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Good knife rec needed

Want to get the hubby an upgraded chef's knife for Xmas. We currenly have a so-so quality 8" Wustof from about 15 yrs ago that has got quite a few nicks and is staying sharp for less and less time. I would like something in the $100 range and not sure if I should stick to traditional chef's knife or go for Santuko type. What else should I look for? I'd like this one to last 30 years - we take pretty good care of them (use a sharpening stick, keep the blade in a molded plastic cover, hand wash and dry etc), but use it A LOT.


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  1. It sounds like the reasons the knife you have is staying sharp for a shorter and shorter length of time is because it needs to be reground and it's being used all the time. The sharpening steel is a misnomer. It doesn't actually remove metal, it simply straightens out the edge. At some point the edge rounds over and it needs to be reground. To see what condition your knife is in, hold it at chest level looking directly down at the edge in a room with bright overhead light (or take it outside in the sun). If you can see any light reflecting off the edge, it means the edge is rounded over and needs to be reground.

    Now if this is the go to knife in the kitchen and you buy one more like it, then you will extend the life of both edges quite a bit.

    You have lots of options in the $100 range, but the question is this...does your husband use the knife mostly on meat or veggies. If the answer is veggies, then get him the Santoku style knife.

    Hope that helps.

    1. jcanncuk,
      The forged Wustof knife should be a lifetime purchase, so I have to wonder if you have had it professionally sharpened as recommended. The use of a steel will keep the edge in shape, but all knives should be professionally sharpened at least once, and maybe twice a year.
      I have a forged chefs knife that is 15 years old, and is used vigorously in commercial kitchens, and the edge has never been nicked. Scratches on the side of a forged blade are the proud signs of patina, but a nicked blade is proof that is has been abused by a uncaring owner.

      A santuko blade is not a replacement for a chef's knife, but it does have its place in a knife arsenal for a well equipped foodie.

      1. Just curious - where would you use a Santuko in place of a chef's knife?

        We eat meat rarely at home so 99% of our chopping is veggies (well, and cheese, but not with the chef's knife!) including a lot of Asian veggies, squash, etc. which tend to be hard to chop & seem tough on the knife.

        1. I'd vote for a professional sharpening, which won't cost much at all and will
          make using the knife *so* much more pleasurable, as well as a lot safer. And
          then go get a santuko. It sounds like you folks do a lot of cutting, so having a
          second, different knife in the arsenal won't be a waste. I heart my Shun, but they're
          built for right handed people (the handle is shaped interestingly) so if hubby's
          a southpaw, I wouldn't recommend it.

          And when you get the old guy sharpened, try to remember what it's like so when
          it's not like that anymore, you go get it done again. A sharp knife is a safe knife.

          1. Ditto on what Chuckles said: buy a nice Santuko for a gift and get the Wusthoff sharpened up for continued use.

            1. Sounds like a great plan! Thanks!

              1. Hmmm & on that note - any recs on the Santuko?? There are so many out there, I'm not sure what to look for & don't want to buy a big brand name just because (& even then, I know they vary a lot within their ranges of quality these days)

                2 Replies
                1. re: jcanncuk

                  I don't think you can go wrong with the Shun classic, if you want to spend the money. Some people believe the hollow ground blade helps you slice better, some don't - but it certainly can't help. Try the Global too - some poeple like it, and some people don't like the feel.

                  I have a Wusthof, and have been pretty happy with it. But I dunno - it's a Japanese knife, so why not get a Japanese one...

                  There's an excerpt of a review about them here:

                  They suggest both the MAC "superior" santoku and the Shun knife.

                  If either of you is left handed, keep in mind that the Shun's handle is intended for right-handed people.

                  1. re: will47

                    Found these (indirectly) through another recent thread... anyone have experience with this brand (Tojiro)? http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/DPS...

                    Looks like a pretty good deal.

                    The site where I initially found these:

                    seems to have a lot of interesting high end Japanese knives.

                2. As others have said, sounds like it may need to be re-sharpened. There are some mail-order places that will do it for you if you can't find someone good locally.

                  I have no first hand experience (yet) with either of these, but I've been looking at the following two sites:

                  Anyone have any recommendations for a local place that does a good job with knife sharpening?

                  All that said, I just got a Shun chef's knife and I like it a lot. It's not cheap (~ $120), but wow it's sharp... and they are reputed to stay sharp for a lot longer than standard high carbon steel kitchen knives. And it looks cool too. I've heard mostly good things about Global knives as well, though some people don't like the feel.

                  On the cheaper side of things, Mundial makes a forged 8" chef's knife that you can get for $25 or so online, which is pretty good quality for the price. Some people even like them better than the German knives they're a copy of. I have read a lot of good stuff about the lower end Forschner and MAC knives too.

                  I have a Santoku (mine's a Wusthof w/ the hollows in the blade) as well, and agree that it's great for general chopping and slicing... though you can't use the traditional "rocking" motion with it. So some of it depends on how you cut. (Shun makes santokus, and also makes a wicked sharp knife, sharpened on only one side (like many Japanese style knives), called a Nakiri, which is great for chopping vegetables and such). So one approach would be to get your existing knife sharpened, and then try a new type of knife too.

                    1. The Global Vegetable knife is a great value at around $85. It does a beautiful job chopping vegetables and is razor sharp. I cook professionally and have been using mine for 3 years. It has never been professionally sharpened but I keep on top of it with a diamond steel and it remains very sharp. Its not like a Wustof or something along those lines though, Globals are fairly lightweight by nature and I get the impression that the blade is fragile so I don't know whether you could get one to last 30 years.

