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Chef's Knife Recommendations for less than $40 and for less than $130

Posters often ask for suggestions of good inexpensive Chef's knives. I am sure some of you may have seen a few of them recently.

So I thought it would be a good idea that each of us advocates one Chef's knife under $40 and one good knife under $130. I hope this can (1) promote discussion among us and (2) establish a thread which we can use for reference for future posters. Have fun.

($130 is chosen because this allows Henckels and Wusthof recommendations).

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  1. My recommendations for a knife below $40

    Dexter-Russell 8 inch Cook’s knife with various handles for ~$24
    Stainless steel, easy to sharpen and inexpensive

    My recommendations for a knife below $120:
    Tojiro DP 210 mm gyuto knife for $75
    VG-10 hardened to 61 HRC: stainless and strong steel, thin blade, nice profile, easy to sharpen, good value

    Or JCK CarboNext 210 mm gyuto knife for $105
    Nearly stainless (but not truly stainless), hard steel, thin blade, easy to sharpen, take on a good edge and maintain the edge well.

    24 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Is there a requirement that we've used them?
      My reccomendation for under 140
      good steel, rc60 if my memory serves me right, good introduction to J-blades
      It's slightly over price limit but great specs
      I think this would be a great starter set
      Under 40 I can't find any other than chems , and you can't go wrong with a resto supply shop

      1. re: Dave5440

        :) Very attractive recommendations for both Miyabi and Hiromoto and they are both very similar price. Good stuffs.

          1. re: Jay F

            J-blade usually means Japanese style blade. It usually implies two things, (1) blade made from stronger (harder) steel and (2) the blade itself is thinner.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Did you finally pick up a CarboNext, Chem? I've been using mine every day since I got mine and it's actually developing a pretty crazy looking patina, wondering if yours is doing the same thing. I'll post my recommendations in a little while, packing for a trip at the moment and just thought i would poke my head in real quick :)

          1. re: cannibal

            Yes, I did got my CarboNext santoku. It is being "time-shared" and send around the country. I don't know if it is with Eiron or with cowboyardee. I am guessing the former.


            Mine does not develop much of a patina. It is almost stainless like. I would intentionally leave water residue on it just to see what will happen to it, but not much. There is some very faint discoloration, but very faint.

            Have a nice trip.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Hey Chem/CBAD,

              Yeah, I'm dragging this out! :-D

              - WHINE ALERT -
              The two theater productions I'm in have been taking up a little more of my time than expected. (Jeez, if only I could get rid of my day job, eh?)
              - END WHINE ALERT -

              On the plus side, since we're perfoming at a mountain Inn, I was able to get one of the Inn's chefs to give me a micro-review of the knife, & she was able to directly compare it to her personal Wusthof Culinar santoku.


              Also on the plus side (well, for me anyway), I'm getting a chance to practice my knife repair skills on the Inn's kitchen knives. Holy crap! These things are really beat up! Broken tips; blade edges used as lid pryers; uneven edges from over-steeling & abuse; & that's in addition to zero cutting ability! (Hmmmm... I think just realized why I haven't done as much with the CarboNext....)

              But I've got it back now. I plan to finish up my notes this weekend (too many rehearsals during the week) & send it out to CBAD.


              1. re: Eiron

                Thanks for the update. Hope the theater productions go well.

                Are you holding back on the mini-review from the Inn's chef?

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  I was planning on including the chef's review with the initial write-up. (Is that what you meant?)

                  The first two weekends' shows went very well. This week is final rehearsals & next week is tech rehearsals for the next show (6 performances over 2 more weekends). Then it's off to The South (NC/SC/GA, in the middle of August?) for 2 weeks' vacation.

                  1. re: Eiron

                    Wow, you are a busy boy, and it sounds like all is going very well. :)

          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

            How would you recommend sharpening and honing/maintaining the Tojiro. And can I use a Forschner steel rod at all, if even just lightly?

            1. re: djdarroch

              I recommend sharpening Tojiro DP knives at the factory angle which is 15 degree on each side, and I prefer to use waterstones. As for honing, Japanese steel knives like Tojiro DP do not require the same amount of honing as German/French knives. You can either not hone at all, or hone it with a light pressure once a week or so (as oppose to once daily).

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                What combination grit water stone would you recommend.

                1. re: djdarroch

                  <What combination grit water stone would you recommend.>

                  For Tojiro DP, right? First of all, I like single grit stones over a combination stones. They last longer. However, a combination stone can be a very inexpensive entry to knife sharpening. The least you need is a 1000 grit waterstone (or something close to 1000, like a 800 or 1200). For many people, a 1000 grit stone is enough. It is aggressive enough to fix minor chips, and refine enough to be a finishing edge. Many of the Shun knives are finished at the 1000 grit level. If you want to make the blade even a bit more refine, then I would get a 3000-4000 grit. A lot of combination stones are sold in the combination of 1000 and 6000 grits, and I find the jump a bit too much.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Thanks Chem. One more smaller inquiry, then I swear, I'll leave you alone. (I plan on making the purchase today). Any brand names of stones you'd recommend; price and quality in consideration? Thanks.

