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I need new knives!

I'm starting to look for a new set of knives. I currently own a set of Sabatier on discount from Amazon (bought for about $40, advertized as 90% off though there is no way this was a $400 set of knives). I want to get a good set because I do not want to be stuck buying them again in a few years - I want them to last a good long time. At the same time, I do not want to break the bank. So, my questions are:
- what is the best brand of knives? I am an avid home cook and they would get alot of use, do not want too much special care (just want to toss them in the dishwasher), want them to last a good long time. While they do not have to be professional grade, I want good quality.
- where is the best place to go for discounts? While I do want to buy high quality knives, I know they can get really expensive, so am wondering where I can find the best discount.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. First, I wouldn't get a set. (You'll probably hear this a lot, it's good advice). I'd think about what knives you use most from your current set and then just focus on those.

    There are a lot of really quality knives available, in no particular order: Shun, Messermeister, Henkel, Wusthof, Global, the list goes on. Forshner makes some really good knives that are a lot less expensive than the previous ones though I find them a bit light at times, but that's a very personal thing. A key thing is how they feel in your hand. Bed Bath and Beyond is a good place to get to hold a few and see if you like the balance. A specialty kitchen shop is also a good place to get to try a few out.

    Once you decide what style of knives you want and figure out some possible brands, good places to look include Marshall's, TJMaxx and any restaurant supply stores. Do check Amazon for specials, but focus on individual knives that you've already had the chance to hold.

    Lastly, any knife you put in the dishwasher isn't going to last. The edge will get beat to heck and there's just no way to overcome that, no matter how well made the knife is.

    1. If you don't want to put the time in to care for your knives don't buy quality ones. Seriously. Not trying to be snarky, just honest. A quality knife is only as good as the care it receives.

      As mentioned above never put your knives in the dishwasher. Ever. It takes seconds to clean a knife, wipe it dry and return it to its block, drawer, or magnet. No knife put in a dishwasher will "last a good long time"

      Learn to steel your knife to maintain it edge. If you do not wish to also learn to sharpen, find someone you trust to sharpen. With regular honing on the steel you shouldn't need to sharpen more than a couple times a year.

      Don't invest in a set. Put your money into a chef's knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife. There are many good brands out there and you can spend $40 or over $1000 on a nive chef's knife. Decide your budget and get out and hold some. Play with them. Decide which one feels best in your hand. The knife I love you may hate so there's not point in other people recommending their favorite brands. Searching here you will find all the major brands discussed but don't discount the less expensive brands like Forschner, especially if you budget is limited.

      Once you've decided which knife you like you can get out and about to local shops and get online to find the best price for that knife.

      good luck!

      3 Replies
      1. re: ziggylu

        This is great advice. Chef and paring are the knives to spend money on. Bread knife is good to have, but I think you can get away with a cheap one. I am too scared to sharpen my own knives, but I do run them over a steel every time I use. What that does is straighten up the blade. If you do that consistently, your knife will stay pretty sharp. The key thing is that you MUST maintain your knives. It doesn't matter how much you spend if you don't do that.

        1. re: Mandymac

          You're right on the bread knife. When I was looking at knives last month, I was recommended a bright yellow, cutesy bread knife that was only $20. The guy said that unless I was planning on eating lots of bread and get lots of usage out of it, he would buy the one recommended to me over any other expensive one, though he did mention that, unlike my cute yellow knife, he usually recommends the offset handle type so that slicing is more easily done.

          By the way, to the OP, find a good shop to buy your knives. During my testing of knives, I tried a dozen different brands. From Shun to Wustof to Furi, nothing felt quite right, and the guy said that he would recommend I not buy any of these expensive knives. The Forschner, which the store had to have shipped in special, felt best in my hand, and if I buy it, I'd buy it from this spot. (Kitchen Kapers for those in the PA area.) In short, find yourself a good shop, and don't discount the Forschner or any such cheap brand just because they aren't the Globals or Henckels.

          1. re: Ali

            jfood understands what you meant and loves Forschners. they should be referred to as great value or inexpensive, not cheap. cheap always sounds like they'll fall apart and jffood has his 10" chef's knife for almost 30 years.

