August 28, 2009, 03:57 PM
I don't intend on using kitchen knives as weapons, however there are a ton of knife/cutlery experts on this forum so I thought to ask you guys first.
My girlfriend is changing colleges and moving into an apartment in my area. She's an excellent cook and she wants to pick up some good knives. She asked me to help her out since she knows I'm a knife guy. I think I know a good deal of information about blades, but kitchen knives aren't really my forte. Do you guys have any recommendations on what to buy? I'm looking for some good stuff but I don't want to break the bank. (to be honest I really don't know the price ranges on kitchen knives or what I should expect to pay for quality cutlery)
What are some good kitchen knives? (ie- brand, blade steel, etc.)
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August 28, 2009, 04:08 PM
You really can't go wrong with the victorinox/Forschiner line of kitchen knives. They are not too expencive, show up in a lot of chef's kitchens, and are very good quality knives. Over the past several years, I've given away most of my excess kitchen cutlery, and kept the victorinox. You can get either the dishwasher safe synthetic handles, or the very nice rosewood handles. I have a sampling of both.
I homed in on them only because I like my sak's, and my cousin is a chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute Of America in Hyde Park New York, and he said that's all they used up there. Must be something going for them.
If you are interested in Victorinox, Smoky Mountain Knifeworks has a good selection of the kitchen knives at very reasonable prices.
August 28, 2009, 04:31 PM
Also, you might take a look at ceramic kitchen cutlery. I've got one 6" knife that I picked up at Harbor Freight for about $12 and it's going great. There are a few things about ceramics you need to think about -- they're brittle so don't try to pry anything with these guys, and you can't sharpen them. I had read somewhere that the only way to sharpen these things is to send them back to the factory, but they're supposed to hold an edge for darn near forever.
I also recommend Victorinox and Smoky Mountain Knifeworks, can't go wrong with either.
August 28, 2009, 04:44 PM
Cruise the Smoky Mt Knife works website. You will see a number of brands with Vic stuff being on the lower price range. Henkel are very good too. They just cost more than I'm willing to pay to see my wife pry off something with one of my better kitchen knives.
August 28, 2009, 04:46 PM
It would be easy to break the bank when buying quality knives. Instead of buying a set of dubious quality, I would purchase two or three very good knives. A large Chef's knife, a pairing knife, and either a santuko or a general utility.
If I was going to buy, I would go with Shun, but they get pricey quick. As an alternative, you could go with San Mai cutlery.
These should be very sharp, but will rust easier.
August 28, 2009, 05:04 PM
Also, you might take a look at ceramic kitchen cutlery. I've got one 6" knife that I picked up at Harbor Freight for about $12 and it's going great. There are a few things about ceramics you need to think about -- they're brittle so don't try to pry anything with these guys, and you can't sharpen them.
Also, when the edges chip, those chips go into your food.
Not great for the teeth, gums, GI tract...
I'll stay with steel.
Henckels are my current choice, with a Shun here and a Wusthof there.
August 28, 2009, 05:31 PM
There are some pretty well recognized names out there, and someone will be along shortly to point those out.
If you want decent quality -- like, say, restaurant grade -- but don't really have a thing for the cosmetics, then I will suggest Forschner (by Victorinox) and Swibo (by Wenger).
Swibo example (on left) and Forschner example (on right):
104287 . . . . . 104288
I have Swibo knives that I've owned for two and three decades. They just keep working.
Buck Knives also produces a very serviceable line of kitchen cutlery, under their Americraft brand.
104290 . . . 104291
And finally, KAI -- the Kershaw folks -- do a very nice line under their Shun brand.
104293 . . . 104292
Hope these give you some ideas.
August 28, 2009, 11:06 PM
I have a mix of Wusthof, Chicago Cutlery and Henkel. All of which are in their forged (higher end) lines. I don't think the Chicago line I have is available anymore.
August 29, 2009, 05:15 AM
You'd be amazed to know that everything I do in the kitchen is done with 2 knives instead of a drawer/block/roll full of knives.
A santoku and a paring knife is all that I use most of the time. A serrated bread knife is a great addition just because it cuts bread better than anything else. My santoku is an inexpensive Spyderco. The paring knife is an inexpensive Kitchen Aid.
Do I have other expensive kitchen knives? Yep. I have a special set of hand made Japanese knives that I keep in their boxes in a drawer that I forbid my family to even touch. Do they get used? Rarely. Does the cheap Spyderco santoku get used? Every day. Same for the inexpensive paring knife. Why would this be the case? Because the stainless Spyderco and Kitchen Aid can be used by my wife or daughter and left sitting in the sink all day and be washed and put back into use easily where my other knives would have to be hand washed, dried and oiled before I would put them back in their boxes and put away.
Knives Illustrated or Blade magazines conducted a head to head comparison last year and the best economical set was the Timberline Cape Cod line. They were very complimentary of them.
August 29, 2009, 08:00 AM
OP states he is a knife guy, and wants good knives without breaking the bank.
My suggestion, and what I do, is search the thrift stores and yard sales for good carbon steel knives. Clean them up, maybe rescale, sharpen and your good to go.
