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best carving knife?

I'm in the market for a good carving set - knife & fork. I don't have one yet. I know to look for a high-carbon stainless steel blade, and I prefer non-metallic handles. But what brands, models, manufacturers or stores would you suggest? Wusthof? Shun? Global? Mac? Calphalon? Do you like a granton edge or straight? 8" or 9 or 10"? I'd be using this mainly to cut big roasts & other meats.

Help me wade through all the info out there!

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  1. Granton edges were originally designed by the Granton company in Sheffield for this express purpose -- making a knife slide cleanly through roasts, hams, and such. So for once the little scallops may be justified. I would certainly prefer not to have a slippery metal handle in my grasp while working on the tenth or twentieth slice of a big roast, as well.

    That said, the size of your roasts and of your hands is likely to determine what suits you best. You can't carve a huge rib roast very easily with an 8" carving knife, while a 14" granton slicer is going to be massive overkill for the occasional Christmas turkey (and will probably lop off a finger at some point due to its wiggly blade).

    Go to somewhere like Sur La Table and try out all the ones that appeal to you, then look at the prices on the ones you prefer, keeping in mind the size of roast you plan to carve. Or, if you don't live near a yuppie magnet like that, but do live near a well-established butcher, ask them.

    My father settled on an old-style Forschner scimitar knife for this purpose. You never know until you try a bunch of different knives what will tickle your fancy.

    1. my modest take is that most quality knives are similar. knife maintenance, however, makes a huge difference. find some steel that works for you, then maintain it to a high order.

      1. It's likely you are having a problem choosing because there is so little information out there. Because there is no definition for the word "sharp" all knife makers make the same claim. Some even claim their knives stay sharp forever and because there isn't any definition of sharp, they can't be sued when the knife inevitably gets "dull."

        What you want for a carving knife is a bolsterless design which you will find in any knife from Shun, Global or Messermeister. You don't want a granton-edge knife. Because your carving knife might last a lifetime, the important issue becomes how easy it is to sharpen. Knives with bolsters extending to the edge of the blade make home sharpening very difficult. I'd avoid the granton-edge option because the blade shrinks a tiny bit every time it is sharpened and eventually the edge will migrate up to the scalloped section at which point you will have a very funky weird edge. Shun, Global and Messermeister are the way to go.

        1. I recently got an 8-inch Global carver that is the best knife I've ever owned. With my old 10-inch knife, I always had to clear stuff out of the way so I wouldn't knock anything over. I'm not sure Global makes any wooden-handled knives, though. The ones pictured on the Web appear to be all-metal. I haven't had any trouble with the handle getting slippery.

          1. Here's a good article in Slate.com comparing carving sets ranging in price from $20 to $975.


            1. I have worked in the restaurant business for 16 years. I also own, buy and sell knives. I am a big believer, with all cookware, of not getting too fixated on any one brand or style. I own both Japanese and German knives. For my chef's knives, I mostly use my Globals for any serious work. I have a Wusthof prep set which I like for small everyday tasks. For the money, I think Mundial represents the best value in German/European style knives.

              As for the carving knife: I think the European knives do a better job overall. I recommend the Mundial Olivier Anquier wood handled carving set. This is by far the best and best looking carving set out there, and it costs under $100 for the set. (By coolest, I mean, most appropriate looking for the task at hand). If you want a granton edge, which is nice, you will need to order the pieces separately.

              For a chef's knife, I usually don't recommend granton, for the reasons mentioned elsewhere in this thread. For carving/slicing knives though, it's a different story. I have one granton edge slicer which I use just for blocks of cheese and fish. And for roasts and turkey the granton edge is also a nice benefit. Assuming you are not using this carving knife for restaurant use, sharpening all the way down to the "scalloped section" is not an issue, especially with a carving knife, which is usually reserved for special occasions. Remember, a knife is not sharpened (only honed) after each use, but rather after several dozen uses. So even if you use this knife twelve or more times per year, most home cooks would have to live 10 lifetimes to sharpen their carver down to the granton edge! Also, I think 8 inches is fine for most home cooks, but you could look into a 10" slicer (they usually go by this name over 8 inches) if you cook VERY large roasts on a regular basis. Some even use (gasp) a serrated edge on a large slicer (the assumption is that carving a large roast will involved some tougher parts, exterior, etc.) But remember, you must store the knife, which is often an issue at home.


              3 Replies
              1. re: randallhank

                With you on serrated. I use a Victorinox (Forschner) serrated carver as a (brilliant) bread knife and it doubles as a reserve carver, but in reality it is better than any of my trad. carvers.


                1. re: Robin Joy

                  yeah, some people feel serrated "tears" the meat, but if there is a tough roasted exterior, or anything that needs to be hacked through the serrated comes in handy. As for the tearing issue, if the knife is a good forged, reasonably narrow blade it shouldn't be much of an issue. Mundial used to have a serrated carver with their discontinued wood-handled 2100 series (which I love). I see them all the time on ebay for VERY reasonable prices. I think at least one of their other "premium" forged lines has a serrated carver available as well. I wouldn't hesitate to use one, especially since, as you said, it could double as a bread knife or a large utility knife (think pineapple). The anti serrated crowd has finally started to fade. I certainly use a straight blade for most tasks, but their is a place for the serrated knives. One of my favorites, in fact is the Calphalon Katana serrated utility. Amazing. I use that one for small breads as well. I also have a Mundial 6 inch serrated utility which is not quite as scary as the Katana, but bigger and more useful than most "sausage" knives in the Wusthof, Henckels crowd.

                  I think the tearing issue is more pertinent to steak knives, where there are some purists who insist that the serrated ends of a steak knife will ruin a good filet mignon. I haven't tested it myself, but I suppose its plausible. Nonetheless, this shouldn't have much carry over into carving knives because one rarely would use a carving knife for tenderloin cuts. If I had to break down an entire tenderloin, I (and most chef's) would simply use my chef knife. What we are talking about here is birds and roasts, right?

                  1. re: Robin Joy

                    I agree. Mine is wonderful, and very inexpensive. I bought it om Amazon for twenty something. I love MAC 85 chefs knife, but that is one knife that I use all the time, and well worth the money.

                2. Personally, where I in the market for a new carving set it would be one of the three sets pictured below.

                  Links to the store;



                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      A knife hound always in search for the perfect blade (and fortunately with a few households to furnish and share the purchases) between the Wustoff Classics, Global SS, Schaaf, Sabatier and most recently Shun; it is the latter Shun and Shun Pro slicers, called 9" but actual usable blade is about 1/2" less. Available straight blade or with the scallops, I have the former and it is a formidable piece of cutlery that I save primarily for at the table slicing of roast turkeys, chickens, standing rib roasts and even racks of lamb and whole legs of lamb. Dramatic presentation and sharp enough to serve as a sushi blade (one side is completely vertical, the other side is angled for the cut) making a cut profile half as wide as the normal western style blade. Strong enough to wrestle with bone joints but sharp enough to slice turkey breasts thin enough to read through. Pricey but a lifetime blade that will outlive you.

                    2. Cooks Illustrated liked the Forschner Fibrox 12-Inch Granton Edge Slicing Knife. It's not as aesthetically pleasing as some of the others on the market. In general you want a 12 inch blade and potentially some sort of granton, Wusthof and Messermeister make similar knives but for the price the Forschner is preferred.