      2. I have an 8" Shun knife my daughter got me for Christmas. I use it for everything. I could peel a grape with it. I also have a 4" ceramic knife I love. Those are the only knives I use. How do I sharpen a Japanese Knife?? Can a ceramic knife be sharpened??

        1. I'd like to second the Shun 8" chef's knife as a start. If you do buy this one, be very careful the first times it's used-- lose your focus and there'll be painful consequences. As for sharpening, get a good diamond steel and have someone demonstrate how to use it, maintaining a constant angle and a minimum number of strokes, as this will remove metal faster than a traditional hone. Is it expensive?? Yes. However, this tool will serve you well for a lifetime if properly treated. By the way, this knife and all of those mentioned above should never be tossed in the dishwasher. One possible but unlikely exception would be the Global, another high carbon all-stainless Japanese knife. You might get away with machine washing every now and then after a long inebriated dinner party, but don't make a habit of it...

          1 Reply
          1. re: rubysdad

            After the inebriated party, I'd say you'd still be better off just leaving it until morning and scrubbing it well....but that may just be me.

          2. No need to spend a lot of money at gourmet stores. Try a restaurant supply outlet (two popular knife brands in restaurant kitchens are Forschner and Dexter Russell.) I think you'll be amazed at how much money you'll save (e.g., a Forschner 5-inch utility knife for $14 compared to $50 or so for a similar size Wusthof). Here's a place I've had good results with:

            http://www.restaurantsource.com/?gcli...

            2 Replies
            1. re: mpalmer6c

              I second mpalmer. I have a lot of knives, sabatier, wusthof, henckels, shun, etc. but none of them cuts much better than my 9 inch forschner slicer. it's stamped rather than forged, and thus lighter, but it's great for slicing. if you want a heavier chef's knife, check out shun. a sort of in between option is Mac. razor sharp, though not as heavy as the shun

              1. re: chuckl

                Bought my Mac after Cooks Illustrated recommended it a few years back. It was barely over $50 at the time. Loved it so much I bought a few more for family gifts. Still my go-to knife for almost all purposes. I must confess that I have used a regular steel and sharpener, where specialized ones are recommended, and mine isn't as incredibly sharp and easy as when new. But still my main knife. My search for a replacement would start there.

            2. jfood has about a dozen knives, wursthof, sabatier, forschner, cutco and the best value is the forschners. he purchaed his first 10" chef's knife in 1978 and it's still cutting away. as others have said it is light compared to the others and that is jfoods prefeence, but may not be yours.

              You MUST try every knive in your hand. then only you can decide.

              jfood also agrees that can the set idea. jfood would recommend a 10" chef, 4" pare and a good boning knife as the first three to theplate. A decent but not great serrated for bread is probably fourth.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jfood

                I find in the shop I work in most female home cooks are intimidated by the 10" chef's knives. I mostly sell those to folks who have pro experience and are very comfortable using a knife.

                Just about everyone is comfortable holding an 8"(though I do run across the occasional person that still prefers a 6" or even a 4" Deba but they're usually not very comfortable in the kitchen environment to begine with). A 10" is a great tool but definitely not for everyone...again OP you need to get out and hold a bunch of knives. Ask for a cutting board and try the knives out seeing how they feel, how much curve you like in the blade, what weight you like, what balance, and also what lengths you are comfortable using.

              2. Sorry, anyone who wants to "toss them in a dishwasher" does not really want them to "last a good long time". The two are mutually exclusive.

                Sabatier are a designation of French made knives that may actually come from several suppliers, it is entirely possible that the knives you want to replace may have sold for several hundred dollars.

                I have knives that are 40+ years old and are still excellent becuase they've ALWAYS been treated with reasonable care. That means learning the proper techinque for slicing/chopping/carving/filleting, no soaking in a sink/dishpan/dishwasher, frequently realigning the edge with a butcher's steel, using the right knife for the right task ( clevers are the only cutting tool to use when bone might be encountered, knives are not hammers/pry bars/hack saws), a wood cutting board under EVERYTHING, storing in a proper slotted block, and infrequent visits to a professional when sharpening is need.

