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which knives to get

I am looking at purchasing my first kitchen knives, and cant decide what to do. I have read a ton about knives in the last week trying to decide what is best.
Now I decided to concentrate on the chefs knife, and whichever brand I chose I will get any other knives I want from that same brand.
I have read a ton of good reviews regarding the Victorinox Fibrox knives, and the price is great. Im also looking at the Wusthof Grand Prix II knives. Basically I cant decide how much money I am willing to spend on a knife, since the Wusthofs are more expensive.

So what I want to know, from anybody who has tried both types, is the Wusthof Grand Prix II set worth the extra money over the Victorinox knives? I know the usual answer is "try both out for feel", but unfortunately no local store carries either brand, so that is not possible. If there was a significant advantage to the Wusthof Grand Prix II knives, I would probably spend the extra money, but I want to make sure I am not better off just getting the Victorinox. I had also looked at the Henckels Classic.

Thanks

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  1. "So what I want to know, from anybody who has tried both types, is the Wusthof Grand Prix II set worth the extra money over the Victorinox knives?"
    _____
    The Wusthofs look nicer. They're a bit heavier. But they don't cut better. I prefer the geometry of the victorinox/forschner - it makes the knife cut with less resistance than the Grand Prix. The Grand Prix has slightly better edge retention. They're about equally easy to sharpen. The Wusthof chef knife has a slightly smaller and less clunky handle if that matters to you.

    Of those two I'd go with the victorinox, probably even if they were the same price.

    Also - this is standard advice for knife threads - most people shouldn't buy a set. You'll almost certainly pay for a lot of knives you don't need, when you could have spent that money buying one or two better knives that are more than capable enough to do all your kitchen work. For most people, a chef knife and a paring knife is plenty to start with, A bread knife is nice if you cut a lot of bread, but you can afford to skimp on a bread knife.

    Also, sharpening is even more important than what knives you buy in the first place, so don't leave it out of the equation.

    1. Cowboy gave excellent advices, so I will build mine on top of his. First and foremost, definitely do not need to buy an entire set. Try to focus on your main knife first, let it be a German Chef's knife or a Santoku. The ability to keep a knife sharp is also important. You may get a really sharp knife now, but it will lose its edge in a few months. It really does not matter if the BMW is faster and more responsive car than the Ford. They will be the same if you don't fill them up with gas.

      "I know the usual answer is "try both out for feel","

      You know. Personally, I rate this knife handing lower than others. I believe the heart of a knife is the steel and the edge, and not the handle. Most knives have decent enough handle and balance that I don't think it will be a problem in getting use to a knife. This is not to say the feel of a knife is not important, but the feel of a knife can be misleading as well. First, you may overlook the other important aspects. Second, a comfortable knife is often a knife which most resembles your previous knife. If you have been only used a German Chef's knife, then a German Chef's knife will always feel better to you than a Santoku or a Gyuto or a nakiri...etc. So you will be stuck in using the same style of knife if you solely rely on feeling good.

      When I first switched to my new computer, the old one still feels better to me due to familiarity, but that does not prove my old computer is better.

      Again, you definitely do not want a knife which feels painful and completely awkward, but I don't believe in "pick the one which feels the best"

      4 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        It's funny - no one says the best paintbrush or pencil or hacksaw is the one that feels best in your hand. But with knives, that advice gets repeated ad nauseum. It's a line from a knife salesman that somehow passed into the popular consciousness. Or advice left over from the era where every the only widely available premium choices were chef knives in the German style and the main difference between all the lines were the handles.

        It's not that feel and comfort is a non-factor. A badly designed handle (usually easy to spot), a handle that 's way too big for your hand, a very sharp spine (which you can round down), or a balance point that's extremely forward or back can make a knife unpleasant to use. But for most knives and users, you get used to and comfortable with what you have. It's not some mystical fated process like Harry Potter being chosen by his wand.

        1. re: cowboyardee

          "It's not that feel and comfort is a non-factor..."

          Agree. Like you, I am not trying to say a comfortable handle is not important. It is important, but it is one of the many important factors.

          You may remember that awhile back I sharpened a few knives for friends including knives of Kiwi brand, KitchenAid, and Henckel International. This is a photo of them:

          http://www.chow.com/photos/503925

          Clearly, the Kiwi has the most basic and rustic handle, so if I am only to judge these knives by "feeling in my hand", I would have given Kiwi the lowest rating. However, the Kiwi knife was made of better steel than the other two knives and therefore cut better. As such, the Kiwi knife is the better one, and it feels better during real tasks.

          We cannot simply judge a car by how comfortable the seats are. Neither can we simply judge a cell phone by how good it feels in your hand. The number job of a car is to drive and the number one job of a cell phone is to make a call. Everything else are secondary.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            I agree. The major cutlery companies are set in their handle designs, occasionally in the past a bad design has escaped but that is rare. Balance and good technique are far more important than the visual appearance of the knife and handle. A beginner may want to review basic grip techniques before ruling out a knife due to the handle.

            Some may consider the Dexter Sani-Safe handles ugly but the textured handle is comfortable and great when wet.

            Stamped gets a bad rap due to the overabundance of junk knives (usually in wood block sets) available. Victorinox and Dexter both have some very nice stamped lines.

            1. re: cowboyardee

              I think you know my opinion that topic. I really don't think of how it feels in my hand because after hours of use it will feel like it is part of my hand.

          2. Gotta go with the Victorinox. That was my first chef's knife, and if price is a concern I'd go with it again. I like the weight (rather lack of) on the Forschner, and like you said they're quite affordable. Seem to keep their edge fairly well too, and easy to sharpen. For a sharpener I would check out Tuesday Morning/Marshalls/Ross. Steels are difficult, don't always work well. Especially if you don't know what you're doing.

            These days though, I love my globals.

            1. Not much to add to whats already been said. Unless youre as serious right off the blocks as chem or cowboy, you likely will not be sharpening your own knives for awhile. So youll have to find someplace reliable and careful to sharpen them a couple of times a year. A honing steel will help maintain the edge. I have a forschner chefs and a wusthoff santoku, and they are both good knives, better than henckels for me. Id go with the forschner first. Its light and nimble and will do the job as long as you keep it sharp. The other knife experts here can recommend online resources and videos to help hone your skills.

              1. :: whichever brand I chose I will get any other knives I want from that same brand. ::

                Why? It's a good idea to start with a chef's knife, which will be your most used knife -- but there's no reason to restrict yourself to the same maker for a paring, utility, or bread knife (the other basics).

                2 Replies
                1. re: ellabee

                  Good point. I miss that. It is advantageous to have knives from different brands. If anything it gives you a better appreciation of different knives from different makers.

                  1. re: ellabee

                    Definitely agree. When I first started out, I bought a whole bunch of Global knives, thinking that it was a good idea to get all the same brand. Later, I started to get single knives from different manufacturers whenever I found one that I liked better than the corresponding Global, and my knife block is now filled with knives from many different manufacturers. Not only is each individual knife one that I have selected for its specific use, but the fact that all the handles are different makes it easier to identify each knife when its in the block.

                  2. So I am pretty sure I will end up with the fibrox stamped line, from the reviews, and whats being said here it just seems like the best option. I do have one more question though,
                    anybody compared the stamped victorinox to the foged victorinox line?
                    And lastly, is there any other line in these price ranges that somebody recommends more?

                    Thanks for all of the help!

                    30 Replies
                    1. re: murph909

                      "anybody compared the stamped victorinox to the foged victorinox line?"

                      No personal experience, but I don't expect any huge difference. In addition, the good thing about having an inexpensive stamp knife is that you won't be scared to sharpen it. When a person get a very expensive knife, he will be scared to sharpen it on his own due to the concern of irreversible damage. As such, the knife never get sharpen and the knife remains dull. So that expensive knife ends up being a dull knife in a few month.

                      "any other line in these price ranges that somebody recommends more"

                      Dexter-Russell is at the same price range. Both Dexter and Victorinox are considered as working knives.

                      http://www.katom.com/135-29243.html

                      1. re: murph909

                        No personal experience with the forged line. But I'll point out that all the praise you've read is for the stamped line.

                        Not that I'd expect it to be bad quality, but once we're talking ~$90 for an 8 inch chefs knife, there are a lot of other brands I'd buy before a forged Victorinox. At that price point I much prefer Tojiro DP and Fujiwara FKM, Obviously, I have a bias toward Japanese knives - they cut easier and more cleanly and have better edge retention than German chef knives.

                        If you absolutely insist on the heavy, forged, old school German style, take a look at Mundial's offerings. They sell reasonably well made forged German knives without gouging you on price. Unfortunately, they also have full length bolsters (which can hinder sharpening). Or for about as much as the Victorinox forged line, the Messermeister Meridian Elite line has more of a proven track record.

                        Still, mainly I'd recommend either just going with the stamped Forschner/victorinox line (or Dexter, as Chem recommends), or else looking at some of the Japanese offerings.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Alright, I think that is my plan! What would you consider the essential knives? I am not one to cut bread often, so dont really think I need a bread knife. I am thinking a chefs knife, parer, and carving/slicing knife. Anybody recommend any other combinations that might be better?

                          And also, for slicing/carving knives, I am not sure what to look for. I would be using them for slicing roasts/steaks/hams and carving chicken/turkeys. Im not sure if I need one of the great big ham slicing knives, or just a 8-10 inch carving knife. Id be using it more for birds/roasts than hams. Also, not sure if I need serrated or plain edge for that knife, ive read both.

