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Sep 5, 2012 12:07 PM

Wedding gift advice - involves knives and more

OK, let me start by saying I am the worst gift giver on the planet. Just ask Mr. MM, who has received such wonders as a garbage can for Christmas, and a Spot Bot for Valentine's day. And now I have to go to a wedding this weekend, and I still haven't bought a gift.

So the couple has a registry, and I've looked it over. These are two thirty-something professionals, high income. I'm pretty sure by this time they have spatulas and saucepans, but nonetheless, all that stuff is on the registry. They registered for All-Clad copper core skillets and saucepans, and then for the non-stick versions in the same sizes, because they aren't good enough cooks not to need non-stick. IMHO, if you aren't skilled enough to cook on a stainless surface without a non-stick coating, you sure as heck aren't good enough to notice the difference be All-Clad copper core and the regular All-Clad stainless which you already have... but I digress.

They have registered for a bunch of Global knives. Now, I am kind of a knife person, so I think it would be cool to get them a knife, even though I know some people think it's a faux pas. But if they registered for knives, they must be OK with it, right? I know I can get them a better Japanese knife for less money than the Globals on their list. Also, I've noticed that while they do have magnetic knife bar on the list, they don't have any sharpening tools listed. I'm pretty sure neither of these two have ever sharpened a knife.

So if you've kept with me so far, here's the question (at last): I was planning to spend about $100 but could go up to $200 before the bile rises. Should I just suck it up and get something from the registry, or should I go off the registry and get something that is more reflective of who I am. I am thinking a nice double-sided whetstone, perhaps a book about knives and sharpening, and maybe one decent Japanese knife. I think I could do this for $150 or at most $200.

Time is of the essence, as I have been a slacker and put this off until the last minute. If I go with my idea, vs. the registry, I will have to mail order. I have Amazon Prime, so anything available there would help me out with the shipping. But I am also williing to go to any of the other popular (on CH) sources for knives and accessories, as long as I can get the total package within my budget, shipped overnight.

On the other hand, they have a set of flatware they've registered for and only gotten 6 place settings so far. I could get them two place settings and be done with it. But man, that is really boring, don't you think?

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  1. Or another idea... there is a local woodworker who makes beautiful cutting boards. I have a lovely walnut end-grain board from him. I could get a modest sized board, along with wax and oil, well under budget. Would that be better?

    18 Replies
    1. re: MelMM

      I'm kind of an off the list type of guy, so I think the cutting board is a fantastic idea. It serves two purposes, it makes you happy, and that is important, and it is a gift that will help protect the knives they get, be they Globals, or some other knife. The stone you mentioned earlier is likely to set in a drawer if they are not knife types, just the way that is.

      I just did a knife/cutting board for a wedding gift and I think it's a better combination than sharpening books and a stone to go with a good knife.

      Good luck!

      1. re: mikie

        Thanks for that advice. I think you are right that I can't turn non-knife-people into knife people by giving a knife-geek gift.

        1. re: MelMM

          I'd go for the garbage can idea first :-), otherwise the cutting board with something engraved on the side of it.

          1. re: JavaBean

            I actually love the garbage can idea. Afterall, how do you throw away a garbage can, right? (it is a joke)

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I'd gladly take a garbage can over the gravy boat or other crap that we got.

              1. re: JavaBean

                Come to think of it. A kitchen garbage can be somewhat classified as kitchenware (maybe not COOKware). I bought a simplehuman small trash can for my kitchen with the intention of using supermarket grocery bags as the trash bags. It has been working exactly how I planned. I have not used a regular dedicated trash bag for 5 years now.

                The problem of getting a trash can as a gift is that it is too practical and not sexy at all. Kind of like giving your spouse a high end vacuum cleaner on Valentine Day. It is probably extremely practical, but not very romantic at all.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Actually, I would have rather had the high end vacuum cleaner for my birthday than the iPod that's sitting on the dresser unused since I got it a month ago and with a slim chance it's going to get used any time soon. I'm too busy dragging around the atrocious vacuum cleaner arrangement we have now, to have time to mess with it.