                I also belive that it is essential to at least grip each knife BEFORE you spend a dime on it. The various handles can differ a considerable amount from one size to the next and each size of blade/style of knife.
                Many tasks can be accomplished with a just a chef's knife and a paring knife. As they start so small paring knives are essentially disposable, plan on replacing every few years. You MUST get an F. DIck steel. Their oval steel is without equal. You don't want to remove metal from a well made knife until it is impossible to get the edge back with a steel. A real professional is the ONLY way to truly get a factory (or better than factory) edge back on a knife. Avoid shortcuts.

                The blades to add beyond a chef's knife include a serrated knife for items like bread, a flexibe fillet/boning knife for fish and boning meat, a granton edge slicer for dealing with the "buffet line" items like roast beef, ham and breast of turkey. A quality pair (or two) of kitchen shears are a great investment and tend to help prevent you from doing something stupid with a knive (like trying to whack the backbones out of fowl).

                Good Luck!

                7 Replies
                1. re: renov8r

                  Perfectly put, only addition is l use Chef's Choice for sharpening, used now for 20 years and makes a difficult task, for me, a nothing in time and effort

                  1. re: renov8r

                    I'm sorry, but this "never put your knives in the dishwasher or even soak them", "always use blah blah brand of steel," "try 23 different ones to get the best "feel," to me is just poppycock. I have mostly Dexter Russels, some small Forschners, and lots of extremely inexpensive Chinese vegetable chopping knives (cleaver-shaped), and they all work fine, and I work them hard believe me. No wood handles--I always put them in the dishwasher (in the upper rack so the edges are safe) and they come out fine---wonder of wonders, the water doesn't dull them one bit. They're very light so there is no issue of the right "feel"---they feel fine. The edges came from the factory sharp, and they're easy to keep that way with a decent stone and steel.

                    I think this no dishwasher thing got started in the era of wood handles, and obviously you can't put a wood handle knife in a DW, or one with a mild steel blade. But there are plenty of extremely good ss knives with plastic (horrors) handles these days. Similarly, the feel thing is more important if the knife is heavy like an expensive German one, but you don't need heavy--in fact, it's a drawback in my view.

                    There's another thread about knives going on right now. The comments there are much better IMO. Here is a link:

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/446307

                    In that thread someone linked a Mark Bittman article in the NYT about equipping a kitchen. His advice is spot on. The link is:

                    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/din...

                    BTW, the working chefs/cooks of the world mostly use true professional $20 Dexter-Russell and Forschner that they get from restaurant supply places, not fancy brands from department stores. TV chefs use whatever fancy brand pays the highest "placement fee" to get them on TV. Same with pots and pans. Guess who eventually pays for those fees? And remember, if the professional one wears out or isn't right for you, you can buy three more for the price of a fancy one.

                    If you are loaded and you're the kind of person who thinks the only way to grocery shop is in a BMW 7 series, then maybe you should spend a lot of money on fancy gourmet catalogue knives. But you don't have to, and the difference is mostly image, not performance.

                    Just my $.02.

                    1. re: johnb

                      You needn't insult people who happen to have spent more on knives than you. The difference in knives has nothing to do with image. And, as you'll notice, many people in this thread and others (including me) have suggested Forschner and/or Dexter-Russell knives in addition to the "fancy gourmet catalogue knives."

                      I've used many of those "fancy" knives and the lower priced widely available "professional knives" both professionally and at home for years. I chose a 10 inch Henkel chef's knife as my primary knife. No one I worked with cared what knives I used, only whether I could do my job well. No one has every come into my house and ooohed and aaaahed over my knives. If it's supposed to be image, I'm doing something wrong.

                      Working chefs and cooks use exactly what several people here suggest: what feels best in their hand. Weight has something to do with that. I prefer lighter paring knives but heavier chef's knives...all depends on personal preference and what you're going to be doing with them...they just have to feel good for you whether heavy or light. The longer you're going to be cutting and chopping the more important that is. It's like shoes...if you're just going from house to car to dinner table in a restaurant, then the reverse, the shoes can look good but don't have to be too comfortable. If you're seeing the sights in a big city, they better be comfortable and how they look stops mattering much. For pro cooks, the latter is key...if they're Forschners, great...but if they're Wusthofs, that's fine too...so long as it's comfortable.

