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Knives?

  • Toge Jan 23, 2009 09:08 AM
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I need a good knife or set of knives. Any recomendations? Something that will last, and not too hard too sharpen. Oh yeah and will cut steak, roasts, and just about anything.

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  1. I can guarantee the majority of the people who answer your post will advise you NOT to buy a set. I will be the first.
    If you are planning to spend $100 (just an example) Buy a $100 chef's knife and a $5 paring knife.
    They will do 95% of the work you need.
    A sharp chef's knife will slice bread, carve roasts and do everything except peel potatoes or core a tomato. Paring knife for that.
    YMMV
    If you are looking for a brand recommendation, you will get at least 101 different ones.
    Find one that feels right.

    25 Replies
    1. re: billieboy

      I agree with Billieboy, don't get a set and you don't need a lot of knives. A good chef's knife will handle the vast majority of your kitchen needs. I'd add that knives are a very personal choice and that what works for one person might not feel right for another. My advice would be to go to a good cutlery store (not a department store kitchen department, or even William Sonoma or Sur Le Table, because their selection is limited) and try out a number of knives. A couple of questions for you: what's your budget and what kind of cooking do you plan to do? You'll also need a honing rod to maintain the edge, so factor that in.

      1. re: chuckl

        I agree with the addition of a $5 bread knife

      2. re: billieboy

        Well, not so fast.

        For alot of people, a set is a way to get the knives they want for quite a bit cheaper than if they buy them ala carte and you can usually get the set with a block included.

        And, while you can do quite a bit with a chef's knife and a paring knife, that's like taking a 5 iron and a wedge onto the golf course and saying you can play alot of golf with just those two clubs.

        I'd strongly recommend that everyone have a serrated bread knife as well as a good slicer. If you ever do any of your own meat prep (filleting fish, trimming meat, etc) a good flexible boning knife is also worth the investment

        Wusthoff has plenty of sets that have these 4 or 5 knives and then maybe a 6" utility knife (something I use for quick prep making sandwiches all the time).

        Just a thought...

        Edit: Here's a good example

        http://www.cooking.com/products/shpro...

        8" chefs knife
        3 1/2" paring knife
        8" bread knife
        6" boning knife
        8" carving (slicing) knife

        Plus kitchen shears, a steel and a wood block. I use everyone of these knives regularly in my set. If you were to buy these knives ala carte you'd pay about:

        8" chefs knife - $120
        8" bread knife - $80
        8" carver - $85
        6" boning - $80
        3 1/2" parer - $40

        Total: $405

        So, at this price basically the knife block, shears and steel are free.

        1. re: meadandale

          On the other hand, if you buy open stock knives, you can avoid doing silly things like buying a $40 paring knife -- you can get a first rate parer for five bucks. It's a disposable knife, and will be sharpened to nothing in a couple years, but so what? So will the $40 one. Same thing with the bread knife. There's no utility advantage in an $80 bread knife, over a $15 one. That's $100, on just those two knives. Spend the money somewhere it matters, like on something to keep the knives sharp.

          1. re: dscheidt

            The set of wusthoffs I bought 10 years ago have only been professionally sharpened once and are steeled regularly. That $40 parer is still going strong.

            Different strokes I guess.

            1. re: meadandale

              Yeah, my Wusthof set bought over ten years ago is going strong too - it'll probably last me the rest of my life.

              I use some knives seasonally. Many people scoff at such specialty knives as a tomato knife, but it gets used every day when my homegrown tomatoes are ripe, and it's ideally suited for that purpose. The carving knife gets more of a workout in the winter when I'm roasting meat and poultry. The chef's knife and paring knife get used every day, as do the shears. I have a friend who sometimes cooks with me who favors the santoku, so we can both be chopping at the same time.

              Don't scoff at sets. They are a better bargain than open-stock knives, and you instantly have everything you need in the way of basics. Buy a small set and add specialty knives as needed.

              One thing I did buy individually was a Kapoosh - the universal knife block. It's much more versatile and easier to clean than the wood block that comes with a set, and it will hold your set, or random knives, or both, as in my case. Best of all, you don't have to hunt for the proper slot. Mine is currently holding ten knives, two carving forks, a steel and shears.

              1. re: avgolemona

                kinives from different manufacturers have different characteristics. For some tasks, I might pick a heavier german kinfe, like a messermeister meridan elite, but for others, I'd prefer a thinner stamped blade, like a forschner or a MAC. I fail to see the value of getting them all from the same company, other than they sort of look nice, which i don't care about, but to each their own. I will agree that having good shears is helpful. I like the messermeister personally

                1. re: chuckl

                  That's why I recommended getting your BASIC set of knives from one manufacturer, then add specialty knives as needed.

                  For example: the two knives I cannot function without are a paring knife and a chef's knife. And shears. So buy a set with these three (it's cheaper than buying open stock), and then collect others as needed.

          2. re: meadandale

            I think if the poster is unsure of what he wants/needs, it would be better to start of with a good chef's knife (best you can afford) and a cheap disposable paring knife. A couple of months down the road he will find he needs a boning knife or whatever. Then he can make an educated decision.
            Knowing what I know now, I would not have very many knives which I unfortunately do.
            I would have a traditional single bevel deba which I use for 95% of my prep, a chef's knife and a paring knife. All the rest of my expensive toys have gathered dust for a long time.

            1. re: meadandale

              I don't know how much shopping you've done for knives lately, but your numbers are way off. $85 for a carving knife? you can get a good forschner chef's that will double as a carver for less than $30. $80 bread knife? you can get a decent bread knife for $20. A boning knife for $80 and a paring knife for $40? that's just ridiculous. And you don't need to spend $120 on a chef's knife either. I paid $65 for a shun stainless santoku, $25 for an F. Dick 8 inch chef's, $20 for a Wusthoff paring knife and about $20 for a sabatier slicer. I also got a Messermeister Meridan elite santoku, 5 inch, for $20. I don't think a boning knife is necessary, but i know I could get a good one for less than $30 if i wanted to.
              So all told, I spent a lot less than $200

              1. re: chuckl

                All these prices are for open stock Wusthoff Classic knives at cooking.com for comparison to their knife block set prices. They are just an example. You can certainly find the same knives slightly cheaper elsewhere but Wusthoff, like All-Clad is pretty persistent about MAP so deals are harder to come by.