                  1. re: mikie

                    < I would have rather had the high end vacuum cleaner for my birthday than the iPod that's sitting on the dresser >

                    Yes, but that is because we are MEN. I also would like a high end cleaner too, like a Dyson or something, but I think for a lot of women, a gift of a vacuum cleaner is like a slap in the face -- like telling her to clean the house or something. FOr me, a Dyson would be like a toy and a vacuum cleaner at the same time.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Yup, when Mr. Pine and I were married for 1 month, made it clear that any household item was NOT a gift for me, but for--duh--the household.

                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    <I bought a simplehuman small trash can for my kitchen with the intention of using supermarket grocery bags as the trash bags.>

                    I’d love to do the same. Which model?

                    Valentine Day == BS way for retailer to unload candy, flowers, jewelry and other romantic crap at 2x the normal price.

                    1. re: JavaBean

                      <I’d love to do the same. Which model?>

                      I was going to look up the model for the original reply, but I could not find it. Now, looking up onlin again, it looks like this:


                      There is nothing too special. It is just that is nicer made than other trash can. I bought it from Bed Bath and Beyond.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Thanks chem, I'll check it out.

                        <FOr me, a Dyson would be like a toy and a vacuum cleaner at the same time.>
                        Idk, sounds kinda kinky, but who am I to judge :)

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      In my defense, when I gave Mr. MM the garbage can, it was a very nice garbage can. We weren't even married at the time, so if he had a problem with such gifts, he still had a chance to dump me for someone who would buy him an iPod.

            2. re: mikie


              You probably told us, but I forgot. Which brand of knife did you get? Maybe it will be a good starting point for MelMM too. Thanks.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics


                I picked up a Shun Kaji "rocking" knife at WS for $129. Mrs. mikie was there last weekend and they had another 30% off ;( Darn good looking knife I must say.

                1. re: mikie

                  Oh yes, I remember now. It was a very good deal for the brand (Shun), for the steel (SG-2), for the finish. The only concern we had is that it may be too "rocky", but that is really a personal preference.

                  When you said, Mrs. Mikie was there again and saw another 30% off..... do you mean she bought another knife? Or do you mean you two miss the opportunity of the additional 30% off?

            3. re: MelMM

              I second that idea. A beautiful hardwood custom sized board would rock.


              1. re: knifesavers

                Yeah the board would be right up there as needed equipment. Too often it's not something people think they need

            4. <I'm pretty sure neither of these two have ever sharpened a knife.>

              Yeah, and if you look at me in person, you won't think I can sharpen a knife neither. :)

              <I know I can get them a better Japanese knife for less money than the Globals on their list. >

              Yeah, but everyone's definition and priority is different. You can probably get better performance knives for less and certainly you don't need to get a bunch of Global knives. However, some people may like the looks, the feel, the status...etc. I have a Watanabe knife which is much higher performance and also more expensive than a typical Shun or Global knife, but most guests won't know what the hell it is.

              <I am thinking a nice double-sided whetstone, perhaps a book about knives and sharpening, and maybe one decent Japanese knife. I think I could do this for $150 or at most $200>

              Wow, you want to get that many things? I agree with you. I think you will have to spend more than $100 for that. Let's say $70-100 for the knife, at least $30 for a decent stone, and $15-20 for a book.

              I love a stone. In fact, it was the sharpening stones which got me into knives (most people are the other way around). Nevertheless, I think I will have to agree with mike that the stone may be wasted. On the other hand, I also agree with cowboyardee belief that a sharpening stone (theoretically) is more impactful than a knife. A $1000 knife without sharpening will eventually be the same as a $10 knife. A sharpening stone, however, can turn an inexpensive knife into a relatively high performing knife.

              Chefknivestogo is a good source for knives and sharpening stone, and in my experience, Mark is fairly quick. Believe or not, I made a few purchase from Koki of Japanesechefsknife (from Japan) and he has always been quick and I have always received my knives as quick as if it is from the US. Of course, Amazon also sells some knives. How many days do you really have?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                <Yeah, and if you look at me in person, you won't think I can sharpen a knife neither. :)>

                Well, people might think that about me too, especially since I'm a girl. Or, maybe not, if they know me just a little. But I know these two. No knife sharpening going on in that household.

