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Looking for decent Chef knife & Paring knife

chow_rk Nov 11, 2013 05:22 PM

Decent as in not breaking the bank :)

When I just look for knifes in Amazon, there are like a million options out there :(


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    chefwong RE: chow_rk Nov 11, 2013 05:36 PM

    Got a sur la tabla or willams sonoma around you.
    Knives are VERY subjective. I'd start local. Hold the handle on your hand. FEEL can change with what type of board you are cutting on.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chefwong
      Sid Post RE: chefwong Nov 11, 2013 05:59 PM

      The Paula Deen 3-piece set at Walmart is a steal. Pretty good steel, pretty good profile, GREAT PRICE.

      1. re: Sid Post
        chow_rk RE: Sid Post Nov 12, 2013 01:26 AM

        Thanks! I'll check it out

    2. Chemicalkinetics RE: chow_rk Nov 11, 2013 07:35 PM

      There are so many good options. Do you think you can narrow down some of the criteria for us.

      Do you want stainless steel or carbon steel knives?

      Do you want harder steel knives (like Shun) or do you like softer steel knives (like typical Henckels)?

      7 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
        chow_rk RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 12, 2013 01:28 AM

        Not sure... Is one better than the other?

        This is my first foray into proper knifes :)

        1. re: chow_rk
          cowboyardee RE: chow_rk Nov 12, 2013 06:46 AM

          Harder blades tend to hold their edge longer without resharpening and can be sharpened at more acute angles (without their edges folding immediately), meaning they can be sharper.

          Softer blades are less likely to chip and can take more abuse without serious damage. They also can be easier to sharpen with some methods - devices like the Accusharp only work on softer knives, while other methods like many stones and sharpening rods work noticeably quicker. Traditional honing steels work better on softer knives, though that's mainly because the problem they're designed to fix isn't so prominent with harder ones.

          There aren't many particularly hard knives in the low price range. Though there are plenty at intermediate ranges.

          What's your knife budget?

          1. re: chow_rk
            Chemicalkinetics RE: chow_rk Nov 12, 2013 06:54 AM

            <Not sure... Is one better than the other?>

            What were you using before? And what are you using now?

            If you just want a knife which works, then I would suggest either a Dexter or a Victorinox knife. They are inexpensive for their serviceable knives. You are looking at $40 price range. They are not the best knives out there, but they work.


            Like cowboyardee said, what is your budget? And what are you looking for in a knife?

            If your budget is $30-40, then the Victorinox knife above will be fine. If your budget is $80-120, then you have a choice between the standard German knife or the standard Japanese steel knife. I personally much prefer the Japanese steel knife, but it is entirely up to you.

          2. re: Chemicalkinetics
            katz66 RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 22, 2013 05:30 AM

            My son loves his shun knives but they are expensive. I have cutco and they are not cheap either. Would love to find a cheap good knife

            1. re: katz66
              Chemicalkinetics RE: katz66 Nov 22, 2013 07:51 AM

              Tojiro DP knives as just as good as Shun Classic knives. They are made of the same steels and same overall strategy.

              They are a bit cheaper. ~$80 for a 8" Chef's knife.


              <Would love to find a cheap good knife>

              What is your price range?

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                katz66 RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 22, 2013 09:34 AM

                Well not sure. When I get a knife it never stays sharp and no I put no knife in my dishwasher. If I can find one that can be sharpened like knew price would not be a big problem. But over a couple hundred dollars I would say would be to much.

                1. re: katz66
                  Chemicalkinetics RE: katz66 Nov 22, 2013 09:56 AM

                  Hmm, most of these knives we are talking about here (Shun, Tojiro DP....etc) can stay sharp for a long time. Of course, it depends
                  (1) how you use the knife. Some people are more rough and some are more gentle. Some use wood cutting boards, and others use glass cutting boards (big no-no)
                  (2) your definition of sharpness. Some consider anything that can slice a paper to be sharp, while some consider push cutting a paper to be sharp.
                  (3) your definition of long time. Some will be happy if the knife can cut within 3 months, while others want it to cut for 2 years.

                  My recommendation for relatively inexpensive knives which works are: Dexter-Russell and Victorinox Forscher. They are about $35 for a Chef's knife, and they are restaurant knives, so they can take on a lot of abuse.

                  In the $~100 range, I like to recommend Tojiro and possibly Fujiwara.

                  <If I can find one that can be sharpened like knew price would not be a big problem.>

                  This may have a lot to do with your sharpening strategy and sharpening tools instead of the knives themselves. How are you currently sharpening your knives? Oh yes, what is your cutting board? It is not glass or marble or anything hard, right?

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            GH1618 RE: chow_rk Nov 11, 2013 08:22 PM

            What length knife do you prefer? I use an eight inch blade, but some prefer ten inch. What handle material?