                Certainly you can buy a stamped paring knife at a restaurant supply store for under $10. But then you have a stamped paring knife.

                Frankly, with so many people that have a kitchen full of stainless appliances, granite counter tops and a shopping basket full of whole food groceries, I don't understand why they would buy cheap, crappy knives.

                1. re: meadandale

                  Messermeister are better knives than Wusthof; I have both and the Messermeister Meridan Elite is just a better knife, definitely not a "cheap, crappy knife." Shun is also a better knife that Wusthof. Again, I don't think I've heard anyone but you infer that Shuns are "cheap, crappy knives" Ditto for Sabatier and for Forschner. If you've ever owned a Forschner knife, I doubt you'd make that statement. You're presuming forged knives are better than stamped, which simply is not the case.
                  Anyone who pays more than $400 ala cart for excellent quality cutlery is a retail marketer's dream. Your comparison of a set to buying individually just does not hold up

                  1. re: chuckl

                    I have owned or currently own Forchners, Messermeisters and Henckels as well as Wusthoff. What's your point again?

                    1. re: meadandale

                      point 1) a set is a bad idea
                      point 2) your estimates of how much individual knives cost vs. a set is out of touch with reality as I've experienced it.
                      Paying upward of $80 each for a bread knife a carving knife and a boning knife is lunacy, or at least not very bright, nor an accurate assessment of what these things cost in the real world. Can you pay too much? probably, but not if you're a smart shopper

                    2. re: chuckl

                      Asd I stated earlier I sell knives. You have to find what works for you. I sell Shuns but except for the Ken Onion, I am constantly cutting myself. It is the way I hold a knife. Shuns have no bolster and I almost constantly have a slit in my thumb from getting nicked. A former co-worker and friend has the same problem with her Shuns.

                      With my younger, poorer, customers i do steer them towards the Forschners. Stamped? Yes. A good knife? Yes. There are forged Forschners available and I do order them when requested.

                      1. re: Candy

                        do you use a pinch grip or hammer?

                        1. re: Candy

                          To each his/her own. I much prefer a bolsterless design and I actually returned a Ken Onion Kaji Fusion because it felt horrible in the hand.

                          I think the bottom line in this thread is that the OP needs to go out and test drive some knives. Knives aren't like pots and pans that either work well or they don't. Personal preferences are just as important as function.

                          1. re: sobriquet

                            i tend to agree with you, I have a relative who has a ken onion, and while it's a nice knife, i prefer the feel of my shun stainless santoku. I've never felt comfortable with globals either, though a lot of people like them a lot

                        2. re: chuckl

                          I also own Wusthofs, which I like. I don't like the Messermeisters as much. They do hold a good blade, but they are bit thick and heavy for my taste. I spent less for my Mundials, which are a bit lighter and better balanced. I also think Globals represent a good value if you want a supersharp Japanese style blade for under $100, although they are a tad too light for some tasks.

                          1. re: randallhank

                            I think you hit on something that bears repeating: knives are very personal and what may be a great knife for one person might not work so well for another, due to heft or the shape of the handle or the way it looks. The best knife isn't always the most highly rated, but the one that feels best in your hand and gives you the greatest amount of pleasure when you use it.

                        3. re: meadandale

                          Because there's little correspondence between the price of a knife and its quality. Why in the world would you pay a huge premium to have knives with matching handles? That's the only thing that buying a set gets you. That's the only thing buying a $40 paring knife gets you. It's not a better knife. It's merely got a handle that matches your chef's knife, and cost 8 times as much as a knife that's just as good or better.

                          1. re: meadandale

                            And what's the problem with having a stamped paring knife? Or a stamped any other kind of knife, for that matter? Some of the best knives out there (and some of the most expensive - which isn't necessarily the same thing) are stamped. For a few high-end mass-market examples, consider Shun, MAC, and Global - all of which are stamped.

                            I can state from personal experience that the (stamped) Forschner paring knife has a better blade than the (forged) Henckels International. And the best kitchen knife I've ever owned is a 210mm Togiharu G-1 gyuto that was stamped from VG-10 stainless.

                            I suppose that if you have granite countertops that you don't prep food on and a Viking stove that you don't cook with, you should probably buy some expensive forged knives that you won't cut with. But if you're buying knives for cooking instead of just impressing the neighbors, there are a bunch with stamped blades that merit serious consideration.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              I love my little Kuhn Rikon stamped knife, in Red, with its own sheath. It is very sharp and the body blade of the blade has a non-stick surface.

                              1. re: Candy

                                I go everywhere with my little folding, stamped opinel knife. The French farmerès answer to what to carry to deal with food.

                      2. re: billieboy

                        I totally agree: I have one beautiful Global knife (Japanese I think) that I keep sharp (about $200 several years ago) and one sharp paring knife. These are my favorites and I use them primarily. I have many others from sets, etc, but these do it all. I have a small water-well stone sharpener that keep them in shape.

                      3. I am wondering if you are looking for cooking knives(chefs, paring, slicing, etc) or are you looking for table/steak knives? I also agree that sets are a bad idea because they will include knives that you do not need and will likely never use.
                        I recommend Forschner knives for the low end of the price scale, but with reasonable care they are lifetime tools.

                        Whatever you buy be sure to get a steel and have the clerk instruct you in its proper use.

                        1. I am in love with my MAC 85 chefs knife. That, a paring knife a bread knife (serrated edge) and a large slicing knife (Forschner) knives are usually the only knifes I use, and they are not a set. A chefs knife should be a good knife, as you will use it the most, my MAC, the other knifes don't have to be that expensive. I also use a boning knife, but not very much.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Mother of four

                            that's a great knife, wicked sharp, I've got the MAC santoku, but keep in mind, it might feel a little light for some people. As I mentioned before, try before you buy.