                    1. re: djdarroch

                      <One more smaller inquiry, then I swear, I'll leave you alone>

                      Don't worry about it. You are not bugging me. I think many Japanese waterstones will work for you. Among the famous stones, King stones are usually slightly cheaper. Again, each brand has several lines, and King has many lines, some cheap, some expensive. You can relatively easy to find them in various kitchen stores.

                      Now, here is a Naniwa 1000/3000 combination stone if you want a combination stone. It is $37.99. You may able to get it cheaper from a local restaurant supply store.


                      If you want a ~1000 grit stone, then the Bester 1000 or Bester 1200 is considered to be good value. It may seem slightly expensive at $50, but it is a large size stone, and it wears somewhat slow. I have it, and just used it yesterday. It is highly recommended by famed knife sharpener Dave Martel, and many other people.



                      I actually started my first stone with this combination Woodstock stone (pretty sure it is a Japanese stone marketed under Woodstock). It was inexpensive at $29, but no longer. It worked well, but the 1000 side was soft and worn fast -- which can be a good and bad thing.


                      If you want to get one from Amazon, then I would recommend either of these following two instead. Suehiro is a good brand. They are cheaper, and they are also slightly larger than the Woodstock stone above. The 800 grit one will cut faster, but the 1200 grit one will produce a more refined edge. Between the two, I would slightly recommend the 1200 grit one.



                      Now, all of these stones require soaking in water for 10-20 minutes before use. If you want one of those "splash and go" stones, then you will be looking at something like Naniwa Super:


                      <price and quality in consideration?>

                      I recommend waterstone over oilstone for Japanese steel knives. In term of price, I think you will be looking at $25-50, depending on the size and all. I have a $6 Suehiro (lower tier Suehiro), which works ok, but not the a great stone. I think any stone above the $50 is too much for now.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I found a great price on a King 1000/6000 grit. Would you recommend this one to start me out? Or the Suehiro 1200. Got a good price on both.

                          1. re: djdarroch

                            First of all, look at the size, and make size you are happy with the dimensions.

                            Between the two, I kind of like Suehiro 1200 a bit better (assuming size is not an issue). The reason is this. The 1200 will last you longer, and will give you an edge good enough. If you happen to later want to increase your stone option, then get another individual stone, and it will be cheaper in the long run. Nevertheless, I think a 1000/6000 King stone will work fine as well.

                            Do you have link for the specific Suehiro 1200 and King 1000/6000. The reason is that there are different grades/lines within a brand. There are some really high quality Suehiro stones, and some average, and some below average.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              These are the links:


                              Also, if I order from the King supplier, I get a 12 dollar discount because I have another order with them. Some thing for me to consider. Are these good quality?

                              1. re: djdarroch

                                My inclination is that they are fine. However, cowboyardee does not like this 1000/6000 waterstone. I think he said the 1000 side get clogged up. (I cannot find his original post on this)

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  The stone i have was a king combination stone. It was labelled 800/4000 grit. BUT it looks just like the 1k/6k stone in question - brown coarse side, beige fine side, rubber 'band' around the stone where the two sides meet. I wouldn't be surprised if the two are in fact the same stone and the grits were just mislabelled on one of em. No way for me to tell without seeing the 1k/6k stone first hand.

                                  The upside of my stone (which may or may not be the one you've linked to) is that the coarse side is great, especially for the money. But the fine side is probably the single worst waterstone I've seen. It's not even a matter of clogging - the knife just seems to kind of skate around on the surface (unless you gouge the stone) and not get any sharper or any more polished. It just doesn't feel like it's ever actually abrading anything.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    <the coarse side is great, especially for the money. But the fine side is probably the single worst waterstone I've seen>

                                    Oh I got it reverse, I though it was the 1000 (or 800) side which you had trouble. Good to know.

            2. Under $40:

              CCK small cleaver might actually be the best knife you can get for the money. Good steel, great geometry, decent edge retention, can use it for just about everything. Don't like cleavers? Worried about buying a carbon steel knife? Quit yer whining.


              A Forschner 8 inch chef knife is also a good bet (for the above-mentioned whiners).

              For under $130:

              Field is pretty open - lots of good knives in this price range. Love the Tojiro DP Chem mentioned. Fujiwara FKM 240 gyuto is a great bet. I haven't played with a carbonext (yet!) but it gets good word of mouth. MAC is nothing to sniff at, and the MAC mighty 8 inch is selling at Amazon for $129.

