HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


Entry-level knives: Dexter Basics vs US-made

After cutting myself on the *back* of a cheap knife (pushing down too hard), I decided it's time to finally get an actual chef's knife.

I've narrowed it down to the 8" Victorinox ($26), 8" Kom Kom Kiwi ($9), 8" Dexter Basics ($17), 10" Dexter-Russell Sani-Safe ($13), and a 7" Dexter Sofgrip Santoku ($23).

The Sani-Safe is the best deal, but I don't have a lot of working space, so I figure it might be a bit unwieldy. The Kiwi sounds nice for the price, but from what I've read, it's not quite as versatile as a Western chef's knife or Santoku.

So here's the question. I've heard good things about the Dexter-Russell brand, but most anecdotes I've found are about their various US-made lines. I don't know if those good things apply to their cheaper Basics line, imported from some unknown location. Does anyone have any experience with the Dexter Basics?

(I did find one previous discussion of this question, but there was some contradictory information in that thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/746908)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Victorinox would to the one I'd grab but in either event there's no reason you can't round off the spine on the knife you have with some emory cloth.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TraderJoe

      Yeah, I'm leaning towards the Victorinox now. The main problem with the current knife is the blunt edge, not the sharp spine. The spine wouldn't be an issue if I didn't have to give celery CPR to cut it.

      1. re: Scrofula

        Learn how to sharpen your knife. A stone is not expensive and it's not difficult to learn. It also seems that you have a cheap and dull knife to practice on.

    2. Dexter SaniSafe and Sofgrip sharpen easy, the Basics do not. They have a hollow grind to them and do not get as good an edge as the USA models.

      The Sofgrip is really comfortable to hold the Basics and the Sanisafe not so.

      What knives do you have?

      FWIW any budget knife will have a sharp spine that needs rounding. I have identical Santokus one original that the spine can peel bamboo and one rounded off so people can see what a massive comfort difference that can make.


      1. I like my Dexter-Russell..No hi-zoot factor, but feels good, sharpens nicely, and a heck of a good value

        1. I have a couple of the Dexter-Russell Sani-Safe knives and like them a great deal.

          1. In about 1980, while visiting St.Augustine FL, I walked into a knife store called The House of Ek home of the famous and very pricey handmade combat knives. I mentioned that I was looking for a decent/inexpensive chef's knife. He had one that fit the bill and recommended it enthusiastically. It was the R.H. Forschner/Victorinox 830-8, an 8-inch chef's knife. I believe it was under $15. It still serves me well now over 30 years later and I notice it's still available at under $30.

            1. Hi. The Victorinox/Forschner are amongst the least expensive, most decent knife that I know of.   For the money, they're tough to beat it.  I haven't played with the low end Dexters, but their better ones are good too.

              Rounding over the spine makes a world of difference and is very easy to do.  

              1. Kom Kom Kiwi are good knives for their prices. They are many Kiwi knives of different styles. One of them looks like a Santoku, so that may work well for you.

                I have several Dexter Russell, but I don't have the Dexter Basic. I would stay away from it.

                Like others said, your current knife (which cut you) probably has a sharp spine. Just use a sand paper or a sharpening stone to round off the spine. It will be quick -- 5- 10 minutes.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  <I've narrowed it down to the 8" Victorinox ($26), 8" Kom Kom Kiwi ($9), 8" Dexter Basics ($17), 10" Dexter-Russell Sani-Safe ($13), and a 7" Dexter Sofgrip Santoku ($23).>

                  A few more things to add. Between these series, Victorinox, Dexter Sani-Safe and Dexter Softgrip are all good choices. Kiwi is nice if you know what you are looking for. As for 8" vs 10", and Chef's knife vs Santoku, these are personal choices and you should go with your own preference. I know money can always be a determining factor, but the last thing you want is to get something you don't want or you don't need -- even if it is less expensive.

                  It is never cheap to get something you regret.

                  As many have stated, these knives are probably the best value knives you can find. Have fun.

                2. I'm mostly familiar with the Kiwi, and I've found the shape to be fantastic. The curve of the blade makes it mostly equivalent to a chef's knife, but the tallness of it makes it easy to scoop up vegetables, like you would with a Chinese cleaver. The pointed end makes fine work easier than with a cleaver, however. I'd actually argue that the shape of the santoku is less friendly.

                  1. Thanks for the input, everyone. I'm leaning towards the Victorinox. For those of you who asked, my current knife is some crappy Cuisinart thing I got at Target.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Scrofula

                      Another vote for Victorinox/Forschner. However, I prefer wood handles, so I bought knives from the Rosewood line rather than the Fibrox line.

                      To me, the better balance & feel of natural materials is well worth the few extra bucks for something I'll use for years & years.

                    2. I have experience both at home and professionally with Victorinox/Forschner and Dexters. I don't like the plastic handle 8 inch versions of either lines. The bulky handle allows minimal to no knuckle clearance of my pinch grip and my hands are about average size.

                      I prefer an Update International (8 or 10 inch Chef's knife) in the Forged full tang line.


                      They have similar steel quaility as the Victorinox/Forschner and Dexters except with a POM riveted handle which looks like a much more expensive knife. As a bonus ... the bolster is minimal allowing sharpening the entire blade.

                      Other than the price I don't think there is much comparison between this knife and a Kiwi.