                            1. re: chuckl

                              I agree, with your try before you buy, but unfortunately there was no place to try out my MAC. I have small hands, so I took it on good faith, from doing a bit of research, that the MAC was light, sharp, and people with small hands really liked it. I ordered it, and had the option to return it, but I didn't need that option, as I fell in love from day one!!

                          2. I'll second (third?) the advice that you avoid buying a set. Buy a quality wood block and buy knives that you'll actually use. You'll end up with pieces you love and will get use out of. A set isn't a good deal if a few pieces are never touched.

                            Some suggestions? We're living in the age of Japanese steel. Period. The Germans just can't compete right now. You didn't mention anything about a price point, so it's hard to give advice beyond that. I'll tell you that the Tojiro DP is a killer bargain. The Misono UX10 series is fantastic. If price is no object (or you want a few high quality pieces over quantity) consider Nenox. Whatever you do, get something without a bolster on the very back of the blade. It'll make it harder to sharpen. I'd consider a Japanese gyutou instead of a traditional German shape.

                            Most of your money should be spent on a high quality chef's knife. You can get an inexpensive bread knife (I'd suggest a Forschner Fibrox). It's hard to sharpen serrations anyway, so I don't think that's a knife you want to spend a lot on. You'll also want a good paring knife (or a Japanese petty). After those three, maybe a fillet knife.

                            Take some time and do research about the different types of steels, their advantages and disadvantages, and then see if you can go out and actually handle some of them. A $400 knife is a bad knife for you if it doesn't fit your hand. You'll also need to decide whether you like something with a lot of heft, or a featherweight like a Global. Good hunting.

                            1. I live and die with my MAC's and a set of knives that I picked up in Japan a few years ago.

                              That being said, I tell all my apprentices to start with Victorianox/Forschner knives. They are cheap and decent knives all around. I love my Forschner brad knife!

                              1. I got set of Henckels from Costco for about $200. It's over 10 years old and I just get them sharpened regularly. Made in Spain. I augmented the set with a small and large Santoku made by Solingen (Germany). Love them all and stays sharp (and we cook a lot). make sure you get the ones with handles that's sort of continues to the blade.

                                1. I sell knives and suggest that you might look around for some Forschners. You will find them in use in many professional kitchens. You won't have to break the bank to buy them. They are good quality and are made by the same people who make Swiss Army Knives. Other good knives in the affordable price range are Dexter/Russell and Lamson Sharp. Find out what fits your hand and is comfortable. You can graduate to more expensive knives later on. You might look for a Wusthof pull through sharpener and hone. If you have never used a steel you can do more harm than good with it. The Wusthof pull through ($19.99) has the correct angle already set. Check around for a knife skill class. Sur La Table often offers one. The cooking school downstairs from where I work offers them several times a year. You will find it a great help in deciding what you want and need and how to properly care for your knives.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Candy

                                    I second the Forschners. They get high ratings from Cooks Illustrated and are much more reasonably priced than most of the German, French or Japanese knives. The handles don't get too slippery when cutting up a chicken or other slimy food. I will also add my voice to the "try before you buy" chorus.

                                    However...don't cheap out on the sharpener. I have a Chantry I got from Santa a couple of years back and I love it. Again, highly rated by CI.

                                  2. On a Princess Cruise the executive head chef at the fruit and vegetable cutting demonstration where they show you how they carve all those fancy fruits and veggies, recommended the best paring knife was a Victoronix (makers of Swiss Army stuff) that cost around $4 or $5 at most kitchen supply places. After the lecture and on subsequent cruises I noticed all the chefs carry them in their breast pocket. Sure its got a plastic handle, but sharp as a razor and comes with a plastic sheath to store it in your drawer. I went to a Chinese restaurant cash and carry supply place and found them for $3.50 each.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: monku

                                      Victoronix=Forschner same knives

                                      1. re: Candy

                                        Thanks for the info. On the sheath it says Victoronix.
                                        I swore years ago I'd never buy anything Swiss Army anymore because of a bad experience with a watch band that broke and they refused to do anything about it. I figured with a $3.50 knife I couldn't go wrong....its a handy knife for a lot of things and it stays sharp.

                                    2. I have severla Henckel's knives, a 10" chef's knife which I love and use frequently. I've had it for 9 years and it looks almost like new. I also have a Shun damascus style-steel blade, it is beautiful and it is EASILY the sharpest knife out of the box, and it holds an edge beautifully. I have a Masahiru poultry boning knife, but it is high carbon steel and wouldn't recommend that for anyone who isnt giong to be careful abotu taking care of their knives.

                                      I think the suggestion to get a nice 8 or 10" chef's knife from Forschner/Henckel's, and an inexpensive paring knife is probably the best combo. Later you can add a cheap bread knife from OXO -- no reason to spend more than 20$ on a bread knife IMO

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: kev_800

                                        You haven't tried out my Wusthof Ikon bread knife then. Amazingly sharp and cuts through the crispest crust like butter.

                                        1. re: Candy

                                          I can attest, the Wusthof bread knife glides through the toughest bagels, and your fingers too if you are not careful. I lost all feeling in the tip of one finger when I sliced more than the bagel in my hand. But it really is a great bread knife, it just requires a lot of respect.

                                          1. re: ChinoWayne

                                            Yeah, I too have suffered a cut or two.

                                            1. re: Candy

                                              I thought my OXO bread knife was jsut fine... I might have to try out a Wusthof or similar bread knife though :)

                                      2. R.H. Forschner by Victorinox is a good recommendation. They're cheap and well-made. Start with a chef's knife; probably either 8" or 10" depending on your prep space and personal preference. Add a paring knife for sure. As far as other things go, it depends on what you find yourself cutting up on a regular basis. Do you find yourself slicing crusty bread? You could use a serrated bread knife. Cutting up whole chickens? Get a boning knife. Cook many big roasts or hams? A 12" slicer will come in handy. And hey, a serrated tomato knife (with the cute forked tip) is under $5. How can you resist?

