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Sep 2, 2011 05:47 PM

Bird's beak paring knife info/suggestions?

I'm thinking about getting a bird's beak paring knife to use for detail work on garnishes, etc. There aren't nearly as many choices in this style of knife as most others and so I'm wondering if the knife pros here would recommend one brand over another or in something like this are they all pretty much the same? I also see that most (other than the Tojiro all-stainless with the funky handle, and Global which I don't like) seem to fall within the same general price range of $35-$50.

Is there any significant difference in the steel or other noticeable attributes between these four (two Wusthofs, an F. Dick, and a Tojiro)? My gut feeling is that the handle on the Wusthof Grand Prix or F. Dick might be more comfortable for me than the other two but I'd also like some input on the blade quality. I also see the Tojiro blade is a tad longer than the other two and can't decide whether that would be a good thing or not...

Or any other brand suggestions than these four?

And one more question: Is the "motion" or stroke any different when honing a knife of this shape on a steel? I've never had a knife that didn't have a straight or at least "straight-ish" blade edge so am trying (and failing) to envision keeping a blade edge of this shape moving evenly and at a consistent angle against the steel, LOL

I notice that the LamsonSharp model is advertised as being "sharp for life" which normally to me would translate as "impossible to sharpen" ... ;-


I also see a lot of very low-priced versions; is this knife style more or less considered a replace-it-when-it-starts-to-get-dull item that's not really worth an 'investment' of more than $10 at most?

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  1. Seems to me most people won't find themselves using this knife very frequently. My suggestion would be to pick up an inexpensive one (Victorinox for maybe $5 -- no better deal than that out there, and Victorinox always is a good knife) and use it for a while before deciding to spend the big bucks. But YMMV. It depends on your proposed use and budget. For some $50 is a big deal. For others it's a throwaway.

    1 Reply
    1. re: johnb

      I have had a Victorianox for years and also have a Wusthof Classic Ikon Bird's Beak. The Vic. gets the most use. Recently I hard cooked some eggs and did not realize at the time how fresh they were. When peeling the whites were coming off in chunks. I don't know what made me grab the Vic. BB but it got between the shell and membrane quickly and the eggs peeled beautifully. I don't think my Wusthof could have done that job. The blade is too thick and rigid.

    2. skyline,

      First of all, I don't use bird beak paring knife. It is a rather specific paring for very specific works. Wusthof knives are pretty much made of the same steel: X50CrMov15. I have read that the more some lines of Wusthof like Ikon are hardened to a higher degree, but that is all. The steel should be the same for all Wusthof knives. I don't expect F. Dick steel to be much different. The Tojiro DP knife has the VG-10 core steel hardened to 60-61 HRC.

      I think LamsonSharp is fine. That said, you may want to consider a stamped knife instead of a paring knife. Much cheaper with the same steel. Here is a stamp knife from Wusthof:

      Here is one from Messerimeister:

      I think the bird beak paring knife is much like the bread knife. It can be sharpened, but much tougher.

      1. You can sharpen one by taking it to a pro, using an accusharp type sharpener (with the limitations that entails), using an abrasive honing rod, or wrapping sandpaper around a round dowel.

        It seems plenty of people do just use it until it's dull then chuck it. Consider the forschner birds beak if you go with this strategy. You might want to consider it either way - their paring knives are very decent for the price.

        Also - it's really mostly useful for making tournes and cuts that require a similar motion (carving small things into smooth convex shapes). So exactly what do you mean by 'detail work'? You may find you're better served by a normal paring knife with a fairly straight tip.

        1. I have a bird-beak parer, and the others are right -- you won't use it very often. I found mine at a TJ Maxx for $5 -- but the fact that it was cheap is pretty much the only reason I own it.

          1. Thanks for all the great replies. Basically I thought it would be a good tool for learning/doing speciality stuff like making roasted potato "roses", carving stencil-like shapes out of jicama, etc etc for special occasion stuff like holiday and birthday dinners. It's true, once past the learning curve phase, chances are that it might not be used more than a half dozen times a year (depending how ambitious a mood I find myself in, garnish-wise, LOL). With an almost entirely vegetarian menu I figure that anything I can do to make the presentations more interesting can't hurt! :-)

            Sounds like the best plan is for me to add the Vic knife to my next Amazon order that needs to be brought up to the $25 minimum in order to get free shipping. ;-) That happens a lot with a single book or DVD!


            The other knife I was contemplating adding to my collection is a Chinese cleaver but again that one might not be used often enough to warrant the investment either. But I'll ask that in a different thread so as not to take this one entirely off knife-topic.

            Thanks again!

            4 Replies
            1. re: skyline

              it is a handy little knife to have for when you need to operate in a very small space and/or need almost surgical accuracy -- I use it to hull strawberries, cut the tops off of cherry tomatoes when I'm making stuffed tomatoes for an appetizer, and occasionally for peeling and pitting small fruits (apricots, cherries, etc) -- the picky little handwork that needs a picky little knife.

              1. re: skyline

                Dexter makes a good affordable cleaver.

                1. re: skyline

                  Though they serve basically the same function as a chefs knife/santoku/gyuto, a Chinese cleaver is a heck of a fun knife to have around. If you go for one, I recommend you look at the CCK cleavers sold by (IMO, one of the best values in knives on the market). Carbon, if that doesn't bother you; though they also make stainless. Either that or just pick up a cheap, anonymous brand when you're in Chinatown - for some reason, cheap Chinese cleavers seem to be better and more reliable than other types of cheap knives.

                  Like I said above, from your description, I think you'll eventually find that 90% of the detail work you're planning on doing is actually better done with a regular paring knife with a straighter-than-normal and well-tapered tip. A birds beak really excels at one particular cutting motion, and it's not exactly the kind of micro-surgical cuts you describe. That said, the Forschner/Victorinox is cheap enough to justify anyway and see how you like using it.

                  1. re: skyline

                    While you're at it. Vic puts out a three-knife pack (item 48042) including the birds beak and two paring knives, one serrated, for very little more than the single. Those are great little knives, and the pack is a super deal @ $12 and change. Look at the "customers also bought....." line in the link you posted above.