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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.

          http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&amp;...

          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.

            John,

            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.

            http://www1.macys.com/shop/product/zw...

            http://www.cutleryandmore.com/henckel...

            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.

                    http://ak.buy.com/PI/0/500/231843040.jpg

                    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.

              http://www.lamsonsharp.com/

            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.

              1. If you decide to go ahead, America's Test Kitchen recommends the Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef's Knife as a best buy: "There's a reason we have 20 or 30 of these in the kitchen." It won't win any prizes for looks, but if it's comfortable in your hand, the price is right.

                http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-4052...

                Somebody gave me a knife set decades ago, and I still have the massive wooden block on the counter with most of the original knives. But they aren't very good, some are odd shapes whose purpose I've never figured out, and my own choice of chef's knife, paring knife, and slicer have replaced them in the block. ATK suggests assembling your own knife set, focusing on the knives you actually use. Their recommendations are nearly all Victorinox Fibrox and Wüsthof products.

                1 Reply
                1. re: John Francis

                  After dithering for far too long, I finally bought a few Victorinox knives last year, including the Fibrox 8" Chef's knife--love it. I use a Wusthof sharpener, and the V. holds its edge quite well. I'm NOT a knife expert--not even close--but I'm quite happy with the V. for every-day usage. Plus, paradoxically, I've been cutting myself much less often!

                2. Are you sharpening on the 30' or the 40' on the Sharpmaker?

                  Some steels cannot cope with a narrow 30'.

                  Jim

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: knifesavers

                    That's really only an issue with really cheap stamped knives or over hardened ones.

                    It also depends on how you treat and use your knives. If you pry or chop with a thin edge, almost any knife will fail unless it is overly thick and cuts like a cleaver.

                    1. re: knifesavers

                      I'm using the standard 40 degree slots.

                    2. I bought a set of 4 Wolfgang Puck santoku knives complete with wooden block at Sam's a few years ago for $25. My guess is that these would be an upgrade for you - and they are great knives.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kagemusha49

                        I am in TOTAL agreement with the Victorinox Fibrox suggestions. They are superb values in about every category. My own preference is the rosewood handle Victorinox models.
                        First, I suggest you figure out how you plan to keep your knives sharp. When you have your sharpening method in place, certain knife materials/structure will fit in well.
                        Many here will berate electric sharpeners, but I find I get great results with a Chef's Choice 130 and my Victorinox knives. To each his own...

                      2. good knives are like sunglasses. can you get along with the cheap stuff? sure. but which do you take better care of and feel more confident using?

                        you can buy the throwaway/lose grade stuff and it will work for a while, or be bold and know your blade. I'm happier when bold.

                        1. CUTCO.. www.cutco.com
                          they will sharpen for free and replace broken knives

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: flylice2x

                            Great marketing, not so great knifes IMHO. YMMV.

                          2. Years ago, I had the same dogma about "how good could a knife be?" Especially if you like hand cutting vegetables, purchasing one good chef's knife won't be a frivilous purchase.

                            As for finding the correct knife, about a third of chowhound is dedicated to that topic alone (another third is cleaning and maintenance of cast iron). Until you purchase a knife, use it on a variety of meats and vegetables for about a month, you won't understand what type of knife that you'll like.

                            IMO, you really can't find the weight and sharpness at a big box store as a more formal knife.

                            1. "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."

                              I own some Pro "S" knives and they are very good. However, I do not like the full bolster and prefer more of a French pattern with its lower tip in a chef's knife (due to the type of cuts I perform).

                              "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?"

                              Cheap stamped blades are generally the same. Yes, some steels are a little harder and more durable but, with the same blade shapes there isn't a whole of difference once you step away from the REALLY CHEAP Chinese stamped knives. The Forschner Fibrox series is a great value but, it will require similar maintenance to most "utility" grade stamped knives though slightly better then most.

                              If you want longer edge holding, you need modern steels like the big names from Europe or one of the wonder steels commonly seen in pocket knives.