                                        But you'll probably find the chef's knife in your hand more than all the others combined. So if you want to upgrade, that would be the place to spend your money. I just purchased my first gyuto (Japanese chef's knife), and IMHO it's far superior to the Wusthof and Henckels stuff I've been using for the last few decades. You can get a Tojiro DP for $50-$75, you can spend well over $1,000 for a Hattori KD, or you can get something in between, but right now the Japanese are re-defining the cutting edge (yuk, yuk) of blade technology.

                                        The steel is much harder than what the European makers are using, so the edge holds up quite a bit longer without having to be realigned. The blades tend to be much thinner and lighter, so they're less fatiguing to use. And the bevel angles are more acute, so the knives tend to be much sharper. The most common Japanese brands are Shun, MAC, and Global, but there are dozens if not hundreds of smaller manufacturers that are worth considering.

                                        1. In my opinion, the minimum knives needed;

                                          Chef's
                                          Bread
                                          Paring
                                          Utility
                                          Carving
                                          Slicing
                                          Boning
                                          Butcher
                                          Fillet

                                          A Utility knife is the best tool for task like slicing mushrooms, garlic, radishes or shallots for a salad when only a little is needed, and cutting tomato for a sandwich or a sandwich for that matter, when a paring knife is to small and a chef's knife to large.

                                          If you roast large cuts of meat or turkeys, a carving knife will do a much better job than a chef's knife when it's time to get the meat to the platter.

                                          For getting really thin cuts of roast meat for sandwiches a slicing knife is hard to beat.

                                          The last 3 are task oriented knives that may not get allot of use (depending on how you prep/shop), if you buy whole poultry, fish, primal cuts of beef or pork, rabbits etc. they are hard to get by without.

                                          Having a thinner blade than Chef's knives, Butcher knives are a good choice when breaking down meat that's headed for the grinder or the stew pot.

                                          Poultry shears
                                          Kitchen shears

                                          Lets not forget a carving fork and honing steel. While the steel will not sharpen your knives, it will straighten the edge and prolong the time between sharpening.

                                          Unless your skilled at sharpening knives, have them sharpened for you! It will save you money in the long run.

                                          I prefer carbon to stainless steel when it comes to knives and other edged tools, nothing takes or holds an edge like high carbon steel, and yes, they require more care.

                                          If you wash and dry them when finished using them rust should never be a problem, they are not dishwasher safe (wouldn't do that any way I'm sure) and they'll discolor after contact with some food.

                                          A damp cloth, and a little silver polish will remove the staining that happens over time. Followed with a quick wash and dry then wipe them down with a bit of food grade mineral oil and they'll look good as new. I polish my knives about every 4 to 6 months.

                                          Brands, brands, brands, which is best... I'll no opine.

                                          11 Replies
                                          1. re: Demented

                                            Why stop there? One boning knife isn't enough - sometimes a stiff blade is better, and other times you want one that's a little more flexible. Same goes for fillet knives. And while an 8" slicer is good for some applications, a 12" blade works better in others. And the "minimum" might as well also include a meat cleaver, a Chinese cleaver, a santoku, a bird's beak peeler, and a vent knife.

                                            There's an ideal knife for every task. And if the OP works the roast beef carving station on a buffet line or moonlights as a sushi chef, then specialized blades go from optional to mandatory. But IMHO you can perform every task reasonably with just a chef's knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife.

                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              :) :) :)

                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                Not knowing how or what Toge cooks, it's difficult to offer more that an outline of the basic knives and what they are used for.

                                                Recommending a chef's, bread and boning knife as all one really needs is a very narrow view, and fails to offer any information on how and why one might choose some of the other knives available.

                                                In the end Toge will decide which knife or knives are really needed for his style of cooking.

                                                1. re: Demented

                                                  You didn't "offer an outline of the basic knives and what they are used for." You said that the OP needs nine knives at a **minimum** (your word, not mine). And that's just silly.

                                                  Each knife you listed, and each of dozens of knives you didn't mention, is the ideal tool for one or more particular tasks. If the OP is performing those tasks on a regular basis, having the ideal tool for the job is probably a good idea. But one of the three essential knives is suitable - if not ideal - for doing anything that a more specialized knife can do.

                                              2. re: Demented

                                                that's overkill by about 6 knives easy unless you are a fish monger or a professional butcher.

                                                1. re: chuckl

                                                  I can only make recommendations from my perspective.

                                                  I never buy skinless/boneless anything, or packages of parts, it's a waste of money.

                                                  I do buy whole chickens, ducks, fish, geese, rabbits and turkeys, then disjoint, skin, bone, fillet and otherwise break them down as needed, along with whole beef rib, short loin and tenderloin and pork tenderloin to breakdown into roast and steaks and various other cuts for grinding to make burgers, meatloaf and sausage.

                                                  I don't buy ground meat, grind it myself.

                                                  The main question here...

                                                  Why do you assume three knives are all anyone would want or need in the home kitchen, or that information offered in one persons opinion isn't welcome or needed?

                                                  1. re: Demented

                                                    OP: I need a good knife or set of knives. Any recomendations? Something that will last, and not too hard too sharpen. Oh yeah and will cut steak, roasts, and just about anything.

                                                    the poster is looking to get started, not open a butcher shop or restaurant, I was responding to the OP. You can offer any opinion you want, but a response is most helpful when it addresses the poster's question. Telling someone they need poultry shears and a slicing knife and a carving knife and a butcher knife when they are inquiring about getting a good knife or a set isn't addressing the question or being particularly helpful. I have lots of knives too, but you don't need an entire arsenal to get started or to do most things. Most of the time you can get by with a great chef's knife. A serrated bread knife can be handy too, and a paring knife. In fact, most of the tasks you describe can be accomplished with a great chef's knife, except for the grinding

                                                    1. re: chuckl

                                                      I gave examples as to why each of the last six knives are on the list. Common sense dictates these are not needed if one does not engage the task as listed.

