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What do I need? Steak knife as a utility knife? (Wusthof Ikon?)

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So... I think of myself as a pretty serious home cook, but... for years I have relied on my 8 inch Global and 8 inch Wusthof chef's knives for pretty much everything (plus a fairly cheap serrated knife and small paring knife for occassional use). I've been thinking about getting something smaller for frequent use--what I think of as a utility knife. I actually had considered a 6" chef's knife, just to have something smaller for when I don't need the 8", but that obviously seems redundant, doesn't it? I also have a set of the cheapish Wusthof steak knives (the gourmet line), which get used occassionally at the dinner table. The other day I had one out (they are usually put away), and I grabbed it to trim up a (raw) hangar steak (you know, cutting away that inner gristle and fascia and whatnot) and I was a little surprised at how much I liked it for that! So agile! But it feels like a cheap knife--flexible and light. So... what do I need? I feel like the shape of the steak knife was really nice, but that shape seems limited to actual "steak knives." You can buy a Wusthof Ikon (which I'm liking because of the 2/3 bolster--I've used the Wusthof chef's knife for so long and for so much that the bolster is getting to be a bit of a drag with sharpening) steak knife individually, so I'm actually thinking about that, instead of a so-called utility knife. Is there a reason that shape would be less convenient/useful that the classic utility knife shape? The price for the Ikon "utility knife" and "steak knife" is the same; I can't find info on whether their weights or blade thickness is the same. Again, I'm looking for something that would be appropriate for all-purpose use. I'm getting a little sick of using a giant chef's knife to trim up meat or cut an apple... Anyway, any advice would be much appreciated...

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  1. < I'm getting a little sick of using a giant chef's knife to trim up meat or cut an apple>

    But you want something larger than a paring knife? The reason I asked is that many people use a paring knife for some of the jobs you have described. I have recently bought a petty knife and was told that a petty knife is particularly good for the jobs you have described. A petty knife is longer than the typical paring knife. It is usually of similar length as a utility knife, but a petty knife has better knuckle clearance due to the wide blade close to the heel. One of the problems or criticisms of utility knives is that they usually do not have knuckle clearance for working on a cutting board. If you don't think you will use it against a cutting board, then you don't have to worry about it.

    Ikon utility knife:
    http://images.nitrosell.com/product_i...

    http://oi54.tinypic.com/ao48o.jpg

    Ikon utility knife and Ikon steak knife are similar with some minor difference. The tips are different.

    1. Which Ikon? The Classic Ikon 6-inch chef's knife is on clearance at Cutlery and More, and less expensive than the steak knife.

      1. Oooh... a petty knife! Now you got me googling, and I can see how that suits many needs. Huh. Looking into all those Japanese knives makes me suddenly feel very inadequate in terms of knife skills. I used my sister's Shun set for a week once before, and it was very awkward for me. I realized I would need to learn a whole new set of knife skills.

        Shoot, now you got me thinking about all sorts of things! (Because searching past posts about petty knives led to all sorts of other, similar Japanese knives!)

        And wow, GH1618, that's a good price, thanks. (Maybe cheap enough to get it AND a petty or...?)

        25 Replies
        1. re: ckl

          What do you want for this new steak/utility/petty to do? Petty knife is usually thinner and has a reasonably small heel. So it will work very well for detail works and for some cutting board action. An utility knife is usually thicker, so it would be pretty good for slightly tougher jobs if you like to scrap around bones and joints.

          What length are you looking for? A Tojiro Petty 120 mm is $50

          http://www.cutleryandmore.com/tojiro-...

          http://www.chefknivestogo.com/todppe1...

          Good luck

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Good questions. I guess I am looking for an alternative to the big chef's knife for jobs that it's less than ideal for: trimming meat, occasionally boning a chicken, quick and small slicing jobs like a piece of fruit (when my cheap little paring knives seem inadequate). It wouldn't replace the chef's knife or veg cleaver (the global I mentioned is actually a veg cleaver, not a chef's knife) for chopping or dicing, but it would be nice if it could pull it off for small cutting board jobs... Sounds like the petty knife, actually, doesn't it??

