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Knife suggestions under $50, left handed

j
jrad Nov 3, 2011 07:19 AM

I've been leaning towards just getting an 8'' dexter chefs knife for $25, but wanted to check if there's anything worth getting for an extra $25 (up to $50)?

I do like the heavier feel of a german knife, which I won't get with the DR, but I don't think it presents a problem... I've used a Victorinox many times, but like the feel of the DR a little bit better for some reason.

Is there anything $50 or less that would suit me better than the DR, or at that price point will I not see any real differences? Keep in mind, I am left handed... not sure what knives won't work for me - don't think the DR or Victorninox matters righty or lefty, right?

  1. g
    gilintx Nov 4, 2011 08:51 PM

    My favorite knife is a Mundial chef's knife. It looks like it's in your price range. Of course, I would suggest you hold it / try it, to see if you agree or not. The weight and balance seem good to me, and it seems to hold an edge very well.

    1. j
      jkling17 Nov 3, 2011 09:14 AM

      I bought a dual Santoku Henckles set for my folks last year and I have to admit that they were REALLY good knives for the money. Normally, I'd try and "upsell" you to a MAC 6.5" Santoku for $65 but I gotta say that you will likely be very happy with these and have extra money for a good sharpener to KEEP them razor sharp. DMT has a reasonable guided set called the Aligner that will do the trick. So you can get 2 knives, a proper sharpener - and all for $50 or so.

      The set is called "J.A. Henckels International Fine Edge Pro 2-Piece Hollow Edge Santoku Set" and is only $20. At your price point
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=s...

      4 Replies
      1. re: jkling17
        Chemicalkinetics Nov 3, 2011 09:25 AM

        In my experience, Henckels International knives are made with poor steel. I would rank Victorinox or Dexter Russell considerably higher than Henckels International knives.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
          TeRReT Nov 3, 2011 10:27 AM

          my mom has an international set, they are much better then what she's had in the past and do a decent job, i've just gotta hone and sharpen them for them. While they are just ok for them, they really aren't the best knives. I just started a new job and the best knife they had at the restaurant is a international santoku which is not so sharp. I am happy i bring my knives with me :P

          1. re: TeRReT
            Chemicalkinetics Nov 4, 2011 11:06 PM

            Yep, they are not the worse, but in my experience, the Henckels International knives do not hold their edges quiet as well as the Dexter-Russell knives. Dexter, by no mean, is the best of the best.

            "I am happy i bring my knives with me :P"

            Be careful. Like sure your knives do not grow legs and walk away.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              TeRReT Nov 5, 2011 10:01 PM

              I take my knives home at night with me, so there should be no walking, if there is walking there will be serious hell to pay, plus there are cameras everywhere so it best not be a problem

      2. cowboyardee Nov 3, 2011 09:00 AM

        Mundial makes good quality heavy German style knives for under $50.

        I've heard that Mercer knives are also good quality. But I haven't personally handled them. They're also heavy, German, and affordable.

        Unfortunately they both use full length bolsters, which is a really dumb design feature that hinders sharpening for no real gain aside from a little heft. But if you're into German cutlery, that's par for the course.

        Nothing wrong with a DR.

        Generally speaking, German knives are fully ambidextrous.

        4 Replies
        1. re: cowboyardee
          j
          jrad Nov 3, 2011 09:36 AM

          Found a deal for a slightly used Wusthof Grand Prix 9'' chefs knife (~$30) locally. Any thoughts on this line, and if it would be a good buy? I see it has a full bolster, but other than that reviews look good. (Not sure if its the Grand Prix or Grand Prix II yet)

          1. re: jrad
            cowboyardee Nov 3, 2011 10:02 AM

            I've sharpened the some Wusthof Grand Prix. That's not a bad price for it. The original series had the dreaded full length bolster, while the Grand Prix II has a shortened bolster that I like better. Feel is pretty German. Takes a decent edge with standard edge retention. I remember it as not quite as hefty as Wusthof's premium lines, but it's far from flimsy.

            The 'slightly used' thing gives me pause though. If you can, find out how much usage 'slightly used' entails. Whenever you buy a used knife, there's the possibility that someone has sharpened it badly for years, leaving you with a problem. The likelihood of this increases for knives with a full length bolster.

            Here's a thread I made about fixing a used knife. You can see what kind of damage is possible when you buy used knives. It's fixable, but not easily so.
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/808731

            1. re: jrad
              j
              jkling17 Nov 3, 2011 10:04 AM

              I'd skip it unless you have a good sharpening system like DMT etc so that you can fully re-profile and resharpen it from scratch. Even still $30 is too high for a used knife, when you can get a proper Japanese knife new for $40.