            9 Replies
            1. re: GH1618
              chow_rk RE: GH1618 Nov 12, 2013 01:30 AM

              8 inch. No preference (yet) for handle material!

              1. re: chow_rk
                Cynic2701 RE: chow_rk Nov 12, 2013 10:15 AM

                What is your budget for the knife? This will help narrow your choices down considerably.

                What sort of cutting do you typically do with your knife? Rock-chop, push cut, slice? Do you sharpen your own knives; what do you use to sharpen knives?

                1. re: Cynic2701
                  chow_rk RE: Cynic2701 Nov 13, 2013 12:25 AM

                  At this time, around $50...
                  I think push cut (maybe because of the basic knifes I got)
                  Never sharpened a knife!

                  1. re: chow_rk
                    Cynic2701 RE: chow_rk Nov 13, 2013 07:20 AM

                    Unfortunately, I'm not very familiar with knives around this price point. Victorinox frequently gets mentioned as a good choice, though I've never handled one before.

                    Tojiro makes a carbon steel Gyuto a little bit above your price point. I'd recommend foregoing the morning latte to save up the extra couple bucks:


                    While this should be a pretty good knife, with a well heat treated blade, it will require quite a bit more care than perhaps you are used to. Nothing more than wiping it down between uses and keeping it dry.

                    1. re: Cynic2701
                      chefwong RE: Cynic2701 Nov 14, 2013 09:14 AM

                      When the OP says, won't break the bank, I'm going to presume he's not a *knife enthusiast*. I would never recommend a Carbon Steel to a non knife enthusiast...

                      1. re: chefwong
                        GH1618 RE: chefwong Nov 14, 2013 09:21 AM

                        I wouldn't call myself a "knife enthusiast." My inexpensive carbon steel Chinese knife is one of my favorites. It's a snap to take care of. I just wipe it between a folded nylon scrub pad, rinse, and dry well.

                        1. re: chefwong
                          Cynic2701 RE: chefwong Nov 14, 2013 09:27 AM

                          I'm curious, then, how it is possible for any knife user - novice or enthusiast - to use anything but a stainless steel knife? If, as you suggest, only a "knife enthusiast" can use carbon steel, then surely there are a great many more "knife enthusiast" cooks than otherwise. Carbon steel has been used for many hundreds of years longer than stainless, and is used in many many kitchens around the world.

                          You can, in fact, sometimes find old Sabatier carbon chef knives at garage sales for under $10. These can be repaired and re-worked and become very good knives with only a few bucks worth of materials from Home Depot. The problem is actually finding one though!

                          Here's an article from a self-proclaimed non-knife-expert on the joys of carbon steel:


                          1. re: chefwong
                            Chemicalkinetics RE: chefwong Nov 14, 2013 09:28 AM

                            <I would never recommend a Carbon Steel to a non knife enthusiast...>

                            It depends on the situation. I wouldn't recommend a very expensive knife to a non-knife enthusiast for sure, but there are plenty inexpensive carbon steel knives. In fact, for the same performance, a carbon steel knife is likely to be cheaper than a stainless steel knife.

                            I think it just depends if the OP is willing to hand wash the knife. That's all.

                            To me it is like recommending a cast iron pan. I don't think you need to be a cooking enthusiast or a food elite to buy and use a cast iron pan. It does require a bit more care than a stainless steel pan (not that much really), but the cast iron pan is definitely cheaper.

                            That $60 knife recommended by Cynic can rival most $150 stainless steel knives including Henckels, Wusthof, Shun, Global...eetc.


                            Just noticed that both GH1618 and Cynic2701 responded as I was writing my response. Guess it must be a very exciting topic that everyone jumps in. :)

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                              seattle_lee RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 14, 2013 02:23 PM

                              I'd change your statement there to say that if the OP is willing to hand dry the knife, then he should be good with carbon. Though it's also important that the knife be washed shortly after use, rather than left around until the next morning.

                              But no knife will stay sharp if washed in the dishwasher.

                2. reedux RE: chow_rk Nov 12, 2013 01:45 AM

                  I've since moved on to Japanese knives, but my first pair of the wusthof grand prix II santoku/paring knife combo has served well over many years. you can find them pretty cheap on eBay. really a great combo to get you started.

                  1. JayL RE: chow_rk Nov 12, 2013 06:02 AM

                    "Decent and not breaking the bank" makes me thing immediately about my Victorinox knives. They are relatively thin blades that sharpen easily and handle nimbly. Mine have the red wood handles although they also offer the plastic fibrox handles if you prefer.

