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Mar 7, 2012 02:08 PM

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:

                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.