Easy to maintain, cut great, and have character.
Just my .02
August 29, 2009, 09:29 AM
One of the very best deals I've seen so far is along the lines of what HSO suggested. A pair or trio of knives.
The Lorena Garcia signature line of knives available through Belk department stores are very very nice quality.
You can buy a 3 pack with a Santoku, boning knife, and a paring blade for as low as 20 bucks. When you pick them up, they sing. When you sharpen them, they stay sharp. They don't have composite handles, so when you wash them, they're clean and don't have crud in crevices. Apart from that, a bread knife is really all you need in addition to these three.
August 29, 2009, 11:24 AM
I agree with only needing a few knives to get the job done. I am a pretty good cook with a fairly stocked kitchen and only have a French knife, a long paring knife, and a tomato knife.
If you can, you should really get your girlfriend to a local knife technique class. They should teach it with chef's knives and have at least half a dozen options to try out as far as length as well as Santoku vs French knife. Some people love Santoku, some hate them, just like anything in the world it is a matter of what feels good in the hand.
Whatever you do, do not go with ceramic. I had a short flirtation with ceramic, and while they seem very sexy, they are a pain to care for. They are extremely brittle, so they can crack and shatter, while you're cutting, hitting the board does cause flakes of ceramic to chip off on occasion, and on top of that they're nearly impossible to sharpen.
As far as brands to look into, I'm partial to German steel meaning Wüsthof and Zwilling J. A. Henckels. Other companies that make excellent kitchen knives include Shun (owned by KAI, makers of Kershaw knives) and Global. If these are too expensive, then J.A. Henckels International and Chicago Cutlery both make decent value knives, but I have found that they don't retain an edge as well as Zwilling or Wüsthof knives, but your mileage may vary.
August 29, 2009, 01:02 PM
We get almost everything done with an 8" Shun chef's knife and a 4" Shun paring knife.
The Shuns have a VG-10 core with a bevel at ~30 degrees.
Those two blades, a steel, and a Spyderco Sharpmaker make for a pretty slick basic Kitchen Cutlery system.
Also recommend the local 'knife skills' class. We did this prior to buying our knives, and what we learned influenced our purchases.
August 29, 2009, 01:08 PM
I have some new Henkels open stock knives for sale, all Professional S series, one of their top forged lines. These usually go in the $180-200 range.
(5) 10" Chef knives 31021-260 $80
(7) 10" Slicers 31020-260 $80
(4) 7" Santoku 31120-180 $80
(1) 6" Slicer 31020-160 $70
(2) 6" Chef knives 31021-160 $70
I also have a 10" Wusthof sharpening steel $18
a Wusthof take apart kitchen shears $18
(3) Wusthof oak 17 hole knife blocks $20
All are new, all prices plus shipping
Please PM me if interested
August 29, 2009, 01:37 PM
...A santoku and a paring knife is all that I use most of the time. A serrated bread knife is a great addition just because it cuts bread better than anything else....
I fall into the same category, though I quite often forgo the paring knife and, instead of a Santoku, I use this quite similar Satsuma knife (http://www.japanwoodworker.com/product.asp?s=JapanWoodworker&pf_id=05.131.9&dept_id=13198).
My wife prefers a Joyce Chen Chinese cleaver/kitchen knife (http://www.cooking.com/products/shprodde.asp?sku=160397&CE=c&ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.shopwiki.com%2Fjoyce%2Bchen%2Ball%2Bin%2Bone%2Bchinese%2Bcleaver).
August 29, 2009, 04:04 PM
Chicago Cutlery knives have been made in China for awhile but the price is right and the knives perform well for kitchen chores.
I have come to like the Santoku patterns and we use daily our 7"and 5"
For paring, Old Hickorys fill the bill.
The mentioned knives can be purchased for around $60.00 total.
August 29, 2009, 04:21 PM
Agree with hso I use one santuko (Chicago cutlery) and one pairing knife
(Wusthof) for 95% of my kitchen duties. A chef and a slicer cover most of the rest.
August 29, 2009, 04:22 PM
Why would this be the case? Because the stainless Spyderco and Kitchen Aid can be used by my wife or daughter and left sitting in the sink all day and be washed and put back into use easily . . .
I cringed when I read that.
I have some really nice NIB kitchen knives that I figured I'd put in service, but it turns out there are simply too many people in and out of the kitchen since my daughter's family moved in with us. I keep finding some of my better pieces in the dishwasher or in the sink (with food residue still on them). There's always some last-minute hurry-hurry going on, and never time to stop and properly clean the cutlery and return it to the block, and my wife, bless her, just isn't a knife-and-tools person.
So I do much the same thing. I leave the newer, pristine knives in the box and do what I can to care for the ones actually in use.
When I'm on my own in the kitchen, I'll dig out one of mine -- say, a sodbuster or some sort of hunting or fishing knife -- and do a salad or slice up a roast and prepare stew meat, and just enjoy the indulgence of using a tool I've personally cared for. I never have to wonder if it's sharp, and there's no chance it will get left around to suffer the vagaries of random traffic in the kitchen.