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

                              Don't forget blade profile! Do you want a thicker chef's knives that wedges or cleaves food apart or, a thin one that slices with very little effort.

                              Do you want a German or French pattern Chef's knife? I like the lower tip of the French model because I leave the tip on the board frequently when dicing vegetables. A thinner profile doesn't push the food apart so, I prefer the thin Japanese patterns, plus they do not have bolsters. If I need a heavy knife to cut chicken bones, pry frozen things apart, etc. I can always grab a cleaver or similar knife.

                              "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."

                              Personal feel is very important. Does the handle fit your hand? Do you like the balance?

                              "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"

                              Avoid the sets which have knives you will never use. The classic 3 piece set is a good place to start for most people. You can purchase specific knives you want but, sold individually they generally cost more if you buy what is already in a set.

                              Ebay and kitchen knife forums are your friend when shopping for a previously owned and currently unloved knife. ;-)

                              1. You can pick up an 8-inch Forschner chef's knife for less than $30 on Amazon.com. It will be worlds better than what you're using now. For me, that would be a no-brainer as a first "good" knife.

                                1. If all my knives were lost, this is what I would do.

                                  Buy an 8" chefs knife by Henckels or Wustof.
                                  Everything else would be Dexter Russell from the "Sani-safe" line. A small paring knife, a 5-6" stiff bladed utility knife and a 7-8" flexible boning/filet knife. I use a bread knife every day so that is essential for me. Those five are all I would really ever need.

                                  The only type knife that I don't currently own that I want is a scalloped edge roast slicer.

                                  I'm sure other brands are as good or better but I'm familiar with and comfortable with these.

                                  1. I know someone who has both old staped Farberware and nice top of the line Henckels. This person never sharpens or hones any of their knives. When I cook at this person's home...well, imagine. But you obviously appreciate getting knives sharp and keeping them that way. So go for it. Over a 40 or 50 year period,, used a thousand times a year, even a two hundred dollar knife is a fine and reasonable investment. Personally I like the lighter old fashioned French knives. Check out thebestthings.com if those sorts of knives interest you. Also, although I haven't had much experience with them, some regular posters here rhapsodize over Japanese knives. The heavier traditional German knives don't seem to inspire the fervor that gyutos and santokus seem to elicit.

                                    14 Replies
                                    1. re: tim irvine

                                      A stiff thin blade doesn't push or wedge food apart so, they are easier to use for most people. Add the French profile and you have the Japanese Gyuto. That's why so many people are passionate about them.

                                      1. re: Sid Post

                                        For what it's worth, I've never felt it took much effort to slice, chop, and mince with my 40-year-old Sabatier carbon steel chef's knife, as long as I keep it good and sharp, which I do. And Jacques Pepin wields his French-style knives as fast as lightning and without apparent effort on his many TV shows. How much effort does a Japanese-style knife really and truly save? It may have other advantages, for all I know - I've never actually held one in my hand, and am well satisfied with what I have - but I don't believe in this one.

                                        1. re: John Francis

                                          "How much effort does a Japanese-style knife really and truly save?"
                                          ________
                                          Depends on what you're trying to cut and also how you're trying to cut it. For example, an extremely thin knife (and not all Japanese knives or are extremely thin, btw) makes it far easier to cut winter squash. Not impossible with a German or French chefs knife, but either a very thick or a very thin knife is much easier to use for the job - French and German chef knives tend to fall into that middle ground that makes the job extra difficult.

                                          Also, they make this kind of straight up-and-down chopping significantly easier, especially if you are trying to cut very thin slices:
                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPaA1p...

                                          Again, that's not impossible with a German or French knife. There are other examples as well. But the truth is I favor Japanese knives mainly because I think they're fun to use, not because German and French chef knives are inadequate. The main factor in cutting fast and accurate isn't which knife you use (as long as it's adequately sharp) but how much skill you have in using it, and Pepin is no slouch on that front.