              1. re: jrad
                Chemicalkinetics Nov 3, 2011 11:54 AM

                Hmm, slightly used... do you know the person who used it? I bet if you look at Home Goods enough you will find one for $40-50 of the same knife.

            2. Chemicalkinetics Nov 3, 2011 08:11 AM

              suetmo's suggestion is correct. You can sometime find German knives (especially Henckels) sold at discount prices around $40-80 at HomeGoods, Marshall, ...etc, but it is one of those things that you cannot plan for it. They are sometime there, and sometime they are not. They may have the style or length you want, but they may not.

              1. inaplasticcup Nov 3, 2011 07:40 AM

                Very interesting. I didn't know they made left handed knives...

                22 Replies
                1. re: inaplasticcup
                  TeRReT Nov 3, 2011 07:54 AM

                  most of the knives I have are fine for either hand, but my japanese ones have D shaped handles which are designed for the right hand, they aren't terribly uncomfortable to use with my left hand though. And when i get me Deba which is a single beveled knife I will have to get one made with the bevel on the opposite side of a right handed one so it will have to be a completely different knife.

                  1. re: inaplasticcup
                    cowboyardee Nov 3, 2011 08:53 AM

                    Knives can have lefty handles, an asymmetrical lefty edge, or an overall grind that favors a lefty (in the case of Japanese knives, even double beveled ones).

                    I explain it at length in this thread.
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/757992

                    1. re: cowboyardee
                      TeRReT Nov 3, 2011 09:00 AM

                      i know when handles are definitely right handed, and i know when the grind is right handed as in the case of the deba, but who knows how many asymmetrical grinds i've used that are for right handed, oh well, i can't be bothered to source every knife as a left handed knife :P

                      1. re: TeRReT
                        cowboyardee Nov 3, 2011 09:10 AM

                        I have one lefty ground knife, and it does feel super special to me. But it's a subtle thing. I used righty ground knives for years with no problems. There's no reason for a lefty to fear right handed knives unless they're looking to buy a single beveled knife or find they don't like righty D-shaped handles (frankly, even those don't bother me).

                        OTOH, if you do want a single bevel knife, being left handed is a real disadvantage.

                        1. re: cowboyardee
                          TeRReT Nov 3, 2011 10:23 AM

                          yeah, but I will buy my single beveled in japan, I found a store in osaka that has a lot of left handed knives and i talked to a knife maker near tokyo that can make one for me as well so its not too bad, providing you're in japan :P

                          and the d-shaped handles don't bother me at all either

                          1. re: TeRReT
                            j
                            jkling17 Nov 3, 2011 10:37 AM

                            I used to travel to Japan quite a lot for business and I'd actually be surprised if we can't buy those knives here for the same or less than you might get them locally in Tokyo - via Japanwoodworker.com or chefknivestogo.com. Of course we can't as easily try out a bunch of them as you can :-)

                            Tokyo is awesome. I used to go there every month. One almost gets used to the jetlag :-)

                            Would you please let us know what kind of prices you can get locally for various knives, at different sizes. It would be really GREAT to know with the exchange rate what you would pay there for different types of Deba, Nakiri, etc.

                            1. re: jkling17
                              TeRReT Nov 3, 2011 11:49 AM

                              Yeah, I will be there at the end of january. I know i got my little utility super blue for 13,000 yen and i know some of the blue debas i was looking at were like 19-25,000 yen. The debas that I was looking at were at the famous Osaka kitchen street market, so I'm sure prices were not necessarily the best. I bought my utility at the Kochi market which is an area that is apparently famous for knife making and i felt it was a reasonably priced knife, i shopped around a lot for it and was happy to be able to meet the owner of the shop and person responsible for my knife. I met a knifemaker at a travelling market in okayama, his store is near tokyo, but not in tokyo. He was extremely nice and helpful and his knives seemed excellent quality and were rediculously sharp, and he'd sharpen them for me for free anytime i went to the travelling market or if i wanted to send them in, so the service is good. I would try to find him again if I were looking for a knife there, I have his business card so will definitely try to contact him.

                              1. re: TeRReT
                                j
                                jkling17 Nov 5, 2011 02:15 AM

                                Terret-san,

                                Interesting - aritgato! I don't think that I'd spend that much for a knife unless I lived there and was taking advantage of the free sharpening. Don't get me wrong - I do truly love really good knives. But I suppose that there is just so much that I'm willing to spend on them.

