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Is it bad if a magnet will stick to your knife?

asommers Jun 28, 2010 12:51 AM

I just recently bought a knife at Home Goods due to being tired of the cheap serrated knives that I have always used. I thought it was a decent chef knife and just head recently that a magnet should not stick to stainless.
I really enjoy cooking and feel like it is time for me to get away from the cheap throw away cookware. Still having are hard time thinking of paying $100+ plus for a good knife

  1. JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Jun 28, 2010 02:27 AM

    Magnets will stick to stainless steel.

    Now about your knife... What kind did you get? I've seen some decent knives at the closeout stores and I've also seen some nice looking ones that were actually horrible. You don't have to pay lots of money for a good knife. Find a restaurant supply store in your area, and you can pick up these three Forschner knives:

    8" Fibrox handle chef's knife, $30
    10" Fibrox handle bread knife, $30
    4" plastic handle paring knife, $5

    There are a couple of other specialized knives out there, but these are the only three that you really need.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
      krick Jun 28, 2010 09:56 AM

      Not quite correct re magnets sticking to stainless steel. I'm no metallurgist but I do know that austenitic stainless steels are generally non-magnetic, which is why magnets don't stick to most high-end stainless steel appliances (e.g., fridges, stoves, ovens, etc.).

      1. re: krick
        cowboyardee Jun 29, 2010 07:38 AM

        To clarify though - you do not want knives made of austenitic stainless steel. They wouldn't take or hold an edge.

        Any steel that would make for a good knife should certainly be magnetic.

        1. re: cowboyardee
          pdxgastro Jun 30, 2010 11:23 AM

          Thank you for teaching me a new word, Cowboy. I thought you were misspelling 'authentic'. LOL. Now I know "Austenite (or gamma phase iron) is a metallic non-magnetic solid solution of iron and an alloying element".

    2. j
      janniecooks Jun 28, 2010 04:59 AM

      There are magnetic knife racks, where two magnets run parallel about two inches apart that hold knives vertically on the wall-mounted rack, so no it's not bad.

      1. Caroline1 Jun 28, 2010 05:43 AM

        There are many types of stainless steel. Up until recently, very few stainless steel pots and pans were ferrous (a magnet only sticks to ferrous metals) but with the advent of induction hobs, many manufacturers are now producing ferrous ss pots and pans, and you can bet there will be more with each passing year. But the opposite is true of kitchen knives. I have all sorts of knives, some with ss blades, some with carbon steel blades, but ALL are ferrous.

        And that's why they make magnetic knife holders! '-)

        1. Chemicalkinetics Jun 28, 2010 07:04 AM

          Who said that? There are magnetic knife strips and racks, specifically designed for knives:


          Now, there is a saying about good stainless steel for COOKWARE is 18/10 and 18/10 stainless steel is fairly nonmagnetic, but that is another topic and I am sure many disagree with that statement.

          If you want a Chef's knife under $100, look for Victorinox/Forschner or Dexter-Russell.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
            paulj Jun 28, 2010 10:14 AM

            Many induction ready pans appear to be 18/10 with an extra magnetic layer bonded to the base. I have a mixing bowl that works on the induction burner and is labeled 18/10, but I suspect there's some error in the label.

            All my knifes stick to the magnetic holder.

          2. a
            asommers Jun 28, 2010 09:26 AM

            Okay after reading up on knives I am scared to say that I got one of those Palm chief knifes.
            I have nothing to compare it to but it seems to be a good knife, forged blade, blade and handle are balanced, and it seems to be staying pretty sharp.
            I've seen the magnetic strip knife holders but was not sure they were made for good knifes.
            Thanks for the info guys

            9 Replies
            1. re: asommers
              Chemicalkinetics Jun 28, 2010 10:01 AM

              I have seen those Palm knives at Home Goods too, but I don't know if they are any good. If you are ever into getting another knife, let us know. We can brainstorm a few and you can take those into consideration. Best wishes.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                asommers Jun 28, 2010 11:24 AM

                I'm already looking at the Japanese knives. This can get really addictive!

                1. re: asommers
                  Chemicalkinetics Jun 28, 2010 01:46 PM


                  There are some expensive and some relatively afforable ones. I presume you got a Palm restaurant Chef's knife. As such, you should get a different style Japanese knives, like a Gyuto, Santoku or Nakiri.

                  Have fun.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    MikeB3542 Jun 28, 2010 08:15 PM

                    The whole knife thing can border on fetishism. Unless you are paid to use it, there is no need to go nuts. I mean, look, can the knife do the job? Does it feel good when you use it properly? Does it hold an edge? Can it be honed and sharpened without a lot of fuss? (More precisely, does the regimen of honing and sharpening suit your kitchen habits?) This is where it's worth going to a place like Wm Sonoma where you can spend time, ask questions, find out what works.

                    Stainless steel will be non-magnetic if it has nickel in it (like 18/10 or 18/8 stainless). Lacking nickel (like 18/0 stainless) the manufacturer will introduce some carbon for hardness. The exact recipe and heat treatments all effect knife performance. There is no "one way" -- it is all a matter of tradeoffs. I think we have all had knives that went dull just sticking them in the block, or knives (esp stainless) that resisted all attempts to put an edge on once dulled.

                    1. re: MikeB3542
                      Veggo Jun 29, 2010 07:57 AM

                      Stainless steel is alloyed with chromium, 10-11%. Steel alloyed with nickel in proportions you indicate are not stainless steel, but can be magnetic. Witness the Canadian nickel, easily picked up by a magnet, whereas US nickels are not. Nickel alloys have the lowest "Curie Temperature", that critical temperature at which molecules in magnetic alloys and elements are so excited thermally that they are no longer magnetic. Heat up a Canadian nickel with a torch and see for yourself. That property was the basis for a thermomagnetic motor I developed in the 60's.

                      1. re: MikeB3542
                        Chemicalkinetics Jun 29, 2010 08:05 AM



                        Me? I hope I am not fetish about knife. Maybe only slightly obsessive.

                        Yes, stainless steel can be fairly non-magnetic as you mentioned in 18/10 and 18/8 stainless steel, but they don't usually make it into kitchen knives. Even for most 18/10 flatwave, the knife blade for those "18/10" knives are not actually "18/10". The forks are, the spoon are, the knife handles are, but probably not the knife blade.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          Veggo Jun 29, 2010 08:26 AM

                          I suggest that some here could learn a lot from a basic tutorial about metalurgy, elements, alloys, definitions, chemical and physical properties, carbon additives, and the Damascus method, before spending a fortune on knives.

                          1. re: Veggo
                            Chemicalkinetics Jun 29, 2010 08:47 AM


                            Thanks. I will take some tutorial readings when I have time. Fortunately, I have not spent a fortune on knives. All in all knife purchase is inexpensive compared to many other things, like house, car, jewelry, video games, cell phone, ipad...

                            Huck, most people spend more in cable TV and cell phone in a year (~$1000), than knives for their lifetime.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                              Veggo Jun 29, 2010 09:14 AM

                              Very true, Richard.

              2. j
                Jemon Aug 3, 2010 06:49 PM

                If you are still looking for a knife, one of the best knives I've ever owned is a very cheap Kiwi Brand knife from www.wokshop.com . Wokshop is in Chinatown SF. $6.95 and the knife is razor sharp and holds it's edge wonderfully. The only thing is that the handle isn't that attractive...if that matters to you.

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