                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                            cowboyardee nailed it pretty well. Cold cheese, hard squash, etc. show the most difference. A thin Gyuto versus a premium Henckels or Wusthof chef's knife is very easy to feel when both knives are sharpened properly. A little dull and the difference is even more dramatic.

                                            I have been told French chef knives are thinner then the German ones but, I have no experience with them.

                                            A person with skill and technique could use any knife to cut almost anything in the kitchen. Even a novice can do pretty well with a less then ideal tool. Once, I ended up only with a Henckels Pro "S" cleaver and my pocket knife to cut up a piece of thick ham (about a 2 inch thick piece). The cleaver actually worked pretty well making a descent dice on the ham.

                                            1. re: Sid Post

                                              I agree about the benefits of a thinner blade for many applications. I bought this somewhat ugly duckling for the very specific purpose of boning out deer carcasses. Since I've had it I've found it to be very versatile and effective for many tasks.

                                              http://www.dexter1818.com/Item_Detail...

                                              I've converted about 75 ears of corn to cream corn this weekend, tried several different knives and this worked the best.

                                            2. re: cowboyardee

                                              Hi, cowboy:

                                              Sigh... The inevitable and endless Euro v. Nippon debate...

                                              As most times, this thick/thin thing comes down to a bunch of things that have very little to do with French or German vs. Japanese. What particular knives are known, available, and *known to be available* makes more difference, IMO. From where I sit, it's just easier (but still a little dangerous) to generalize about Japanese-style knives being thinner. There are more profiles and geometries in (what we think we know about) the Japanese tradition than (what we think we know) about Western tradition. The establishment cuisine has fostered this to some degree, with western chefs evolving toward general-purpose cutlery and Japanese more toward specialty blades (and frankly I question the degree of specialization outside of sushi chefs).

                                              I have a few "Euro" profile "chef's" knives that are very thin. I'll mike them if you're interested. How thin do they need to be to be Japanese? Can there be a German laser? Will we let the vernacular define the steel?

                                              Aloha,
                                              Kaleo

                                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                                It is of course true that some Western knives are far thinner than some Euro knives, that there are many different profiles and designs on either side that my above comments would not apply to. Thing is, my comment was directed at someone who had never used a Japanese knife before and seemed to have something somewhat specific in mind when talking about Japanese knives or Western knives.

                                                Thinness is not a defining characteristic of Japanese knifemaking tradition (nor is thickness a defining aspect of Western knifemaking tradition). A Forschner chefs knife actually comes slightly thinner behind its edge than my first real gyuto did (a Hiromoto), for example. BUT thinness along with more acute edge angles is one of the most common and easily distinguishable differences specifically between gyutos, nakiris, and santokus on one side and German, French, and American chef knives on the other, at least among the most popular examples of these knives on the market. Is it incorrect to say that dogs are bigger than cats because the chihuahua might beg to differ?

                                                There are indeed aspects that are more central to Japanese knifemaking tradition that I appreciate in their own right. Japanese tradition tends toward harder steels; they tend toward simpler handles; they tend towards asymmetrical grinding of both the edge bevels and the face/backside of the knife. And of course, even in these more central aspects of the tradition, there are plenty of exceptions. The only absolutely defining element of a Japanese blade is that it was made in Japan.

                                                These things, your criticisms of my over-simplifying - they're all true. But the more lost in these kinds of details and exceptions I get, the further away I get from talking about the obvious differences between commonly available knife designs, the less helpful I am to people who've never tried out a Japanese knife and just want to know what all the fuss is about.

                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                  Chihuahua is a dog? Just kidding. (that really should be a separate post, but there are indeed some speculations that the chihuahua may not be the same as other dogs).

                                                  Same can be applied just about anything. For example, New Jersey is cooler than Georgia, but not if you pick summer of New Jersey and winter of Georgia.

