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Jan 23, 2009 09:08 AM


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.
    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

        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 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 farmer├Ęs 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!