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Utility Knife for Non-Knife Person

So I've been tasked with finding a knife (or a couple of knives) for my mother-in-law for Christmas.

She is the type who, for years, primarily used a steak knife to do her chopping, which she threw into a drawer. Maybe 8 years ago she upgraded to a very low-end set of Henckels knives with micro-serration. She was relatively happy with those but abused the hell out of them and they're now totally dull and completely dinged up.

She doesn't understand why anyone would use a cutting board instead of cutting on a plate or something (we have that discussion every time she reaches for MY knife block), and I'd be shocked if she would ever take a knife to be sharpened.

I'm thinking that one or two knives on the short side -- maybe a paring knife and a 6" blade of some sort -- would be ideal for a large enough range of tasks. That leaves the question of durability. Can anyone suggest something that can be tossed around and abused, that will last her for a handful of years? Ideally not extremely expensive.

Thanks in advance for help with this seemingly impossible task!

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  1. Dexter Russell knives are good for this. A Komachi is good too:

    http://www.amazon.com/Pure-Komachi-Se...

    1. If I could only keep one of my many, many (too many) knives it would be the 6 inch chef's by Forschner/Victorionox. It's a beauty, and cheap:

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Victorinox-15...

      1. Here's a good deal on a paring/utility set:

        http://www.cutleryandmore.com/wusthof...

        No knife wants to be abused, but these will be worth fixing if they are.

        1. Havalon Knives, they come with disposable blades. They are not traditional kitchen knives.

          A friends cabin had similar knife problems, no sharpening no regard for cutting surface no "chef's" knife skills

          1. Victorinox. I have a few of these paring knives (under $4 each) that use every day and then throw into the dishwasher when I'm done. They easily go a year without needing to be sharpened (however they are generally much sharper than an average-person's knives even when dull).