                      Oh, lastly, none of my knives have wood handles. And putting knives in the dishwasher has nothing to do with the water. It has to do with everything else in the dishwasher...virtually every other substance in there from the rack to dishes, glasses, actual full 100% stainless flatware and so on will dull the knives.

                      Helpful link:
                      http://www.cadcutlery.com/forschner_k...

                      1. re: ccbweb

                        You needn't insult me by suggesting I'm cheap and haven't spent money on "good" knives. I have many many heavy French and German knives that I have bought over the years--I bought my first one maybe 40 years ago. I just don't use them any more. Why? They offer nothing that a PROFESSIONAL BUT INEXPENSIVE Dexter or Forschner (and various others) offers, and BTW those are what the pros use almost universally, I guess because "they like the feel of them." And they have other advantages too. I got wise a few years ago. And obviously it is not the water that would be dulling them--that was a little joke, don't you see. Apparently not.

                        The purpose of this thread is to help the OP with her original question, which was what knives she should buy. She made it clear she wants inexpensive and wants to use the dishwasher. I posted because you and several were telling her to spend a lot of money and it's a sin to put them in the DW. If that's what you want to do yourself, fine, and I never said otherwise, but IT"S NOT NECESSARY. She can get inexpensive knives that perform very well, and she can put them in the DW with no problem, contrary to the advice she was getting from several of you, and I thought it was worthwhile to make that point for her STRONGLY, which I did. Obviously it worked. Once again, refer to the Mark Bittman column if you don't accept my POV in the matter.

                        1. re: johnb

                          I don't believe that I intimated at all that you are cheap in any way. I certainly didn't intend to and I apologize if I did.

                          I disagree with your opinion that "fancy" knives offer only those things that less expensive knives offer. The weight can be a great help at times with some knife work. I find the handle of my Henckel to be more comfortable than the handle of a Forschner Chef's knife...though I do like the handle on my Forschner Bread Knife. However, as you'll note in each of my posts on this thread I point out the major consideration "how it feels in your hand." That's the single biggest thing when deciding to buy the knives you'll use. If it's not comfortable, it's not safe and you won't use it.

                          I suggested several brands of knives (and ways to not spend a lot of money on them) and I suggested (as have many others) that regardless of the amount of money she spends that she should not put those knives in the dishwasher (even those marked "dishwasher safe" because knife blades will be dulled through the course of a wash cycle -- the edge simply won't hold up as well as the same knife that is always hand washed. Your opinion is that it will cause no problems at all...that works for you. The vast experience of others seems to demonstrate that you've been quite fortunate. She can indeed get inexpensive knives that will perform well. And the makers and sellers of those knives will recommend that she not put them in the dishwasher.

                          Also, in addition to the points you keyed in on in the OP, she asked "what is the best brand of knives" - clearly going to generate a long list as people list their favorites - and noted that she wants them to "last a good long time" which is why the hand washing recommendations.

                          Lastly, obviously you want to make your points strongly, but you don't need to take side swipes at people. It's simply unnecessary. Just make your point.

                      2. re: johnb

                        Mmm...nope. Sorry. Knives shouldn't go in the dishwasher for all kinds of reasons.

                        1) SAFETY - it's dangerous! particularly if you have kids in the house. Along iwth this don't leave soaking in water. Walk into a professional kitchen and you don't see knives going through the dishwashers and woe to any cook that drops their knife in the sink.

                        2) It can dull the blade. even on the top shelf. The jets use fairly high pressure which can jostle the knife around. You can argue if you want but surely you've had times when things don't look quite the same when you open the dishwasher as when you closed it - stuff does move in the dishwasher.

                        3) If your going to put your knife in the dishwasher safety dictates at the very least you put it blade down...again the blade is going to move around on whatever surface its on. Not good for the edge.

                        4) Detergents are harsh and getting harsher. this can promote rust. (why your stainless flatware rusts and pits....especially true with any lemon detergents).

                        You want to put your knife in the dishwasher hey it's yours to do what you want with. But to claim that those that recommend against it are dead wrong is disingenuous.