                      1. I bought a 8" Forschner chef's knife in 1978 and it is still in great shape. They are made by Victorionix (swiss army knife people). The down side is they are way lighter than the Wustof and if you are used to a heavy knife you may not like the Forschner. I also bought a Cutco and I really like it. Heavier than the Forschner and with a plastic handle is dishwasher safe.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jfood

                          I love my brand new 8" Forschner Fibrox chef's knife. It's sharp, the handle is comfortable and doesn't slip, and it's amazingly cheap ($20-25).

                          Oh, and Cook's Illustrated rated it higher than $100+ knives they tested. Go figure.

                        2. I've been a Wusthof fan for years, and my 10-inch chef's knife is like an extension of my hand. A couple of months ago, I purchased the Wusthof santoku, more out of curiosity than need. I really like the way it slices, but missed the ability to "rock" as I'm cutting.

                          I also like the dimples that the santoku knives have, which make starchy foods like potatoes less likely to stick to the blade between cuts.

                          So, when glancing at the Mac display in a cookware shop a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Mac has a 10-inch German-shaped chef's knife WITH dimples. I purchased it (I've been treating myself a lot lately!), and am very pleased. I get to rock and roll (although the rocking motion of this knife needs a bit of getting used to) and have my dimples too!

                          One thing I've noticed about both the Wusthof santoku and the Mac knife is that I must teach myself to apply much less pressure as I'm cutting - these knives make pretty deep grooves through my maple cutting board.

                          1. I grew up on MAC knives. They sharpen easily, but the thinner blades (particularly good for cutting sushi and sashimi, as well as preparing the thinly sliced Japanese vegetables) can chip. You can get a ceramic "steel" that puts a nice edge on the knife.

                            While I use Wusthof knives, I also like Global - good ergnomic feel and the all metal handle/blade construction is good for sanitation purposes.

                            1. This may be a stupid question, but does one use a honing steel on a Shun knife? Someone told me (and I can't remember who!) that because the Shun has a different angle blade than the normal chef knife, one shouldn't use a honing steel on it. My knife skills course professor told me that I should. I figured that if anyone knew, Chowhounds would....

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: dartmouth05

                                Ok to steel the Shuns - and yes they should be steeled. At 15 degrees not 20 degrees like most German knives.

                                Shun makes a steel with a guard that is beveled to the correct angle.

                                1. re: ziggylu

                                  I believe you're supposed to use a ceramic or diamond steel on the (harder steel) Japanese knives. That's what I heard about Global too.

                                  re: the Shun steel - I've heard that before... how exactly does that work? I've never used the guard to determine the angle - I usually just eyeball it.

                                  1. re: will47

                                    I use a diamond steel on the one Shun that I have. I don't beleive their own steel is diamond steel though.

                                    The guard has a straight edge on it. If you lay your knife against it with the edge of the blade on the steel itself you will then apparently be in the proper angle. Hard to explain. I used to work at one of hte kitchen stores and we were trained on how to demonstrate this but I have not myself used it on any more my own knives so don't have experience with whether it really works or not...

                                    1. re: ziggylu

                                      No - that makes sense... I think I know what you're talking about. I guess you could just mark the spot (after figuring out the angle) on a regular steel and save the $100 or however much theirs is.

                              2. I'm a fan of Messermeister Meridian Elite knives, although they can be difficult to find. I think they are wonderfully weighted, but the more dainty among us may find them a bit heavy.

                                  1. Totally unfashionable but great and very reasonable: Dexter knives. The connoisseur models are great.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Westy

                                      I have a couple of Dexters I bought at a restaurant supply store in Oakland, CA. The white
                                      plastic handled commercial ones. The shape, light weight, and thin blades are great. And
                                      they pop into the dishwasher without a worry. They take a bit of work to keep sharp and the
                                      blade tends to chip easily, especially if sharpened at too low an angle. The steel is very
                                      *not* equivalent in quality to what you get with high-end german and japanese blades,
                                      so they don't hold an edge nearly as long.

                                      I'd recommend them highly, but only to someone who wants to spend time doing frequent
                                      actual sharpening on a stone (as opposed to honing with a steel). And since they cost about
                                      1/5 that of knives with German names, they're a good place to start learning how to sharpen
                                      if you think you might enjoy it.

                                    2. I love my Forschner knives. I was planning on investing in some Wusthof or Shun, but a chef friend of mine recommended the Forschners.

                                      It does, however, sound like you want to get something particularly special. To me, the Forschner is a great, great workhorse knife. It's a great buy as well. But you might want to get him something like a Mac or Shun Santoku as a special present. I'd also check ebay, as I've seen great deals on these knives.

                                      1. Sadly, I am a Canuck in Canada so I don't know if I can get a deal at all. I did check my local wholesale kitchen mecca this week and the Global Santoku is $150 Canadian although I think I can talk them down a little. Will try eBay.ca as well. Thanks all for your recs. I'm going to get either the Global or MAC - would really like to "feel" one before I buy though as I like to know how it sits in the hand....

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jcanncuk

                                          Do consider the larger Global Vegetable knife, in my opinion it is a nicer knife to work with, better weighted and more easily maneuvered. I love mine. And, if you do end up buying a global and using a diamond steel its important to remember that they get sharpened more on one side than the other (7 on one 3 on the other, I think).

                                        2. I apprenticed on the line at Daniel, where several of my peers recommended I trade in my old knives for Misono 440s at Korin, and now I am evangelist, myself. Here's the link:

                                          They are currently running a 15% sale for the holidays on all knives, at least online.

                                          Saori Kawano, an industrious businesswoman who moved to New York in the ‘70s with the hope of bringing Japanese knives to the States, runs this beautiful store in Tribeca. You will feel really pampered in the store, where they will treat you with nearly overwhelming warmth and respect, and give you free lessons on how to use a sharpening stone.