HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


what knife is best for you

as a culinary arts instructor i am often ask what knife is best for me.my answer is the knife that feels good in your hand.there are two types of knives. stamped & forged.the stamped blade is lighter in weight and cost a lot less and there are many good stamped blades on the market.i like the messermeister four seasons and the park plaza.i also like the forschner with the black fibrox handle.if money is not a problem by all means check out the mac brand of japanese knives.(these are my personal choice) forged knives are a lot heaverer and cost a lot more but the benefit is they will for the most part last a life time.awesome brands of forged knives are shun,wusthof classic & san moritz & mederian from messermeister.your thoughts on the subject are appreciated.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have 3 old Gerber blades, a large chef's knife, a smaller one and a ham slicer (a gift). Also on hand is a huge Wusthof chef's knife I call the Excalibur I don't use it very often but when I haul it out everyone knows I mean business.
    But the one I use every day and therefore gets the most use is a $10.00 Cuisinart Santoku I bought at a TJMaxx 3 years ago. I use several different knives when prepping a meal and each has it's own unique function in my hand.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      boy you bring back memories when you said gerber.many years ago i found 2 gerber balance plus knives at a yard sale for $5,00 and i still use them from time to time. the santoku you mentioned is called a chinese chefs knife and is becoming the most popular style of knife sold today.i have a mac forged santoku granton edge and i love it.you mentioned the large wusthof chefs knife and that brings up the point that so many people buy the wrong size chef knife. the size of the knife is based on a persons height.the taller the person the longer the knife.when slicing the shoulder should not be moving as this will tire you out.chefs knives come in sizes from 4" to 12" long.

      1. re: big john

        Thanks big john. Boy, are you ever right about the 12" Wusthof! That was a gift too, While I am enamored of it, I'm also intimidated. I do manage to use it every now and again just so the person who gifted me with it doesn't get upset. That's a lot of $$ to spend for one knife.

        1. re: big john

          I too have some Gerber made when Pete Gerber still owned the company. I trerasure them. My go to knife for most chopping and slicing is my 10" Henkels chef's kinfe. I also have 2 sizes of Santoku knives from Henkels. Another fave is my Dexter cleaver. Oh I have a Gerber tomato knife I will never part with. It is a 6" and the grip is non-slip. It cuts beautifully through soft foods without smashing them. I will be slicing a bunch of heirloom tomatoes for a Slow Foods demo this Sat. AM at our local Farmer's Market. That knife will be going with me.

          1. re: big john

            My favorite knife happens to be a Gerber Balance Plus 10" Chefs knife. I bought it along with the matching 7 " boning knife 20 years ago and they are still going strong. I use my F. Dick Multicut each and every time if I use my knives and they are razor sharp.

        2. My beautiful 8 inch Misono chef's knife!

          1 Reply
          1. re: femmenikita

            congrats you have one of the best japanese knives made.have you checked out the new mvh line from masahiro????

          2. I reach for my Dexter Chinese cleavers more often than any other.
            I held the "Chromo" series of knives designed by Porsche. I liked them well enough, but I think I'll stick with my Dexters.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Westy

              a little advise on the dexter russell cleavers.they have t different ones.one is a high carbon cleaver and it will rust and stain if not dried as soon as you use it.the best is the dexter russell green river works cleaver (it says thet on the blade) it is a great blade that stays sharp a long tome and is easy to sharpen.keep in mind it is a vegetable cleaver and not to be used on bones.god i love the chowhound site

            2. I completely agree with the sentiment that you should use what is comfortable. Whenever I am in the market for a new blade, I request the ability to hold it, even 'test' it by running it in a chopping or slicing motion on a cutting board.

              Personally, I have a pinch grip and I choke up on the blade quite a bit. If the knife I am using does not have a rounded spine the area between the first and second knuckle (from the palm) on my index finger starts to get raw. I simply can't do much volume with that kind of irritation - so definitely TEST the knives first.

              Currently, my favorite is the Shun Ken Onion Santoku. It's wicked sharp and seems to be built with us pinch-grippers in mind.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Plat du jour

                i think the shun ken onion is the best thing since white bread.i love the concave area at the bolster.it makes it so easy to choke up on the blade.i have taken my older blades to a machine shop and had the top of the blade at the bolster rounded so i don't blister my index finger

              2. Global's are the best fit for my small hands. I feel clumsy holding anything else.

                2 Replies
                1. re: aperitif

                  great knives.global also has to great left handed knives the G-7L oriental deba and the G-11L yanagi sashimi

                  1. re: aperitif

                    A Global 7" vegetable knife is my go-to slicer, dicer and chopper and it fits my large hands well too (pinch-gripped on the blade). Best $90 I ever spent.