August 29, 2009, 08:33 PM
Old Hickory! I have got some new but most from Garage/Estate Sales . Tough and will take a razor edge without a lot of effort.
Black Toe Knives
August 29, 2009, 10:05 PM
Being a knife guy. I am partial to Chris Reeve or Ken Onion kitchen Knives. They are the best of the best.
August 29, 2009, 10:17 PM
My sister isn't any better at housekeeping than I am.
Because of this, there is a wooden knife block full of WalMart's next-to-cheapest knives residing next to our cutting block.
Better knives would be wasted - until we mend our ways, anyway.
August 29, 2009, 10:33 PM
"...Victorinox..." Yep. My Victorinox French knife was new in 1973. Still going strong. Paid $25Cdn for it, a boning knife and paring knife. Hotel Mgmt school. Add a good quality paring knife, a steel and a thick wooden(not plastic) cutting board.
August 30, 2009, 07:49 AM
Chicago Cutlery, Russell, Case.
All are good knives and none are going to break the bank.
I recommend going to the kitchen supply store (the one for professional kitchens, not the one in the mall) in your area and looking at what they have for sale. They supply knives to restaurants and chefs so they will have good quality knives and a good price.
The Japanese knives mentioned are all good knives but extremely hard, some bordering on brittle, and very difficult to sharpen.
Thrift stores and yard sales are also good places, as has been mentioned, if you know what you want.
August 30, 2009, 10:32 AM
I'm with Delta Boy - Old Hickory. :D
August 30, 2009, 01:08 PM
Global Knives are a very good, mid-priced option. They have all the basics. They are more or less on par with Henckels and a cut above (no pun intended) Chicago Cutlery. They are neither inexpensive nor are they exorbitant. They have a lot of "two piece starter sets" that are economical.
Chef Knives To Go has a great selection and many of the brands commented upon above.
August 30, 2009, 07:12 PM
These are about the most handy ones I've found for about anything. There is one missing, a green handled, curved paring knife I've lost somewhere.
I picked them up at a Bed, Bath and Beyond while shopping for a wedding gift. The happy couple also got a set.
August 31, 2009, 02:16 PM
Highlander, check out this discussion at Chowhound:
September 1, 2009, 12:31 PM
Thanks for the excellent input everyone. I've been busy helping with the move in so I haven't had a chance to really sink my teeth into all of this information just yet. I haven't forgotten about the thread.
September 1, 2009, 02:52 PM
This Chinese Cleaver is my go to knife. I have a drawer full of kitchen knives but this one is used most in the cutting of meats and slicing of vegetables. I bought this one, made in Japan, for only $18.35 delivered! I use the back of the blade to bash frozen vegetable packages.
The Chinese Cleaver is also used as a scoop, carrying your sliced meats and vegetables to the pot. This really cuts preparation time.
I did buy a block of Cold Steel kitchen knives. In my experience their non serrated knives (like the Chef knife) take a better edge and hold it longer than equivalent priced brands. Cold Steel knives are made from 420, they are not so hard that they are hard to sharpen, but they are not as soft as the competition.
This is something that folks do not address. The typical housewife does not need a Rockwell 60 knife. She won't be able to sharpen the thing.
While I like the serrated victorinox 3” paring knife, my plain bladed victorinox knives don’t hold an edge for long. When the serrated paring knife gets dull, it goes in the trash can. I have ground dull ones to a plain edge, and I was not impressed with the edge holding ability.
I use the K4 nonserrated Cold Steel kitchen knife a lot.
I purchased one ceramic paring knife. Must have cost $70.00. I was not impressed with the edge. A diamond hone will sharpen the thing, but I was not able to get as fine an edge as a steel knife. The edge breaks when it gets too thin.
September 3, 2009, 07:41 AM
Have a number of good, excellent - and superb - kitchen blades - mainly japanese. I too generally, more often than not, use just a paring or petty knife. And about the only time I use a second (or third) knife is when dealing with raw vegetable or fruit items for salad etc and raw meat or fish. I can then just wash my hands and switch knives.
My suggestion for a basic set; a 3" paring, a 4"-5" paring or petty, an 8"- 9" chefs knife, and a bread knife if desired. Often these are listed in catalogs in metric lengths. If you can not visualize or convert 120mm, 150mm etc refer to a standard ruler which usually has milimeter scale on one edge for conversion.
In new knives I think that some of the best deals are to be found on the evilBay dot com. Many sellers are dumping such items "buy it now" in the $30 to $50 range - sometimes with free shipping.
Just go to the 'bay advanced search page, and type:
Masahiro (or pick another brand like Misono, Tojiro etc)
Be sure to go down and tick; (BUYING FORMAT) "include store inventory" and (SORT BY) "Price: lowest first", and them click the lower page search icon.
I have some great vintage Kaicut (Japan) and Solingen knives that are "new old stock", circa 1960s, with excellent steel that I found on there at bargain prices. A couple of years ago I found two new in the box Masahiro chefs knives with laminated blades ("MC-80") for about $20 a piece (These two were truly razor sharp from the factory; I have never touched a knife that was so sharp out of the box).
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