What is a Deba Knife Used For?

by Ryan Shaffer November 16, 2020 2 min read

Sakai Takayuki Deba Knife Stainless Steel

What is a Deba Knife Used For?

If you’ve started looking at Japanese knives, you may have seen the name “Deba.” The Deba knife is a very traditional knife used extensively in Japan due to the amount and quality of seafood eaten. The word “Deba” translates to “Pointed Carving Knife.”

The design of the Deba is considerably different than most other knives, primarily due to the thickness of the blade. The phrase “let the knife do most of the work” is very accurate in the case of the Deba, because the weight of the blade makes breaking apart a fish much easier.  While the edge is still somewhat fragile, being a single bevel blade, the knife is ideal for separating whole fish into more usable components.

Deba Knife Overview

The Deba knife is primarily known for the thickness of the spine and the weight of the blade.  These knives range in size from 150mm up to a gigantic 300mm, and have a traditional Japanese style oval wooden handle, usually made from Magnolia wood. The edge profile is lightly curved, similar to a Gyuto (Chef’s knife), making slicing a breeze. This knife is made for butchery, taking full fish or chickens and breaking them down into more usable sizes.

Sakai Takayuki Deba Knife Single Bevel Butchery

Deba Knife Materials 

These knives are designed to be workhorses, so there are a variety of qualities and sizes.  You may find them made out of a softer Yasugi steel, such as yellow steel, all the way up through high quality white steel, also known as shirogami.  There are also varieties in molybdenum stainless steel, which minimizes the chances of rusting. Check out our post about stainless steel vs high carbon steel knives for a more in depth look at the different metals.

Deba Knife Uses 

The Deba knife is designed to break apart full fish, chicken, or meat where there may be small bones or tendons to cut through.  Once the meat is broken apart then it can be cleaned and any skin and remaining bones removed from the final cut such as a fillet.  After the denser materials are out of the way, you would then transition into a different knife such as a Sujihiki knife or Gyuto knife.

Benefits of Deba Knives

The main benefits of using a Deba knife are:

  • Weight/thickness of the blade, 8mm
  • Shape of the blade
    • Tip for boning
    • Middle for slicing
    • Heel (near the handle) for cutting small bones
  • Depth of the blade to the handle
    • Giving more room to the fingers while working

Should I Get a Deba Knife?

If you are planning on doing any butchery or want to learn then, the Deba is definitely a great option. However, know that you may need to practice and watch a bunch of YouTube videos to really hone your technique as it is different than western butchery styles due to the single bevel edge.

At Hasu-Seizo, we specialize in artisan Japanese knives. Shop our high-quality Deba knives now.

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