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Are these good knife choices?

I'm slooooooooowly upgrading my kitchen, and I've finally gotten to knives. I'm using this absolutely horrid set I got 10 years ago that just will not hold an edge anymore. So anyway, I'm trying to avoid buying a block set, I realized I don't use much of what I have anyway, so why waste the money?

What I think I need is this:

A pairing knife - 3.5"
A chef's (also called cook's?) knife - 8"
A sandwich knife - 6"
A santoku knife - 7"

Right now I rely very heavily on my chef's knife, and that's about it. I've been reading a lot about the santoku's though, and think that would be very helpful to me. My husband wants the others, as I rarely use a pairing/sandwich knife.

I have an electric bread knife that works great for us, so I'm not worried about missing that, and I'll also pick up a pair of shears.

Is there a better choice here, or should I re-evaluate my selections/change sizes, etc? I'm looking at Wusthof Classics for all of these...


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  1. What is a sandwich knife? A bread knife, on the other hand, can be useful if you eat a lot of bread. A santoku has a very strong overlap with Chef's knife, so you probably only need one of the two. You can have two, but you won't NEED two. A boning knife is useful if you like to debone meat.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      My "sandwich" knife is a 5 1/2" "utility" knife which I use mainly to cut a sandwich in two, something I do for my wife every working day:


      I also have recently acquired a sandwich spreader, which I find is better suited to the purpose than a table knife:


      Call me unhip if you like; those are the tools I prefer for making a sandwich.

      1. re: GH1618

        I don't make sandwich very often :P

        " something I do for my wife every working day"

        Are you implying that you love your wife?

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I am stating that I make her lunch before she goes to work, that's all. The more frequently one performs a particular task, the more helpful it is to have tools for the purpose.

          1. re: GH1618

            Aww, you don't love her? Just when I was going to give you bonus points for making your wife lunch every day...let's just assume you do love her. ;P I'm sure you do.

            And, dammit, just for you--I will reach for the sammich knife next time I make one to see if I like it better for sammich-cutting purposes. All in good fun, GH1618.

            P.S. I know other sandwich knife fans, so please know you don't stand alone here. I'm just trying--personally--to see how many (few) knives I can get away with going forward. And chef's/paring/bread does sound like the ideal trifecta for gettin' by without gettin' crazy. Just my katty two cents.

            1. re: kattyeyes

              "let's just assume you do love her."

              Don't assume nothing. :)

              "I will reach for the sammich knife next time..."

              Wasn't there a post about nothing using the words like "sammich" and "sammy"?

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Wasn't there a post about nothing using the words like "sammich" and "sammy"?

                I find those words despicable , people need to grow the #### up and stop thinking baby talk is cute

                      1. re: kattyeyes

                        Oh, I guess I haven't seen that movie. Interesting.

                        1. re: kattyeyes

                          LOL - what weird movie that was! It felt like two different movies pasted together in the middle...

                        1. re: SanityRemoved

                          AH HA HA--the Aunt Jemima treatment!

                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              Yes! The quick, brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, SIR! :)

          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I actually own one of these, but only because the store shipped me the wrong knife, and we decided to keep it. I had ordered a new chef's knife at the time, and instead, a 5 1/2 inch serrated Henkels Twin Pro was shipped to me instead. My husband and daughter wanted to keep it, I guess because they are a little frightened to handle my big knives. So, we call it the "bagel" knife in my house, but it really is a utility knife that can be used to cut sandwiches in half, or small loaves of bread. I do have a big bread knife too, and slicers, but I am the only one who reaches for those. The rest of my family would reach for a steak knife before those. This utility knife seemed to fill a need that I never knew I had. As for the OP's list, the santoku and the chef's knife are redundant. I'd recommend that you pick one, and don't bother with both. My money would be on the chef's knife, and save the Santoku for a trial, since you already like the chef'sknife profile. You might consider a good slicer instead, at least nine inches long, for slicing meats, breads, etc. That would be a better investment.

