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.