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Paring knives

I'm in the market for a paring knife. What size should I get? 3", 4" 4 1/2"? I am a female with small hands.

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  1. I love the stamped steel Forschner paring knives. The nylon contoured handle is very comfortable, they hold a great edge and quite inexpensive.

    I have both the 3.5 and 4 inch paring knives in my kitchen


    1. I recently purchased a L'economie paring knife and a utility knife from Williams Sonoma, they are very lightweight and the paring knife fairly small (3.5" blade). I find the handles quite comfortable and the knives sharp and easy to use. Also, they're cheap!

      Link: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

      1. They're cheap, so get two. I have a shorter one that's good for peeling skin off things, and a longer one for cutting fruit. I don't find much use for paring knives other than these two uses.

        1. If you have small hands, try some of the paring knives from the Japanese -- either the Shun or the Global. Both are very good, and balanced just right.

          I currently am using a 4 1/4" paring knife from Global, and it works like a charm.

          1. The Mundial forged ones are a great deal - ~ $10 or so at a kitchen supply store. Probably more than adequate for most people's needs, and they have multiple lengths. I've heard you don't want to spend too much on a paring knife - since sharpening takes off metal, small knives don't last as long as chef's knives... plus you don't end up using them anywhere near as much as a chef's knife.

            1. Second Global knives. I have a 3" and it really is a dream to use. I have large paws, but it is a slim little knife, I know it will work very well for you.

              - Sean

              8 Replies
              1. re: Sean Dell

                Sean and ipsedixit,
                Thanks for advice. I consulted this knife skills book I have and that dude says the shorter the better. And the straighter the blade the better. After much research and debate, I settled on a Global 3 1/2" (GS-38, the "Western-style" one), on sale for $40. I can't wait to get it and test it out and break down a chicken.

                1. re: FoxyWiles


                  FoxyWiles wrote: "I can't wait to get it and test it out and break down a chicken."

                  Are you expecting to cut up a chicken with a pairing knife? Geez, that is a new one...


                  1. re: RShea78

                    It helps, doesn't it?. What do you use, just a chef's knife? Hack away with a clever? My mom would always use a large, heavy chef's knife. But this knife skills book I speak of ("Knife Skills Illustrated" by Peter Hertzman) says to use a paring knife for most of the job. So any advice would be appreciated.

                    1. re: FoxyWiles


                      No, using a pairing knife around bones, essentially ruins them for use on fruits and vegetables which can cause the blade to stray or lead when cutting.

                      I got a meat saw for the big stuff. Then I can use a breaking or boning knife of which is more intended for the job.


                      1. re: FoxyWiles

                        I'm a vegetarian, and I've never cut up a chicken (or even seen it done), but I think a lot of people like a flexible boning knife.


                        This site says:
                        Boning knife is a great alternative for the Chef's knife for everything except cutting through the keel bone.

                        But you can do the whole thing with a chef's knife, and maybe a pair of kitchen shears.

                        I also found this video on chow itself (from a quick google search):

                        (this one also shows a chef's knife and a thin boning knife being used)

                        1. re: will47


                          FYI- A boning knife is short for "de-boning", of which shares similar features to that of fillet knife that is used mostly in fish. Boning or fillet, knives of which ranges around 5 to 7.5 inches in blade length, also has a pointed tip. A fillet knife should be mostly flexible, as a boning knife should be closer to 30% from the tip portion.

                          Unfortunately, modern manufacturers run over each others toes calling things as they now see as fit.


                        2. re: FoxyWiles

                          I'd use a chef's knife or even a santoku to cut up a chicken: wings first, then thighs/legs, then the breast. I suppose you could use a paring knife to separate the wings and the thighs/legs since you're only slicing through a small tendon, but i'd want to use a chef's or a santoku on the breast, unless you are entirely deboning it, then you might want a boning knife.

                    2. re: Sean Dell

                      I too would recommend the Globals, which I have. This is the paring knife I have (the GSF 17): http://www.global-knife.com/products/...

                    3. I really like the curved paring knife from Lehman's. It won't impress anyone with a cutlery fetish, but I reach for it all the time.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Dave Westerberg


                        Dave, I found those curved blade paring knives to be real good around things like tomato skins or making the cross cuts prior to dicing onion halves.


                        1. re: RShea78

                          Yeah, I use it for everything: something about that shape really works well for me: mincing a clove of garlic is a breeze.

                      2. Hey FW, I would use the slightly bigger Global for the chicken. I have their lovely 5" for that. I'd keep the paring knife for just that, paring. Although you will get to love it so much you'll use it for all sorts of other things too. So much so that you'll 'need' a second before you know it.

                        Good luck.

                        - Sean

                        1. I really prefer a short blade, much better control and dexterity, the 4" included with most sets is too long, a 2 to 3" "bird's beak" is better.

                          1. I was looking to spend the money for a Shun Classic paring knife. At this size, is there a noticeable difference between a stamped blade and hot forged?
                            Basically, can I be spending less money on a paring knife than I was prepared to spend for my Shun Chef's knife?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: sasserwazr

                              If you're spending more than a few bucks on a paring knife, you're spending too much. Henckels sell a three piece kit that's of good enough quality for about 10 bucks. Paring knives are pretty much disposable, in the sense that woodcase pencils are. Sharpen them a few times, and they lose enough metal not to be useful any more.

                              1. re: dscheidt

                                Couldn't agree more. I've been using parers from the kitchen supply house for years and lately picking them up at my butcher's. He sells most of Forschner's line, used by meatcutters, butchers, and fishermen for decades (or longer?) because they sharpen well and are low cost enough that it's not a heart-breaker if they get lost or break from heavy use.
                                You can buy an entire box of 24 at Amazon for less than $100 and pitch 'em when they get beyond sharpening. There are others of different lengths and shapes.
                                An expensive paring knife seems like a waste. I've broken too many tips and nicked far too many edges.
                                Those Forschners are a great deal.