                                Fortunately, there is now wide-spread availability of choices from MAC for the mass market and discerning customer. And, thank goodness, lots of really good choices in true Japanese blades between $40-100 from ck2g and japanwoodworker.

                                Japanwoodworker even has several choices in rockwell 61-63 petite knives for only $26. I think that's a fantastic deal though I know that some people feel that's a lot for a single paring knife. I'm waiting, impatiently, for a 4" MAC superior parer to arrive. It's like a mini santoku so I think that it will be a great addition and give my girlfriend something truly nice to use. She has small hands and so even my 6.5" Santoku is scary for her. I hope this will be the perfect "girl-sized" Santoku.

                                For me ... well ... every week I consider buying a deba, atsu deba or a nikiri. I honestly don't "need" any of these and have blades that fulfill those functions in my kitchen. But that doesn't stop me from craving them ... :-)

                                I suspect that ceramic will start to really take over the scene for a lot of people. Kyocera has a good value in their revolution series. I like the idea of the black blades that won't show food stains. But most people won't be able to maintain them. The ceramic is simply too hard for most people to sharpen at home. Whereas good steel is readily maintained with only a bit of practice, and only 2-3 good stones.

                                There is something very satisfying about using a knife with a core of high quality carbon steel surrounded by that traditional look that really appeals to me. I just feel good using them, and maintaining them is a relaxing activity for me.

                                Sumimasen for chatting on and on. If you come across some good deals while you are there, that would be more advantageous than the selections from ck2g or jw, I'd love to know about them.

                                Regards,

                                Jeff

                                1. re: jkling17
                                  Chemicalkinetics Nov 5, 2011 07:20 AM

                                  :) Every knives is different. It is always difficult to put a price tag or "worthiness" . While, Japanesewordworker offers relatively inexpensive Tosagata knives. Those knives also have the reputation of "not very refined" and "kinda of thick". So I think it will be a bit different for everyone like cars. I think we have different level of expectation.

                                  As for ceramic knives, I am actually predicting they won't take off much more. Like you said, they are difficult to sharpen and they are too fragile for main knives like a santoku or Chef's knife. The technology makes more sense for paring knives.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                    j
                                    jkling17 Nov 5, 2011 08:18 AM

                                    You are 100% correct - that look isn't for everyone. And a lot of people would rather have stainless for it's perceived ease of care. I use mine nearly everyday and love it. But I also can't wait for that darn MAC mini santoku to arrive. I was hoping for yesterday but now I'm hoping for Monday :-) If it's really that good, I'll consider getting more of their line.

                                    How about your own collection - what are your favorite knives?

                                    And you may be riight about the ceramics ... time will tell. I'd rather have a nice piece of steel!

                                    1. re: jkling17
                                      Chemicalkinetics Nov 5, 2011 08:49 AM

                                      I have a small collection of knives compared to many knife experts here, probably only like 10+ knives. Ok, I also have a set of Tools of Trade knives, but they are really bad. I cannot count them as real knives. I could never get a burr or an edge out of them -- really.

                                      Of all the knives I own, I say the CCK KF 1303 Chinese slicer cleaver is my favorite:

                                      http://www.chefknivestogo.com/cckcleaver2.html

                                      It has a very good edge profile and its performance is very good. Its steel is good, but not great. I actually don't use it very often. Not because it is not a good knife, but I like to learn other styles of knives. So I force myself not to use it. :P

                                      The second knife I like the most is probably the Watanabe Nakiri. It is made from great Aogami steel. It has good profile and great performance -- a bit expensive.

                                      The knife which I am also very impressed is the Tanaka Kurouchi Nakiri.

                                      http://www.chefknivestogo.com/takuna16.html

                                      At the time, I think it was sold for $39. It is made of good aogami steel (blue steel). It was very inexpensive for its steel. I was and still am very impressed by its performance-to-price. The kurouchi finish is beautiful in my eyes. It is a bit thick. So, while the steel can take on a very sharp edge. It may not feel very sharp when cutting big items like potatoes or butternut squash. The welding is a problem for it.

                                      Yeah, for ceramic knives, I don't see it takes off until theyare more durable, but like you said Kyocera makes some good ceramic knives. I was very impressed when I watched this Kyocera testing video:

                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s26oKM...

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                        j
                                        jkling17 Nov 5, 2011 02:44 PM

                                        >> I have a small collection of knives compared to many knife experts here, probably only like 10+ knives.