            1. re: ckl

              For chicken, I use a boning knife. I use my utility knife mostly to cut sandwiches in two.

              1. re: ckl

                < trimming meat, occasionally boning a chicken, quick and small slicing jobs like a piece of fruit>

                These jobs are quiet different. For boning a chicken, I will either use a typical stiff boning knife or a honesuki knife. For slicing small fruits, I think any medium to thin blade knife will work, this includes Chef's knife, Santoku, paring knife, petty knife, utility knife. For trimming boneless meat, I prefer thin blade knives as well for better control, but I would like a narrow blade as well, so paring knife, petty knife will work nicely than a Chef's knife.

                If you really want one knife which can do all what you said, then maybe you are right after all. An utility knife will handle all three jobs -- not great at particular one though. In your case, maybe a very curved utility knife.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                But you know, when I found myself surprised to enjoy using the steak knife I'd grabbed to trim the meat, it felt like the part I liked was the way the tip curved up a bit. Think that's true? The petties look pretty straight edged. Shoot, maybe what I really need is a proper boning knife and a utility or petty..

                1. re: ckl

                  If you like the steak knife for trimming meat, what's the problem? Wüsthof doesn't have to know you are using the knife for an unapproved purpose.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    Well, I guess I partly am wondering if the Ikon steak knives are strong enough for prep and utility use. The Wusthof steak knife I used feels light and thin -- it's the gourmet line -- and surely wouldn't hold up. But I can't figure out if that's just because it is the cheaper line, or if "steak knives" are simply designed for lighter use.

                    1. re: ckl

                      Steak knives are for cooked meat, not for boning raw meat, so I would expect them to be somewhat lighter. Boning knives have a thin profile also, to get into tight spaces.

                      A "utility" knife is just for cutting sandwiches in two, or cutting an apple into segments, or similar simple chores, in my kitchen. Any of these Wüsthofs is much more expensive than my Chicago Cutlery utility knife.

                      For trimming meat, when I don't need my actual bpning knife, I use my cook's knife, but I also like my #10 Russell, which is like a small utility or "trimming" knife.

                      1. re: ckl

                        Hi. I can't speak for the icon line, but i'm pretty sure the classic utility and boning knife are essentially the same...except for the upswept tip on the boning vs. the spear point on the utility. The classic steak knife is shorter in length and thinner than the boning / utility. IIRC, the wusthof gourmet line are stamped and probably thinner, more flexible than their forged lines.

                        1. re: JavaBean

                          My two boning knives (not Wüsthof) look nothing like any "utility" knife. I was not referring to Ikon knives in particular.

                          1. re: GH1618

                            Sorry for the confusion. I meant "classic" as in the Wusthof Classic line and was not saying boning and utility knives are generally or tradionally the same.

                        2. re: ckl

                          I agree with JavaBean. Because Ikon knives are forged, they won't be very thin. A Ikon steak knife is should be as thick as its utility knife.

                      2. re: ckl

                        < I found myself surprised to enjoy using the steak knife I'd grabbed to trim the meat>

                        I am not surprised. The curve-ier tip is supposed to give you better control during a slicing motion. This is why a a curved blade saber is good in slashing an enemy on horseback.

                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabre

                        A petty is much straighter which has its pros and cons. I think it is good to match up what you needs.

                        1. re: ckl

                          There is a whole sub category of meat processing knives that have upswept tips.

                          Dexter had the easiest site to find to see the shapes but Forschner is king in meat processing blades.

                          http://www.dexter1818.com/Processing_...

                          1. re: knifesavers

                            An excellent point. Dexter-Russell offers numerous knife shape.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              All the major makers do. Dexters site is simple to find the whole catalog for a specific purpose.