                                                  <The only absolutely defining element of a Japanese blade is that it was made in Japan.>

                                                  Not even sure about that. I am sure I can think of some exceptions. :) For example, if Mr. Takeda made a nakiri while doing a scholar visit in China.... then would it be a Chinese knife or a Japanese knife. :) Ok, more realistically speaking, is M. Carter's usuba Japanese or American? :P I think the fact that we can find exceptions just about anything there should give us some indications of the usefulness of where we are going.

                                                  Ultimately, I think we should stay focus on the current topic of addressing the original poster, and not about "can some lions be larger than some elephants".

                                                2. re: kaleokahu

                                                  "I have a few "Euro" profile "chef's" knives that are very thin. I'll mike them if you're interested. How thin do they need to be to be Japanese? Can there be a German laser? Will we let the vernacular define the steel?"

                                                  Any profile knife can be made anywhere. The normal German Chef's knife most people have versus the normal Gyuto are different knives. There is a trend for German manufacturers to use powdered metallurgy to make very thin knives but, those are specialty blades, not their normal production run from which they earned their names and reputations in knife production.

                                                  1. re: Sid Post

                                                    Rather than talking about the exceptions, we should talk about the general situations. This is not to say exceptions do not matter, they do. However, exceptions are exceptions. They should not be guideline. Many smokers never have lung cancers, while many non-smokers have lung cancers. Nevertheless, it is still useful to state that smoking causes cancer. Exceptions should not overturn the norm or silent the norm.

                                                    On average, a Japanese gyuto knife is indeed thinner and harder than an average German forged knife. This should suffice.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      on average, both cut.....guess that is all that matters

                                                      1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                        <guess that is all that matters>

                                                        I certainly hope not. If that is all that matters, then the original poster certain does not need to write a post about acquiring new knives. Afterall, a faberware knife cut.

                                                        While a SUV and a seda both run, is that all that matters? All cars should at least run, but that is the very minimal requirement of a car. Same for knives. All knives can cut, but that is the very minimal. How it cut matters. Otherwise, a Chef's knife, a paring knife, a boning knife, a pair of scissors, a lawn mower.... they all cut.

                                              2. re: John Francis

                                                <Jacques Pepin wields his French-style knives as fast as lightning>

                                                That may be true. Still, I always see Pepin as graceful and skillful, not speedy and lighting. I see SaltyDog, Hung (Top Chef)...... as speedy and lighting.

                                                The better comparison is not Pepin vs me, or Saltydog vs you. The better comparison is a person using a Japanese gyuto vs the same person using a German Chef's knife. Afterall, we are talking about if a particular person can gain much using a Japanese style knife. I will say, for my experience, that it is a yes. I assume true for Sid Post, cowboyardee, and others. What I have noticed on this board as well as in real life is that most people who have tried using a Japanese influenced knives stay with the Japanese knives -- in other words, people who have true experience on both styles of knives. Some move back to European styles. I would say the ratio is about 8-to-2 if not higher. So a random person has a 80% chance of gaining by using a Japanese knife.

                                                Again, the important point is not if I use a Japanese knife is faster than you use a French knife. The important point is if I use a Japanese knife is less effort than I use another knife.

                                                1. re: John Francis

                                                  Agree. 40 year old carbon steel Sabatier 10" chef knife does it almost all. A 2 1/2" Nogent paring knife does the rest. Either will easily slice a ripe tomato thin enough to read through.

                                            3. I had to go to BBB today for something else, so I compared the Pro S to the Shun's and Wusthof Classics while I was there. I definitely like the larger handles of the Pro S and the Wusthof compared to the Shuns. The Pro S and the Wusthofs seem very similar to me. It would probably be a toss up between those two based only on holding them in the store.

                                              1. Hi, C_S:

                                                Let me put it this way: Tolerating a truly bad knife is like tolerating a truly bad mattress--you have to use them, you use them a lot, and they cause a lot of misery. They can even hurt you.

                                                My guess is that you have not used a good, sharp knife that has edge retention, much or maybe at all. If so, the good news is that you will be easily and instantly impressed by the difference one makes.