                          Any suggestions are appreciated!

                          1. re: murph909

                            Chefs knife is essential (santoku, nakiri, Chinese cleaver, or even a sujihiki can substitute). Paring knife is basically essential, but it won't be used as much as a chefs knife and so you can skimp a bit if you like - there are several paring knives available for under $10 that are perfectly serviceable.

                            Carving/slicing knife is only essential if you favor shorter chefs knives or a santoku or nakiri. If you go with an 8+ inch chef knife, it can easily double as a slicer for most home cooks.

                            Serrated slicers are good if you don't keep your knives sharp. Otherwise, straight edge slicers are better IMO. Of course serrated slicers are generally cheaper than a decent straight edge slicer. Longer bread knives are essentially serrated slicers.

                            Many of these non-essential knives are fun to have, and there's nothing wrong with buying them. But get the basics covered first with a good quality knife or two.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              whoa whoa whoa

                              Nakikiri is not even remotely a substitute for a chef's knife. Nor is a Chinese cleaver. A santoku is close to a chef's knife, and is a good substitute for average users.

                              The nakikiri is ground on only one side, and has one purpose - the chopping of vegetables. The edge on a nakikiri is extremely delicate, and certain uses of a chef's knife can easily damage or notch the blade of a nakikiri.

                              Also, the assertion that straight-edge slicers are better than serrated isn't true - they serve completely different purposes in the kitchen. Straight-edged slicers are great for proteins, but try sawing through a loaf of crusty bread with one. For that task, you want a serrated blade.

                              1. re: Josh

                                Josh,

                                If you are going to criticize people's answers, then at least get the information correct, get the facts correct.

                                "Nakikiri is not even remotely a substitute for a chef's knife. Nor is a Chinese cleaver."

                                People have been cooking meals with nakiri and Chinese cleavers for thousand of years. How are they not be able to be used to substitute for a chef's knife. Exactly what will happen if you use a Chinese cleaver to prepare meal?

                                "The nakikiri is ground on only one side"

                                Not at all. Evidently, you don't know what a nakiri knife is. Nakiri knives are ground on both sides:

                                http://www.chow.com/photos/634745

                                http://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-Dama...

                                "The edge on a nakikiri is extremely delicate"

                                Considered the fact that you don't know a nakiri is ground on both side, the delicate statement is meaningless.

                                "Also, the assertion that straight-edge slicers are better than serrated isn't true - they serve completely different purposes in the kitchen. Straight-edged slicers are great for proteins, but try sawing through a loaf of crusty bread with one. For that task, you want a serrated blade."

                                They were talking about a slicer knife, not a bread knife -- specifically not a bread knife. With all due respect, you need to pay attention to the context which people were communicating. The original poster, Murph909, specifically asked for a slicer knife, not a bread knife.

                                Quotes from Murph909:

                                (1)"I am not one to cut bread often, so dont really think I need a bread knife."

                                (2)"I would be using them for slicing roasts/steaks/hams and carving chicken/turkeys. Im not sure if I need one of the great big ham slicing knives, or just a 8-10 inch carving knife. Id be using it more for birds/roasts than hams. Also, not sure if I need serrated or plain edge for that knife,...."

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Interesting comment about the grinding. The nakikri I own is ground on one side, but it looks like that has a different name.

                                  Regardless of that, it doesn't change the fact that the blade of that knife is designed for cutting vegetables.

                                  Whether or not Chinese cleavers and nakikiri have been used to make food for centuries is not really the point - saying they are equally as good for Western-style cuisine as a chef's knife, a tool developed alongside that same cuisine, is simply not correct. The cutting techniques used between the cuisines are different, which is why the knife shapes and techniques are different.

                                  Your point about the serrated vs. slicer is well-taken. I should have read that more carefully. I just reacted when I saw the casual equation of these very different kinds of knives without an explanation of how they differ, and why one over another might be chosen.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    "saying they are equally as good for Western-style cuisine as a chef's knife, a tool developed alongside that same cuisine, is simply not correct."
                                    _______
                                    Those were your words, not mine. I never mentioned Western cuisine, for starters, nor did I imply that there were no relevant differences between the knife styles I listed. I said one can substitute for the other, that they're all general purpose knives. Nakiris are admittedly more veggie-biased than chef knives. But it can still easily be used for 99% of tasks you'd use a Western chef knife for.

                                    Also rock chopping and chiffonade cuts are entirely possible with straighter knives like the nakiri and Chinese cleaver. It requires just a bit more practice than the same techniques using a Western chefs knife. Once you've practiced it, it's easy and efficient.

                                    On this thread, you've made several posts now about Eastern style knives, and the bulk of the information you've passed off as fact has been either misleading or flat out incorrect. I'm sure you're well experienced with Western knives, but you should consider doing more experimentation and reading and getting more experience with Eastern knives before arguing with knowledgeable advice on the matter.

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      "Whether or not Chinese cleavers and nakikiri have been used to make food for centuries is not really the point - saying they are equally as good for Western-style cuisine as a chef's knife, a tool developed alongside that same cuisine, is simply not correct. "

                                      Certainly that is your opinion. Martin Yan and many others would say otherwise. I use a gyuto for the majority of my meal prep and feel no need for a Euro chef knife and I do a wide variety of cuisines. A gyuto like a Euro chef knife is a multipurpose tool. It can't do everything but it covers a wide area.

                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                        Sure, but the gyuto was designed to incorporate many of the design features of the classic French knife, probably for Japanese chefs to prepare Western-style cuisine. It's a bit less curved than the French knife, but otherwise is quite similar in shape.

                                        i.e., not sure if there's enough difference between the gyuto and the French knife to consider the former as something other than European. Clearly, it's influenced heavily by European knife design.

                                  2. re: Josh

                                    You seem to be confusing a nakiri (double beveled) with a usuba (single beveled).
                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqUt-q...

                                    Chem already clarified pretty well, so I'm not going to launch into a full explanation. I'll grant you that there are differences between a nakiri and Chinese cleaver and santoku and chefs knife that make one knife better suited to some individual tasks than others. But they all can basically be used as all-purpose knives. That's how they are often (not always) used in their respective countries of origin.

                                    A bread knife is admittedly nice for crusty bread. Which has nothing to do with what I was talking about when discussing straight vs serrated slicers.

                                    ETA: incidentally, a long straight-edge knife can do a decent job on crusty bread if it's sharp enough. A bread knife is admittedly a bit easier. But also more of a unitasker.

                                2. re: murph909

                                  I think for most people sharpness or a lack of leads them towards a serrated blade. The serrated blade generally results in a thicker slice. A sharp slicer/carver can result in more control over thinness of a slice but takes a little practice.

                                  Most slicer/carvers have a much shorter depth between edge and spine resulting in less surface drag which makes them better suited to carving than a chef's/cook's knife would be.

                                  An 8" blade is generally sufficient. One of the things I look at is the carved meat going to fit on a dinner plate when served?

                                  1. re: murph909

                                    I'd find cooking very tedious without a serrated, round-tipped utility/tomato/deli knife [about a four-inch blade]-- great for spreading as well as slicing, and better for slicing most bread than my official bread knife. I use it a lot more often than the paring knife [a peeler does most jobs it ould be used for].

                                    This past winter I finally got a slicer (a Victorinox) for roast chicken, because the 8" chefs knife can be unwieldy on small birds. Was feeling a bit bad about having a "unitasker" until I discovered how handy the slicer is for trimming the membrane off lamb.

                                    But don't be in too big a rush; get a chef's knife and one or two others that your cooking seems to call for, and let needs dictate future purchases. I cooked happily without that slicer for decades...

                                    1. re: ellabee

                                      I may consider the 4 inch serrated, simply for the fact it is only an extra 7 dollars or so. As I also just said in my reply to wakondatch below, shipping is the main reason I want to make sure I get most of the knives I want at once (along with the fact I might try to get this as a gift, saving me all costs haha). Im a cheap ass for some things, so spending the 20 dollar shipping charge twice just seems horrible haha. I spent an entire day searching the city, not one store had a Victorinox blade. The idea of cheaping out on a paring blade was the plan, because I dont know how much I will use it, and then I seen that Victorinox has the cheap 3 1/4 inch blades for 5 dollars and figured that was cheap enough. The 4 inch "rabbit" knife is the more expensive one with a fibrox handle, but I am happy with the cheap handled 3 1/4 inch.

                                      I am leaning towards an 8inch or 10inch carving knife that is straight edge. I will be making sure I invest the time and money into learning how to properly sharpen my knives. I am just undecided on which to buy, the pointed tip or rounded tip knife. Both have great amazon reviews. I was leaning towards the pointed tip until seeing a ton of great reviews for the rounded tip on amazon. Any thoughts?

                                      Is there any reason to have a small utility knife (straight edged, 5-6 inches)? I dont really feel that I would benefit enough to get one, but do notice that some sets include them so I just wanted to know if there was any real purpose besides cutting sandwiches, or if they just served as filler knives to make the set bigger.

                                      Sorry for asking a million questions, its my first set and I like to research every option and figure out what is best for me whenever I purchase anything. You guys have been great!