                  2. I have a forged 6" Forschner knife that is my general purpose knife. I had originally bought a forged 6" French shape blade, but I broke the tip off when I did a stupid trick of trying to separate frozen meat when I was in the weeds once on a Saturday night. Professional Cutlery direct didn't sell the French shape any longer, so they replaced it with the 6" German knife. I found a replacement 6" French blade, but I keep it in a sheath and everyone knows that it is off limits to use w/o asking first. I prefer the longer French blade and the round handles, but they are difficult to find.

                    Like Gio above I have 8" and 12" forged knives with the nicknames of Excalibur, but they are rarely used in a residential kitchen.
                    My daughter gave me a Kitchen Aid santuko for X-mas, and I love it for veggie prep. I am amazed how well at $25.00 knife performs, but the idea that it was made in China is cause for concern.

                    I love the Forschner knives in my professional kit, but except for the paring knives they tend not to get much use.

                    1. I have a whole mess of knives, but only use two: A wusthof 8-inch santoku and a 9-inch shun slicer (with the scalloped sides). The wusthof is light, fits nicely into my hand, and can do about 95% of the things in the kitchen that require a knife. I love it.

                      The slicer was a gift, and I have to say I feel like a samurai just holding it. It's awesome. Razor sharp, top quality materials throughout, and I really like the contour of the handle; it fits very comfortably into my hand. This is a "special occasion" knife. I've used it a number of times to carve turkeys, roasts, etc for large dinner parties and people always ask about it.

                      1. I agree about you should use what is comfortable, but the best knife in the world won't do the job unless you keep it really sharp. I have gone into friends kitchens, and have seen knives that are so expensive, and dull, dull, dull!! I could cry at the money they have wasted.
                        I have an assortment of knives,some carbon steel from a restaurant house, some from Wusthof, some from Forschner, some stamped some forged. Some for many years. They are well cared for and sharp. (A few bloody figures have also gotten between the sharp knives and the food!!)

                        1. Shun are just great if you ask me. Before Shun I had Wushof and Global, both are fine, but not a patch on Shun. I still use the Wusthof daily, I like how heavy the knife is, but it is the Shun that I use constantly for chopping. For me, you only really need 3 knives - a chefs, a pairing and a bread knife. You can honestly take care of most cooking tasks with those.

                          As for sharpening. I dislike most home sharpening tools on the market. Most don't get the knives anywhere close to "factory" sharp, which can actually be improved on a great deal, especially with cheaper knives (Shun come out the factory really sharp though). So, I would always suggest taking it to a good independant knife guy to sharpen, or if you want to do a decent job at home, look at getting the "Edge Pro" http://edgeproinc.com/ . I use one to sharpen my knives, and after some practice the knives are really razor sharp.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: mattwright

                            hey matt i just pulled up the edgepro sharpening system and it looks pretty good.can you tell me how much they cost??

                            1. re: big john

                              They have two models - the apex and the pro. Biggest difference really is that the pro is die-cast metal, so I guess would last much longer. I would get the Apex - it isn't like you are going to use it for hours every day. With a decent ceramic honing rod, I only use the EdgePro every 6months.

                              From what I remember, you are looking at about 150 for the Apex, for the Apex, with 3 sharpening stones. I recommend buying from epicureanedge.com

                            2. re: mattwright

                              I agree, that's why I take my knifes to be sharpened to my independent guy.. I own one of those electric sharping things,and in a pinch it's not bad, but only until I can get to the real knife sharpener.

                            3. I have a 12 inch Mundial chef's knife from their Cordon Bleu line (with the blue handle). I do not know if they make that collection anymore. It was my first good knife and the nicest one I could afford at the time. While there are more expensive knives out there (and in my knife block), it is still my favorite.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Megiac

                                Hey Megiac
                                the Cordon Bleu trademark/marketing rights are now controlled by Wusthof Tridend.The one you have was made in brazil and now they are made in Germany and cost 6-7 times as much.if you check on E-Bay once in a while you can find the old ones for next to nothing.

                                1. re: big john

                                  I'm trying to figure out who the manufacturer is for a couple of my knives. They belonged to my father - he passed away many years ago. I know he was a stickler for quality, but don't know much about these - one (my french chef's knife) doesn't have any name on it, but another has (what I can make out to be the remainder of) the word "Brazil" on the base part of the metal (not on the wooden handle).