                                                      I trust Togo can figure out whether or not he needs any of the knives listed.

                                                      1. re: chuckl

                                                        That's an excellent point.

                                                        I'm guessing that the OP is like most of us here: a hobby cook. (Don't be insulted; there's nothing wrong with cooking for a hobby. It doesn't make you a lesser cook just because it's not what you do for a living) A hobby cook looking for his or her first good knives is not going to even have a point of reference for evaluating all these suggestions. Knife preference is very subjective and individualistic, and developed over time.

                                                        That's why I say again: get a small set of decent knives - Wusthof, Henckels, Sabatier, Victorinox. Hold a chef's knife of each type to see how it fits your hand and how comfortable it feels - you'll be using it the most. Once you've used your one or two or three knife set for a while, maybe you'll want to explore more exotic options. By that time you'll at least know what a decent knife feels like and how it performs. Meanwhile there's no point whatsoever in going on the endless quest for the PERFECT knife for every application.

                                                        While I'm sure it's gauche of me in a purist's opinion to treasure my set of Wusthofs (matching handles! what an amateur!) they were my first set of serious (for me) knives and there is something to matching handles, after all - if you like the way one handle feels, it's likely that that handle will feel good to you on other knives as well. And you know what? My pots and pans match too (most of them). I like it that way. So sue me.

                                                        A lot of people here are answering this question just like hardcore audiophiles do when discussing stereo systems. (Matching components? Horrors! ) All the OP wants is a few decent knives to cut with.

                                                        1. re: avgolemona

                                                          i agree, and might add that another point in favor of forschners is the non slip fibrox handle, which could be particularly handy for someone new to very sharp knives

                                                          1. re: chuckl

                                                            I love my forchners for cutting the fish I catch all year long. I prefer the fibrox handle rather than the rosewood for the very reason that I actually use them, on a boat, and it's easier to cut a dozen yellowtail or tuna with a non slip grip when your hands are covered in fish blood, guts and slime.

                                                            OTOH, I'll admit that, while I don't have granite counters or stainless appliances, I'm fond of the look of a nice forged german knife and my All Clad stainless pots and pans. Oh the humanity...

                                                2. Lots of good info already. Like someone said, a "proper" knife set is a very personal thing. Over the years, I've owned and used knives from the top manufacturers. If you don't know much about knives or your style of cutting, stick with the bigger names and a set of knives. As time passes, you'll realize that not every knife in the set is to your preference and that's okay. If you become more serious about your cooking, you can always add to your arsenal.

                                                  More importantly, learn how to sharpen your knives. Korin.com sells a good DVD explaining the basics of knife sharpening. Buy it and learn. Inexpensive or expensive knives are the same once they start to dull: they're dangerous and they suck to use. Learn how to sharpen, and groom your knife with a diamond steel.

                                                  Oh, and when it comes to bread knives: unless it's a part of a set, only buy cheap serrated bread knives from the restaurant supply store. They're like fifteen bucks, work like a charm and when they dull you toss them out and buy new ones. The serrated edge means you cannot readily resharpen them thus making a $100 Henkels serrated bread knife completely worthless.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: onocoffee

                                                    If you're going to sharpen your own knives and are just learning, I'd recommend picking up an inexpensive kitchen knife at the hardware store and learn with that.

                                                    1. re: onocoffee

                                                      I have had my serrated bread knife for about 20 years now, sharpening the blade with my steel the way my knife salesman taught me. It is still going strong and working like a charm. I paid about 50 for it about 20 years ago, and I would do the same today..

                                                      As far as what type of knives to start with, I would recommend a small set of good quality knives and add to it when you have decided what works best for you. I now have three chef's knives; 1 FDick that is a heavy forged steel 10 inch from my professional cooking days - very heavy, 1 Wuestoff 8 inch chef's knife and 1 Global 8 inch chef's knife. I only use the larger one for cutting chickens and heavy meats, but I use the two smaller ones on a daily basis. Other people might tell you that I have too many chef's knifes, but what works for one doesn't necessarily work for two.

                                                      I also have a couple of paring knives - some for 20 years that haven't worn out yet, a boning knife, a vegetable cleaver - don't use that much now, a meat slicer, and shears.

                                                      1. re: kprange

                                                        I have too many as well, I'm sure.. but I just like them.. there are worse things. :)

                                                    2. Start with Forschners as others have mentioned:

                                                      Recommended for the first "set".

                                                      4" paring
                                                      7" chefs or 10" depending on the size of you and you hands
                                                      Boning knife
                                                      Shears
                                                      Long Serrated knife
                                                      Steel

                                                      That's the basics

                                                      Then take a look at this site for Forschners and see what you may want to add

                                                      http://www.cutleryandmore.com/prodlis...

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        This would be my recommendation as well.

                                                        I have the 4" paring, 8" Chef's and 10" slicing knife from Forschner, and they are all great. For the price, you can't beat them.

                                                        I may add the 10" Chef's sometime down the road, but I don't need it for now.

                                                        I also have a MAC santoku knife...that thing is phenomenal.

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          A wonderful list, jfood. Those are the knives that get a combined 95-98% of the work in my kitchen.

                                                          Good shears are far too often left off of lists for cutlery/knives. There's nothing better for making quick work of a chicken carcass either raw or cooked.

                                                          I also echo the recommendation for Forschners though I do quite like my Henckel chef's knife.

                                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                                            This may be heresy on this board but jfood likes his Cutco better than his Henckel

                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              Heratic!!!! Where are the torches and the pitchforks with a baying mob when you need them!

                                                              Whatever works for you my friend.

                                                              1. re: bigfellow

                                                                where's the spanish inquisition when you need them?