                    I'm not sure "lesser expensive" knives get any better.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JayL
                      mwhitmore RE: JayL Nov 12, 2013 06:27 AM

                      Agree. Forschner Victorinox is the gold standard for non-expensive knives. And I like the feel of the paring knife better than far more expensive parers.

                    2. g
                      gourmanda RE: chow_rk Nov 12, 2013 06:09 AM

                      See if there is a restaurant supply store near you. I was able to purchase my favorite knife at one a few years ago. Good selection, reasonable prices. IMO you can't properly shop for a knife online...the feel (size, weight) is too subjective and must be tried in person.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: gourmanda
                        Westy RE: gourmanda Nov 12, 2013 06:29 AM

                        They often have Dexter's, which in my experience are great.

                      2. Eiron RE: chow_rk Nov 12, 2013 09:10 AM

                        Another vote here for the Forschner-Victorinox Rosewood line.

                        Affordable, well-made using quality materials, thin, light, sharp, easy to resharpen, & decent ergonomics.

                        1. liu RE: chow_rk Nov 12, 2013 08:13 PM

                          ...and another vote for the Victorinox knives!

                          We have other fine knives, but I always use the Victorinox paring knife for my everyday food prep. I prefer the 5" paring knife over the 4" paring knife, although it might be a little more difficult to find. I found this knife at a restaurant supply house for about $5.

                          I also like the small Victorinox serrated knife for tomatoes, bread and fruit. It, too, was about $5.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: liu
                            chow_rk RE: liu Nov 13, 2013 12:26 AM

                            I'm curious of how to find restaurant supply house!

                            1. re: chow_rk
                              Chemicalkinetics RE: chow_rk Nov 13, 2013 05:14 AM

                              Just look up online for your local restaurant supply store. There may just be one near where you live. If not, you can always buy online.

                          2. Scrofula RE: chow_rk Nov 12, 2013 11:25 PM

                            For a decent cheap knife, I like Dexter-Russell. Skip the hollow-ground 'Dexter Basics' line, but any of the US-made Dexter-Russells should be good (Sofgrip, Sani-Safe, iCut-Pro). Look around for a deal; I found a Sofgrip 8" cook's knife for less than $20. Pick up a cheap honing rod as well.

                            I also just ordered one of their iCut-Pro paring knives for $9, but it hasn't arrived yet.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Scrofula
                              Westy RE: Scrofula Nov 13, 2013 06:17 AM

                              I use a Sani-safe. Great grip, nice edge, etc.. Makes it hard to justify a newer, more expensive knife. iuse it and my Dexter Chinese cleaver pretty much for everything.

                              1. re: Scrofula
                                knifesavers RE: Scrofula Nov 13, 2013 06:21 AM

                                The I-Cut line is not USA made and I have looked at them in the stores and don't like the grind near the bolster. The ones I saw appear to need a bolster reduction right out of the box.

                                The USA made Dexters are adequate blades along the same level as Victorinox but not on the level of a good German knife that will cost you a lot more.

                                All blades go dull over time so you will need a sharpening plan. Buy inexpensive knives until you have a plan.


                                1. re: knifesavers
                                  Chemicalkinetics RE: knifesavers Nov 13, 2013 06:27 AM

                                  <Drop lots of money on a great chef knife and buy lower quality breads, parings and other knives that you don't use all the time.>

                                  One of the best advises.

                                  1. re: knifesavers
                                    Scrofula RE: knifesavers Nov 13, 2013 02:38 PM

                                    That's good to know, about the iCut-Pro. You are right, there's no 'made in USA' claim: http://knives.dexter1818.com/shop.html

                                    I also forgot to mention the V-Lo line, which I think is basically the same as Sofgrip and Sani-Safe but with a different handle.

                                2. s
                                  Sirrith RE: chow_rk Nov 13, 2013 02:29 AM

                                  I went with the Ikea slitbar in VG-10. Doesn't break the bank, is very sharp, is comfortable and well balanced, and looks nice too.

                                  1. c
                                    chow_rk RE: chow_rk Nov 13, 2013 06:32 PM

                                    wow! I'm glad I asked you guys here... although it was like baptism with fire ..jk ;) ... I learned a lot about knifes!

                                    I'm in process of becoming a mostly vegetarian with some fish. Now all these wonderful knifes...are they an overkill for this need? I mean is the finesse of good knifes aimed at meat mostly?

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: chow_rk
                                      mwhitmore RE: chow_rk Nov 13, 2013 06:49 PM

                                      Not V, but I don't think so. Getting uniform cuts is vital to many vegetable dishes. Root vegetables are among the toughest things to cut well. A good knife is like money in the bank. But again, Forschner Victorinox is plenty good, my choice for paring regardless of cost. Cost no object I would get a forged chef's knife, but I used a F-V during my professional career with complete satisfaction.

