knife, on the other hand, has a discernible upper curve (upwards).

Unlike the boning knife that has a straight tip, this one comes with a curved tip. This unique design is meant for making long and steady cuts. However, the curvaceous nature of the knife makes it less practical for other typical cutting situations.

Difference In Force Tolerance

Filleting knives are meant to be delicate and, therefore, their sharp design is intentioned to make things a little easier for you. Of course, this delicateness is meant to improve on flexibility which is needed especially when dealing with bony fish. This added flexibility, however, comes with a major drawback. You can’t apply excessive force on the knife lest it will snap. Boning knives are the exact opposite of this.

They are much stiffer and thicker as they are meant to penetrate through tough chunks of meat. As such, you can always expend some force when operating them with no risk of snapping.

Common Blade Length

Filleting knives are commonly available in 4, 6, 7.5 and 9-inch lengths. The 7.5-inch length is, however, quite common length because of its ability to accommodate medium-sized fish. Note that shorter lengths are preferred for smaller fish while longer lengths are best used for larger fish. One interesting fact worth noting is that shorter filleting blades tend to be more flexible than longer ones.

Boning blades, on the other hand, are available in the range of 5 to 6 inches although it is not unusual to come across varieties that extend for over 9 inches. There isn’t much difference in stiffness or flexibility across the lengths although you can always find some extremes in between.

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Difference In Maneuverability

The extreme thinness and curved nature of fillet knives makes them a perfect bet for making delicate cuts. In other words, if maneuverability is your craving, then a filleting knife would be your best bet. Heading out for a fishing trip? Your choice of the boning knife vs fillet knife duel should lean towards a fillet knife.

Their efficiency as far as cutting gut fish remains unmatched. What about boning knives? Well, they are not too badly off either although they are way better than your other kitchen knives especially where meat and bone separation is involved.

Difference In Material

One common similarity between boning and filleting knives is the kind of material used. In both cases, the most popular material of choice is high-carbon steel. This is a major departure from older knives where stainless steel was the ultimate material of choice.

However, as the world has come to learn, although stainless steel is quite easy to clean, it does not hold an edge as long as carbon steel. This is especially an important factor to consider when filleting knives are involved. It is advisable to go for ones made from high-carbon blades so you can keep working on your fish all day long with minimal worries. That said, high-carbon steel will require you to be a little careful to prevent corrosion and rust.

You may love to read our another content on best knife for saltwater and another one on electric fillet knife.

Final Word

If you are a chef or butcher, chances are that you will require to have these two types of knives in your cabinet. However, if you’re an angler, you should always make sure you have a filleting knife around – for obvious reasons.

That said, it is worth appreciating that each knife has its strengths and weaknesses. Where one fails to impress, the other one takes over. So if you’re on a flexible budget, it’s always a good idea to own the two. Who knows? Even fishermen often have some serious meat cutting to do and a boning knife is all they’d need to make each chunk count.

So, once again, the boning knife and fillet knife difference duel boils down to individual preferences and budget constraints. Be sure to go for the knife that best suits your character.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Matthew | knifesharpenerguy - July 9, 2018

Thanks for sharing this blog.I just know that Boning knives are perfect to deb-one meat, and fillet knives are the most useful for fish.But today I learned a lot about this boning knife and fillet knife through this blog.So,again thanks.


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