          3. What's a sandwich knife?
            An 8" chef's knife and a 7" santoku might be a bit redundent.
            I'd go with a paring,chefs,and a bread knife to start.

            21 Replies
            1. re: petek

              oh my god Chem, you totally copied my reply!! :P

              1. re: petek

                I know. I read your mind first, and then I copied it and typed it faster than you. :) You need to take a typing class.

              2. re: petek

                Good question. Here's a linky: http://www.amazon.com/Wusthof-Classic...

                I don't know why he wants it. He won't use the chef's knife. He's not the main cook, so maybe I'll veto him. haha He's essentially using it as a chef's knife, just a smaller, lighter one that's easier (in his opinion) to handle it.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Looks like an utility knife.

                    get out of my head!!!! :-D

                  2. re: justlearning

                    It looks like a paring/utility knife to me so....

                    1. re: petek

                      Why do you keep letting me read your mind? (see my response right above yours)

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        You two are really the same person, aren't you?! ;P

                        Seriously, there's a "sandwich knife" in the knife block here, but I don't ever grab for it--I use a chef's knife if I need to cut a substantial sammich in half. I picture my grandfather making grinders--he had a BIG knife (like a chef's, it's been years, but I see a BIG knife when I revisit the store in my mind)...good enough for Poppy is good enough for me. :)

                        ETA: I'm with Chem and Pete for knife choices.

                          1. re: kattyeyes

                            "You two are really the same person, aren't you?"

                            Yes. We are the same dude with two accounts. :)

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Except now we know YOU aren't partial to grinders. HA HA HA!

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                But aren't you 2 going to get Honesuki's together?

                                1. re: Dave5440

                                  Yes, cannibal and I are going to get honesuki together :P


                                  Or so I thought. :)

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    I think "joint custody" would be better, so we can further confuse my wife :P

                                    1. re: cannibal

                                      Do you want to? Seriously?

                                      I can send the knife to you to play around for a week or two, and then you can ship it back to me.

                                      I have sent out knives for sharing experience. The issue of the Moritaka honesuki is that it isn't a really expensive of a knife to send it back and forth.


                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        It's ok, but i appreciate the offer. I'm kind of all over the place at the moment. Maybe in the future, but right now things are a little crazy. :)

                                        1. re: cannibal

                                          "but right now things are a little crazy. :)"


                                          Really? How many other people are you sharing knives? (a joke).

                          2. re: petek

                            It looks just like a big paring knife but is actually a small slicing knife . The Amazon link provided to the Wusthof is a 4522/16 (16 cm or about 6-1/4"). We have that one as well as the 4522/23 (23cm - 9"). I actually find myself using this knife for, guess what, cutting sandwiches in half or for small slicing jobs like mushrooms, tomatoes and other stuff.

                          3. re: justlearning

                            If he makes his own sandwiches, he should have whatever knife he wants for the purpose, in my opinion. The upside is that he will then not use your chef's knife. The Wüsthof utility knife costs about ten times what mine cost. Either will cut a sandwich in half very nicely.

                        1. What do you have and what is your cutting surface?

                          A properly sharpened blade should hold that edge as well as it ever did.


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: knifesavers

                            I have a block set of Chefmate knives.

                            As far as the surface, they've come in contact with various boards over the years, mostly bamboo, but glass, sometimes plastic. They've also been run through the dishwasher, which has started to deteriorate the handles. Live and learn.

                            1. re: justlearning

                              Wusthofs are a big step up then. Avoid cutting on any glass or ceramic surface, avoid the dishwasher, use your honing rod, and you will be fine.

                              FWIW Wusthofs resharpen very easily.

                          2. It's sometimes said (e.g. by Michael Ruhlman in The Elements of Cooking) that the only essential knive is the chef's knife. I use an 8 1/2" and prefer that length. Some want a longer one.

                            A paring knife is usually considered essential also. I have several other knives as well. Some use a chef's knife for almost everything. I prefer to use it only for meat, and to use various smaller and (usually) less sharp knives for other purposes. I feel this is both safer and more convenient. It's just a matter of personal preference.

