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What Is Cutlery?

Cutlery is a term that today is used to group together different items, including knives, forks and spoons that are used at the table for eating and serving rather than the utensils used in the kitchen. However traditionally cutlery in Sheffield was only knives, made by a Cutler who only makes items that cut, which is still the tradition in our factory. Spoons & forks were called flatware but more recently the term cutlery has become all embracing for knives, forks & spoons.

The vast majority of cutlery today is made with stainless steel, especially in the hospitality industry because it is best for everyday use since it’s affordable, durable, and easy to care for. Cutlery can also be made of silver-plate or even sterling silver, which is where the term silverware comes from. However, silverware is not recommended for general commercial use but silver-plate is still used in fine dining restaurants and hotels.

Let’s concentrate here on the various types of Stainless Steel used in cutlery manufacturing.

There are four different grades of stainless steel commonly used in the manufacture of cutlery: 18/10, 18/8, 18/0, and 13/0. These numbers refer to the percentages of chromium and nickel in the stainless steel alloy. Chromium is used in to provide durability as well as resistance to rust and corrosion, while nickel is used to give cutlery its strength. So, for example 18/10 means 18% chromium and 10% nickel and is the best quality and is what we as genuine manufacturers use for our Chimo cutlery. 13/0 on the other hand is the lowest quality with only 13% chromium and no Nickel – so little strength – like Yuri Geller’s spoons.

To see our range of 18/10 stainless steel cutlery patterns click here

We need to stop here to discuss knives because knives are very different from spoons & forks.

Any quality knife should be made of two parts with a blade firmly attached to a separate handle. This is so the blade can be forged in martensitic stainless steel, a special quality stainless steel specifically made for blades, containing a higher level of carbon so the blade can have, and retain a superior cutting edge.

Virtually all imported knives these days are one piece or monobloc knives (see below) with completely out of balance heavy** handles, but more importantly inferior quality blades. Monobloc knife blades are rolled and stamped out of the same standard stainless steel as the handles and at very best this can only be 18/0 or more often 13/0 steel. This lower grade of stainless cannot be sharpened, so they put a thin serrate in the blade which at best can only tear the meat apart.

“Then sadly Customers complain about the quality of a restaurant’s meat instead of blaming the real reason – an inferior quality knife”

**Mistakenly many people believe that a heavier handled knife is a sign of better quality when in fact the very opposite is true – a properly balanced two piece knife with a martensitic stainless blade set into a hollow 18/10 stainless handle is a far better quality knife.

Quality Sheffield made knife

Please also keep in mind that the grades of stainless steel do not refer to the thickness (or gauge) of the cutlery, which is what determines the weight. The higher the gauge, the thicker / heavier generally the cutlery is.

To learn more about our famous cream and/or black handled cutlery click here and our silverplated cutlery here.

Types of Cutlery and their uses

Now that we’ve explained about the different materials cutlery can be made from, the qualities and weights, the next step in choosing cutlery is learning the types of cutlery and their uses. There are multiple sizes and patterns or styles of knives, forks and spoons; and the list below will help explain most of the different items we genuinely manufacture.

Table or Dinner Knife

A dinner knife traditionally has a rounded tip and slightly longer blade than the Dessert or Side knife . It is used for cutting meat and vegetables in the main course. It is one of the more common pieces of cutlery on the dinner table. It should always be balanced, sharp, with a martensitic stainless steel blade.

Table or Dinner Fork

The all-purpose dinner fork is part of almost all traditional place settings. It is usually used for the main course. Most dinner forks have four prongs or tines. Some only have three, depending on the pattern.

Dessert or Side Knife

A Dessert or Side knife (sometimes also called a cheese or even a butter knife) is also for cutting, although it doesn’t need to be as sharp as a Dinner knife as it is often also used for spreading butter, cutting soft desserts and cheese.

Dessert or Side Fork

A dessert fork (sometimes called or used as a salad fork) is about 25% smaller than a Dinner fork & is mainly used for eating desserts like cake or pie.

Dessert Spoon

A dessert spoon is similar in size to a Dessert Fork (similar in shape but larger than a teaspoon) and often it has an oval-shaped bowl. Not usually part of an American 5 piece place setting but always part of a European 7 piece place setting.

Soup Spoon

A Soup Spoon is a similar size to a Dessert Spoon, usually has a round, wider and deeper bowl, so as it can hold more liquid. Usually, part of both an American 5 piece set and a European 7 piece setting but latter soup spoons have been losing popularity in Europe. Can also be used for cereal.


The classic teaspoon is part of all traditional place settings. It is used for a wide variety of purposes and is what most people envision when they ask for a spoon. The US teaspoon is noticeably larger than a European teaspoon.

We’ve mention place settings above, so here’s an explanation.

In the UK & Europe for formal or fine dining they generally use what we call a 7 piece place setting which comprises of one of each of : Dinner Knife, Dinner Fork, Dessert/Side Knife, Dessert Fork, Dessert Spoon, Soup Spoon & Teaspoon.

In North America Europe for formal or fine dining they generally use what we call a 5 piece place setting which comprises of one of each of : Dinner Knife, Dinner Fork, Dessert Fork, Soup Spoon & Teaspoon (usually 6” – larger than UK teaspoon)

Additional/Ancillary pieces (may be limited to certain patterns)


A tablespoon is much larger spoon, similar in shape to a Dessert Spoon but mainly used for serving from bowls placed in the middle of the table.

Coffee Spoon

A coffee spoon is similar in shape to a standard teaspoon but generally has a shorter handle and a slightly smaller bowl.

Demitasse or Mocha Spoon

A demitasse or mocha spoon is similar in shape to a coffee spoon but is even smaller. It is designed to stir coffee drinks served in small quantities, such as espresso or in traditional small coffee cups.

Bouillon Spoon

A bouillon spoon is another type of soup spoon. Bouillon spoons are generally smaller than a regular soup spoon and have a round bowl.

Iced Teaspoon / Soda Spoon

This spoon generally has a long, thin handle and a small, oval-shaped bowl. It’s used for stirring tall drinks, milkshakes etc.

Grapefruit Spoon / Citrus Spoon

A grapefruit spoon is similar in design to a teaspoon but features an elongated bowl and a rigid serrated edge to easily separate the fruit from the rind. This spoon can also be used for other fruits such as oranges and melons.

Cocktail / Oyster Fork

This small fork is suitable for small appetizers like cheese cubes, olives, and oysters.

Snail Fork

A snail fork traditionally features two long, pointed tines and is used to gently pry the meat from the snail shell.

Butter Knife

A butter knife is a similar size to a Dessert/Side Knife & typically has a dull edge with a rounded end. This design makes it suitable for spreading butter, marmalade, jam etc onto soft foods like rolls, muffins, or toast.

“Dinkie” Butter Spreader

A butter spreader is typically the smallest knife in a set of cutlery and features a rounded tip and flat blade. It is for individual or personal use to spread butter, pate, and other toppings.