                                                I'll leave it for others to recco brands/lines/models, but there are many good ones out there. I'd say put nearly all your money into a good-quality chef, and the rest into a couple cheap (but quality) parers and a cheap bread. Forget the utility/petty.

                                                Aloha,
                                                Kaleo

                                                1. In my experience, price is not a predictor of usefulness. My most expensive knives (mostly gifts) are in storage, while the ones in regular use are among the cheapest (though a SwisPro nakiri is near the front my knife rack, while a Faberware snatuko is near the back).

                                                  1. Well, I can't tell, from your several posts in this thread, what your real goal is. At first you say you're looking for something that will hold an edge longer than a few weeks (w/construction & ergonomics as an "also nice"), but later you talk about comparing the Pro S to the Shuns for feel.

                                                    If all you're looking for is better edge holding, then your Farberwares are going to be your best value by far. You can step up to Henckels or Wusthof & get maybe another week or two of edge holding, but you're looking at spending maybe 20 times what you spent on your Farberwares to get it. Or you could make the leap to Shun (or a similarly better/harder grade of steel) & get maybe six months between sharpenings, but you'll spend 30 to 40 times the cost of you Farberwares.

                                                    So what's your real goal/motivation?

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: Eiron

                                                      Farberware knives are best value because the original poster would not have to spend any additional money. Zero. :)

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        Well, in this case, exactly. :-)

                                                        But I was also trying to point out that for $8 knives to hold an edge for several weeks, there may not be enough motivation for the OP to spend twenty times that for Pro S knives that will only hold their edges two times as long.

                                                        But as I mentioned above, it's not really clear to me what the OP's focus is.

                                                      2. re: Eiron

                                                        I was wondering if more expensive knives would hold a sharper edge longer than my $8 farberware knives. I also said I wanted to feel any knife before I bought it. Once I was in the store, I thought I might as well try all 3 lines they had on display (Pro S, Wusthof Classic, Shun) just for the sake of comparison.

                                                        Are the Shuns really that much better than the Pro S's and Wusthofs with regards to length of time between sharpening? For some reason I thought really good knives could go a year of average home use without needing to be sharpened. This doesn't include regular steeling, however.

                                                        1. re: Citizen_Snips

                                                          "I was wondering if more expensive knives would hold a sharper edge longer than my $8 farberware knives."
                                                          ________
                                                          Generally speaking, yes. Most (though not all) more expensive knives have better edge retention than farberware's offerings. Some not-very-expensive knives do as well, btw. There is no direct corellation between price and edge retention, but a lot of knives offer better retention than Farberware.

                                                          As for the rest of the questions in your post .... the answers start getting complicated. Shuns are made of harder steel than Pro S and Wusthof classic knives, so they do not dull as quickly. BUT, they're also more acutely angled and more prone to chipping, which can effectively dull the knife quickly - it depends on how you use it. Likewise, aggressively using a steel is usually considered bad form for Shuns (because of its tendency to chip), while use of a steel is one way that people sometimes keep Wusthof-style knives sharp enough to cut, say, a ripe tomato even though it's rarely sharpened. Never as sharp as a newly sharpened Shun, but sharp enough for them to use.

                                                          There is also a kind of phenomenon where people get acutely angled knives, in part because of the increased edge retention, but quickly adapt their expectations and cutting style to the kind of quite-sharp edge a Japanese knife offers. Then to maintain that new level of sharpness, they wind up sharpening more often rather than less.

                                                          "For some reason I thought really good knives could go a year of average home use without needing to be sharpened."
                                                          _______
                                                          Simplistic but often-repeated knife advice suggests that home cooks should sharpen knives once a year. You've probably heard this. There's nothing wrong with sharpening once a year, but it's not great advice nonetheless. Sharpen when the knife feels dull to you. How long your knife's edge lasts depends on a lot of factors besides the knife itself. Just as importantly, it depends on how sharp you like to keep your knives. If a knife is sharp enough to slice a ripe tomato easily, it's sharp enough to use good cutting technique and work efficiently - sharpness beyond that depends on preference. Can a good knife be kept sharp enough to slice a ripe tomato while sharpening once a year? In some homes yes, in some homes no.