                                      1. re: murph909

                                        "I spent an entire day searching the city, not one store had a Victorinox blade"

                                        That is weird. You probably didn't hit any restaurant supply stores. Most restaurant supply stores either carry Victorinox (aka Forschner) or Dexter-Russell. Anyhow, Amazon has free shipping and sell Victorinox. Katom has great price for Dexter-Russell, but it does require shipping fee, so it will nice to minimize the numbers of shipping order

                                        "Is there any reason to have a small utility knife"

                                        Most people do not see the point of an utility knife. I am one of them. However, some people love their utility knife. In fact, the following is a good correlation. If you like the Chef's knife, then you will not need an utility knife. If you use your utility knife, then you probably rarely use your Chef's knife.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          I live in Canada, so unfortunately shipping isnt free from most sites. You are right in saying I didnt hit any restaurant supply stores, I will have to see if I can find a few around the city. I was surprised though to see that none of the stores around carried any of the knives, considering the large amount of praise they receive online.

                                          I figured that the utility would be unnecessary for me.

                                          1. re: murph909

                                            "I was surprised though to see that none of the stores around carried any of the knives, considering the large amount of praise they receive online."

                                            Don't be. Actually, you will have problem finding Victorinox Forschner or Dexter Russell in typical stores in USA as well. They are workhorse knives which are popular among people in restaurant business, butcher shops, but they are not popular among household because they are not very attractive. Just look at this Victorinox knife:

                                            http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/64...

                                            and then look at this Henckels International Forged Synergy Chef's knife:

                                            http://www.kitchenknifereview.info/im...

                                            The Henckels International knife simply is an easier sell because it is more attractive overall. It has a cooler handle and it is a forged knife, and it has the big name "Henckels" Unfortunately, it uses an inferior steel than the Victorinox knife.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              Yea I see the reason for them not being an easy sell to most people who dont research things. I use the Victorinox Fibrox at work (grocery store - fillet knife and 14 inch cimeter), and they are great knives, just not fancy looking. I can live with them though, for the better blade.

                                              I was surprised to see bed bath and beyond didnt sell them here, as they are on their Canadian website. I can still get them from them, just with a shipping charge. I did find a couple restaurant supply stores I will check out this week though.

                                            2. re: murph909

                                              Where in canada are you? Even my dumpy little town has a resto supply store

                                              1. re: Dave5440

                                                Even my crap town has 2 resto supply stores. And now my crap town also has an edge pro apex that is potentially getting too much use sharpening every knife in sight

                                                1. re: TeRReT

                                                  Your back!!! Welcome home, and enjoy the apex are you in ontario?

                                                  1. re: Dave5440

                                                    yes,thanks, i am in barrie ontario for at least the next 3 month anyways :P

                                                  2. re: TeRReT

                                                    "now my crap town also has an edge pro apex that is potentially getting too much use sharpening every knife in sight"

                                                    Too funny. Unfortunately, that is a bit of a insider joke for people who have followed your past conversations. Anyway, like Dave, I am glad to hear you are back home.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      thanks and yeah, i am loving the apex. I still have a lot to learn on it as far as getting completely used to it and figuring out optimal angles for each individual knife and so on, but i have been successful enough in the first few attempts, it can only get better with practice and experimenting i guess.

                                                      its pretty funny though, the apex arrived literally the same day i did, got home and there was post office note on my door because my parents left the house to pick me up, went and picked it up that afternoon and sharpened my first knife that afternoon :P practiced on my parents henckel international santoku, then my pro s santoku, then finally had the courage for the miyabi

                                                        1. re: DPGood

                                                          I got the edge pro apex with chosera stones, have already mirrored a few edges, though definitely not optimal angles yet, problem is the knives i am playing with are all completely different materials so i am still learning :P

                                                  3. re: Dave5440

                                                    I am in Halifax. I just didnt know where to look, but have since found a couple of places I plan on checking out this week.

                                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  Jacques Pepin doesn't say a utility knife is necessary but watch how many times he uses it. The 6" Sabatier utility I use I find very fast, nimble, and fun. Heavier tasks go to the chef's knife and many times there is no need to reach for a paring knife.

                                                  What's the Japanese equivalent?

                                                  1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                    A 6" (or 150mm) would generally be considered a "petty" in Japanese terms... although once you get past that, and depending on the blade shape you might be looking at a small sujihiki (japanese slicing knife).

                                                    Traditionally speaking, you can find a yanagi that small, but those would be single bevel Japanese knives. Small yanagi have a similar profile to a suji, slightly flatter than your average European style slicer.

                                        2. re: murph909

                                          I like my forschners, have had them for many years. Go to a restaurant supply store and price them, heft them and figure out which ones you want, then go online. What I particularly like are the handles (yeah, yeah, I've read all the comments about blades, but if your knife slips it's dangerous and annoying when you're breaking down chickens) and the balance. The blades take an edge fairly well, although they do need resharpening more frequently than a knife with a higher carbon steel content. They're not picky about care, although you'll be happier with them if you do so. I like my 10", paring knife and bread knife. I've also got a santoku and a boning knife with a flexible blade, and a slicer that hardly ever comes out--the boning knife does double duty most of the time. Have fun looking at all your choices and enjoying what you finally select.

                                        3. In addition to the chef's knife, go ahead and get the Victorinox bread knife and boning knife. I use both a lot in addtion to the chef's knife. For the price, you can't go wrong. If you order them all at once you may save some shipping or even get shipping free. I had good luck on Cutlery and more website.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: wakondatch

                                            I actually already have a fillet knife, and a 14 inch cimeter that I use at work (currently I work in a grocery store, the entire chain uses victorinox knives for the fibrox handles NSF). Your point regarding shipping was exactly my thought while reading the above replies about just getting the essentials and adding on later. Since I have to pay about 20 bucks to have the knives shipped (that website is the exact one I am looking at), I would like to do it all at one time. I may even wait and see if I can ask for the particular knives as a Christmas gift from my parents hahaha.

                                          2. I use my 6" chef's knife as a utility knife, and I use it as often as I do my 8" chef's knife. All I really needed was one chef's knife and a paring knife (4" or so), and did that for a long time. But then I went a little nuts and just starting buying good knives for the hell of it. The first addition was a flexible boning knife, followed by a bread knife--a big one. Since I use it to slice cake layers, anything shorter than 10" is a waste of money. I also bake artisanal breads, which made the bread knife more or less a necessity.

                                            I broke down and bought a Mac Superior santoku (7") for feces and grins. I like it, but don't need it and would never use it as a substitute for a good European-style chef's knife. Others disagree.

                                            I'm very pleased with my Fibrox chef's knife and use it more often than any of my other, much more expensive, knives. My husband is a pro chef, and likes Dexter. He bought me one of their chef's knives and a paring knife while I was going through my knife accumulation jones.

                                            I don't fiddle with sharpening my own knives. Either I have him do it, or I constantly steel, then take them to a pro for sharpening once or twice a year. With daily (or more) steeling, they rarely need to be sharpened. Remember--steeling doesn't sharpen. It merely realigns the extreme edge of the blade.

                                            I prefer a pointed end to my knives, not rounded.

                                            So what I have in the house as far as brands go is: Victorinox Fibrox; Henckel's; Global; Mac Superior, and Dexter. I think that's it.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: hopeh

                                              I've had a Mac 6" chef's knife-type shape since 1970, I don't know if they make them anymore. It's got a hole in the rounded tip, I guess for hanging on a nail??? it's still my go-to knife when I have to do lots of vegetables, particularly onions. The very thin blade makes minimum cell wall damage, hence fewer tears. And it still sharpens beautifully. Of all my knives, and I've got a lot, it's the one I'd hate to no longer have, for utility and sentimental reasons.

                                              I've also got a Flint Ekco utility knife from probably the 1950s that I absolutely love. Anybody else have old knives they still dig out?

                                            2. Buy a Mino Sharp sharpener. Then why not try Ikea and Good Grips knives? A blunt smart knife is a waste of money. I use both of those brands plus Gustav Emil Ern, much better steel than the brands stores are obsessed by. A Leica will not make you a good photographer, nor will expensive knives. Buy books on cooking, like McGee and good ingredients.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Belsize

                                                I did buy one Good Grips knife, but it was very bad. It wasn't sharp out of the package and wouldn't take an edge no matter what. YMMV.

                                                I'm not familiar with Gustav Emil Ern--where is that brand sold? And who woulda known Ikea made knives, too. It's a pity that I'm all knifed-out right now, or else I'd check out the Gustav guys.

                                              2. You really only need 3 knives to get started and this time of the year Oct-Dec. is a great time of the year to be shopping for them. There are many manufacturers specials coming on. Buy a chefs knife, a paring knife and a bread knife. Which brand? That is up to you. You need to hold them and decide what feels best in your hand. Victorianox is a good stamped knife. The handles are better for someone with large hands. How tall are you? I am petite and find a 6" chefs knife (and my 7.5" Shun Ken Onion Santoku) most comfortable for someone my height, 5'4". My husband loves the Shun too but if not using it will go for the 8" chef's knife. It is a very personal thing. If you can take a knife skills class that will also help you decide what knives are best for you.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Candy

                                                  I am a bigger guy, and have a big hand so I do enjoy the handles on the Victorinox, which I have used at work. Trying out different knives has been a very limited experience so far, I cant find much variety, but am going to explore a little more this week.

                                                  Personally, I dont know that I need a bread knife. I cant see when I would use it. I eat little bread, and when I do it is always just store bought pre cut. I have been leaning towards a chefs knife, and after using a santoku today confirmed that I personally would rather a chefs knife.