              My personal addition: Hiromoto 190 mm santoku. Great steel, for a Japanese carbon steel knife it doesn't need to be babied, begs for a home reprofiling down to an absurdly low angle edge (learning to sharpen is fun.... and didn't I tell ya to quit yer whining), looks absolutely badass with a dark patina at the edge.


              2 Replies
              1. re: cowboyardee

                "Quit yer whining"

                Wow, tough guy.

                Yeah, CCK 1303 is a pretty good knife. I am very happy with it especially of the performance-to-price. The only reason I held back for a recommendation is that it is a carbon steel knife. If the person can handle a carbon steel knife, I would fully recommend it just like you do.

                Good to know Dave and you both like Hiromoto AS. It really looks to be a great buy. Excellent Aogami core steel and very good price.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  A Forschner 8 inch chef knife gets the job done for me in the kitchen. The Forschner paring knives are also affordable and great.

                  These are my go to knives as someone who cooks on a budget!.

                2. The replies so far suggest a lot of love for Asian knives here. I will have to try a genuine example some day. My experience allows me only to vouch for one knife on the high end: my workhorse knife for the last 7-8 years has been a German knife, a Messermeister, the Meridian Elite 10" model:


                  I believe that their San Moritz line uses the same blades but different handles. I have never found anything to dislike about that knife. It's terrific. I like it that the bolster doesn't go all the way down to the blade edge: simplifies sharpening.

                  On the cheaper end, I have a Dexter 9" chef's knife from a restaurant supply store. It's stamped metal rather than forged, and I don't think it holds an edge like the Messermeister, but it's good bang for the buck. I did hear somewhere that Dexter has changed, and maybe not for the better, in recent years. My own model is maybe 10 years old.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Bada Bing

                    "their San Moritz line uses the same blades but different handles"


                    "I like it that the bolster doesn't go all the way down to the blade edge: simplifies sharpening"

                    Yes, Messermeister makes very respectable knives with partial bolster. I suggest it to JuniorBalloon largely because of this feature:


                    Thanks for your suggestion.

                    1. re: Bada Bing

                      You can still get the Dexter-Russell quality but they have introduced the Basic/International line (which I'm not about to try) to go against other cheap lines. There really is no way to justify buying junk, low quality doesn't last, so no savings there and if the restaurant goes out of business the resale value is next to nothing.

                      For under $40 the Dexter-Russell Sani-Safe line is a great value. A nice degree of sharpness and handles that work great when wet. Truly a workhorse.

                    2. A Shun 6" paring knife on sale right now at WS for $69 ?



                      (Oops, not a chef's knife. Sorry.)

                      1. Any more suggestions? Especially, Petek, Dave5440, Eiron, scubadoo97, smkit, cannibal....etc

                        17 Replies
                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I think you guys have made some excellent suggestions so far.Nothing really more that I can contribute.

                          Korin has a 15% off sale for the month of July so...

                          1. re: petek

                            Hmm, you sure?... no one has mentioned Moritaka yet. :P

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              I'm a bit sceptical about recommending Moritaka because of the possible "overgrind" issue.
                              Having said that, CKTG has the 240mm gyuto Aogami #2 for $135.00 which in my opinion is a steal(that's the one I have)

                              1. re: petek

                                I have to agree with pete here , that's a steal, Pete is your honesuki a Moritaka as well? There's a good price on that one as well but doesn't say what steel it is.
                                edit-I found the steel blue I think

                                  1. re: Dave5440

                                    I think they call it the "Supreme blue".slightly harder than the #2 blue.
                                    Yes my honesuki is a Moritaka Aogami #2 blue steel.Great little knife, and that is a great price at CKTG especially with today's exchange rate!! :D

                                    1. re: petek

                                      "Supreme blue"

                                      Cool. You got the AS (Aogami Super) series? I think Aogami Super (Blue Steel Super) has better wear resistance, but slightly worse toughness than Aogami #2 (Blue Steel #2):


                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        "Cool. You got the AS (Aogami Super) series?"

                                        No I got the Aogami #2.Pay attention doctore 8P

                                        1. re: petek

                                          "I got the Aogami #2"

                                          Well Aogami #2, better toughest, better for honesuki. :P

                                      2. re: petek

                                        Yep but it's out of stock, on sale but out of stock,

                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                          Dave,if you're interested KNIFE on Queen West carries it.$150.00 plus GST I think.