                                                          1. re: Citizen_Snips

                                                            I was going to write a detailed response, but cowboyardee has covered the answers well, so I will throw a few pointers instead.

                                                            <if more expensive knives would hold a sharper edge longer than my $8 farberware knives>

                                                            There is a correlation between expensive knives and longer edge retention. It is not a perfect correlation, but there is a correlation especially at the lower price points. Chances are that a $100 knife will have better edge retention than a $10 knife. However, a $1000 knife may not have better edge retention than a $100 knife.

                                                            <Are the Shuns really that much better than the Pro S's and Wusthofs with regards to length of time between sharpening>

                                                            There is a long answer and a short answer. The short answer is a yes for someone like me. However, that partially depends how you sharpen the knives. For example, if you are going to sharpen both the Pro S and the Shun Classic to a 25o angle each side, then I do not expect the Shun will hold the edge more than double the duration of Pro S. If you are going to sharpen these knives to a 10o each side, then the Shun will likely hold its edge >10 times longer. This is because Pro S steel cannot support a 10o angle edge. It will collapse within 5 minutes.

                                                            <For some reason I thought really good knives could go a year of average home use without needing to be sharpened. This doesn't include regular steeling, however.>

                                                            I agree with cowboyardee here. How often you want to sharpen your knives completely depends on you. For example, I actually sharpened my knives more often after I have acquired high quality knives because I like how well they control when they are at their top performance. When I had poor quality knives, I sharpened them about once a year. Now, I sharpen mine about 1-2 times a month. Keep in mind that I am really doing light touch-ups, not full blown sharpening.

                                                            When a decent quality knife is well maintained, it gives the user a lot of control and ability. Some time ago, a few of us were testing to cut yellow pages with one single stroke. I say about 1/3rd of my knives can do it, while others have trouble either doing it or lost their edges right away.

                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8283...

                                                            this is a video by someone (not me) else:

                                                            http://youtu.be/Yzeg1HfbmkA

                                                        2. every serious cook needs at least one good dependable knife

                                                          1. Been there, done that. Back in our "starving student" days, Mr. TF and I had only one knife in our kitchen that really "worked"--a serrated sandwich knife, with a triangular blade about 6 inches long, and a "not-really working" paring knife. I labored on that paring knife with the sharpener, and it just never kept an edge. When we finally got some money, we replaced both knives, one at a time. We just couldn't believe the difference.

                                                            The size and shape of the handles, combined with the blade balance and heft, is what makes a particular knife feel most comfortable in a particular hand. And knife selection is a very personal thing.

                                                            Mr. TF loves Wusthof knives and German knives in general, because they fit his hands, but I do prefer something smaller and lighter. My favorites are a couple of French Deglon knives that now qualify as "vintage." The handle on the Deglon 8 inch Sabatier-style "chef' knife is only a little bigger than the handle on a Wusthof "utility" knife. (You can find Deglon kitchen knives in European food-service supply stores, but I think you'd have to get them on-line here. I discovered them quite a long time after we made the move to better cutlery. And yes, they are definitely worth it -- for me.)

                                                            Your knives don't have to match, though sometimes you can find a "starter set" with a paring knife and chef's knife at a good price. If you want a knife block, buy a small empty one. Put some nice replacement knives in it--just the ones you need. And keep your old knives for picnics or barbecues or potlucks. They will disappear eventually, but you won't care...