                                                  1. re: murph909

                                                    Bread knife is most useful if you bake your own bread or buy artisan bread.

                                                    In the case that you go for the Western Chef's knife route, then the next most important knife is a paring knife, and then after that will depend on the person. Bread knife, boning knife, and a carving knife come to my mind. Bread knife is useful under circumstances which mentioned. A boning knife is desirable if you like to debone/segment whole chicken, fish...etc. A carving knife is great if you like to roast big bird and meat and serve your guests.

                                                2. I am going to help you to narrow down by listing what not to get. I just watched this youtube video. Don't get this one. The knife is dull as heck (also reiterated by all the comments under the video). I am surprised that they even filmed it.

                                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGfuBw...

                                                  14 Replies
                                                    1. re: murph909

                                                      :) Yep, apparently cutting tomatoe can make people cry

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        Have you tried the victorinox steak knives? A lot of reviews on amazon talk about cutting yourself, but I cant imagine doing that with a serrated steak knife:s

                                                        1. re: murph909

                                                          Sorry. No, I have not tried victorinox steak knives. Cutting yourself with a serrated knife sounds pretty bad because serrated knives do more damage than straight edge knives.

                                                          1. re: Dave5440

                                                            Holy crap. I just looked up the price of that knife. It is $70. Oh my. It is $10 less than a Global Sanoku, the same price as a Tojiro DP santoku, and $10 more than a Mac Santoku.

                                                            http://www.pamperedchef.com/our_produ...

                                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        He kept saying he was slicing, but to me it looked like he was sawing.

                                                        I'm glad I watched this video. I have a friend whose husband bought a Henckels santoku knife, and it's their only knife that approximates a chef's knife, at least in size. I hate using it when I'm there, and I asked my friend if he'd like me to get him a regular Victorinox chef's knife for Christmas.

                                                        He said yes, but until I saw this video, I was worried his husband might be offended. Now I know the knives are quite different.

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          He was using.... cookie dough... as a slicing demonstration?

                                                          1. re: mateo21

                                                            That part was very funny as the knife had trouble with that too. Maybe the next video will feature a stick of butter.

                                                            1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                              Maybe when that Pampered Chef knife is used to cut a butter, then it will finally cut like butter? :P

                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  You could see that he was having trouble getting the knife to make the first cut. It couldn't even slice smoothly through the tomato's skin.

                                                                  Yeah, the cookie dough thing made me laugh. Who on earth thought THAT up for a test?

                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                    :) Maybe the cold butter will break the knife. Well, that is a different issue all together.

                                                          2. Sorry to muddy the waters, but I need to weigh in here.

                                                            I've been pondering the exact same question for the past 3 weeks and have done a lot of research online.

                                                            I'm entirely in agreement that you don't need a set, and a good chef's knife or gyuto, plus a paring knife and a cheap bread knife will satisfy all your needs. Particularly invest in a good chef's knife - it's the workhorse. But I would NOT go a German knife, and I would avoid the well-known brands. You can get a MUCH better knife for the same, and often less money, by going Japanese and staying clear of Furi, Global and Shun, and the other big brands.

                                                            Japanese knives (and by this I am mainly talking Japanese-made Western style knives, rather than the traditional Japanese forms) tend to be lighter and more agile than their German counterparts.

                                                            But the main difference is the steel. Japanese knives use much harder steel (Rockwell 60+ as opposed to European 52-56). This makes a huge difference. In simple terms, you get a steel that can take a much sharper edge and that holds onto that edge for much longer.

                                                            The only downside of harder steel is that it is more brittle. If you mistreat your knife (dishwasher, drop it on the floor, cut through bone, keep it in a drawer) it is more likely to chip. But if you take good care of it, you get a much lighter, sharper and more maneuverable cutting tool.

                                                            After reading a lot of forums and reviews, I narrowed it down to these as being fantastic quality entry level Japanese blades:
                                                            -Masamoto VG
                                                            -JCK Carbonext
                                                            -Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff
                                                            -Kikuichi TKC

                                                            You can get a 240mm gyuto of one of these for $150-200 that will far outperform a Wusthoff, Victorinox or Global, and last you years. (And I know the difference, my first knives were a Wusthoff Trident block).

                                                            I'd seriously consider it if I were you. I am very happy I went Japanese. Check these sites:

                                                            japanesechefknife.com
                                                            chefknivestogo.com

                                                            5 Replies
                                                              1. re: duckfat_33

                                                                I think you're offering some confusing advice.

                                                                Japanese blades are typically shaped differently than European, because Japanese cuisine has different cutting techniques.

                                                                Also, a lighter blade isn't better - it's just different. Some chefs like heavier blades, because it aids with momentum when engaging in the kind of repetitive rocking motion employed with a European-style blade.

                                                                For an experienced cook who understands where Japanese blades are appropriate, I think your advice makes sense. But for someone buying their first set of knives, I wouldn't suggest this route at all.

                                                                1. re: duckfat_33

                                                                  Josh, I agree about the importance of learning to steel (properly and gently). You are not actually sharpening your knife with a steel, Murph, but honing the edge to keep it sharp longer. For harder J-knives I recommend a ceramic steel.

                                                                  I agree that some of the differences in knife steel are a little esoteric, and that J-knives need a little more care to maintain (not a lot of care, but they are less forgiving of dropping them, cutting bone, bad chopping boards, etc)

                                                                  But I think you're scaring him off Japanese unnecessarily with some misinformation about knife geometry. Traditional Japanese knives like debas and yanagibas, don't really have a Western counterpart, and are, unlike Western knives, single bevel. The nakiri (not nakikiri btw) is actually double bevel, but I am not advocating these traditional knives for a knife rookie.

                                                                  What I am talking about is a gyuto.

                                                                  The gyuto is based on the French chef's knife most closely, and can do anything a Western chef'sknife can do. As petek attests. It is a worthy alternative to a big clunky Wusthof or Henckel. And I don't buy the benefit to using the mechanical advantage of a heavy blade. Not when the keenness of your edge lets you glide through food with less effort. Your cuts are more precise, they're quicker and they tire your hands less.

                                                                  Just my opinion. There are some very good Western knives out there, but I honestly think that once you've tried a J-knife it's hard to go back. Don't close your mind to them, murph. Try out a Shun or a good MAC at a store if you can, and you'll see what I mean.

                                                                  1. re: duckfat_33

                                                                    I've used both styles, I own a santoku and an usuba. For some tasks I prefer the Japanese knives, for others I prefer the French knife. But I've used only French knives in professional kitchens, and sometimes feel that knives are a little bit like cameras in terms of how people talk about them. So long as you have one that is sharp and designed for culinary use, then it's really more your skill with it that matters than if it's Japanese or German steel.

                                                                    Part of learning your craft with a French knife is knowing that if you're dropped into any random commercial kitchen, you'll be well-versed in using this fundamental tool.

                                                                    I'm not saying that any given knife is better than any other by definition, but a first-time buyer who is learning their ropes in the kitchen is different than a seasoned pro with many years of experience under their belt.

                                                                    To return to the camera analogy, you wouldn't encourage a beginning photo student to buy a Leica - they just need something with a decent lens that allows them to adjust the aperture and shutter speed reliably. Once they know what they're doing and understand their likes and dislikes, then they can make a more informed choice about whether or not they want to jump to more expensive gear.

                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                      Your camera analogy falls flat though -- we're not asking someone to buy a Leica, that would be like asking the OP to purchase a Mizuno honyaki gyuto in Blue #2, which we're not.

                                                                      The knives people are recommending (e.g. Tojiro DP or the like) are the same price, if not cheaper than the equivalent european style knife, and function somewhat differently -- in many peoples opinions, that difference is better.

                                                                2. Sorry for chiming in late, but you are getting some wildly varying advice, and some of it is full of lore (which means it's not true, or is the repeating of stuff heard from some guy once somewhere).

                                                                  The internet is full of opinions, and now here's mine, informed by many years of experience in the kitchen (both commercial kitchens, and at home):

                                                                  If you're going to be engaging in standard European-style cooking (which basically means food other than exclusively Asian), then your best bet is to get a standard chef's knife and a paring knife. If you do not already own a serrated bread knife, I would also get one of those.

                                                                  I have used Henckels, Shun, Wusthof, Victorinox, Mercer, and Gerber knives, and I would say that if you are a beginner, you're going to want to get something that is more forgiving of the mistakes you will make, which means basic German knives with a 22 degree cutting angle, vs. the sharper 17 degree cutting angle. While the latter is somewhat sharper, it's a harder edge to maintain well.

                                                                  Also: you will want to buy a sharpening steel with your knives, and learn how to use it. You'll want to use your steel before and after each use of the knife. Correct use of the steel in this way will reduce the frequency of sharpening you need. Ideally, you will not need to sharpen your knives very often. Correct use of a steel will ensure this.

                                                                  And: you will also want to buy edge protectors (usually made out of plastic, they cover the blade of the knife), and possibly also a knife bag. Storing knives in a drawer is a great way to get dull edges.

                                                                  Some of the discussion about steel is a little esoteric, and honestly a little silly. The important thing to look for is high-carbon stainless steel, which means that you have a blend of stainless steel (for hardness), with carbon steel (for sharpness). All quality knives these days are made with this kind of mixture (apart, of course, from ceramic), and will hold their sharpness well with proper care.