                I'm inclined to follow the first recommendation I got (and my second thought), and go with the cutting board. Local craftsman, they will appreciate. Beautiful, they will also appreciate. It will set me back 2 bills, but that is OK. Whatever knives they end up with, a good board will help protect them. So that ends up being a good knife gift without me giving them some obscure knife they won't appreciate or sharpening tools they won't use.

                Who knows, I might end up sharpening their knives myself. I've done it for other co-workers, for free, just for the fun of it.

                1. re: MelMM

                  A good cutting board is not a bad idea. I like it. Just beware that it is a lot easier for someone who does not understand to mess up a cutting board than to mess up a knife. A cutting board can warp, split, crack...etc.

                  How do I know this? Just look around some of reviews online and you can tell that these incidents happen more than enough.



                  If you friends do not know how to sharpen the knife, you can always teach them, do it for themselves a few months after. But if you friends do not know how to take care of a cutting board, then they can end up a cracked cutting board before you know it.

                  That being said, sometime cutting board just crack with no fault on the users' parts.

                  We recently have a few discussion boards here about cutting boards. You can take a look if you like.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics


                    I will be giving oil and wax with the board, and... I hate to say this, but I worry less about a board than a knife. Not that you can't mess up a board, but maybe messing up a knife bugs me more. That may be wrong, but I think that's how I am. I almost hate to admit that, because I do realize that a good board is just as much a work of art as a good knife, and I do take care of mine, but If I had to lose one thing or the other...

              2. A registry is a list of POSSIBLE gifts in case you are having difficulty. You are in no way bound by it, and if you believe you are able to purchase something they will appreciate that is not on the list, I say go for it!!

                1. I'll just throw this out there:

                  As a knife guy, I actually kinda like Global knives. Yeah, there are a few knives in the price range that I think are better, and definitely a whole bunch of amazing options if you spend a bit more, but the single biggest complaint against Globals for most people is the handles. If the couple like the handles (as evidenced by putting them on their registry), then Globals aren't really a bad deal.

                  Furthermore, there are two problems with going off-registry for knives. For one, someone else will likely pick up the Globals, and then the couple will wind up with more knives than they bargained for. For another, the Globals are very distinctive looking. I am aware of some people going for Globals specifically because they fit their kitchen's design motif, and not because they care about having knives that work well. As a knife guy, that's kind of a foreign perspective to me, but I know that it happens.

                  As for whetstones, it's not that you can't possibly make a knife geek just by giving a knife geeky gift. They MIGHT be inspired to use one once they have it around. Not impossible -- but definitely unlikely. OTOH, if the opportunity arises, you could invite the couple over for dinner before the wedding and give your knife a quick touch up on a stone before cutting up a quick garnish. If the couple shows any interest, then you know a stone might just be a good gift. Failing that, you can just get em a waterstone and hope that it takes. If, by chance, they do start using it, it makes a huge difference to one's appreciation of knives. If they don't start using it, well, at least it wasn't your only present. Depends on how comfortable you are quite possibly sinking $30 or $40 down the drain.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    Didn't mean to dis the Globals. I have some myself, and I like them just fine. I like the handles on all but one of the Globals I have. That one, a paring knife, is horrendous. But the others are fine. But looking at the prices on the registry, they seemed really high, and I think I could do better. But I agree with you, it's not a good idea. I'll let them get what they get. I'm going with the nice cutting board, which is not on the registry, and they don't have. Whatever they get, I'll be doing my part to prolong its life.

                  2. MemMM,

                    Check out this link if you are thinking about Japanese knives. I know nothing about them personally but I understand they are very good.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: dcrb

                      After some cool reflection, depending on how well we know the couple, we do not give Pointy Objects to anyone as a gift ... Italian, Greek and Spanish superstition perhaps.

                      Gifts depending how well one knows the couple:

                      something the two can enjoy as a couple; a Fondue with all the accessories, a set of gorgeous wine glasses and a fine bottle to sip; or something we know they would enjoy that is within our budget ...