For most purposes, an 8- to 10-inch chef’s knife is the perfect tool. Because the blade is wider at the base, it’s strong enough to cut through a winter squash and the tapered point makes it just the right shape for the rocking motion used to mince, slice and dice. When shopping for a new knife, there are three things to consider: how it feels, what the blade is made of and the way it’s constructed. Spend some time in a kitchen store and try a few out. The material the handle is made from does not necessarily indicate quality—so find one that fits comfortably in your hand. For a long-lasting, durable knife, opt for a high-carbon stainless-steel blade. And finally, look for a knife with a “full tang” blade, meaning it’s one piece of metal that extends from blade through the handle—the continuous piece offers the best stability when chopping and makes the knife feel balanced in your hand. Good chef’s knives range in price, but typically start around $100. With proper care, they’ll last for years: keep them out of the dishwasher, store in a knife block and if you don’t want to sharpen your knife at home, take it to a kitchen store to be sharpened a few times a year.