                                                                  You might consider this guy when ordering knives:
                                                                  http://knifemerchant.com

                                                                  This line in particular:
                                                                  http://www.knifemerchant.com/products...

                                                                  That is a great line of knives, very affordable, and very high quality. The steel is made in Germany, and the knives forged in Taiwan. The handles are comfortable, and are NSF-compliant.

                                                                  Some Asian-style knives are good for general use, like the santoku, which is somewhat like a chef's knife. However it doesn't have the same curved blade as a chef's knife, which means that some of the kinds of chopping and slicing you'll want to do (chiffonade, for example) will be harder to execute.

                                                                  My current set of knives are Wusthof Ikons, which I like because there's no heel on the blade, which makes for easier sharpening, should that need arise. They are expensive knives though, and if you're just getting started with buying good knives it's not necessary to spend that much money. The Mercers are very good, and much more budget-friendly.

                                                                  One last word of advice: a falling knife has no handle.

                                                                  I hope this helps, and good luck on your purchase.

                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                    It does help, thank you. I have been taking something out of all of the advice here, as well as my own research, so I do welcome everybodys opinions.

                                                                    I am going the European way (chefs knife and paring knife kind of thing), it is more ideal for what I will be cooking.

                                                                    This set of Mercer knives does grab my attention. The price is definitely ideal, and they have good reviews from amazon users (though that isnt based on a lot of reviewers).
                                                                    So as somebody who has used both the victorinox and the mercers, which would you prefer/recommend? Well.. I guess you kind of did recommend the mercers already, but is there any specific reason for choosing them over the victorinox? I do like the looks of them, and the idea of having a nice forged knife, but I am fimiliar with the quality of the victorinox and do like them. I definitely will be putting time and effort into caring for my knives to ensure they last, and stay sharp.

                                                                    And is there anybody else with experience with both of these knife sets that would have an opinion?
                                                                    I am probably the worst person for making a decision on anything, and always want to hear a million peoples opinions first..

                                                                    1. re: murph909

                                                                      Mercer and Victorinox are both good knives. I believe the Victorinox are stamped vs. forged, but I'm not 100% certain of that. I'm sure you'd be happy with either.

                                                                      Edit: I will add that a lot of people I've worked with used Mercers, and a lot of kitchens outfitted themselves with Victorinox. The former cost a little more, but the latter are perfectly serviceable. I realize Victorinox has greater name recognition, but that's probably due to the existence of such a ubiquitous consumer product as the Swiss Army knife. Mercer knives are really something you'd only know about by shopping at cutlery shops or restaurant supply places.

                                                                    2. re: Josh

                                                                      Josh... recommending a particular brand of knife(Mercers) is one thing,but discouraging someone to buy Japanese is just plain ridiculous.I've been cooking pro for the last 20+ years and finally made the switch to Japanese steel and it was like a weight had been lifted from my soul.The difference is like night and day.Telling someone that J-knives are only good for cooking Asian style cuisine is laughable.

                                                                      I'd berate you some more but I must run(off to work where I'll be using my beautiful Japanese knives to make everything from beef bourguignon to chicken Kiev :D

                                                                      1. re: petek

                                                                        You may have misunderstood me. I think there's a profound difference between coming to the conclusion you did after 20+ years in professional cooking, and telling someone buying their first set of knives to follow your decision. People's tastes are different, and without knowing the baseline that everyone operates from, then you're just accepting someone else's preferences, without fully understanding the alternative.

                                                                        To reiterate: not everybody wants a lighter blade. That is a preference that some chefs have, but not all share. Japanese steel is very expensive, and it seems inappropriate to me to tell a first-time knife buyer to spend that kind of bread on something they may not like using.

                                                                        To make a rough analogy, some people like Porsches, some like Lotuses - they have different handling and performance characteristics due to their weight, size, and construction. Without knowing the basics of driving, you don't have much of a point of comparison between the two.

                                                                        Lastly, I didn't mean to imply that Japanese knives per se were only for Asian cooking - the gyuto is similar to the French knife, if not as curved. But Japanese knives are more delicate, require more care, and if you're new to cooking I think that's an important concern. Starting with something less expensive that gets the job done, that's harder to damage, will make for an easier learning curve, IMO. YMMV

                                                                        Edit: I only pointed our Mercers so the OP could see that there are reasonably priced options out there for this kind of knife apart from the two he mentioned. I'm not necessarily endorsing them. I like Wusthof knives myself, but also recognize they're a lot costlier, and I've found Mercers to be perfectly good knives when I've used them.

                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                          Are Japanese knives also unsuitable for Japanese beginners? Come on, man. They're just different. You can abuse a Western knife just like a Japanese one and get a rolled edge instead of a microchipped one.

                                                                          I understand telling beginners to be wary of single beveled knives, the thinnest of the thin double beveled knives (the tadatsunas and konosukes, etc), and carbon steel knives. But everyone and their mom is already using a santoku. Give people some credit.

                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                            I don't understand what you mean about giving people credit.

                                                                            Different kinds of kitchens have different kinds of tools, different kinds of spices, different kinds of ingredients on hand.

                                                                            Admittedly, I don't know what murph909's ultimate goal is, but the way I read his OP, it sounds to me like he's looking for French knives. French knives are a great starting point, and they're designed the way they are for a reason, just as all knives are designed the way they are for a reason.

                                                                            Do you think Japanese knife makers decided to add a knife approximate in form to the French knife to their repertoire by accident?

                                                                            murph909 is free to read all the opinions assembled here and make up their mind. I think there are good reasons not to start one's knife-buying with Japanese knives. You may disagree. We all have our opinions.

                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                              "I don't understand what you mean about giving people credit."
                                                                              _____
                                                                              I mean it doesn't take a genius or a lifetime in professional kitchens to figure out how to maintain most Japanese-made double beveled knives.

                                                                      2. re: Josh

                                                                        Josh, in all honesty, it seems like you're the proverbial pot calling the kettle black.

                                                                        You accuse people of spreading "lore" defined as incorrect or regurgitated information, but then continue to tell the OP the same line of advice every cook in the US has been told for the last 30 years based a lot on the marketing and opinion of european cooks. What has me somewhat convinced is your reference to a sharpening steel -- a commonly disagreed upon item for being called a genuine device for sharpening. In addition... stainless steel is not the mixture of carbon steel and stainless steel... it's stainless steel. Steel (which, must contain carbon by definition) that has anti-staining ingredients (Chromium and Nickel) added to it, is considered stainless, and is NOT indicative of being a "quality knife" as you suggest. Actually a very good case could be made for the exact opposite of this statement.

                                                                        I can see that you prefer a German style chef knife (Wusthof), which is great! If that's what you like to use that's fine. But I would avoid accusing others of spreading misinformation about knives (and there are some posters here who know A LOT about cutlery) when expressing your opinion to the OP.

                                                                        1. re: mateo21

                                                                          I think your response is funny.

                                                                          Do you believe that this alleged marketing by European cooks was conceived of hundreds of years ago, when the design of the chef's knife came into being?

                                                                          If you're cooking Western-style cuisine, and especially if you want to make a career of it, then shouldn't you be versed in its tools and methods?

                                                                          If someone was expressing an interest in learning authentic Chinese cooking methods, but was being advised to buy a French knife to do so, don't you think you might offer an alternative point of view that they might want to learn how to use a Chinese cleaver?

                                                                          Also, I didn't say "stainless steel". I said "high-carbon stainless steel", which is indeed a blend of the two kinds of steel. You obviously misread what I wrote: "The important thing to look for is high-carbon stainless steel, which means that you have a blend of stainless steel (for hardness), with carbon steel (for sharpness). "

                                                                          The device known as a sharpening steel, also known as a honing steel (among other names), doesn't sharpen blades, and I never said that it did. I said that learning the proper use of a steel will help keep your knives sharp so that they don't need to sharpened very often.

                                                                          I agree with you that many of the posters in this thread do know a lot about cutlery, which is why I qualified my remarks by saying that *some* of the information in this thread is what I'd consider lore. The OP's question was a pretty simple one, and obviously coming from a place of limited experience - barraging him with specialized information didn't seem particularly helpful to me. I know that if I was looking for buying advice, I'd have found this thread very confusing.

                                                                          It's not lore to say that commercial kitchens in the West will be outfitted with standard chef's knives, and that knowing how to use those well is a valuable skill to have as a chef. That's simple common sense, as anyone who's worked in a Western commercial kitchen will tell you. Dropping $120 on a set of quality traditional knives is a fine way to start out.

                                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                                            "I said "high-carbon stainless steel", which is indeed a blend of the two kinds of steel."
                                                                            _______
                                                                            'High carbon stainless' refers mainly to stainless steel (>13% or 14% chromium) that has a high percent of carbon steel (vaguely defined as at least 0.5% or more).

                                                                            'Carbon steel' is defined by lack of chromium. Not actually by its carbon content, though it does tend to be high. All steel has carbon.

                                                                            There is no blending.

                                                                            These days, almost all stainless steels that anyone makes a knife out of qualifies as 'high carbon stainless.' It's pretty much a meaningless term with respect to modern cutlery.

                                                                            This information is not for the OP (who I'm sure is sick of this argument already) but for you.

                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                The Wisegeek description is a little misleading. The production of 'high carbon stainless' has nothing to do with blending carbon and stainless steels. It does arguably have attributes of each, though like I said, the term is pretty useless today.