                                  Do you think this could be an older Wustof?

                                  Even if it is, though, the handle is partially broken... but it was my Dad's, so it'll stay. Just was wondering...

                                  Do you thi

                                  1. re: threedogs

                                    If the French chefs knife is black it is probably a carbon steel knife from Sabatier
                                    http://www.thebestthings.com/knives/s... or http://www.thebestthings.com/knives/s...

                                    I don't have a clue as to the background of the knife marked with "Brazil"

                                    1. re: threedogs

                                      The knife company from Brazil that big john was referring to is Mundial. As far as I know Wusthof has never been made in Brazil.

                                2. Most of my knives are Henkel 4-Star's - big chef, little chef, big carve, little carve, 3 paring knives, boning knife, filet knife, and carving fork. I like the 4-Star handles and balance the best. Have owned other French, German, Swiss and US made brands, but have slowly distributed them to college students getting their first off-campus appartments. My wife found an excellent, no-name butcher knife at a Chinese grocery store on Clement St in San Francisco: it's incredibly sharp, has great balance, and has a knobby, metal handle that doesn't get too slippery when you're in the middle of cutting up a lot of meat.

                                  Sharpening is incredibly important. I was given a Chef's Pro electric sharpener about 17 years ago, and while it mars the finish of the knives, once you've gone through the process of re-shaping the cutting profile of the stock Henkels, it works really well and is relatively fast (which is important if you sharpen your knives every 2-3 weeks and you have a lot of them). The trick though, is to be patient over time: the Chef's Pro sharpens the edges at 3 different angles, none of which came with your stock knife. It just takes time to reshape the edge. But once it's done, no problems. I strongly recommend learning how to sharpen knives yourself, especially if you do any kind of serious work with your knives. Last winter, between friends and myself, we butchered 3 mule deer and an elk over a weekend (then promptly became vegetarians -- at least for the next month), and were sharpening every 4 hours. Had we done the sharpening by hand, or sent it out, we'd have been well into the week by the time we had finished our work.

                                  1. Sabatier chef and KitchenAid santoku.

                                    1. Regarding sharpening knives - I often wondered ... when we see chefs sharpening a knife on the steel then go right to the task of chopping, carving, etc...shouldn't the knife be wiped on a cloth to remove "blade bits" that may have accumulated along the edge?
                                      This trivia keeps me awake at night. ; )

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Gio

                                        Gio, the steel just aligns the blade without removing anything.Sharpening on a stone requires a wipedown after. Sleep tight.

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          I did that night, Sam. Thank you!

                                      2. My favorite is, unfortunately, now one of a kind. I have a 10 inch Henckel 4 star chef's knife. I had it sharpened at a kitchen store and they took a chunk out of the blade right next to the bolster. Later, I took it to a master knife maker; he ground about a 1/4 inch off of the whole blade and then hollow ground the edge. So the knife is lighter and sharper than it was before. I love it. The master knife maker then went out of business (everyone took their knives to the kitchen store) and moves out of town.

                                        1. As odd as it might seem, my favorite knives are Cutco...yeah the ones sold by college kids with door to door demos. I love the double D edge on all the serrated variety, but also find the chef's knives keep a good edge. I have every conceivable, expensive brand of knife in my block, but I consistently reach for my Cutco's. Great customer service as well...I returned one for replacement, no hassle, even though it was my fault it was damaged.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: donali

                                            I'm very fond of Forscner.My 10" vanished after 25 yrs and I'm getting a 10" Fibrox. I work in a kitchen where I cut stuff by the case. We have a Norton triple stone and that can make a Forschner sharper than razor sharp. For a pro cook...the 10" for sure. It's the workhorse. For a home cook..the 8". Learn to use the whetstone. I have seldom met a knife more than 90% of it's potential sharpness. I Did work with a guy who had Globals and could keep them even a bit sharper than my forschner....but then he couldn't use that little blade like a cleaver or halve a watermelon with one whack..
                                            For volume....I don't want a main knife that's too short or too heavy, after an hour a forged knife can start feeling like a brick.I don't wan't a $150 masterpice I'd need to guard or pamper on the job. It's good to have a versatile boner/fillet,and I'm gonna get a small Kershaw mostly for thin cuts,herbs,and to see how sharp I can get it.

                                            I have a forged 6" Henkel at home I got at a yardsale,solid but not much use at work, it's too heavy for fast work on herbs and such,but at home-I like that it's handsome-solid and it's edge doesn't dull fast. Not the tool if the task is to slice 2 cases of mushrooms.