                                      1. re: chow_rk
                                        Chemicalkinetics RE: chow_rk Nov 13, 2013 06:56 PM

                                        <I mean is the finesse of good knifes aimed at meat mostly?>

                                        Your question is really two folds: (1) are they over killed? and (2) are good knife aimed at meat mostly?

                                        The second part of your question is a bit easier to answer. The answer is: No. There are two ways to look at this. Some of the most expensive and specialized knives are Japanese knives. Of the three most important traditional (not modern) Japanese knives, usuba is for vegetables, while deba and yanagiba are for fish. In addition, from my personal experience, some of the more challenging tasks are vegetable-related. For example, a dull knife has a tendency to crush tomatoes instead of cut tomatoes. A overly thick knife has a tendency to wedge between the large vegetables instead of slicing through them. On average, I find my higher quality knives make a bigger difference in vegetable related tasks.

                                        Therefore, I would say that the finesses of a good knives is at least as important for vegetables as they are for meats, if not more.

                                        As for your first part of your question about high quality knives being overkilled? This is a very personal question. It entirely up to your task and your skill. This is the same as asking: is an expensive powerful computer overkilled? It really depends on what the person want to do with the computer and his computer skill level.

                                        For a sushi chef, a $300 yanagiba is not overkilled. In fact, a $300 yanagiba is slightly on the lower end. For an average cook, it is probably too much.

                                        If you are new to cooking and new to knives, then I would say that anything above a Henckels, Wusthof, Shun Classic or Tojiro DP level knife is starting to be too much. e.g. a knife more than $150.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                          seattle_lee RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 14, 2013 02:51 PM

                                          I've got to completely agree with Chem that cutting vegetables well is certainly a challenging task for a knife.

                                          There are tons of examples: Heirloom tomatoes that are ripe and heavy with water are a particularly challenging task; most knives will just tear the tomatoes rather than cut them. Cutting very thin slices of any vegetable, as in a garnish or Japanese soup is another difficult task. Dicing onions or shallots -- also demanding.

                                          Most of my daily cutting tasks are vegetables, and I couldn't imagine going back to the knives I used to use.

                                        2. re: chow_rk
                                          GH1618 RE: chow_rk Nov 13, 2013 07:42 PM

                                          If you are interested mostly in vegetables, perhaps you should consider an Asian vegetable knife instead of a traditional cook's knife — a nakiri type (Japanese) or similar Chinese knife. Since you have mentioned having a rather low budget, some of these can be found for less than $50, although some are of course rather expensive. Dexter-Russell makes one this inexpensive, for example.

                                          My most frequently used knife for vegetables is a carbon steel knife made in China with a (roughly) rectangular blade about 2" by 8". I bought it in the 1970s for a couple of dollars.

                                          For fish, you might want another knife, but not necessarily a traditional cook's knife.

                                          1. re: GH1618
                                            Westy RE: GH1618 Nov 14, 2013 05:34 AM

                                            Good call. I use a Chinese nakiri-type cleaver by Dexter very often, and really like it. Nice weight, easy to scoop vegetables, etc..

                                            1. re: GH1618
                                              JayL RE: GH1618 Nov 14, 2013 06:04 AM

                                              My most used vegetable knife is a nakiri-style $8 Kiwi brand.

                                              With everything else I have to work with, I reach for the Kiwi most often.

                                              1. re: JayL
                                                Chemicalkinetics RE: JayL Nov 14, 2013 06:40 AM

                                                Kiwi is definitely a good buy. Kiwi knives are definitely the best quality knives in the $5-10 range.

                                          2. f
                                            Foodiefarmer1 RE: chow_rk Nov 14, 2013 05:38 AM

                                            I really like my Kyocera ceramic paring and Santoku knives. Of course you have to be a little careful how you use them and still have a steel knife for hard cutting thru bones and such, but they are lightweight, very sharp, are fantastic for tomatoes and other vegetables, hold their edge for a very long time, and Kyocera will resharpen them for life if you need it. You can get the pair on Amazon right now for $65. Highly recommended.

                                            1. l
                                              laraffinee RE: chow_rk Nov 14, 2013 09:44 PM

                                              Yet another vote for the Forschner-Victorinox knives!

                                              I have a bunch of the Fibrox versions and I love them - reach for them more than my Wusthofs.

                                              1. e
                                                emerita RE: chow_rk Nov 22, 2013 09:35 PM

                                                Hi, RK --

                                                Just wait until we launch into the next thread: when you find knives that do all the things you're being told about
                                                (and with all this help, the odds are good) -- THEN, ask people whether you should do your own sharpening, pay to have them "done" regularly, or what those recommendations are. Any cook worth his/her sea salt is passionate about keeping knives super-sharp, but I bet you get quite a range of advice!

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