                                                                                If manufacturers are truly calling a steel with 0.2% carbon 'high carbon stainless' as Wisegeek implies, then the term is even more meaningless with respect to knives than I thought. I can't think of a single knife steel below 0.2% carbon.

                                                                                Also, the most common criteria for stainlessness requires more chromium than Wisegeek says. But then again, the definition of 'stainless' has always been a little wonky and arbitrary.

                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                              But ""high-carbon stainless steel" is such a useless term in modern day. Sure, it would have meant something 50 years ago, when a lot of stainless steel knives have lower carbon content. Now, most stainless steel knives are high carbon stainless steel. Victorinox is, Dexter-Russell is... Mercer. A bit of an exaggeration, but isn't looking for a high carbon stainless steel knives almost like looking for a knife with a handle? That is almost all knives have a handle, and most stainless steel are made with high carbon stainless steel. Imagine I tell people this: "When you look for a high quality knife, please make sure it has a handle". I mean: Com'on.

                                                                              Again, it is a bit of an exaggeration, but high carbon stainless steel really isn't telling much at all. They are so common.

                                                                              Also you have criticized people for suggesting Japanese steel knives, but if I am correct, which I think I am, most of us did not suggest Japanese steel knives. We suggested Dexter-Russell, Victorinox. The whole Japanese steel thing may have only came out once or twice. So why brother come in and made a big deal about it?

                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                Yeah, I agree with this (Dexter-Russell, Victorinox). I just saw a lot of what looked to me like confusing recommendations about knives.

                                                                                I know how it is to be dazzled by certain aspects of products without having the benefit of a more traditional perspective. Just wanted to add it to the mix.

                                                                        2. So.. I appreciate everybody's opinions. Because of the comments on this post, from everybody, regarding all of the different types of knives, I am pretty sure I know what I want. Not 100% yet, but I have two options I am considering. Personally I am more into the typical German chefs knife style at the moment. I would like to try a Japanese knife at some point before making a purchase, and maybe I will change my mind, who knows. Either way I thank everybody for their help, and think we can end the argument about Josh's comments now.

                                                                          I think we should all rewatch the video of the dull knife vs tomato again, and have a good laugh:p

                                                                          20 Replies
                                                                          1. re: murph909

                                                                            "and think we can end the argument about Josh's comments now"

                                                                            I don't think people argue with Josh because his suggestion of a German Chef's knife to you. We have been suggesting German Chef's to you as well, like those Victorinox and Dexter-Russell Chef's knife. I think the issue is that Josh has made some strong statements: calling others people spreading misinformation or accusing people intentionally confusing others. These can be taken as personal accusation, so some of us feel the need to respond if you will.

                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                              Whoa, guys. I might be more neutral here, but I didn't see anything provocative about josh's initial nor subsequent posts. There might be some Western kitchens across the states where Japanese knives are the standard, but the vast majority use Western knives. If our OP is going to make use of most knife skills books and DVDs/CDs to practice skills, not to mention online classes, he's going to see Western knives in training. If he's going to learn from friends and the vast majority of cooking schools, the same is true. If he had the money to get both and practice on his own, sure, that would be great. He could also try a wide range of weights in his knives. But given what he's asked us for, recommending a French chef's knife sounds like the way to go.

                                                                              I'll use my husband as an example, a pro for over 40 years. He always buys his staff Dexters, but will reimburse up to a certain amount if they prefer something else and buy it on their own. Why? They're good knives, cheap enough, and suitable for just about anyone. Preferring a heavy knife vs. a lighter one is solely a personal opinion. Neither is better. He uses a heavier one, but he's very strong, has big hands, and simply likes the feel of one. However, he uses my Victorinox as his preference at home (it's light), and I've often seen him use whatever he can grab first in his kitchens. He's been using my santoku (MAC) lately, but not for herbs or other items which are much easier with a curved blade. I asked him if he wanted one for work and he said no, he liked his chef's knife. I don't think he felt it was better than a Japanese blade, only that it's what he's used for decades. He's extraordinarily fast with one, and needs the speed. He'd have a learning curve if he switched, albeit fairly brief. But why fix what ain't broke?

                                                                              I agree with josh that the figures on steel composition aren't necessary to assessing the usefulness of a knife. Chefs get by without worrying about it at all. My grandmother, who was wicked with a knife, used only all-carbon blades. She thought stainless of any kind was crap. She also shaved my grandfather's head with a carbon steel razor blade. Death-defying.

                                                                              My mother thought that a hot meal was a piece of toast, so she's irrelevant to this discussion (lol). The male home cooks in my family didn't exist, so they're irrelevant, too.

                                                                              I don't think there's anything wrong with recommending a Japanese knife. It's just a preference. It's certainly not a superior one, though, which is how the poster sounded to me. Still cool--if he feels they're superior, then say so.

                                                                              1. re: hopeh

                                                                                AFAIK, no one made a serious recommendation of Japanese knives aside from briefly recommending gyutos before Murph stated his clear preference. Josh jumped down my throat earlier for even allowing that some people substitute Chinese cleavers and nakiris and santokus.

                                                                                "If our OP is going to make use of most knife skills books and DVDs/CDs to practice skills, not to mention online classes, he's going to see Western knives in training."
                                                                                _______
                                                                                If you understand gyutos and have used them extensively as many in this thread have, you would know that they can substitute fully for Western knives AND in Western knife techniques (that includes chiffonades, despite repeated silly claims to the contrary - do I need to make a video or something?) They ARE Western knives, albeit Western knives made by the Japanese.

                                                                                "I agree with josh that the figures on steel composition aren't necessary to assessing the usefulness of a knife."
                                                                                _______
                                                                                A) there was almost no discussion of steel composition before Josh made some incorrect claims
                                                                                B) you may not care to know WHY one knife has better edge retention than another, but it should be plenty useful even to a chef to find out that it does. That's the essence behind such information, which Duckfat provided in an honest attempt to be helpful and which you and Josh then ridiculed him for. (''I didn't see anything provocative...')

                                                                                "I don't think he felt it was better than a Japanese blade, only that it's what he's used for decades. He's extraordinarily fast with one, and needs the speed. He'd have a learning curve if he switched, albeit fairly brief. But why fix what ain't broke?"
                                                                                __________
                                                                                Why comment authoritatively (to the extent of bashing others' advice) on that which you haven't used extensively and don't understand? One of the most frustrating things about this whole discussion is the apparent assumption by you (and parting shot stated outright by Josh) that those of us who like Eastern knives must not be familiar with Western knives or classical cutting techniques; that we must not have a classical perspective. Nonsense. I personally used German knives for years; learned to cook and cut with one; still bust out a German or French knife on occasion when I feel like it; still sharpen these knives for other people. If you gave me a Wusthof and a crate vegetables, I'd know what to do with em. The same applies to a lot of the fans of Japanese knives here. So when people come down with some 'I've worked in a restaurant, so everyone else must know less than me' type logic - yeah some of us get frustrated and insulted.

                                                                                If you accuse others of spreading misinformation (or lore), be prepared to back up your argument.

                                                                                If you just like Western knives, you're welcome to recommend them and give some reasons why - I won't argue with you. That's not what happened though.

                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                  My god, you completely misread my tone of voice. There's not a thing in what I wrote that bashes, ridicules, or otherwise attacks/insults your views, nor did I intend to do that. When I do (if ever--it's not my nature), believe me, the tone will be unmistakeable. I never wrote that you "must not have a classical perspective." Where did you infer that from what I wrote?

                                                                                  There's no reason for the tone of your response to me, cowboyardee. Maybe you're het up by josh's posts and have decided I'm attacking you, letting that anger spill over onto me? My words were reasoned and not at all inflammatory. I never accused you of spreading misinformation nor ridiculed your advice in any way. As far as giving you my husband's personal opinion/preference with his creds, I only did that because someone else did, and I wanted people to know where he was coming from. My pro experience is almost precisely three months--not exactly an expert, eh? lol My opinion is worth what you think of a very experienced, excellent home cook's to be. No more, no less. Many people would find that to be worthless.

                                                                                  I think it's obvious that when I used the term "Western knives" I meant the classic European knife shape. I didn't mean anything else by it, and think you must know that. I also never said that the Japanese chef's knife can't be used in a western kitchen, only that the training materials (books, DVDs, etc.) are for the Western knife. Period. I've checked Amazon for other non-Western training tools but they don't carry them. The local public college's culinary school doesn't have any, either. That's all I was referring to, because he might want to use written/audio/visual media to help him learn.

                                                                                  Please don't put words in my mouth. Evaluate only what I actually write. You don't know me yet. As time goes on, you'll find that I don't attack people, just give my advice and opinions based on my and others' experience IF I have the knowledge to do that. I'm not going to be weighing in everywhere, because I don't know about everything.

                                                                                  Does this clear up things for you?

                                                                                  1. re: hopeh

                                                                                    I didn't mean to put any words in your mouth. Several times I was referring to comments made by Josh. The entire section of my post after I last quoted you was mainly about his comments. I'm sorry if that was not clear - I thought it was. I refer to them because you fail to see why they incited argument and decided to tell people so.

                                                                                    If you feel compelled to jump in on an argument that has nothing to do with you, don't be surprised when you get argued with. If you don't want to defend another poster's statements... then don't defend them.