                            "Santoku" is a particular style of knife rather than a broad category, which I would call a vegetable knife. I don't understand the appeal of a santoku, which I consider ugly. I prefer a square-end vegetable knife and have two: one shallow and one deep.

                            What you call a "sandwich" knife might be what is usually called a "utility" knife. I have one and, indeed, I use it mostly to cut sandwiches in half. I would rather use an inexpensive utility knife for this purpose than my chef's knife, which is larger and sharper than necessary.

                            I didn't want a block set, either, but I found a good deal on the Wüsthof Create-a-Block set, which is a small block with only shears and steel. Both of these are very useful. The size (11 knife slots) is just right for me.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: GH1618

                              "What you call a "sandwich" knife might be what is usually called a "utility" knife."
                              OP could be referring to this knife in particular, as it's the only one I can think of that's specifically marketed as a 'sandwich knife.'

                              Not my cup of tea, but whatever floats one's boat or keeps the spouse happy.

                              ETA: just noticed the post above where the OP linked to a utility knife. My bad. You're right. That's a utility knife.

                            2. Here's my 2¢:

                              I think your four knife choices are fine, but since you're going with a Euro-style chef I'd suggest a 9" rather than an 8". Why? 'Cuz, like Chemipetek said, the 7" santoku will overlap an 8" chef. The santoku edge will have less curve, so bumping the chef up to a 9" will give you more of a sense of two distinct knives.

                              We use our 6" utility, but it's something my wife uses way more than me. For that reason alone I wouldn't give it up. (Another way to look at it: it keeps her away from My Precious Kanetsune gyuto!)


                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Eiron

                                "'Cuz, like Chemipetek said"

                                :D (funny)

                                1. re: Eiron

                                  I am 5'1 1/2" tall. an 8" feels too big in my hand. My 7.5" Shun Santoku feels great. My 8" Wusthof feels too big. Trust size to what feels right in your hand.

                                  1. re: Candy

                                    Nothing wrong with knowing your preferences. The OP is a little unsure & is soliciting suggestions, so that's what we're doing, right?

                                    Actually, I'm a little surprised that the 7.5" Shun doesn't feel too big for you, but I'm sure the ergo handle of that Ken Onion model makes all of the difference. So have you found yourself moving away from the full-bolster designs? I remember you mentioning that you tended to nick yourself with knives that didn't incorporate full bolsters.

                                    1. re: Eiron

                                      No I have full bolstered knives but the Shun Ken Onion feels so right in my hand it is the knife I reach for most often. My husband feels the same way about it so I bought another in December. Seemed like one of us was always reaching for it when the other was using it. I do like my Wusthofs too. The bolster is very important to me. If I nick my self the nick can become an ulcer due to an auto-immune problem and from a nick I potentially could lose a finger.

                                2. Your choices are solid. Wusthof Classics are good quality. Maybe get a decent honing steel at the same time and a fancy sharpener down the road. Take good care of the knives: hand wash 'em, use the steel before carving/slicing/cutting and keep them sharp. You'll be happy and they'll last a life time.

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: steve h.

                                    And...and...and...Wusthof has an idiot-proof (I think) sharpener that my local cookware shop showed me. I think this is it:


                                    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it would seem a good place to start for someone with Wusthofs who had no clue how to sharpen them. I'd be in that category, too, 'cept I am lucky to run with someone who is much SHARPER than I am as regards this subject. ;)

                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                      That's fine, but you can find the same device for less money.

                                      That particular system is quick, cheap, easy to use, and produces reasonably decent results with Western knife types. It is not very effective for sharpening harder Japanese-made knives or knives whose edges are ground differently than the standard Western style. It is also not among the gentler methods of sharpening. There are other methods that will produce a finer edge or work on a wider variety of knives, but they are more expensive or more time-consuming or harder to learn or all some combination of the three.

                                      I wrote up a semi-elaborate comparison of different sharpening methods in this post:
                                      It should give you an idea of the advantages and disadvantages of most of the common sharpening systems.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        Yes, Asian knives need this version:

                                        The description on this Asian edge-angle pull-thru says the coarse side is carbides, but I was pretty sure they were ceramic rods when I looked at them in the store. Of course, they could've changed the build.