                                        Ah but it's all about having the RIGHT combination of knives, right? :-) Really, we probably only NEED like 4-5 if they are the right ones. Heck, I've got 4 Santokus and really only need 2 of them ...

                                        >> Of all the knives I own, I say the CCK KF 1303 Chinese slicer cleaver is my favorite:

                                        That is sweet! Alas I'll have to envy your cleaver. Mine is nothing special. It's just an inexpensive chinese thing from "favorite son's wife" or some such brand. The other day I reprofiled it from scratch. Primary bevel at 24 degrees and finished that all the way down to xxfine (8000 grit dmt). And then set a microbevel at 32 degrees. It worked out pretty well and certainly shredded paper well enough. Last night, I used it to prep acorn squash and it did a good job. This is one of those tasks that I keep well away from my good blades.

                                        >> The knife which I am also very impressed is the Tanaka Kurouchi Nakiri.

                                        I hate you :-)

                                        >> Yeah, for ceramic knives, I don't see it takes off until theyare more durable, but like you said Kyocera makes some good ceramic knives. I was very impressed when I watched this Kyocera testing video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s26oKM...

                                        Well it didn't shatter - that's for sure. But, I'm going to hold off being impressed until someone does one of these with before/after close-ups of the edge with 10x or 20x magnification! :-) That would be darn impressive!

                                        1. re: jkling17
                                          Chemicalkinetics Nov 5, 2011 02:55 PM

                                          J K

                                          My CCK cleaver is a thin blade slicer, so it is a different style of knife than your favorite son's wife cleaver, which I am pretty sure is a normal medium blade Chinese vegetable knife. Yeah, I do keep a Dexter Russell Chinese cleaver for tougher job. I also have a real cleaver, but I really don't use it often.

                                          "I hate you :-)"

                                          :) You have the Tosagata knife from JapaneseWoodworker. Same idea.

                                          "But, I'm going to hold off being impressed until someone does one of these with before/after close-ups of the edge with 10x or 20x magnification!"

                                          If there is one video you should watch today, then this is the one. The yoshi blade (also ceramic) demonstration. Pleases skip to ~ 7:15 min - 8:20 min and watch. You will also be impressed:

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

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                            j
                                            jkling17 Nov 5, 2011 03:19 PM

                                            Hmmm ... so you don't like the idea of swallowing tiny razor sharp pieces of ceramic? and why is that, exactly? :-)

                                            Yeah that video isn't exactly a ringing endorsement! I'll just stick with steel. Speaking of which the paring knife arrived but ... they shipped the wrong one :-( Now, I'm waiting to hear back from them. I'm so sad ...

                                            On a brighter note, we saw the Thing today - very good movie if you liked the first. And then picked up some Jamaican food from the new place on Rt 33 in Hamilton - it's about 2-3 blocks from the Trenton border, on the eastbound side. The oxtail is quite good and the portion is massive. I'd recommend it. The jerk chicken is "tasty" - but not even close to spicy. Jerk chicken should be flavor AND heat. There are a few other places in that area and we'll check them out in due course.

                                            1. re: jkling17
                                              Chemicalkinetics Nov 5, 2011 03:32 PM

                                              "Speaking of which the paring knife arrived but ... they shipped the wrong one :-("

                                              I am sorry to hear that. Oh my. I suppose they didn't ship a more expensive knife, did they? :) If so, I guess you can keep it. The problem with wrong shipment is that you may or may not have to pay for the returning mailing. You should definitely argue that it is not your fault and that they have to pay for everything.

                                              I watch the original "The Thing". Is there a new one now? (P.S.:, just checked online... yes, there is a new one).

                                              You know. I had excellent experience at Scotch Bonnets (Jamaican restaurant) in Medford NJ. I was looking for a restaurant which serves good Jerk pork, and Scotch Bonnets does so on Friday and Saturday. The jerk pork was very good. I also had the oxtail there which was good, but not as great as the jerk pork. It was so hot, I drank up all water and my juice.... the waitress disappear into the kitchen and I was like "What should I do now?"

                                              http://scotchbonnets.com/home.php

                                              It is run by Janet Davis, who apparently is some kind of a local celebrity.

                                  2. re: jkling17
                                    TeRReT Nov 5, 2011 11:20 PM

                                    The knives I was looking at in Japan were not the most cheap for sure, there were knives available in white steel and in yellow steel that were much more affordable. I do work in professional kitchens though, so I am looking for a little more quality knives. Most of my knives range between $100-$150, so the 13,000 yen utility didn't make me pause too much, I should also mention that my girlfriend paid for half which helps :P

                                    As far as buying a deba, I still have a lot of research, but if I found one I really liked, I'd probably pay up to around $200, its just what I'd expect to pay for a professional tool. I use my utility knife constantly at work, probably 50% of the time i'm using it and 50% my santoku. The utility I am using so much more then expected and I'm beyond happy with it, perfect size, so sharp its not funny. If i'd spent half the price for a knife that performs half as well I'd not be nearly as pleased with it. It is easily worth every yen I spent on it.