                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                      I guess my way of looking at it is I don't necessarily see either side here being perfect. Each style (Japanese vs. European) has its own advantages and drawbacks. It's telling that you see Japanese knife makers producing quasi-European styles, and European knife-makers producing quasi-Asian styles - obviously each sees something to emulate in the other.

                                                                                      That's what I found interesting about those New West Knifeworks blades - evidently they're attempting to hybridize the two styles of knives, and I have serious desire to drop some cash on their wares.

                                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                                        "I guess my way of looking at it is I don't necessarily see either side here being perfect. Each style (Japanese vs. European) has its own advantages and drawbacks. It's telling that you see Japanese knife makers producing quasi-European styles, and European knife-makers producing quasi-Asian styles - obviously each sees something to emulate in the other."
                                                                                        ___________
                                                                                        You're right. Nothing I disagree with there. There's definitely something to be said for the ability of Western knives to absorb damage. Or the solid feel of a heavier blade. Or how easily and naturallly one can learn to cut with a rocking motion with a deeply curved German profile. Or even just the solid, contoured feel of a Western handle.
                                                                                        I hope you or others don't take me as saying or implying there's no good reason to get a traditional Western chef knife. I have reasons for my preference of Japanese-made chef knives (gyutos), but it's still just a preference.

                                                                                        And as you've pointed out - there are a lot of steps and hybrids in between fully traditional Western knives and fully traditional Eastern knives.

                                                                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                        I'm very glad you didn't think I was attacking you, cowboyardee. I hate when people get off on the wrong foot over misunderstandings. I'd like to get to know everyone here through direct contact. I've been reading a while, but that's not the same, and I look forward to more of that contact as time goes on, except...

                                                                                        I'm perplexed by your second paragraph. Maybe it means maybe I shouldn't expect to have that contact unless it's under certain terms? Is that what you meant to say? I don't think there was anything wrong with my giving an opinion on a public thread. It had to do with all of us since it was posted where many, many people had already posted on the same topic. If you wanted it to be private, it should have been taken to email or somewhere private. I didn't see it as "jumping in," but rather showing where I agreed. I'd never say you jumped in on the thread when others were giving their opinions. I didn't feel "compelled," either, to post. Just wanted to give my two cents. If many of my (subjective) opinions agreed with his--and I didn't address those which didn't--that doesn't mean I "jumped in" to defend josh. He seems to be capable of doing that himself. I'll defend someone who's being bullied, but that wasn't happening here.

                                                                                        One thing now I'm sure of: for the near future, if you're in an argument with someone again, I won't post on the topic until you're done, or I'll address my comments to someone else. I do reserve the right, however, to give my opinion about anything to anyone once I've been here a while. I think that's more than reasonable. I don't mind an argument (better still, a disagreement) if it's accurate about what I said, and is civil in tone. I didn't object to your arguing with me, only that you assumed I was saying things I didn't say.

                                                                                        I still read misunderstanding of me on your part. But you're right--I may be misunderstanding you, too. I'll try harder if you do, too. There's no reason for this relatively small thing to come between us, don't you think? And if you're ever unsure about what or why or how I'm writing something, please ask me to clarify it.

                                                                                        1. re: hopeh

                                                                                          "Maybe it means maybe I shouldn't expect to have that contact unless it's under certain terms? Is that what you meant to say? I don't think there was anything wrong with my giving an opinion on a public thread. I"

                                                                                          Nah, that is probably not what cow-cow said (his new nickname). What he meant to say is that if you are going to defend someone, then you will get argued for everything the other person had said thus far.

                                                                                          Without getting back to Josh's previous statements and reopening old wounds, I will use an example. Let's say someone argue against Hernan Cortes' past actions, and you come in and say "But I agree with his ability to spread Christianity". Now, in your mind, you are only agreeing to this small part, but to the other person, he thinks you are agreeing other things with Cortes did.

                                                                                          Now, it is my understanding that you were trying to agree with Josh's recommendation of Western knife over Japanese knife, but the big (and short) arguments between Josh and several people were not really about Western knife and Japanese knife. Yes, it is partial about it, but really more about some personal accusations were made and people were not happy about those accusations.

                                                                                          Let me think of another example. Let's say my wife really likes to have a dog, and I said to her that only an uninformed woman would want a dog, and all stupid dogs have only three legs, and no sane person will ever want a dog since they are so difficult to take care. Then she and I started to have a big argument. Now you say to us (while we are still arguing) that "Chemicalkinetics is correct. Dogs are indeed difficult to take off" To her, you agree with me more than just that statement. To her, you are supporting everything else that had been said so far.

                                                                                          So cow-cow is not saying that you cannot get in a conversation and make your posts, but if you are going to in between an argument and defend one side, then prepare to counter-arguments from the other side.

                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                            You know, I never thought of it that way. It's a good point; in fact, good enough that I'm going to keep an eye out for responses like that even in real life. Your dog argument example is a hoot, but extremely good and clear. Of course such a thing could happen--why didn't I think of that myself, eh?

                                                                                            On a more important note. . . cow-cow???? COW-COW??? Oh. my. god. The very last thing I'd call him is a cute and cuddly nickname. That's truly silly and funny. Thanks, CK.

                                                                                            You've spent time you didn't have to spend, and done work you didn't have to do, to make sure that the budding relationship between cowboy and me doesn't go awry. I hope that you accept my thanks for your effort, and know that I greatly appreciate it. He's a bit of a saguaro, imo, but if you've ever seen their flowers, you know they're well worth the cost of seeking out.

                                                                                            1. re: hopeh

                                                                                              Chem's a nice guy like that.

                                                                                              Not sure how I feel about 'Cow-cow' yet.

                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                I was thinking Cowboy is a title. This is world, there can only be one Cowboy and one Cow (a theme I am borrowing from a video game called Metal Gear Solid 3)

                                                                                                Soon your son will be take on the title of Cowboy, so you have to be Cow. It is just a matter of time. It is inevitable.

                                                                                          2. re: hopeh

                                                                                            I don't really want to dredge this up again, especially since at this point Josh and I have more or less buried the hatchet.

                                                                                            When you stick around for a while, you'll find that I'm argumentative when I feel I am being argued with and calm and respectful when I feel others are calm and respectful with me. I'd love to have the grace of the "turn the other cheek" types, but that's not me.

                                                                                            OTOH I don't easily bear grudges. So state your opinions as you see fit - an argument is no huge deal. There are several posters with whom I argued when I or they started posting here who I've come to like and respect quite a bit. Heck, we still do argue just for old time's sake every now and again.

                                                                                            As for this particular conversation - if you still fail to see why your original post might have drawn an argumentative and blunt retort, then we're probably just going to have to chalk this little CH tangent up as a lost cause. We'll meet again in some other thread, I'm sure.

                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                              "...if you still fail to see why your original post might have drawn an argumentative and blunt retort..."

                                                                                              No, really, I didn't fail to see it. I understood your perception of my initial post after it was explained to me, and it was well over and done with as far as I was, and am, concerned. That's why I didn't mention it. What I did comment on was this sentence:

                                                                                              "If you feel compelled to jump in on an argument that has nothing to do with you, don't be surprised when you get argued with."

                                                                                              I was neither compelled nor surprised by anything, except your saying that it had nothing to do with me. It's as though you laid some sort of claim to the thread after you entered it. I disagreed. It had something to do with everyone reading it, as do all public threads here.

                                                                                              It's quite possible we'll have to agree to disagree about my motives. I can't for the life of me understand why you can't see I wasn't defending anything/anyone, nor arguing with you. I was merely agreeing with several key points about buying Western knives. But I trust you'll eventually come to see that down the road.

                                                                                              1. re: hopeh

                                                                                                "I can't for the life of me understand why you can't see I wasn't defending anything/anyone, nor arguing with you. I was merely agreeing with several key points about buying Western knives. But I trust you'll eventually come to see that down the road."
                                                                                                _________
                                                                                                Then you are either being very obtuse or disingenuous.

                                                                                                Read the thread again. Then take a look at your first sentence: "Whoa, guys. I might be more neutral here, but I didn't see anything provocative about josh's initial nor subsequent posts."
                                                                                                Then just for good measure read the thread a third time.

                                                                                                My opinion of your motives is not going to change down the road. If you wanted nothing more than to defend Western knives, then you could have just said so and apologized for the misunderstanding rather than continuing to justify telling people they have nothing to be irritated about or denying that you did so in the first place when you CLEARLY and obviously did or deflecting the argument with some 'philosophy of internet forums' rant about exactly when an argument between two individuals does or doesn't invite the opinions of a third party.

                                                                                                "I was neither compelled nor surprised by anything, except your saying that it had nothing to do with me. It's as though you laid some sort of claim to the thread after you entered it."
                                                                                                _______
                                                                                                For the record, I've never said that you shouldn't chime in, but merely that if you do so in a way that elicits argument, then I'm not going to apologize or feel bad for arguing.

                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                  "Then you are either being very obtuse or disingenuous."

                                                                                                  Now THAT's provocative. And an ad hominem attack, which is never warranted. I'm neither stupid nor a liar.

                                                                                                  Okay. I see there's no point in addressing anything else. I'm sorry it didn't work out.

                                                                                      3. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                        Just to clarify:

                                                                                        "the apparent assumption by you (and parting shot stated outright by Josh) that those of us who like Eastern knives must not be familiar with Western knives or classical cutting techniques"

                                                                                        That's not what I said, and if you inferred it from what I wrote, then I apologize for inadvertently implying it.