                                        1. re: Eiron

                                          It looks like carbides according to the photo. Maybe there are two versions.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            Yes, that's possible. I wouldn't think it would be cost-effective for them to make two versions, but you never know. I think carbides are less expensive to put into something like this, though. Sometimes the descriptions are wrong, too. Or maybe it's it's just my "old-timer's" kicking in again...

                                            1. re: Eiron

                                              "Or maybe it's it's just my "old-timer's" kicking in again..."

                                              Doubtful, since you have very good long term memory -- based on the fact that your remember many details about everyone on CHOWHOUND.

                                              1. re: Eiron

                                                It looks like carbides to me too. Best I can tell from the pic. If so, it would be fine for Western made knives with 'Asian' edge angles and maybe for a few of the Japanese knives made of softer steel, but not for most Japanese knives which are made of harder steel.

                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                  Jeez, you guys are gonna force me to make a trip to the kitchen store, aren't you? (No, I'm not going to order one myself just to find out!)


                                            2. re: Eiron

                                              I have one of each I also have a Chef's Choice and got an electric sharpener from Shun yesterday. I used to sell them and when I worked in the shop (up until last week) we sharpened knives. First steel them and then finish off with the Chef's Choice or the Shun depending of course, on the knife.

                                              The pull through does a decent job for quick touch-up but to put a good edge back on I use the others.

                                          2. re: kattyeyes

                                            Howdy katty,
                                            It's good to see you still have your EDGE.

                                        2. Forget the Santoku by Wusthof. The cullens (hollow grounds) are too close to the edge of the blade and sharpening will have you into those quickly. One by Shun would be better if you rea.lly feel you have to have one. i would not bother with the sandwich knife either, your chef's knife will do the same job. One knife I do enjoy using is my bird's beak. I've been selling knives for a long time, Wushhof's among others. I might invest in a Kyocera tomato knife. They are micro serrated and cut through soft fruits perfectly with out crushing. It shoukd not cost you more than $40.00

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Candy

                                            The only problem with the Shun santokus is the blade profile. Generally speaking, they tend to be truncated versions of Euro-style chef knife profiles, meaning they have much more curvature in the middle where you don't want it (in a santoku, anyway).

                                            Not that there's anything wrong with that, if you like it.

                                            I sincerely doubt that the OP will grind into the cullens of the Wusthof within her lifetime. However, that being said, I do feel there are better values in nice santokus.

                                          2. I didn't want to start a topic on this, so several people have stated that a chef knife can replace a sandwich knife, but aren't non-serrated knifes bad with breads? I believe due to the bread dulling the edge and the knife producing a worst cut than a serrated edge? Sounds to me that the op is better off using his electric bread knife, or getting a new one. Is this false?

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: shezmu

                                              Just to put this out there, the Wusthof sandwich knife is NOT serrated.

                                              1. re: shezmu

                                                doubling what kattyeye said. That sandwich knife shown is not a bread knife. It is not serrated. If you click on the link provided by the original poster (justlearning), then you will notice that it looks very much like an utility knife.

                                                1. re: shezmu

                                                  I can say that my gyuto cuts my store-bought "artisan" loaves with a better cut than my serrated bread knife. But I suppose it depends on how you interpret a better or worse cut. In this case, "better" would be cleaner & straighter. My serrated knife cuts *slightly* easier, due to the saw-tooth cutting action, but the face of the cut is rippled/ridged & the knife tends to steer in one direction thru the bread. Also, if you have to cut thru a lot of crusty exteriors then a serrated/scalloped knife is probably going to break the surface more easily. I can't imagine how bread would dull non-serrated/scalloped edges any faster than serrated edges.

                                                  1. re: Eiron

                                                    "due to the saw-tooth cutting action, but the face of the cut is rippled/ridged & the knife tends to steer in one direction thru the bread"

                                                    Good point.