                                                        2. Don't buy a "set" of knives -- buy them one at a time, based on how you cook. I have many knives, but I could do without all of them except my Wusthoff 6" chef's knife. Anything I need to do, I can do with this one.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                            At last...some common sense.

                                                            This is for a home cook, (I assume) not a major butcher shop, meat packing industry.

                                                            As I said earlier my deba (7") does almost everything.

                                                          2. I have made a comment earlier. It has amazed me, that many people seem to think that you NEED a whole battery of knives to start off with.
                                                            Not said to impress or inflate my ego. But I have been cooking for a living for 30 years. I have taught cooking as well as having spent the last 20 years as either an Executive hef or an Owner/Chef.
                                                            That being said. I always tell anyone who asks me that they do not NEED to go out and buy a set of knives. UNLESS they are require for school.
                                                            KISS is what works. You just need to start off with 3 knives in my book. Unless you are a specialist. Then just buy as you need or want. Sometimes there are exceptions. Like when someone decides to "give up coking", and sell their knive roll/set for a rock bottom price. Keep it simple s*****!

                                                            That all being said. I will confess to owning well over 50 knives. I know, I know. I have a problem...but I am dealing with it. Really!

                                                            Knives can be fun...enjoy!!!

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: bigfellow

                                                              In my experience, it's the cooks who fail to "giving up coking" who end up selling their knives at rock bottom prices.

                                                              (I know, it was just a typo, but couldn't resist...)

                                                              1. re: bigfellow

                                                                I too confess to a knife fetish while advocating starting with just a great chef's knife and maybe a serrated bread and a paring. Even though I already have more knives than I can possibly use, I can't resist perusing ebay for a good deal, and if i find one, snapping it up if I can. Case in point, I saw a Messermeister Meridian Elite 5 inch santoku that I ended up buying for $20.50 (lightly used) even though I already have like 5 larger santokus and a Henckels 5-inch.

                                                                1. re: chuckl

                                                                  This is really good for you...remember that the first step is admitting that you have a problem.

                                                                  Now the problem that I have is it can't be just one knife...

                                                                  LOL

                                                                  1. re: bigfellow

                                                                    even if there was a 12 step program to help, I doubt I would follow it very long. I've become one with my addiction

                                                                2. re: bigfellow

                                                                  I collected vintage & antique cutlery and meat cleavers for years,
                                                                  had more then 500 pieces when I stopped.

                                                                  Since retiring, I've let all but the 11 knives that get the most use in the kitchen and a couple civil war era and early 20th century knives go.

                                                                3. Another thread curerently going on "cookware tips?, a poster brought up an article by Mark Bittman saying you could easily get away with a $10 knife. Article was outfitting a no frills kitchen for $200-$300.

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

                                                                  1. this is a fascinating thread because it reveals so many different ways of answering a simple question and each answer makes sense from a perspective. I'd ask a little about the prospective puchaser. Does it matter to youif things match? If so, you will be bothered even wiht the most wonderfully selected non-matching items. I think I sliced and chopped pretty well even when I used matching German knives, but that wasn't "me." I like my indiviidual knives, and in a block of eight (plus cleaver, fork, steel, and shears) no more than three actually "match (same maker/line)...BUT they all have a very similar feel (light, French, carbon). So, if it does not matter if they match, try a few different chef's knives to figure out which feels best and fits your style and needs. I probably do 90% of my cutting with a 10" Sabatier chef's knife, 5% with a bread knife, 3% with the 2 1/2 inch Nogent paring knife, and the other 2% spread among the others. Buy a chef's knife and parer and, if you slice bread a lot a bread knife, and add knives when you get into some new actiivity that would be a lot easier, like fileting, that really screams for a new knife! If you find a line that really feels just right you can usually get a chef's/paring set, often with a slicer, for a good deal. Get a block that will let your collection grow and splurge on a really nice steel like an F. Dick. BTW, subject of another thread, but this approach works for cookware, too. Start with a saute pan and small saucepan you really like and add as the need occurs!

                                                                    1. Yup- I'd say don't go for sets. We accumulate knives like our kitchen tools- slowly and as we need them. There's nothing worse than buying something you don't need and won't use (waste of time, money and storage space). If we've said to each other a few times (preferably more), "we've needed X forever and I could have been using it all this time for all _______________ tasks!" or "I've been thinking for a while that we could really use Y" or "why the eff don't we have Z in our kitchen?" then we'll get it.

                                                                      That said, I'd go for the following:

                                                                      1 medium and 1 large chefs knife
                                                                      paring knife or two
                                                                      bread knife
                                                                      boning knife
                                                                      carving (slicing) knife
                                                                      cleaver
                                                                      kitchen shears

                                                                      We also go with different materials- we have a ceramic knives, some nice Japanese knives, and a few nice + a few cheap paring knives.

                                                                      1. Boy I bet you're glad you asked this question.
                                                                        When it comes to brand favorites everyone has an opinion. To get an more objective data, I believe that Consumers Reports and/or Cooks Ilustrated have recommendations in regards to buying sets and they also have recommended what knives are the most useful. They both have web memberships. If you are looking for knives it will be well worth it to have at least one membership.

                                                                        You did not indicate what price level you are looking at. Good quality knives are not cheap. Good quality, for me, is all about the metal in the knife. The harder the metal, the sharper it will be and the longer the edge will hold. however, if the metal is too hard it will become brittle and/or very difficult to re-sharpen. This is the dilemma of all knive makers - finding that balance between sharpness and durability.

                                                                        Metal hardness is sometimes measured by something called the "rockwell" The higher the number the harder the metal. I have read that the european knives have a rockwell between 56-58. I have just looked at a Shun elite santoku which has a rating of 64 but it cost about $200. Their "classic" line santoku has a rating of 61 and it goes for $141. Their reviews are below.

                                                                        http://reviews.cookingcache.com/japan...

                                                                        If you are not interested in spending that much, other brands may do just fine. I have henckels among others.