                              Check out F Dicks and you will see similar shapes.

                              http://www.125west.com/c-155-butcher....

                              Their double edge cleaver looks cool as can be.

                              1. re: knifesavers

                                <Their double edge cleaver looks cool as can be.>

                                Oh yeah, I remember seeing it once before. This is awesome. Thanks.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  What do you use a double edged cleaver for? Looks scary!

                                  1. re: iyc_nyc

                                    I would sharpen one side for heavy bone chopping and have a lower angle on the other for lighter use. I want's one. What I really want badly is a counter/butcher block stout enough to use it with. My counters bounce like a trampoline.

                                    Their splitter is pretty awesome as well.

                                    1. re: kengk

                                      Still sounds scary having that thing around! Chem has an awesome Chinese chopping block that I think he got from the Wok Shop (?).

                                    2. re: iyc_nyc

                                      While look interesting, a double edge cleaver won't work well for my style. My style of using a meat cleaver sometime involves taping the knife spine with my hand.

                                      http://www.chow.com/photos/768039

                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUE0MN...

                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/hatrick/...

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        A cool looking blade doesn't need a practical purpose.

                                        Chow isn't cooperating to post a pic but I found a mezzaluna in a thrift store with a single handle that looks like the pendulum from The Pit and the Pendulum. No clue what I would use it for since the blade is very steep almost like half a 6" pizza wheel.

                                        You would have grabbed it too Chem. ;)

                                        Jim

                                          1. re: knifesavers

                                            :) That is a very interesting blade indeed, and if it is 6 feet tall, then it would look like one of those traps or torture tools.

                                            http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs71/f/201...

                                            As for the double edged blade cleaver, I am sure it is a useful tool. I doubt F. Dick is a company selling cool looking but useless tools. It is just that the double edged cleaver won't work well for what I would use.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              I suppose it would work about like an Ulu even though the handle is different. I think leather workers use a similar knife although probably smaller.

                        2. Jacques Pepin often uses a medium-sized ("utility"?) knife to prep onions and other veg, and boy, is he fast! The knife is large enough for that job and less cumbersome than a chef's knife.

                          I've been thinking about getting one, but your post led me to use one of my Cuisinart steak knives - a 5" blade, curved toward the tip rather than straight, but sharp as can be - quality cutlery. Haven't used those steak knives since someone gave them to me for Xmas. Chopped an onion as nicely as you could wish, and felt really comfortable doing it.

                          Maybe I'll get a utility knife anyway - the straighter blade would be better for food prep. But maybe not.

                          Glad you posted your query - I'd never have thought of that.

                          1. A curved boning knife like so is incredibly handy to me. http://www.dexter1818.com/Item_Detail...

                            I also use my Henckels 4" paring knife a lot. I could actually cook just fine with it as my only knife.
                            http://www.zwillingonline.com/3102010...

                            1. Hey, if the steak knife works for you then by all means use it. I have an old "Norsmark" small filet knife that I use to use for cutting bait when I had my boat. It has a very thin 4" curved blade that will take a very sharp edge. I use it like you use your steak knife, i.e., to trim silver skin and gristle, etc. It's a great little knife and probably cost less than $10 when I bought around 1990.

                               
                              1. Wow, incredibly helpful, everyone! So much for adding just ONE more knife... I got by using a big chef's knife almost exclusively all these years, but you all got me looking at a bunch more! I decided to get an inexpensive Forschner boning knife (http://www.cutleryandmore.com/victori...). And then I think I might have to try out the Tojiro Petty and/or a Ikon steak knife--if I can find one for a better price than what's out there now... In fact, anyone want to split this set with me?? It's a very good price for all four, but I don't need four... Split, it would be a really great deal... http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-WUSTHOF-C... )

                                1. UPDATE!!

                                  So... I ended up getting a few new knives after all of your generous replies! Here's my report, in light of the questions and comments here. I did get:

