It really doesn’t matter if you work in a Michelin star restaurant or simply like to get creative in your own kitchen – the chef’s knife is always going to be one of the most important tools in your culinary arsenal. You can have a knife sharpened when the blade becomes dull, but, as much as it might break your heart, there’s also going to come a time when your chef’s knife needs to be replaced completely.

Here are just four signs that time has arrived.

  1. Large Chips

The blade of your chef’s knife is always going to pick up a few smaller nicks as time goes by – that’s a natural process of wear and tear. However, there’s a big difference between those small nicks and large chips. Minor imperfections can be smoothed out, but larger ones are going to impair the knife’s ability to make clean and precise cuts. If your kitchen knife has any large chips, it’s time for a replacement.

  1. Looseness

Some chef’s knives are made from a single piece of metal, but the vast majority use small metal rivets to secure the blade to the handle. As the years go by, those rivets can start to loosen. This will affect the stability and balance of the blade, which could lead to accidents. As such, looseness between blade and handle is a clear sign the knife needs replacing.

  1. Difficult to Use

Maybe your knife simply doesn’t feel at home in your hand. It might be the wrong size or feel heavy or imbalanced. It’s not the knife’s fault, but you should still look for a replacement. Comfort matters, after all.

  1. Broken or Bent Tip

You’ll use the cutting edge of your chef’s knife a whole lot more than you need the tip, but that doesn’t mean a broken or bent tip can be disregarded. For starters, you won’t be able to use it when you need to, having to waste time swapping to another knife instead. Secondly, the impact needed to bend or break the tip will probably have seen the rest of the blade bend into the bargain.