                                                                        Good luck

                                                                        1. Wow. so many opinions. You'd think they were all from different people.

                                                                          Despite the quantity of knives currently owned, my first four knives were a wedding present set of a 9" carver/ slicer, 8" cook's, 6" utility and 4" parer. It took me eight years and the donation of a knife block with an extra slot to add the 8" bread knife. If you're doing any meat prep, the boning does cut differently than the above, so IMHO worthwhile. Mine has a handle larger in proportion to the blade making it easier to handle with raw meat.
                                                                          If I was starting out now, I would get the larger size carver and cook's and learn to use them. That said, without knowing a person's hand size, ability, et c., but knowing their desire to cook, here's my picks to 'outfit' a home cook:

                                                                          10" carver
                                                                          10" cook's
                                                                          10" bread
                                                                          6" utility
                                                                          5" boning
                                                                          4" paring
                                                                          3" sheep's foot paring
                                                                          3" bird's beak paring

                                                                          If you really enjoy the difference between carving and slicing, if you prepare fish, if you feel something's missing in between the 6" and 10" blades, one might add:

                                                                          10" -12" slicer
                                                                          6" - 8" fillet - the skinny toothpick looking one
                                                                          8" -10" flexible fillet
                                                                          8" utility

                                                                          I'm picking these as additions partially because they don't overlap usage with the previous purchases.

                                                                          I really enjoy multiple sizes of cook's knives. I know people who do it all with an 8" and those that have only a 14". I use my 10/8/6 all the time. I picked the 10" for this imaginary kitchen because you have a harder time cutting big stuff w/ a small knife than vice-versa. I didn't go larger because many people freak out with so much steel in their hand. There it is.

                                                                           
                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: toomanypots

                                                                            A really nice knife for the money is the Fallkniven K1 & K2. You get a fantastic VG10 steel knife that is exactly 59 HRC. I have a Shun Classic & 1 Altons knife, Henckels (only buy Henckels made in Germany mine are from Spain and not very good; I am slowly replacing them one by one.) The Fallkniven Knives are not as pretty as the Shun knives but they fit great in your and and are very well balanced, Sharp and they really hold an edge! You can get the 8" chef's knife for around $115.00. How does it compare to the Shun.........Perfect! It is my opinion you will pay more for the shun because of the asthetics as they are much prettier. However, the Fallkniven which is made in Sweden is a superb knife and the steel quality is outstanding!

                                                                            Also, check out the Messermeister knives as I think they are better than Wusthof or Henckels. If you don't want to spend a ton and want a really good knife check out the Messermeister Park Plaza series. I have a small paring knife and I love it. These knives are a huge bang for the buck! . If you really shop you can find some really great knives and not spend a ton of money! Go shopping...hold them and look them over and research your favorites online!

                                                                            When you ask folks what kind of knives you should buy you will usually hear Shun, Henckel, Wusthof (Messermeister's are the best of the German knives in my opinion) Global etc. I do not recommend buying a set though. Just because a company makes a great chefs knife, their Santoku knife might not be quite as good as other brands. Also, when you buy a set there always seem to be a few knives you just don't use very often. By the time I get done replacing my awful Henckels I will have several different brands in my knife block.

                                                                          2. I hope I don't get beaten up over this but.... have any of you heard/used Cutco Knives? Can you give me an opinion? I have heard they are awesome but don't want to pay the price if they are not worth it.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: heyruoutthere

                                                                              They're not worth it.

                                                                              1. re: heyruoutthere

                                                                                you can do a lot better for the same amount of money

                                                                                1. re: heyruoutthere

                                                                                  THANK YOU!! I felt bad for a college student but had never heard of them so I thought I would ask.

                                                                                  1. re: heyruoutthere

                                                                                    Jfood has a few Cutcos and actually likes them, irrespective of their marketing model. One of Mrs jfood's client's kids was selling one summer and jfood bought a couple. He owns a large bread serrated, a boning and a chef. The latter two are flat edged not the mini serrated types (i.e.ginzu). He uses them all the time he sharpens and hones himself and he finds they work quite well. They are expensive for what they are but they are not crap.

                                                                                    Now those ginzu imitators mini-serrated line that they sell (let's not forget some major knife makers also make that crap-line) are not worth anything in jfood's opinion.

                                                                                  2. Imo, a chef and pairing knife are what you need plus a good honing rod and stones. Your budget will determine what brand to get. All the suggestions mentioned in the previous posts are good. Brands will vary depending on the person you ask. Just get something you'll be happy with and not bitch about when your using it. I'm using a Misono UX10 240mm gyuto and a 120mm petty. They're spectacular. I will never use anything less than these knives ever again.

                                                                                    1. For years I used K Sabatier knives that I purchased from the factory in Thiers, France. They are excellent quality knives that are still made very well at a less than ridiculous price. You just have to make sure that they are actual K Sabatier and not the cheap Sabatiers found at mass merchants. A few years back I was intent on switching over to good quality German style knives. I have used Wustof and Henckels Pro S and have liked them both... the price was a problem though. I already had my Sabatiers and did not want to shell out a fortune for a German set. I did some research and came across Mercer Genesis knives. These are German steel knives, fully forged and with a soft touch handle. They are assembled in Taiwan to control costs. I bought the basic set for less than $150.00! I was skeptical but when I got them I noticed that fit and finish was flawless. I have been using them for over a year now and can attest that they are every bit as good as Wustoff. In fact the handle is far superior to the current Grand Pris handle. If cost is an issue these should be on your list. Now I am bored again and am looking at Shun and other Japanese manufacturers... that will be the next addition to my knife collection.

                                                                                      1. ..and oh yes, if you're serious about slicing your own smoked salmon or home-made gravlax, you really should look at a salmon knife like the blokes behind the counter at Zabar's use.

                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: KamJam

                                                                                          I bought some cutco knives this past month and cut the #$*& out of my finger and had to get stitches-I just returned them- They are too sharp for me.... I have a Williams sonoma knife that works just fine!!

