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Jun 29, 2012 07:45 PM

Is it worth it to buy nice knives?

I'm currently using a set of 3 Farberware knives (chefs, slicer/utility, paring) that I bought a few years ago at Walmart for $8. I'm wondering if it would be worth it to upgrade to something nicer, such as the Henckels Pro S series.

The main issue I notice about my Farberware knives is that they don't seem to hold an edge very well. I can get them to newspaper slicing sharp using my Spyderco Sharpmaker, but it seems that the knives lose their edge again within a few weeks, particularly the chef's knife (although that probably makes sense since I use it quite a bit more than the other two and use it to chop a lot of hard foods such as sweet potatoes). Would a nice set hold their edge better?

I guess the other advantages I could think of would be: nicer construction/longer useful life, and maybe better balanced. Are there any others?

I'd be open to recommendations of other good knife brands, but I won't buy anything that I can't pick up and hold in a store first. I mentioned the Pro S because it was the top-rated knife set by Consumer Reports and I was actually able to hold them at the local BBB and thought they were pretty nice. They certainly felt better than the Four Star series, although that might just be personal preference. Obviously I wasn't able to practice cutting anything in the store, so I can't say how much better they would perform than my Farberwares in that regard.

Also I would probably just get the same 3 knives I own now as opposed to one of those giant knife box sets. Those 3 knifes seem to cover everything I do in the kitchen.

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  1. Strictly my own personal opinion.........I spent a fortune on one really Good Chef Knife since I use that abut 85% of the time.......the rest........I don't really care. For some reason in my house, paring knives seem to be magneized or someting..they always keep disappearing to the Nawth Pole or somewhere, never to be seen again. So every year or so I seem to have to buy another (I like to keep about 4 on hand for various tasks). Nobody but me sharpens the knives, and I try not to let others use the Chef Knife. My bread Knife is big, long and was not expensive. Still working fine 35 years later

    I won't rate brands...that could start a flame war similar to the "who makes the best pizza or hotdog?" diatribes!

    1 Reply
    1. re: FriedClamFanatic

      <I won't rate brands...that could start a flame war similar to the "who makes the best pizza or hotdog?" diatribes!>

      While people do have preference in knives, I don't think many people take knives quiet as emotional as others to pizza and hotdogs. The problem of pizza...etc is that people define themselves through these foods, so if you say certain pizza stuck, then they take it very personally.

    2. Good knives (I have several old blackened, beatup looking carbon steel knives collected from various sources, including flea markets, that I love to pieces) will make your cooking life so much better. And you're very wise to want to hold them in your hand before buying

      1. It's worth spending a little more for one or two better knives. I would look for just a chef's knife first. Decide on style (Western or Japanese), length, weight, and find one that feels right.

        1. Be ready to get tons of knife buying advice. If there's one thing Chowhounders love to do, it is to give advice about cooking utensils, especially knives and pots/pans. That being said, Victorinox/Forschner kitchen knives are both reasonably priced and hold an edge quite well.


          I don't happen to own any of those knives however. Our daily knives are mostly Wustof Classics that I found at thrift stores. I actually bought one at an estate sale yesterday for $.50. It's a vintage Wusthof model 148 - 8 inch chef's knife with a wooden handle. Does anyone know how old this knife might be?

          7 Replies
          1. re: John E.


            By the way, I notice the new Henckels Zwilling Pro is quiet different than before. The full bolster is gone and the knife profile (curvature) is different too.



            No, I am not recommending, just pointing out the new changes.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Henckels Zwilling Pro and Pro "S" are different knives. Whether someone likes the full bolster or not is a controversial subject. After you sharpen a while, a full bolster must be reworked so, you can guess (;-D) my feelings on the matter.

              1. re: Sid Post

                <Henckels Zwilling Pro and Pro "S" are different knives>

                Yes. I understand this. I meant Zwilling Pro is quiet different than previous lines, but thanks for pointing this out.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  No worries. I just wanted to make sure the OP realized the differences.

                  1. re: Sid Post

                    :) Reading your post below. I can definitely tell which of the two (Pro "S" vs Zwilling Pro) you like. Although, the Zwilling profile is very different -- with a very high tip (parallel with the spine), so .... maybe I don't know which you will like.


                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      You have me pegged pretty well.

                      My first knives were heavy bolstered German items. My first purchase was the Pro "S" in a mall in Atlanta when I was in a kitchenette motel with horrible knives. I love those two knives for the nine months I spent there.

                      The I moved on to Wusthoff. Ultimately, I liked their handles better though I always look back on the Pro "S" with fondness and good memories.

                      Later in life, I discovered the Gyuto and have been a convert ever since. The German patterns are great knives but, for the way I use a Chef's knife, a 300mm Gytuo just just works better.

            2. re: John E.

              I do own a few of these knives (Victorinox Fibrox). I bought them based on the Cooks Illustrated review and recommendation. I have also given a few away as relatively inexpensive presents for the novice cook. My verdict: Decent knives especially for the price. They perform well and hold an edge better than most knives that are 4 or 5 times their cost. They are a little light for my liking but feel pretty good in the hand. My biggest complaint is that with the chefs knife, the mirror finish causes food to stick to the blade and can be very annoying. It just doesn't release from what you're cutting very well. I recently purchased a 7" hollow ground Santoku from Victorinox that releases much better because of the sipes, but it doesn't feel as comfortable in my hand as the chefs knife. Still for the money, not sure there's better.

              For the money I still really love and depend on my good ol' "Made in the USA", Lamson Sharp, forged knives. Have been purchasing from them for over 30 years and their quality and customer support have been fantastic. And they sharpen them for you once a year for free. Sent a knife back to them with a chink in the edge and they replaced it no questions asked. Great company and great products.


            3. <I'm wondering if it would be worth it to upgrade to something nicer>

              I want to say yes, but ultimately no one knows this better than you because "worthiness" is completely depending on your priority. Considering that you are on CHOWHOUND and that you like to cook, then I would say that you should seriously consider upgrading from the $8 for 3 knives set. What you need to upgrade to is an entirely different topic.

              <...using my Spyderco Sharpmaker>

              Good to know that you already have a knife sharpening strategy.

              <Would a nice set hold their edge better?>

              Yes, but I would advise you to consider the option of buying individual knives instead of a set.

              <but I won't buy anything that I can't pick up and hold in a store first>

              That is unfortunate because there are some very good knives which are uncommon to big box stores. Anyway, you should consider trying the KAI Shun knives to see if you are into the German style (Henckels, Wusthof...etc) or if you prefer the Japanese influenced (Shun, Global, Tojiro...etc). John E. is dead on. Victorinox makes very good quality and inexpensive knives.