                                                    This is in fact a huge reason why one should never use a serrated knife for cutting/preparing sushi.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      Or fresh mozzarella as I saw in a video earlier. Just looks shaggy.

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        I would imagine that your Shun scalloped bread knife has no tendency to steer, does it?

                                                        Also, do you see the same kind of rippled/ridged surface as you would with a serrated edge?

                                                        1. re: Eiron

                                                          My Shun scalloped edge knife actually steer a bit. it is due to the fact that it is a single bevel knife (one side is flat, and the other side is angled -- somewhat like traditional Japanese traditional knives)


                                                          It does not produce the the aggressive ripped/ridged surface as a serrated knife though -- just as you have predicted. I think the scalloped edge (aka reversed serration) is more gentle than the traditional serration.

                                                      2. re: Eiron

                                                        @Eiron - As far as I understand it, the main factors are crust and edge profile. I imagine that the serrations limit the edge's contact with the hard crust. The serrations also help the knife act sharper than a non-serrated knife would act in this case. I'd also like to point out that bread can get pretty darn hard relatively speaking, which your gyuto wouldn't like too much. I'd imagine that this is something that would be more important in a professional setting, though.

                                                      3. re: shezmu

                                                        My Olsen bread knife is serrated. This is for cutting unsliced bread with a crust, for example a baguette. The sawteeth are helpful getting through the crust. Cutting a sandwich in half is an entirely different problem.

                                                      4. Hi,
                                                        Don’t bother getting a set. Unless it has exactly what you want, you’re much better off selecting each knife individually. A santoku and chef's knife are redundant, but there’s nothing wrong with having more than one of the same type of knife. My wife and I have our own knives, and several like type knives with different characteristics that all get used for different things.

                                                        I would avoid any santoku that is both short in length and has deeply curved edge; they’re too short to slice or rock-chop and too curved to chop or push-cut. The utility/ sandwich knife listed looks very narrow; you might want to look for one with wider blade (more knuckle clearance) or a Japanese petty to use as a small chef’s knife.

                                                        Wusthof (and many German brands) have been making knives using a similar blade steel and blade shape with a different handle or bolster for quite sometime. Shop around for older, discontinued models or check out the Messermeister elite?. They’re supposedly as good, but cheaper than other German knives.

                                                        1. You have plenty of spread in knives here. I have both a chef's and a santoku in my block, but I have way more knives that I need (more than a dozen good to excellent knives). Having the two gives you bit of redundancy, but that is OK, especially if you have someone else helping you, and they may have a preference of one type over the other. Also, I use my santoku (it is not an expensive one) as a mini-cleaver it times, it has a heft behind it that I do not have with my chef's knife.

                                                          I have have a mix of the Wustof and the Trident German-make knives I have picked up over the years, and have recently gone over to Shun knives, ever so slowly. I buy them when I can get a good deal on them, but I have not picked up my old chef's knife since buying my Shun.

                                                          Here is my chef's knife, and I adore it:

                                                          The sandwich/utility knife I would probably pick up from a lower line, maybe even keep your old one if you like it and are not doing too much fine work with it. As long as it keeps an edge, it will be fine.

                                                          The paring knife I would go to Shun, I simply love the feel and look, and they keep an edge better that the German knives I have owned.

                                                          I would also add a carving set, if you do not have one already. I pretty much have this set, except with a wood handle:
                                                          Since I use it at most 2 times a year, if that, I figured I can save a few bucks.

                                                          1. Modest thought: I swapped out a bunch of Henkels steak knives (stamped, serrated edge) for 4" Wusthof Classic forged blades. One year and a lot of steaks later, it's proved to be a very good move.

                                                              1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                Hey, check that out--I've never seen an offset knife. What's the benefit there?

                                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                  Not hitting your knuckles against the cutting board is the main benefit. However, there are other designs as well. For example, the Shun bread knife has a curved profile, which also provides knuckles clearance:


                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                    Ah, OK. The Shun curve is much more subtle, but I gotcha. Thanks for explaining!

                                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                      The curve also lessens the chance of the tip going into the cutting board.