Cheese plates are kinda my thing. After a few years of working on my #DomestikateGrazingBoards series, I’ve acquired quite the collection of cheese plate accessories. From marble slabs to cutting boards to tiny dishes for honey and jam, I’ve got it all. Cheese knives are among my prop-hoarding-collection, and I have a few go-to knives that I use on almost every single board.  On a recent afternoon of cheese plate assembly, I rifled through my kitchen drawer and stopped to think about all of the different kinds of cheese knives I had, and what exactly each one of them was for. Truthfully, I knew which knives I paired with certain cheeses, but I didn’t know what each one was actually designed for — so I set out to research it and share my new wealth of cheese knife knowledge with you, in this Cheese Knives 101 overview!

In no particular order, let’s talk cheese knives!

Chisel Knife. This is a wide, flat knife that is sharp at the top edge. It works well for breaking off pieces of softer, crumbly cheeses like a gorgonzola or blue cheese, and then using the wide flat surface to spread those cut pieces. You can also use this knife for cutting larger, thicker, semi-soft cheeses like provolone into smaller pieces.

Cheese Fork. Ok this is not technically a knife, but it’s often included in cheese knife sets and on a cheese board. The fork is ideal for holding harder cheeses, like a manchego, in place while you cut with another knife. I usually add a few of these to the board in places where there might be charcuterie or olives that guests can pick up with a pierce of the cheese fork.

Spreader. I think this is one of the cheese knives I use the most, it’s used exactly how it sounds: for spreading. Pair this with a soft spreadable cheese like goat cheese or Boursin. I sometimes use this for creamier brie and Camembert varieties too.

Cheese Cleaver. I don’t always put a cheese cleaver out on my boards, it can be too substantial for a smaller cheese plate. The wide rectangular blade is made for cutting hard or semi-hard cheese, think cheddar or pepper jack, and can be great for cubing those types cheeses.

Parm Knife. This knife goes by many names: bell knife, almond knife, pear knife, heart knife, spade knife. Whatever you call it, the sharp tip helps chip away at a hard cheese like … you guessed it, Parmesan. I find this to be a really versatile knife though because of it’s shape and it with almost any cheese on my boards.

Cheese Plane. A cheese plane is used for shaving thin slices of cheese off semi-soft cheeses like fontina, havarti, and swiss.

Soft Cheese Knife. Sometimes called a fork-tipped spear or pronged knife, this in my opinion, another really versatile cheese knife and one of my most-used. The thin blade makes it ideal for softer cheeses, and often times you’ll see perforations on the blade to help prevent sticking with cheeses like brie and camembert. The fork-pronged tip is helpful for serving cut pieces of harder cheeses.

Plane Knife. A narrow plane knife, sometimes called a flat knife, works for a wide range of semi firm cheeses like cheddar, gouda, and pepper jack because it’s sharp on both the sides and the tip. You can press the top into hard cheeses and finish cutting with the sharp long end.