                                          1. re: petek

                                            I think I will do that in the fall, right now my deba is working over fish like crazy I did 45lbs of Lake ontario salmon on sat, and it still shaves my arm hair , muhahaha

                                              1. re: Dave5440

                                                You caught a 45 lb salmon?! How long will it takes you to finish eating a 45 lbs salmon? Sounds like you like your Watanabe Deba alright. :)

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  I wish I'd almost certainly have the grand prize for the salmon derby with that, so sadly it was 6 fish for a total of 45lbs biggest being 14lbs

                                                  1. re: Dave5440

                                                    That is still pretty awesome Dave. Looking good too in the photo. Man, I wonder how long it will take you to finish all the salmon.... If a pound of salmon each week, then it will be almost a year.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      I kept half of what I'm holding,other half my dad, the rest went with my 2 fishing partners, and yes I'm liking my deba, a few deer hunters have expressed intrest in one as the way they field dress them they would work quite well, the rusting issue seems to fall on deaf ears

                              2. I have a China-made Chicago Cutlery chef knife, 8-inch blade, that I bought at Wal-Mart a few years ago for $16. Black plastic scales, unknown kind of stainless steel that sharpens pretty nicely. Bought it for potlucks so I wouldn't risk losing a good knife. I have other knives (modern Japanese and German, and vintage French), but this is my favorite. I saw knives like it at Wal-Mart the other day, for $18 to $24. Are they still this good? Don't know. But you won't risk much money finding out.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: emu48

                                  Thanks. Do you happen to know which series of Chicago Cutlery as it offers several lines:



                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    I looked at your link and didn't see one exactly like the one I bought ... may be a line that has been discontinued by now. Two suggestions: a) Just buy one knife to try out, not a set. b) If it turns out to be junk, you haven't suffered much, given how inexpensive these knives are. Conversely, if you think it's a good knife and are so inclined, go back and buy the whole set. Generally, I avoid buying sets of anything. What made mine a great knife is the steel it is made of. Obviously all Chicago Cutlery knives may or may not be the same steel. A lot of stainless knives are a bitch to sharpen. None sharpens as well or as easily as an old-fashioned, rust-prone carbon steel knife. But the good stainless knives sharpen very well.

                                2. Bought this knife on the recommendation below and it's great.


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: fm1

                                    :) Which one? Evidently, I need to be subscribed member to view the link.

                                    1. Chem: I have a King 1200 grit stone that I bought from Hida Tool in Berkeley, CA for $21.50. I've had it stored in a drawer and this thread got me to thinking about it. Thanks for reminding me that I have this thing. Gotta use it soon as I figure out how to do so.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: dimsumgirl

                                        :) Good luck and feel free to ask any question. Did I tell you that I used to live in Berkeley? I attended my graduate school there. Berkeley Thai House, Top Dog, Spud Brothers....etc.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Berkeley is one cool place! My daughter did her undergrad studies there. Grad school for her was further east bay and she is doing her doctoral internship in San Diego. Youngest is about to start grad school probably north bay.

                                          As far as the stone-- do I soak it first before using it? And is the angle of the knife important for the sharpening? I love the japanese knives that are used at the temple where the girls grew up taiko drumming (oldest daughter helped to start Cal Taiko). I still volunteer at the temple and love those knives. Bought the stone to try to sharpen home knives but have never used it yet. Thanks for offering to help.

                                      2. I purchased a Forschner Victorinox at Sur la Table in NYC about 3 years ago for $24.95 and the matching paring knife for less than $8. They are both excellent knives and, unless you are a professional chef, there's no need to spend oodles of money on a chefs knife. In fact, the FV were highly recommended by Cooks Illustrated.

                                        1. I've got a couple of Old Hickory chef's knives (10-in and a 12-incher) for less than $30 each new, of 1095 carbon steel, and they're pretty good. Sadly, they are not offered anymore. But the 8-in slicer is a great deal at less than $10. I keep it sharp, grab it all the time, and don't fret if I hit some bone, cuz it's fast and easy to resharpen, and for $10. no worries. :)


                                          I also have a Fujiwara FKH 240 Gyuto all carbon steel, which is great at $83, although the smelly steel is a "burden" for uncooked foods.



                                          I've been down the Forschner/Victorinox/Softer Euro steel route and just can't abide the short edge life, and greater work to sharpen (vs carbon). My wife occasionally throws the Old Hickories in the sink and dishwasher. They get ugly rusty, but still sharpen back so quick, that even she prefers them. Plus I never complain to her, about abusing them. Unexpetedly the 10-in Old Hickory chef is her favorite. She seems to like the heft and added length, and the fact that it's kept sharp, and doesn't have to be babied.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Eager6

                                            <although the smelly steel is a "burden" for uncooked foods.>

                                            Oh you got the carbon steel Fujiwara? Yeah, carbon steel knives in general can smell before the patina develops. Thanks.

                                          2. I have not tried them, having my own old French knives, but if I were in the market I would seriously consider the house brand carbon steel knives at The Best Things, $89.95 for a 10" chef knife. For a few bucks more the Nogent knives are wonderful.