                                  6" Wusthof Ikon chef's knife. I find the size convenient and I reach for it fairly regularly, just as I thought I would. That said, I don't love it. It find it to be balanced poorly. When I grip my 8" Wusthoff classic chef's knife or my 8" Global veg cleaver, I can let loosen my grip and they will both balance on my index finger. The Ikon, perhaps because it lacks the full bolster, falls backward to the handle. It just feels slightly awkward as a result, at least for chopping. While it is smaller and easier to manipulate for non chopping tasks than my 8 inch knives, it actually feels heavier, in a way, than they do because it seems to me poorly balanced. When it comes time to sharpen it, though, I think I will be pleased about the 2/3 bolster (as I am not very skilled at sharpening, maybe, and the full bolster on the classic Wusthof kind of seems like a bit of a nuisance now, after a good decade of using it)...

                                  -I did pick up one of the Wushof Ikon steak knives on ebay to try as a utility knife. Sadly, it absolutely does not suit this purpose. I love the shape, but the blade is far too thin and doesn't seem sturdy enough for any kind of utility use. (The blade feels no different from the far cheaper Wusthof Gourmet line steak knives I have.) It already has a little kink in the blade, not even sure from what. Bummer.

                                  -I ordered a Forscher boning knife (so inexpensive!) to try for actual boning/breaking down meat. But, its 6" size seemed really rather big to me. I sent it back and exchanged for the 4" rabbit boning knife. I LOVE IT!!! It is absolutely perfect to me. And at like $11, I won't mind replacing it as often as might be necessary.

                                  -I also picked up a 4" serrated paring knife (http://www.swissarmy.com/us/app/produ...) and wow--I kind of love that, too. Suddenly I am cutting up grape
                                  tomatoes no end. Sharp, cheap, easy, kind of fun, somehow.

                                  So... I went from wanting one knife to suit all of those purposes to a drawer full of distinct knives. And lo and behold, the two new ones I like best were both under 15 bucks. Fascinating. :)

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: ckl

                                    Thanks for the update.

                                    <The Ikon, perhaps because it lacks the full bolster, falls backward to the handle>

                                    Now that you mentioned this, I remember writing about this years ago on here. I wrote that I find the Ikon to be "handle heavy" instead of "blade heavy". Some people like this. Others don't. The don't think the balance you have experienced is simply due to the smaller bolster. I think the handle is heavier which is the bigger contributor.

                                    " Like Rudy said, it has a nicer finish, more ergonomic handle (maybe), a bit more handle heavy, and finally it has a reduced bolster which is nice."

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8269...

                                    < it actually feels heavier>

                                    I don't think it simply feels heavier. I think it is literally heavier.

                                    Hopefully, you will get to like it better in time. Sorry to hear about the balancing issue. You will be amazed. Sometime people get used to these things as time goes on.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      I must be getting old. Resistant to change and thinking that the way I know must be the best way. Must work against that. :)

                                    2. re: ckl

                                      With Wusthof and other euro brands, the 8" inch chef knife tends to have a neutral balance. The shorter ones are more butt heavy, whists the longer ones tend to be blade heavy.   To some degree, you can change the balance and feel of the knife by moving your grip slightly forward or backwards.  Try moving your grip forward.

                                      1. re: JavaBean

                                        Yeah, totally makes sense. I think I have been using the two 8" knives for EVERYTHING for so long that I have become stuck in a rut as far as knife skills and technique, and grip.

                                        1. re: ckl

                                          Same here. I used to use a 8" German chef's knife for quite sometime, and never took to other lengths. The 10" felt like a brick and the 6" didn't work well. Imo, the big belly curve needs a longer blade length.

                                      1. re: grampart

                                        My mom has this one. I LOVE the blade size and shape--in fact, using it is what made my husband and me want to get a smaller knife. BUT, we both found the handle shape to be really awkward in hand. The way it gets so skinny on the end felt very uncomfortable to us. BUT, I get that it probably creates the lovely balance...