                                    I also don't mind paying a little more in Japan for the knives, I am in Japan after all, looking at all the stalls and handmade knives, able to feel and hold and try them, talking to the people who made them, finding out how many generations and hundreds of years they've been making knives. The experience is worth it for me. That said, I am certainly shopping around, I want to get the knife I am most happy with for the price that I am comfortable with.

                                    For some reason I've never even considered buying a MAC knife, I have no idea why, I've used them a great deal in one of the previous restaurants I worked at, and they are very well priced and I did enjoy the quality of them. Just I've never even considered buying one. I always gravitated towards henckel because I liked the heavyness, then I switched to the santoku henckel pro and was in love with the shape of the knife. I used it for 2 years as my primary knife before I met my miyabi :P The rest is all history! And now that I've got my primary knife, I find myself needing to fill in the voids, I didn't have a knife with a tip until this utility, and then probably a deba will be next, but that could change depending on when I have money and what I realize I need :P

                                    1. re: TeRReT
                                      j
                                      jkling17 Nov 6, 2011 06:00 AM

                                      What is your utility knife? Is that the Henckles Miyabi? Why do you find it so useful?

                                      1. re: jkling17
                                        TeRReT Nov 6, 2011 06:47 AM

                                        no, the utility knife is the one in my avatar, i posted a pic on the recent kitchen purchase thread a month or two ago as well, its one i bought in japan, its just a smaller knife, but its not too small. My miyabi is the 7000mcd santoku, which my girlfriend got for me in Japan :P

                                        1. re: TeRReT
                                          j
                                          jkling17 Nov 6, 2011 07:33 AM

                                          Terret,

                                          So I'm really curious since you are in the industry - what is it about the utility knife that makes it so indespensible for you. You mentioned that it's your go-to knife about 50% of the time.

                                          1. re: jkling17
                                            TeRReT Nov 6, 2011 08:58 AM

                                            its not that its indespensible, I mean my santoku can do what my utility knife does, just its different. My miyabi is a relatively heavy santoku, so its nice having the utility be a lighter knife. The steel is completely different so I guess the properties are as well. But its just a nice light little knife that I can do smaller, finer work with, it can cut berries and garnishes easily, it segments citrus really well, i use it to thinly slice meat, it works really well for slicing seared tuna. I don't know the inside outs of the two knives and what the technical differences are, whether the blade is thinner or the angle is different, but my utility can slice seared tuna easier then my santoku, which does not do a poor job by any means, but still. I have found many specific uses for the utility, it is easier to manipulate and also has a point for stabbing stuff :P

                                            There may be better knives for what I use it for, but having just been travelling and having all my other knives packed away, all I have is miyabi santoku, henckel pro santoku and my utility and I have been able to do everything I need to with no trouble.

                                        2. re: jkling17
                                          Chemicalkinetics Nov 6, 2011 06:52 AM

                                          http://www.chow.com/photos/672293

                                          A better design than the a standard Western utility knife in my opinion -- because there is knuckle clearance space when using on a cutting board than say this:

                                          http://images.nitrosell.com/product_i...

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                            TeRReT Nov 6, 2011 07:18 AM

                                            yeah thats the one :P I am happy with it and definitely am enjoying it :D

                      2. s
                        sueatmo Nov 3, 2011 07:37 AM

                        I've bought most of my knives over time in places like Marshall's and Home Goods, where I've found good deals. Most are German and I'm happy with them. But it took years for my present collection to take shape. For $25 dollars you can have a usable, and apparently suitable, knife to use right now. You can always keep looking for a deal in the meantime. The DR could then be a backup.

                        The other option, if you really really want a good German knife, is to save a little longer for what you want.

                        1. Chemicalkinetics Nov 3, 2011 07:29 AM

                          Yeah, neither DR or Victorinox has handiness. I think if you like German style Chef's knife and want it under $50. Those are probably you best bet really. If you really want a good well reputable German made forged Chef's knife, then it will cost you more than $50. Probably F. Dick is the cheapest in that category, but you are looking close to $75

                          http://www.amazon.com/Friedr-Dick-Pre...

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