                                                                                      4. re: hopeh

                                                                                        hopeh. It is fine that you didn't feel provoked, but sometime you have to put yourself in other people’s shoes The fact of the matter is that things were said, and have provoked several people in defending. That was the situation. No question about that. As to why, I will explain.

                                                                                        If you think these people are offended because Josh recommended European Chef's knife, then I can assure you this is not the case because most of the people here recommended the European style knives and particularly: Victorinox and Dexter-Russell Chef's knives. It wasn't the recommendation, but the language and tone. Josh, intentionally or unintentionally, accused people of spreading misinformation or being uniformed, so of course, people responded.

                                                                                        He wrote to the original poster:"Sorry for chiming in late, but you are getting some wildly varying advice, and some of it is full of lore (which means it's not true, or is the repeating of stuff heard from some guy once somewhere)."

                                                                                        "I think you're offering some confusing advice." to duckfat_33

                                                                                        His first respond to cowboyardee is most telling of all. Josh criticized cowboyardee and wrote “Nakikiri is not even remotely a substitute for a chef's knife….The nakikiri is ground on only one side, and has one purpose - the chopping of vegetables“ Problem with that is two folds. One, people have been using nakiri as an all purpose knife, so it isn’t just for vegetables. Japanese refer their Western Chef’s knife as Gyuto which literally means “Beef knife”. I can assure you that Gyuto isn’t just for beef. Second and more importantly, nakiri is ground on both side, not one side. So Josh was attacking cowboyardee's recommendation for a knife which he does not know very much about. Imagine this, I publicly criticize your choice to buy a Toyota Camry and said: "Toyota Camry is a horrible car and it can only be driven to Japanese supermarkets because it has *3 wheels.*" What would you really think after I said that?
                                                                                        Then, Josh criticized cowboyardee and wrote “the assertion that straight-edge slicers are better than serrated isn't true…Straight-edged slicers are great for proteins, but try sawing through a loaf of crusty bread with one. For that task, you want a serrated blade.” Problem with that is Josh missed the context. The original poster specifically wrote to cowboyardee and stated that “I am not one to cut bread often, so dont really think I need a bread knife …I would be using them for slicing roasts/steaks/hams and carving chicken/turkeys….”

                                                                                        In short, I think Josh could have made his own recommendations without accusing people of spreading misinformation or not being knowledgeable. When in fact, I cannot find one thing these people have said which is factually wrong. Josh could have better made his case in a different tone. That's all.

                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                          Your points are well-made and well-taken, CK. I did miss some of that, and didn't hear the tone as acutely as I probably should have. It's the cliche--but true--that sometimes it's difficult to interpret things accurately without hearing a voice or seeing a face. I'm as guilty of that as anyone get frustrated when it's done to me.

                                                                                          As I said--well taken.

                                                                                  2. I want to thank Josh for his contributions to this thread. I'm looking for a relatively inexpensive chef's knife for a gift, and one of those Mercers from http://www.knifemerchant.com/products... will do nicely.

                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                                      The Mercers excite me to the heights of ecstasy. And at my age, I need all the excitement I can get. I just might have to try one.

                                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                                          Jay, I'm loving the shape of the Millennia, but $18? I wonder if a decent knife can be that low-cost. Still...it's very tempting. The Renaissance also attracts my eye--good curve in the blade and the handle looks comfortable.

                                                                                          The shape of the Genesis doesn't look like a good fit for my hand, but I could be off base there, and besides--the cook adapts, don't you think? The reviewer says s/he loves the weight, but doesn't say if that means heavy or light.

                                                                                          I've checked out a lot on the site. It's disappointing that at least half--if not more--of the reviewers only rate by stars and don't give any written details. The company's descriptions are too brief, too. I'd definitely use the phone to order, not the online form, so that I could ask lots of questions.

                                                                                          What about you? Which intrigue you the most?

                                                                                          1. re: hopeh

                                                                                            The Millenia is only $18 because the blade is stamped, not forged, and the handle is plastic.

                                                                                            The Genesis and Renaissance lines are forged, which is what you want (IMO).

                                                                                            I've not used the Renaissance, but the Genesis line has handles that have a sort of rubberized coating on them, which helps for grip with wet hands. It's not rubber - the feeling is hard to describe, but it's pretty comfortable to hold.

                                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                                              I am leaning towards buying the genesis line myself

                                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                                I assumed it was stamped; still, most stamped knives are at least $25, as far as I've seen.

                                                                                                Thanks for telling me about the Genesis' handle. I'd love a coating like that.

                                                                                              2. re: hopeh

                                                                                                Just looking at them, I like the Renaissance. It looks as if it will be easier to sharpen without creating a curve at the heel (the person who will use it most will also use, and probably overuse, a Chef's Choice to sharpen it, and they're infamous for that).

                                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                  Jay, I never even thought of the sharpening issue. I messed up a Henckels paring knife with my Chef's Choice when I first got it and am still not very good at using it. Thanks for the tip.

                                                                                                  1. re: hopeh

                                                                                                    I gave mine away in the '90s.

                                                                                                    1. re: hopeh

                                                                                                      hope, why don't you send me an e-mail and I can tell you more. Look on my profile.

                                                                                          2. just for an update, I ended up going with the vicorinox 8inch chefs knife, 8inch carving knife, 3 piece paring set (one paring knife, one serrated paring, one serrated utility). I already had a 5inch boning and 8inch fillet (and 14 inch cimeter) from victorinox from work, and really liked the victorinox fibrox plus the price was so good I decided it was my best choice. I also got the wusthof create-your-own knife set which is a 13 slot block, pair of shears, and steel that I got on clearance from cutleryandmore for 30 bucks. It all arrived today in good shape and the knives are extremely sharp. Glad I went with the victorinox, and I am pretty sure the variety I have should cover anything I ever need a knife for. I also bought a 5 dollar bread knife for half price (yes i paid 2.50 for a bread knife:p) just incase I ever need to cut a loaf.

                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: murph909

                                                                                              Hey, murph, it's very good to hear from you. Thanks for the update. Looks to me as though you've covered all your bases at an excellent overall price. I have the same chef's knife and just love it--it's unlikely you'll be disappointed. In fact, I'm sure you're going to be happy with all of your purchases. Good going!

                                                                                              1. re: murph909

                                                                                                Block, steel, and shears for $30 -- that is a bargain, and perfect for your needs. Happy slicing and chopping!

                                                                                                1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                  Yea and its a nice wusthof set, all looks good! Online shopping pays off with time and patience

                                                                                                2. re: murph909

                                                                                                  I bought someone a Victorinox as a Christmas present this year. I'm a little tempted to chop an onion with it first.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                    Give it a good clean and they will never know!

                                                                                                  2. re: murph909

                                                                                                    Congratulation. So did you get the forged version or the stamped version? It sounds like you got the stamped version, right? Next step, get a stone (or something equivalent of it). :P

                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                      the stamped version with fibrox handles. If I was going to spend the money that the forged victorinox costs I would have gone with a wusthof. For my needs, these knives will be more than acceptable. I debated the 10 inch but went with the 8 inch; good thing I did because the 8 inch JUST fits in the block, 10 inch wouldnt have as I have read the blade is wider. I also debated the Mercer Genesis knives, because I liked the handle better than the renaissance line, but found that both of the Mercers lines were harder to get for a decent price + shipping to Canada (none sold locally), and the full bolster was an issue. I noticed on my fathers old cheap knife that is as dull as could be (he doesnt seem to mind...) that the back of the knife wasnt hitting the board because it had a full bolster and had been sharpened, and got scared off.

                                                                                                      A stone is my next expense for sure, as I want to learn/practice how to sharpen them good with one.

                                                                                                      1. re: murph909

                                                                                                        "the full bolster was an issue. I noticed on my fathers old cheap knife that is as dull as could be (he doesnt seem to mind...) that the back of the knife wasnt hitting the board because it had a full bolster "

                                                                                                        Exactly. I don't know if you remember, but a few of us were really trying to be steer you away from a full bolster knife. Full bolster knives are not bad. It is just one more thing that you have to deal with, and it is not a small thing.

                                                                                                        "I want to learn/practice how to sharpen them good with one."

                                                                                                        Don't throw away your old knives yet. They can be great for practice. Good luck.

                                                                                                  3. I know that I'm way late to the game but perhaps this will help out people other than the original poster.

                                                                                                    I agree with the posters who said to NOT buy a set. Don't do it. You will want to build up your collection 1-2 knives at a time, adding here and there as your skills and needs evolve. And this way, you'll really get the most for your money.

                                                                                                    To start with get just ONE really good all purpose knife. For the money, the MAC 6.5 " Santoku is about as good a deal as they come, and will be comfortable for just about anyone. Amazon has these for $65. That may seem like a bunch of money for one knife but it's not - you will easily have it for 20-30 years. Think of it as a western style feel with a high quality Japanese blade. Remember that knives like this should be used properly - use them in a smooth cutting/slicing motion.

                                                                                                    You'll also need to think about understanding how to gently hone your knife. An inexpensive dual ceramic V "pull-though" is a good start. Use gently after each use.

                                                                                                    If that's too much for your budget, then you can get a VERY nice Santoku or Deba from japanwoodworkers.com.

                                                                                                    You will likely want a paring knife at some point, and to get a heavy duty type of Santoku or Deba or Cleaver - for when you are doing stuff that might hurt your really nice primary blade.

                                                                                                    Good luck!