                                1. re: MakingSense

                                  can't go wrong with forschner. I really like the 9 inch chef's. I wouldn't spend big bucks on a paring knife. I did buy a wusthoff classic paring knife on ebay for around $10. The Messermeister Elite looks like a good one too

                                  1. re: chuckl

                                    I have one of those Messermeister Elite paring knives. It's probably ten years old now so I don't remember how much it was but I really like it. By far of all the paring knives I've had, cheap or expensive, it's been the most comfortable in my hand and it takes an edge super easy.

                            2. Like Kelli, I buy Forschner. I have large hands, so I use
                              a 4-1/2 utility. With Forschner, you can afford to
                              buy 2 or 3 different sizes to suit the task. And,
                              yes, they'll easily sharpen and last for many years.

                              1. Do you have a Forschner chef's knife, m?

                                I have a Sabatier 6" chef's, and a 10" grocery store special. I actually love them both. But...I'm looking for an 8" knife, and was considering a Fibrox. Any advice?

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: Steady Habits

                                  Forschner's chef's knives are a great deal, but shop around, some places mark them way, way up. They're not the nicest around, but they're very nice for the price. They take a good edge, but don't really keep it for terribly long, but it's very easy to bring back.
                                  Consider the rosewood, too, if you like; it's not much more money. I like the fibrox handles better, but they're ugly as all get out.

                                  1. re: dscheidt

                                    the fibrox handles look ugly, but they are quite practical and for me anyway, feel very good in my hand. Forschners are stamped rather than forged, and will be relatively light weight, but I think they're a very good all purpose chef's knife. Usually you can find a new one on ebay for between $20 and $25. BTW, America's test kitchen uses Forschner's chef's knives and consumer reports always rates them as a best buy.

                                    1. re: dscheidt

                                      Whether they keep an edge well or not may depend on individual habits.
                                      After all, Forscher/Fibrox is a brand used fairly widely by fisherman and meatcutters/butchers who sharpen as a matter of course.
                                      A dull knife is dangerous and it's foolish to wait until you can tell that your knife really needs to be sharpened. Sometimes, the knife slipping and whacking your finger is the sign that it's not sharp.

                                      I long ago got into the habit of steeling my knives each and every time I pull them out. It was a pain at first, but I got used to it really quickly and now it's second nature.
                                      I can go a long time between professional sharpenings. They maintain good edges and even inexpensive knives perform well when cared for like the top of the line models.

                                      The prices on Amazon are a good guide so you don't get taken.
                                      You will have to put effort into caring for ANY knife you buy. These are terrific starter knives but still great even if you've been cooking for decades.
                                      As we've said, lots of pros use them.

                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                        Sabatier Nogent paring knives are very light, take an edge really well, and have a nice trim shape. Besides, they are a nice piece of history and Julia Childs used them. The smallest, however, is $39.95.

                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                            What kind of steel do you have, MS?

                                            Mine is junk. I need to invest in a better one.

                                            1. re: Steady Habits

                                              Mine was made by Gerber, which no longer makes knives.
                                              I've had it almost 40 years so it pays to buy a good one!
                                              This steel is about 18 inches long including the handle and weighs at least two pounds. Fearsome thing.

                                              They're a good investment because you won't have to sharpen your knives as often. Sharpening takes off some of the metal each time.
                                              My father's favorite slicer was worn down to less than half of its original width after about 60+ years of use and sharpening by the time he died. I never could persuade him to use a steel routinely.

                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                I steel my knives with every use, but I think the two steels I have are cheap mass-market Henckels editions. Is it worth it to buy one of the diamond steels?

                                                1. re: Steady Habits

                                                  I have no idea. Why don't you ask a butcher or chef. They likely don't do the full-out sharpening on their knives every day so they might be able to give you some good advice.
                                                  I have what appear to be lesser quality steels that were parts of antique flatware sets that don't seem to do a very good job and also some of those funky stag-horn-looking things. I guess quality does vary widely.

                                                  I know that after I steel the blade on one of my good knives, I can sight along it and see that it's straight. If I don't steel it, it has little wavers and nicks. I can REALLY tell the difference in the way they cut/slice/chop. Wow! Big change.

                                          2. re: dscheidt

                                            dscheidt, I think I'm old-fashioned; I still like my handles made of wood, though they are getting harder to find, I understand they may not be as sanitary, and I forget to oil them as often as I should. I'll look for those. TY.

                                        1. this is probably moving into the realm of a new thread, but the issue of steels is important,and heck, if you've read this far, it may matter to you! The diamond steels will do more than hone. They will grind (sharpen), probably not advisable on an every use basis. The consisently best recommendations seem all to point to F. Dick steels. I steel my two little (very old now) carbon steel paring knives each time I use them and sharpen them usually around the 4th of July and Christmas. They are always very sharp. Also I agree with Pei about uses for paring knives, but others in the house seem to like them. My daughter has proclaimed my 10" chef's knife "evil," but I believe her technique is to blame. She likes to hold the knife by the handle, almost like a pistol. I grab it right where the handle ends and the blades begins for most tasks. So as you pick any knife, don't just feel the handle; hold as you would use it to cut. A final thought/ramble. Some of the less expensive knives are popular in commercial kitchens and on fishing boats because they are cheap enough to use awhile and toss. I am not saying they are not great knives or that they would not hold up for many long years. I am just saying that there may be other factors at work on the issue of popularity. If you get knives you love and keep them a long time, maintaining them well, even fairly pricey ones can take on a justifiable aura of reasonableness! You can spend as much on a halibut sterak as you can on a darned good paring knife!