                                                                                          1. re: hlsess

                                                                                            They say sharp knives are safer because you use less force to cut. But it depends what you're doing.

                                                                                            I'll admit, I'm slightly afraid of my knife, but it keeps me respectful.

                                                                                            1. re: Soop

                                                                                              Soop, I'm with you on that one. When I watch people with bad technique use my knives, I get scared for them. And some foods require force no matter what knife is used and a miscut can mean serious damage.

                                                                                              The other day I was cutting up a blue New Zealand pumpkin and it was so hard to cut (with my sharpest gyuto) that I recognized it might be a bit too dangerous with a miscut, so I opted for a still sharp (but duller) Forschner. Two cuts later it skidded through part of the skin, sliced through a fleximat and left an admirable gouge in a bamboo board. For my blades sake alone I am glad I switched knives, but I also felt that a mishap with the Forschner might only take one finger versus two or three with the Gyuto.

                                                                                              In the end I just had to take if very very slowly with a lot of respect.

                                                                                              1. re: smkit

                                                                                                I've asked people before, but can you use a bread knife for that type of thing? Didn't get an answer last time

                                                                                                1. re: Soop

                                                                                                  No reason why a bread knife can't be used. It would be like a saw and the sawing action would get through the had vegetable. I have found that the thinner the blade on a straight edge the less wedging will occur but if you twist the blade while trying to get through you could damage the edge.

                                                                                                  1. re: Soop

                                                                                                    I have one more of the pumpkins, so I will try it and let you know how it works with a bread knife. That was the toughest thing I have I ever cut I think. I could have hacked through my arm bone with greater ease.

                                                                                                  2. re: smkit

                                                                                                    I understand what you guys are talking about. A sharper knife, in general, give you more control, but there are exceptions. For very hard very dense foods, the knvies will be wedged within the food. A super sharp knife and a semi-sharp knife will be stuck there, but a slip from a super sharp knife can be dangerous.

                                                                                                    Whenever I encounter these difficult food, I place my other hand on top of the knife spine and tap the spine, sorta like hammering. First, this provide more force. Second, both of my hand are above the knife and any slip will not endanger my hands.

                                                                                            2. Using good kitchen knife is mandatory, and from my experience, buying the best knife you can effort, is the best strategy rather then buying an knives set on sale. I use a Damascus steel knife from one of the leading knife suppliers in Japan - Yaxell. I use the Ran 8" chef knife – the most amazing knife in means of handling and sharpness wise (In German TestMagazine of March 2009, the knive was top rated and got gold medal compared with all leading brands like Zwilling J.A.Henckels, Dreizack, Boeker , Guede, Solicut etc.). you can view their websites www.yaxell.co.jp
                                                                                              or www.yaxell.co.il

                                                                                              1. It's a really old thread, but if you shop around there are bargans to be had, especially in sets. I recently bought Henckels Four Star sets for my girls at a department store close out sale. It contains an 8" Chefs, 7" Santoku, steel, block, parer, pealer, sisors, and a serrated utility, all for less than "chuckl" paid for the Santoku in the post above. And less than I could get either the Chefs or Santoku if bought in open stock even on e-bay.

                                                                                                Now, are these the best knives ever made, surely not, but it gives some young cooks a better set of knives than their mother had for over 35 years, and better knives than their grandmothers ever had. It's a good place to start and as they progess with their cooking and can afford a more sophisticated knife, they at least have a good reference point. Or at least they will after Christmas.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: mikie

                                                                                                  I've done the same but bought open stock knives at department stores. Lots of Henckels, many 4 stars. Some with broken tips or rust spots. All were under $10. With a little care they were repaired and sharpened and brought back to life. Better than out of the box. I have given these to my kids as started knives. My mom gave me a small set of Henckel 4 stars many years ago. She only used Rada knives.

                                                                                                2. I cook almost every everyday and do everything in the kitchen from trying to copy Thomas Keller to making grilled cheese...I do pretty well with 2 Chefs knives - a 10" very thin Japanese style and a 10" Forschner (but you certainly only need one), A Forschner bread knife, Forschner boning knife (really dont need it since all the meat I get is pre butchered), and a Forschner paring knife.
                                                                                                  I like having the 2 chefs knives because, while I've never encountered a problem with my Japanese style knife, it is very thin and I avoid crushing garlic/making pastes with it as I dont want to risk dinging the edge if I don't have to...for that, and a ton of tasks, I use the Forschner...That being said, the Forschner was less than a quater of the price and performs tremendously - the blade is just more of a heftier German style than the thin Japanese style which I slightly prefer for cutting veg. I can't say I would have bought the Japanese style if I had bought the Forschner first.
                                                                                                  My advice would be to first get a Forschner Chef's knife of the appropriate size, a long Forschner bread knife, and their paring knife as well...that will all set you back around $60. If you find you want to try out the more expensive knives, then its easy to...but it's always tougher to buy the expensive stuff first, then find a great knife significantly cheaper. And like a lot of people said, Forschner is probably the brand seen in most restaurant kitchens due to its price/quality ratio.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: dcole

                                                                                                    I do agree with dcole that you don't need much more than a chef's knife, paring and bread knife... except if you unwisely fuel a Japanese knife addiction then you will become consumed by all things sharp, then buy a bunch of sharpening stones and turn around and buy more knives just to use on your sharpening stones, and it goes on and on and on....think twice before going that route.

                                                                                                    (half) Joking aside, Forschners are great and they are the only 'set' of knives I have ever recommended to anyone. You can get 4 knives for $70. It will have the 10.25-inch bread knife (a good size), an 8-inch chef's knife, a 6-inch utility/slicer, and a paring knife. They are all very functional and will get used all of the time. Throw in the ceramic Idahone honing rod to keep them tuned up, and you will have great tools for only $100.

                                                                                                    Here is the set.
                                                                                                    http://www.cutleryandmore.com/details...