                        Seconds. It literally takes seconds to wipe a knife clean and dry it. Somethign that should be done regularly when working with it anyways. Storing it properly immediately afterwards is only a matter of seconds as well...and so much safer than any other option. I have never understood why this is such a big deal to people who insist on using the dishwasher.

                        As for the Dexters and Forschners...I've never followed any knife discussion that didn't include these and speak highly of them when recommending them. Seems several on this discussion alone have mentioned them very favorably.

                        1. re: johnb

                          one good point and a couple of ask you SO to remove the chip off the shoulder.

                          jfood has a wide range of knives from Forschner, Cutco, Henks, et. al. and at times they have mistakenly gone into the DW (that's diswasher not dear wife). the only noticeable change is the wood handles, but since jfood is the only one to really use them, so what. But care must be taken as others have mention.

                          And as someone you castigate in your penultimate paragraph, jfood can not remember EVER having a conversation with a guest about the knives he uses other than a professional chef who mrs jfood (love that woman) hired to give jfood a private cooking lesson at the house a few years ago for his b'day . And when jfood wanted a new knife last year, he did handle many handles for the feel and chose a forschner yet again.

                          And whether you place your forschner in a BMW (don;t knock it til you've tried it, sweet) or a rent-a-wreck (jfood will not castigate any car on the lower price points) is completely and totally irrelevent.

                      3. OOH, you got sucked in by that Amazon deal too--I have a Sabatier made in France that is starting to crack and not hold an edge...after 27 years of use and abuse! So I thought that the Amazon deal was a good one. The Amazon Sabatier knives were made in China, not France, and I don't think they were even worth the $30 that I paid.

                        I have an Anolon Santoku knife that we use on a daily basis, but I handwash it. I think they run about $30--not sure, as it was a gift.

                        For low maintenance knives, I'd try restaurant suppliers as others mention, but I'd also say check out the Martha Stewart knives at Kmart. I bought a paring knife for 2.99 that is SHARP and is comfortable to use. But it is a very personal thing.

                        1. Okay, I'll probably be roundly ridiculed for this, but my knives are some that my mom's church ladies sell as a fund-raiser. The brand is Rada. I'm sure they're cheap, terrible knives. I wash them after every use, store them in a block, and use a steel. I literally spent not a cent on them, and even though I know they're not high-quality knives, they seem to work just fine for me. (Not, mind you, that I turn up my nose at my sister's Henckels santoku knife when I'm at her house...)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: revsharkie

                            If you do get ridiculed, it's because someone isn't paying attention. The real truth is, if you take care of your knives as you note (wash them carefully each time, store them properly and use a steel regularly -- I'd add have them sharpened professionally when necessary) most knives will do fairly to very well for most home cooks most of the time.

                            Catch all of the hedging there? I'm serious, though; if you're comfortable with the knife and take care of it, chances are it'll be just fine. Your mileage may vary.

                          2. Whats the deal with the santoku?? I got one at a restaurant supply store and I hate it. I love restaurant supply stores. I get all the gossip on local restaurants, and there is always a chef in there to chat with.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: hipchick47

                              I like mine because it's a nice weight and the handle feels good, and it has stayed sharp. IIRC, the advantage of a santoku is supposed to be that when you chop stuff, the grooves help keep the food from sticking to the knife. I wouldn't testify to that in court, but I do like this particular knife.

                              We just had a restaurant supply place open about a mile from my house, and I went through one day without money just to check it out (no money, no temptation)! What fun--I'm definitely going back to spend some bucks!

                              1. re: hipchick47

                                santoku is a style of knife, just as chef's knife and slicing knife and a paring knife are styles. and just as with any style, you can get a good one or a bad one, depending on the manufacturer. thus, a cheap, dull santoku is just a cheap dull knife. i prefer the santokus from mac and shun. the motion is different from say a chef's knife because of the shape of the blade, but for the most part you can use a santoku in situations like chopping where you might otherwise use a chef's knife. simply a matter of personal preferance.

                              2. Get a Shun, which will be expensive, or a global or a Forschner Victorinox or a Forschner / Victorinox which will be very reasonable. Look at them heft them in your hand, and get one of these. The first two will be the sharpest you ever used so be careful.