                                                            1. Lots of good advice already but here's a simple thought. If you don't use a steel on your knives regularly maybe the performance you describe isn't really bad. So if you don't already have one, get a good steel (not a ceramic or diamond rod), and look on line for one of the several videos on how to use it. Steeling a knife takes just a minute or two and can restore the edge. On knives like yours, you lose the edge mainly because the very thinnest part rolls over from use. Steeling straightens it out and makes it sharper again. Of course you have to resharpen eventually, but it's amazing how long you can go based only on steeling. On my knives of that kind (that is, european style knives rather than the harder japanese style knives) I steel them every time or two they get used, and it makes a big difference.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: bkling

                                                                I agree that a ceramic honing rod is not equivalent to a steel for Western knives. I bought a ceramic rod many years ago thinking that because it was the latest technology it had to be better. Not so. It always seemed to require a lot of work for not much effect. Now that I have a couple of steels and have "honed" my technique, I rarely use my ceramic rod. It's mainly for finishing the edge of my slicing knife.

                                                              2. I take it by "nice" you mean a famous/expensive brand name and not simoply a good well-made knife. If that is the definition, no, I don't think so.

                                                                As I have noted before, my no-name chef's knife is 30-40 years old and came as part of a set of a dozen knives for $20. Even at that time, $1.50 a blade was not considered expensive. The others have simply been lost over the years.

                                                                Other than a brief period some 12 years ago or so when I foolishly let a butcher at a market sharpen it (I had moved to CO and lost stone on the way) It maintains a wonderful edge and the wooden handle is solid as a rock.

                                                                In short, you need a good tool, not a good name.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: FrankJBN

                                                                  I'm not sure which question are you really answering:
                                                                  "Is it worth it to buy expensive knives?'
                                                                  or
                                                                  "Is it necessary to buy expensive knives?"

                                                                  I'd agree that the answer to the latter question is 'no,' though if you're buying inexpensive knives, there are certainly duds out there to avoid.

                                                                  But as to the former question, that depends on the individual and the knives in question. Some of the more expensive knives offer real benefits over the less expensive but generally well made knives on the market. Are those benefits worth a steep price hike? Depends on the knife and the user. But you're not necessarily just paying for brand recognition.

                                                                  In any case, I think you've got the right idea that good sharpening is more important than the knife itself.

                                                                2. "it seems that the knives lose their edge again within a few weeks"

                                                                  Do people see this as a problem? Sharpening a knife that is used daily approximately once a month?

                                                                  I've noted now seveeral comments about bad knives or 'a cook needs a good knife'. As my earlier reply notes, I'm pretty sure the OP is not asking does it matter if I use a knife that doesn't work or one that will actually cut.

                                                                  I think we all realize you do need a head on a hammer.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: FrankJBN

                                                                    I actually wrote a response, but then it got deleted due to the new Chowhound format. Anyway, here are my responses again.

                                                                    <Do people see this as a problem? Sharpening a knife that is used daily approximately once a month?>

                                                                    This entirely depends on the person's definition of sharpness. Some people are happy with a knife which can cut celery. Others want a knife which can cut soft tomato. Sharpening a knife on a month basis is not the problem. The problem is that I suspect the original poster's knives lose their edges very quickly. Farberware knives are simply not that great. On a score from 1 to 10, I would rank it either 1 or 2.

                                                                    <I'm pretty sure the OP is not asking does it matter if I use a knife that doesn't work or one that will actually cut.>

                                                                    I believe the original poster was asking if the so-called better knives can hold a better edge than Faberware. Quote:

                                                                    "it seems that the knives lose their edge again within a few weeks, particularly the chef's knife ...Would a nice set hold their edge better?"

                                                                    My answer is a definite yes.

                                                                  2. I can certainly think of at least one more advantage: more fun and heart in your cooking!
                                                                    Ever since I got my first decent knife (a Herder Santoku), I have had so much more fun cooking. There is this strange satisfaction of feeling that razor-sharp blade that you care for (yes, bonding seems to play a role here) slice through veggies like it is nothing.
                                                                    Personally, I would not want 'disposable' knives anymore. Not only because they are most often of deplorable quality, but also because I cannot be bothered to love'em.

                                                                    I am probably too late to help you in your purchase, but I do truly hope that your knives give you that kind of satisfaction as they do me (without trying to sound weird, promise) ;)